Muslims and Jews Unite in NYC

jews_muslims-300x200

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.

Advertisements

Muslims and Jews stand together as part of International Weekend of Twinning

Faith_1
Dr Usman Chaudry (CMA Chair), Javed Ansar, Zareef Mirza, Jameela Chaudhri, Amanda Kremnitzer, Lesley Kaye, Charles Bloom, Janice Bloom, Abid, Shahid Adam Saleem, Dr Nabeel, Dr Tony Kaye and Afzal Chaudhri.

Muslims and Jews around the world came together during the Annual International Weekend of Twinning.

In the North West the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester (MJF) hosted several events around the County.

MJF Twinning activities started at Khizra Mosque in North Manchester on Friday with the Lord Mayor of Manchester, Cllr Naeem Hasan, welcoming Rabbi Arnold Saunders and Rabbi Daniel Walker to the Muslim Friday prayer service.

Following the service, the Rabbis were given a tour of the mosque and community centre led by Cllr Afzal Khan, a former Lord Mayor.

They were then met by group of worshippers and both Rabbis were given a copy of the Quran in English by a member of the Muslim community, Rasheed Mustapha.

Qari Jameel gave the Rabbi’s a recital from the Quran following by a translation, and the group discussed just how similar their scriptures are.

On Saturday,Rabbi Arnold Saunders from Higher Crumpsall Synagogue welcomed Cllr Afzal Khan to join in the service & kiddush, whilst the same time the South Manchester, Cheadle Yeshurun Synagogue opened their doors to a group of local Muslims who included Lord Mayor Cllr Naeem Hasan, Shahid Adam Saleem, Abdullah Saleem, Afzal Chaudhri and Jameela Chaudhri to join in the Jewish service.

The guests were impressed with the warm hospitality and Jewish service, and particularly touched when an Islamic reference was quoted as part of the service.

On Monday, Cheadle CMA Masjid, Chair, Dr Usman Choudry, welcomed the Chair of Yeshurun Synagogue, Dr Tony Kaye, along with Mrs Lesley Kaye, HHJ Charles Bloom QC, Janice Bloom and Amanda Kremnitzer to observe the Muslim Isha prayer.

Following the prayers the guests enjoyed a lively meeting with the trustees & worshippers whilst eating kosher food provided by the CMA which was blessed by Charles with a traditional Hebrew prayer.

Usman thanked Shahid from MJF for arranging the social and described the 3 hour event as very informative gathering where both faith communities demonstrated many common aspects during their broad discussions increasing empathy and understanding.

Shahid Adam Saleem, who led on the organisation for the MJF, said, “Thank you to all participants for their positive contributions and we look forward to building on the positive relations formed to increase community harmony and make this an annual event with many more activities”.

Jonny Wineberg, Co-Chair of The MJF, said, “We are proud to stand up for each others rights and challenge intolerance wherever it exists. But even more, we are proud of the respect and understanding we foster between our two great communities and present to the wider community.

“Our thanks go to all those involved in organising and delivering these events and we invite Synagogues and Mosques from around the County to start building relations with their nearest twin and participate in the 7th Weekend of Twinning in November 2014″.

The Weekend of Twinning is an annual event sponsored by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU) and held every Autumn.

This year, there were more than 130 twinning events involving Muslims and Jews in more than 30 countries on all six inhabited continents. Participating Synagogues and Mosques and Muslim and Jewish organisations around the world undertook a wide range of activities.

Rabbi Marc Schneier, the President of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, a New York-based not-for–profit that sponsors the Weekend of Twinning, asserts that “Dialogue is an important first step in building ties of communication and cooperation between Muslims and Jews, but it is not enough. Whenever Jews or Muslims are targets of bigotry anywhere in the world, members of the two communities should stand together against both Islamophobia and anti-Semitism”.

Imam Shamsi Ali, co-author with Rabbi Marc Schneier, of the newly released book Sons of Abraham; A Candid Conversation about the Issues that Divide and Unite Muslims and Jews (Beacon Press) asserts, “No two faiths in this world have more in common than Islam and Judaism. In that spirit, we must truly become our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers”.

The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding is encouraging participants in this year’s Weekend of Twinning to join the movement against bigotry by forming local Muslim-Jewish Solidarity committees and by signing a pledge on Twitter reading: “I pledge to combat Islamophobia, anti-Semitism + all forms of hate for #WeekendofTwinning.”

Detroit Muslims and Jews vow to stand up for each other during International Weekend of Twinning

u1_twinning
Thursday, 11.21.2013, 09:59pm
DETROIT — At a time of increased Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, thousands of Muslims and Jews came together in Detroit and in cities around the world during the 6th Annual International Weekend of Twinning, November 15-17, to pledge to be there for each other if either community is victimized by hate crimes or incitement.

This year, there are expected to be more than 130 twinning events involving Muslims and Jews in more than 30 countries on all six inhabited continents.

The Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue and the Muslim Center of Detroit participated in the International Weekend of Twinning, by hosting a social action program to help feed the hungry in southeast Michigan. The event was held on Sunday, Nov. 16 at the Muslim Center of Detroit. Together Muslims, Christians and Jews served food to the needy, socialized and viewed a film about Muslim and Jewish cooperation.

The Weekend of Twinning is an annual event sponsored by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU) and held every fall.

Participating synagogues and mosques and Muslim and Jewish organizations around the world undertake a wide range of activities during the Weekend of Twinning including study sessions to learn about commonalities in the two faith traditions and joint social service efforts, including feeding the hungry and homeless and visiting sick and elderly people.

Rabbi Marc Schneier, the President of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, a New York-based not-for–profit that sponsors the Weekend of Twinning, asserts that “Dialogue is an important first step in building ties of communication and cooperation between Muslims and Jews, but it is not enough. Whenever Jews or Muslims are targets of bigotry anywhere in the world, members of the two communities should stand together against both Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.”

Imam Shamsi Ali, co-author with Rabbi Marc Schneier, of the newly released book Sons of Abraham; A Candid Conversation about the Issues that Divide and Unite Muslims and Jews (Beacon Press) asserts; “No two faiths in this world have more in common than Islam and Judaism. In that spirit, we must truly become our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.”

The FFEU encouraged this year’s participants to join the movement against bigotry by forming local Muslim-Jewish Solidarity committees and by signing a pledge on Twitter to combat Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in addition to all forms of hate.

Twinning event unites Jews and Muslims with mission of feeding the homeless

bilde
Two faiths find commonality in doing good for others

November 24, 2013
By Keith Sargeant

NEW BRUNSWICK — If the idea of dozens of Jews and Muslims uniting as part of an initiative twinning mosques and synagogues sounds too good to be true, consider this:

The fight against hunger has no religion.

“There’s always going to be apprehension,” said Will Eastman, executive director of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, who was among 60 people from both religious communities taking part in a twinning event centered around delivering food for the homeless. “We’re not about singing, ‘Kumbaya,’ and let’s get together and love each other. We try to focus on substantive things so the connection is more genuine.”

It’s why Eastman considered the Nov. 3 “Standing Up for the Other” twinning event at the Masjid-e-Ali mosque in the Somerset section of Franklin a success on many levels.

Volunteers from the Muslim Day school, Rutgers Hillel, the Rutgers Jewish Xperience, Muslims Against Hunger, the Islamic Center of Basking Ridge and community leaders such as Franklin Township Mayor Brian Levine united to distribute more than 350 meals to the homeless in New Brunswick, Newark, Jersey City and Morristown.

“The Jewish tradition values being able to feed the hungry,” said Rabbi Esther Reed, senior associate director for Jewish Campus Life at Rutgers Hillel. “That really was the essence of the program. It was bringing people together so that we could prepare food for those who are hungry. So there’s no question that this was an important thing to do.”

Working with respect
A Rutgers graduate, who previously served as president of Shalom/Salaam, an interfaith student group at the university, Eastman said leaders from both sects try to deal with preconceived notions “in a respectful way.”

“We’re not going to tell people, ‘whatever you think is wrong,’ we’re going to try to show them that there really is a historical alliance between these two communities and when people do see that they’ll say maybe that does make sense,” he said. “The large amount of apprehension deals with the Arab-Israeli political conflicts, which isn’t really the focus of our program. This is more of the religious and community-service aspects of our two faiths. We know there are differing political opinions, but as we all know at your Thanksgiving dinner your uncle and aunt may disagree on who was a better president, Clinton or Bush? That’s part of being a family.”

Added Rabbi Reed: “I think there’s a perception that if you’re Jewish then automatically you don’t get along with Muslims or if you’re Muslim you don’t get along with Jews. I think that’s a misnomer, and fortunately Rutgers Hillel has had a long tradition of doing joint community-service projects with Muslims and we’re happy to be involved in these types of events.”

Zamir Hassan, founder of Muslims Against Hunger, helped organize the event, and Eastman credited Saif Naqvi, a 17-year old senior at The Pennington School of doing “a great job of engaging our Jewish community and the leaders of the mosque.”

Founded in 2000 as a volunteer-run grassroots effort to educate the Muslim community about the problems of hunger, poverty and homelessness, Muslims Against Hunger has distributed meals to the homeless and working poor in more than 20 cities across the country since its inception.

“It’s kind of evolved into an interfaith activity,” Hassan said. “Sometimes the best interfaith dialogue is when there’s no talking, with people actually doing stuff together and (rallying) behind a common cause of helping people and then we learn we’re not so different after all. So what we do is engage all kinds of communities into doing good work around the hunger and poverty issue.

“Hunger has no religion, and there are no disputes in any community about it,” Hassan added. “So we use that as a tool to bring people together.”

The twinning event served as the North American launch of a global initiative that will unite mosques and synagogues on six continents. As it turned out, the food drive had a dual purpose as the Jewish and Muslim communities discussed efforts to combat prejudice, according to Walter Ruby, the Muslim-Jewish programs director for the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.

Looking ahead
“Going to go forward with the ‘Standing Up for the Other’ theme, the plan is to form a permanent Central Jersey Muslim Jewish Solidarity Committee, with the idea being if there is a hate crime against either community the other will sway into action for support,” Ruby said.

Eastman admitted the idea of blending the Jewish and Muslim cultures for a twinning event “may seem a little strange,’’ but said “when you really think about it these two faiths have a tremendous amount in commonality.’’

“The president of our organization likes to say, ‘We have a common faith and a common fate,’ ” Eastman said. “Here are Muslims and Jews who some think don’t have a lot in common but it turns out we’re learning more about each other and we’re feeding the homeless in the process.”

Week of ‘twinning’ unites Muslims, Jews

Twinning1X_300_236

Muslim and Jewish Rutgers students and graduates, holding their campus IDs, came together at the Masjid-e-Ali mosque Nov. 3.Volunteers prepare meals to take to the hungry and homeless at Penn Station in Newark.

November 18, 2013
by Debra Rubin
NJJN Bureau Chief/Middlesex

Jews and Muslims came together in Somerset as part of a global initiative twinning mosques and synagogues on six continents.

This year’s theme, “Standing Up for the Other,” brought together about 60 volunteers from both communities, including a number of Rutgers students and alumni, at the Masjid-e-Ali mosque Nov. 3.

The volunteers prepared meals for the hungry, and later joined together to discuss efforts to combat prejudice.

“Both communities have been threatened by increasing anti-Semitism and Islamophobia,” said Will Eastman, executive director of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.

The foundation is the prime sponsor of the “Week of Twinning,” which included a Nov. 10 event at the Islamic Center of Morris County in Rockaway, which had swastikas spray-painted on it in June.

“In New Jersey there have been mosques that have been vandalized, and swastikas have been spray-painted on both mosques and synagogues,” said Eastman, a Rutgers graduate from Marlboro who served as president of Rutgers Shalom/Salaam, an interfaith student group.

The diverse group of volunteers in Somerset Nov. 3 packed food to be distributed to the hungry and homeless at Penn Station in Newark.

Rutgers grad Brian Thompson of Highland Park said he has long been involved in interfaith activities, and served as community service chair at Shalom/Salaam.

“It’s important for organizations to make formal statements, but it’s just as important for regular students and people to talk to one another and become involved with social action projects together,” he said.

Mashal Anjum of East Brunswick, who graduated from Rutgers in 2009 and was also involved with Shalom/Salaam and active in Muslims Against Hunger, said, “I love interfaith work.

“It’s exciting, engaging, and so much fun. I love knowing more about other people, other religions. Both Muslims and Jews need that bridge. We need to be actively involved creating that bridge, and if we don’t do it, other people won’t believe we get along.”

Among others at the event were Rutgers Hillel senior associate director Rabbi Esther Reed; Rabbi Aharon Grossman of Rutgers Jewish Xperience; Franklin Township Mayor Brian Levine; two former Hillel presidents, Zeke Pariser and Sarah Morrison; Muslims Against Hunger founder Zamir Hassan; and Dr. M. Ali Chaudry, cofounder of the Islamic Center of Basking Ridge and commissioner at the state Commission on National and Community Service.

Arie Schwartz, a Rutgers freshman engineering student from Edison, was encouraged to attend by a friend.

“The first thing that struck me as I walked in is that it didn’t feel much different than a local shul,” he said. “I was working with some other [Muslim] Rutgers students and found some common ground talking about classes. It was amazing coming together for an obviously great cause and having two cultures that wouldn’t necessarily work together was all very positive.”

Parviz Hamedani, vice president of the mosque, said that as a physician and a Muslim he felt a responsibility to care for the sick, poor, and hungry without regard to religion, race, or ethnicity.

“We have so much in common between the Bible and Koran. And if we are not brothers in faith, we are all brothers in humanity,” he said. “If we honestly sat down together and opened our hearts and read stories together, we would see that what unites us is so much more than what divides us.”

Hamedani, who was born in Pakistan of Persian descent, said he was proud to be an American citizen, and it was his goal through programs such as this to “work with other Americans of every background to bring peace to America and the rest of the world.”

First Sydney “Twinning Event” leaves a good taste in everyone’s mouth

To mark the coming International Weekend of Twinning of Synagogues and Mosques, Jews and Muslims in Sydney, Australia, spent an evening together preparing meals for victims of recent bushfires, the homeless and others in need.

Jeremy Jones, Co-Chair of the Australian National Dialogue of Christians, Muslims & Jews, who participated in the 2013 Mission of Southern Hemisphere Muslim and Jewish leaders to Washington DC, said that baking bread, preparing vegetarian and fish curry and participating in a strudel-making master class was “a great recipe for friendship”.

“We discussed Kashrut and Halal, commitments to help disadvantaged people, types of prayer, synagogue and mosque services, while slicing eggplants, dicing tomatoes, cubing salmon and chopping onions”, Jeremy Jones noted.

Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio, who led the Jewish team consisting of members of The Emanuel Synagogue, stressed that “participants heard from each other of our common religious commitments to charity and treating each human being with dignity.”

“We enjoyed working, and laughing, together, but most of all we enjoyed the opportunity to learn from and about each other”, she added.

Sheikh Amin Hady, who led the Muslim team from the Zetland Mosque, said “The visit to Washington was inspirational and on my return I was committed to finding a project which could involve Muslims and Jewish Australians working together for the common good”.

“This project was the first, but it will definitely not be the last” Sheik Hady, one of Australia’s leading figures on interfaith dialogue, added.

During the evening, no topics were taboo and many of the participants took the opportunity to find out how others saw topical Australian  issues, Middle East politics and the challenge of living religious lives in a secular environment.

The only stirring of the pot, it seemed, was by those mixing the curry, and the only heat added to that from the stoves and ovens was the warmth created by new friendships.

It wasn’t as if there were no passionate defences of strongly held convictions, particularly when Jewish and Muslim supports of the South Sydney Rabbitohs Rugby League team encountered co-religionists who supported their arch- enemy,  Eastern Suburbs Roosters, but in the spirit of the evening the former forgave the latter for their questionable judgement.

IMG_8057

                  Preparing the vegetable for curry

IMG_8060

                  Rabbis Ninio and Slavin, Sheikh Amin Hady and his wife, Jeremy Jones

IMG_8069

                 Stirring the pot

IMG_8072

                  tasting the benefits of working together

IMG_8077

                  The cooks

NEW ZEALAND MUSLIMS AND JEWS PLANT TREES AND VOW TO STRENGTHEN TIES BETWEEN THEIR COMMUNITIES

The first-ever Jewish-Muslim ‘twinning’ event in New Zealand took place on Friday, October 11th in the capital city of Wellington, as leaders of the country’s Muslim and Jewish communities, joined  the city’s Mayor Celia Wade-Brown to plant five trees of friendship and unity and vow to work together to ensure that the country enjoys a peaceful and verdant future.

 The Wellington tree-planting marked the kickoff of the 6th Annual Weekend of Twinning, an world-wide series of events held every autumn during which synagogues, mosques and Jewish and Muslim organizations in cities around the globe form partnerships and hold joint programs. together on the same weekend.  More than 150 mosques and Muslim organizations and 150 synagogues and Jewish organizations in more than 30 countries on six continents are expected to take part in twinning events over the next two months.

Speaking at the Wellington twinning event in the city’s bucolic Central Park, Rabbi Marc Schneier,  President of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, a New York-based not-for-profit agency dedicated to strengthening ties between Muslims and Jews around the world, commented, “It is fitting that New Zealand is the first country to hold a twinning event this year, since it is near the International Dateline and therefore the first country to greet the new day. Today, we affirmed to each other that a new era of communication, reconciliation and cooperation between Muslims and Jews around the world can be achieved if we join together to make it happen. And in this country of awesome natural beauty, we planted trees as an expression of the moral imperative in both faith traditions to repair the world by sustaining our increasingly fragile natural environment.”

In her remarks, Mayor Wade-Brown praised the Muslim and Jewish leaders for strengthening ties between the two communities. 

Left to right: Rabbi Adi Cohen, Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, Rabbi Marc Schneier, President and Founder of FFEU, Professor Paul Morris (UNESCO Professor of Interreligious Understanding at Victoria University of Wellington), Sultan Eusoff, Rabbi Yitzhak Mizrachi, and Sheikh Mohammed Amir (Imam of the Wellington Islamic Centre).

Among the New Zealand Muslim and Jewish leaders who took part in the event were Dr. Paul Morris, UNESCO Professor of Interreligious Understanding at Victoria University of Wellington), Sultan Eusoff, Rabbi Yitzhak Mizrachi (Wellington Hebrew Congregation), Rabbi Adi Cohen (Temple Sinai of Wellington), and Sheikh Mohammed Amir (Imam of the Wellington Islamic Centre).

The unprecedented twinning kickoff event in New Zealand was an outgrowth of a Mission of  Muslim and Jewish Leaders from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to Washington that was held last June. The goal of the mission was to encourage the Muslim and Jewish leaders of these “Southern Hemisphere” countries to host joint programs during the Weekend of Twinning in order to begin a process of building friendship and trust between the two communities on the grass roots and leadership levels. Twinning events are planned in South Africa and Australia this November.

 Mayor Celia Wade-Brown of Wellington plants a tree with Muslim and Jewish women.