Twinning in Toronto

Toronto — Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims (CAJM)

The November 2012 Weekend of Twinning took place in painful circumstances when many Muslims and Jews were deeply affected by the bloodshed of children, women and men in Gaza, and the ongoing missile attacks and escalation of fear in Israel.

Despite the tense climate due to events in the Middle East, Canadian Jews and Muslims made a valiant effort to continue to work together focusing on the mutual desire of the two communities to present a model of cooperation for Canada and the rest of the world.

A number of mosques and synagogues jointly participated to promote harmony and positive interaction between their congregations, and to strengthen their commitment to fight antisemitism and Islamophobia together.

The Noor Cultural Centre invited Temple Emanu-el congregants and others on Friday  to attend the Juma prayers; and Temple Emanu-el invited Noor to attend Shabbat services and participate in text study. Then Sunday, November 18th, to culminate the Weekend of Twinning,  Noor hosted all participating groups from across the city to attend a lecture by Prof. Benjamin Berger, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University on the topic of “A Garden of Legality? Religious Pluralism in Canada and the Problem of Law”  The lecture and subsequent discussion explored the relationship between the rule of law and legal pluralism, between secularism and the lives of Jewish, Muslim and other religious communities, and the way in which Canadian law has managed minority legal systems.

The CAJM promoted other Twinning events throughout November. On Sunday, November 4th, members of Darchei Noam and Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Congregations got together with members of the Islamic Foundation of Toronto to study texts about the life of Moses/Musa. The study sessions were led by Imam Badat of the Islamic Foundation  and Rabbi Grimberg of Darchei Noam.

The participants shared learning and knowledge with each other, with a focus
on the approach to interpretation of sacred text in the Jewishand Muslim traditions.  This event has become an ongoing  opportunity to continue Jewish Muslim fellowship with friends  made over the past years of twinning, with the study session allowing for meaningful discussion and interaction.

The Twinning activities in the Greater Toronto Area included a Women’s Interfaith Panel organized in Brampton where Dr. Karen Mock, former National Director of the League for Human Rights of  B’nai Brith  Canada and a founding member of the Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims, took part in the panel discussion on “Leaders of my Faith – Role Models for our time.”

Members of the Jewish and Muslim communities in Toronto also came together to take part in “Jews and Muslims Feeding the Hungry”. The response from both communities was heart warming.  The organizers had to divide the overflow of enthusiastic volunteers in two shifts to accommodate all who wanted to be a part of jointly serving the “less fortunate”.

The CAJM plans to build on the Weekend of Twinning and use it as a catalyst for diversifying into other areas of cooperation.  While the dialogue, discussions and faith based conversations are truly inspiring and helpful in bringing our communities together, CAJM intends to expand on the Twinning program to more directly impact the community in which Jews and Muslims live together. These areas may include but will not be limited to arranging photo and art exhibitions, food drives, film and music festivals, joint authorships and creation of common physical spaces where Jews and Muslims can interact, communicate, reflect and pray together.

CAJM plans to start working on 2013 Weekend of Twinning as early as possible, with an increased emphasis on continuing to engage Jewish and Muslim youth and university students to help us reach a wider audience through social media and relevant ongoing programming, in order to make the coming year an unprecedented success.

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