This weekend marks the arrival of another of summer's annual rites -- literally -- as Sunday morning worship services return to the Lake Harriet Bandshell.

Operating under the "if it ain't broke" theory, the program is following the same format that has worked for years. Faith communities in the Lake Harriet area take turns hosting the services, which start at 10 a.m. Because they are aimed at the general public, these are ecumenical services, and because they are held outdoors at the lake, dress is super casual.

Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd will get things started Sunday. The services continue through Sept. 6.

Comment on Arabs flares anew

The brouhaha over a St. Paul rabbi's comments advocating the killing of Arabs has gone international.

Ten days ago, Rabbi Manis Friedman of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement faced a maelstrom of criticism after being quoted in the Jewish magazine Moment as calling for armed conflict against Israel's Arab neighbors.

He quickly apologized and recanted, saying that his comments were taken out of context. But it was too late; people on both sides of the issue -- including the leaders of his own denomination, a Hasidic movement in Orthodox Judaism -- publicly chastised him.

The story fizzled fairly quickly here, but a few days later, the Star Tribune got a call from a Muslim educator and publisher in Saudi Arabia who said that it has become a hot-button issue there. Esam Mudeer, a lecturer in comparative religion, challenged Friedman to a debate.

Mudeer said that he's not angry with Friedman, although he admits that a lot of people in his part of the world are. He sees a debate as a way of calming things down.

"I'm not asking him for an apology. I'm not asking him for a change of heart. He's entitled to his point of view the same way I am," he said. "He made a statement. The best way to deal with that is with another statement. I see this as an opportunity for dialogue."

Mudeer made his debate request to the Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters in New York, which wants to put the incident behind it and isn't interested. But he hopes that even offering to talk will help.

"We don't want to leave this for the fanatics to decide," he said. "People here [in Saudi Arabia] are angry. They are furious. And they have every right to be angry, but they need to channel that anger into something useful."

Pedal pusher

A Minnesotan will be wrapping up a 900-mile bike ride this morning, and as a result, a local nonprofit organization that matches kids with volunteer mentors will be cashing a check for at least $24,000.

John Elder, president of Elder-Jones Inc., a Minneapolis construction company, left the Black Hills on his bike May 28 in a quest to raise donations for Kids n' Kinship. After a circuitous route that took him through Nebraska, he is scheduled to arrive in Apple Valley, where there will be a 10 a.m. welcoming ceremony at Merchants Bank, 7300 W. 147th St.

This is the third consecutive year that Elder has made such a trip. He's accompanied periodically by other riders, but he's the only one who rides the entire distance.

Welcome home

The Minneapolis Community Kollel, a Jewish learning center staffed by rabbinical scholars, was established nine years ago, but has not had a permanent home until now.

The kollel bought an office building at 2930 Inglewood Av. S., St. Louis Park. There will be a dedication/open house from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Programs for children will be available starting at 3 p.m.

Jeff Strickler • 612-673-7392