Ramstein to break ground on chapel addition for Jewish, Muslim worshippers
February 17, 2005
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Ramstein Air Base is expected to break ground Thursday on a $535,000 addition to the South Side Chapel that will give Jewish and Muslim worshippers their own space to pray and learn.
The building is believed to be the first in the U.S. military specifically designed to meet the needs of Muslim worshippers, said Chaplain (Capt.) Hamza Al-Mubarak, the Muslim chaplain for the Kaiserslautern military community.
The 4,000-square-foot addition will include two rooms for worship — one for Jews and one for Muslims — that will allow worshippers to face southeast toward Jerusalem and Mecca. Those rooms will be connected by a classroom that can be used by either group as overflow space.
Muslims in the Kaiserslautern military community now pray in a chapel annex on Pulaski Barracks that was converted for their use in the mid-1980s, Al-Mubarak said. Jewish worshippers use a chapel at Vogelweh, said Chaplain (Capt.) Donald Levy, the community’s rabbi. Neither space is ideal for their purposes, the chaplains said.
Levy said 20 to 30 people typically attend his weekly service. Al-Mubarak said 40 to 60 people attend his weekly service.
The new annex will create a “happy coincidence” each Friday, Levy said, as Jewish and Muslim worshippers meet at the same building for prayer.
“We feel that it’s important for our two groups, being smaller and littler-understood minority groups, to have access to each other,” Levy said.
Al-Mubarak said the building provides Christians in the military community with unique access to Muslim classes and literature at a time when soldiers are deployed in Muslim countries.
The building is expected to be finished in July, Levy said.