Young leaders, members of NYPD, participate in Muslim-Jewish dialogue
On November 17, 2013 Muslims and Jews held joint programming in Manhattan and Brooklyn as a part of the Weekend of Twinning- an annual program spearheaded by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. This is the 6th Annual Weekend of Twinning and this year’s Twinning was organized around the theme of “Muslim and Jews Standing Up for the Other” to combat anti-semitism and Islamophobia jointly.This year, Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committees tasked with responding to crisis of mutual concern and with building ties of communication and friendship. Such Committees are being formed in NYC, NJ, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Chicago.
Manhattan:Two programs took place in Manhattan one community service oriented and one being a dialogue based program. Community Service: Muslim and Jewish volunteers prepared hundreds of meals for the hungry at the NYU Bronfman Center for Jewish Life and distributed these meals in Thompson Square Park. Over 70 volunteers arrived to prepare meals and deliver the food- so many volunteers that the program finished ahead of schedule. The volunteer portion of the event was sponsored by Muslims Against Hunger- A NJ based nonprofit dedicated to eradicating hunger. NYU Bridges- a campus Muslim-Jewish organization were a leading organizer of the event.
Dialogue: following the community service program volunteers and other members of the Muslim and Jewish communities in NYC went to a discussion at the Jewish Community Center of Manhattan that was moderated by Sami Elmansoury and Erin Davis- two young professionals that serve on the boards of many Muslim and Jewish organizations. FFEU’s recent short film “Muslims and Jews: Standing Up for The Other” was shown and followed by an interactive discussion that encourage participation from the crowd of around 100. Elmansoury and Davis encouraged the enthusiastic crowd to sign up for the NYC Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee to keep the momentum of this bold interfaith initiative going. Co-sponsors: the JCC, Bridges NYU, Romemu, Jewish Muslim Volunteer Alliance, and the Interfaith Center of New York.
Brooklyn: The Russian American Jewish Experience (RAJE) invited members of the Shia Muslim community to their center for a educational dialogue on the issues that divide and unite Muslims and Jews. Recently, there have been tensions in Brooklyn between Russian Jews and Shia Muslims and members of the Shia Muslim community, including Maulana Waseem Abbas, and community activists and Twinning volunteers Saif Naqvi and Abbas Moussavi answered questions about Islam. Participating in the conversation were three members of the New York Police Department who were involved in RAJE and were hoping to strengthen ties to the Muslim community in Brooklyn. At one point in the discussion the Maulana Abbas was asked by a participant about “Jihad” and whether Muslim children were taught to hate Jews and be suicide bombers. The Maulana respected the honesty in the questions and answered that “Islam is a religion of peace that states that we cannot and must not commit acts of violence. In the Quran it states “if you kill one life it as if you have killed the whole world, if you save one life it is as if you have saved all of humanity” (Qur’an 5:32). The Jewish participants noticed this was nearly identical to a commandment in the Talmud. Another participant asked what Sharia law means and if American Muslims wish for Sharia Law. The Maulana informed them Sharia is Islamic law and that Islam commands Muslims to follow the laws of the country they live in and that American Muslims wish to live in America because it gives everyone religious freedom.