Dressed in traditional Arabic hijab, Maria Khani stood before a pulpit in the St. Wilfrid of York Episcopal Church and sang prayers dating back thousands of years. Her culturally prescribed modesty did not cloak the beauty of her voice as she chanted a section of the Koran to members of the Greater Huntington Beach Interfaith Council.
Minutes before Khani's performance at the council's second ecumenical Thanksgiving service on Sunday, Carol Weinfeld read a Jewish Sukkot prayer from Temple Emanuel of Baltimore. Sukkot, a harvest festival, is celebrated as a thanksgiving for the bounty of nature, Weinfeld told the crowd before her reading.
"In awe and thanksgiving, we worship the one who is holy, the source of blessing," Weinfeld said.
The ecumenical gathering also featured Scripture readings and prayers from Roman Catholics, Protestants, Christian Scientists and Latter-day Saints congregants. The theme, as expected, was giving thanks.