MUSLIMS AND JEWS AROUND THE WORLD TO PUBLICLY DECLARE ‘WE REFUSE TO BE ENEMIES’ DURING 2015 SEASON OF TWINNING

Muslims and Jews in cities around the world will hold scores of public events during the upcoming Season of Twinning, October 30 – December 18, 2015 in order to express a shared commitment to building ties of friendship and trust and to being there for each other if and when either community is attacked.

 

These public manifestations of Muslim-Jewish solidarity at a time of increased Islamophobia and anti-Semitism and of growing efforts, sometimes marked by violence and terrorism, to drive our two faith communities apart, will be held under the rubrics Spread Hummus, Not Hate and Ring Around the Synagogue and Mosque. The Season of Twinning, formerly known as the Weekend of Twinning, is an annual event during which mosques and synagogues and Muslim and Jewish student, young leadership and women’s organizations hold joint events together; with the participation of thousands of Muslims and Jews in more than 30 countries around the world.

 

The Season of Twinning is sponsored by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU), a nonprofit that has been working since 2008 to build a global movement of Muslims and Jews committed to communication, reconciliation and cooperation. FFEU’s partners in this year’s Season of Twinning include The Greater Washington Muslim Jewish Forum, The Shoulder to Shoulder CampaignMuslims Against Hunger, ISNA, NYCJMSC, Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, NJMJSC, the Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims, The Denver and Detroit Muslim Jewish Solidarity committees

 

“We have decided to encourage participants in the Season of Twinning to hold events emphasizing Muslim-Jewish solidarity so as to directly combat the false narrative that Muslims and Jews are doomed to be adversaries,” said FFEU President Rabbi Marc Schneier. “The best response to acts of hatred and terrorist violence calculated to drive our two communities apart is to hold public manifestations of the joint commitment of Muslims and Jews to stand together and support each other, as we saw by the FFEU initiated Muslim-Jewish delegation in the Paris Unity march and the Rings Around Synagogues in Copenhagen and Oslo. Indeed, the fates of our two communities are inextricably linked, and it is crucially important that we publicly express that truth as vividly and emphatically as possible.”

 

Spread Hummus, Not Hate is modeled after a program of the same name held last fall in Washington by the FFEU-affiliated Greater Washington Muslim-Jewish Forum in which 20 Muslim and Jewish activists rode a minibus together to a series of public appearances across Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia to express their friendship and solidarity and to share hummus and pita with people of all backgrounds who came out to hear them. Communities that choose to participate in Spread Hummus, Not Hate during the upcoming Season of Twinning, can decide either to travel together by minivan or public transportation to a variety of locations or to hold their events in public settings to which they can march together. It is anticipated that Christian groups in some cities may join with their Jewish and Muslim counterparts in Spread Hummus, Not Hate actions focused on advocating interfaith solidarity and opposing bigotry.

 

One form of publicly manifesting Muslim-Jewish solidarity is for members of both communities to feed homeless and hungry people together as an expression of the common moral imperative in both Islam and Judaism to help people in need. FFEU will be organizing Muslim-Jewish ‘Feeding the Hungry’ events together with our longtime partner organization, Muslims Against Hunger.

 

People wishing to take part in Ring Around the Synagogue and Mosque are encouraged to emulate the actions of the inspiring activists in Oslo and Copenhagen, and to offer symbolic protection to a mosque in their community as well as to a synagogue.

 

As in past years, twinned mosques and synagogues and Muslim and Jewish organizations that take part in the Season of Twinning, are free to choose for themselves the program they wish to hold, which may be a festive, educational or social service event. While many will hold Spread Hummus Not Hate or Ring Around the Mosque/Synagogue events, others may decide to hold other kinds of activities. FFEU will assist organizers with technical needs for your Twinning events and will use its Facebook and social media platforms, as well as print and electronic media outlets to get out the word about Season of Twinning events around the world and to inform participants in the Season of Twinning as to what is taking place in other cities and countries. So please join the Movement in and fill out the FFEU 2015 coordinator form so that we at FFEU can assist you best!

DETROIT MUSLIM-JEWISH SOLIDARITY COMMITTEE KICKS OFF

On Sunday 26 over 30 Muslims and Jews from around Greater Detroit held the inaugural meeting of the Greater Detroit Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee at the Al-Ameer Restaurant in Dearborn Heights. The mood of the participants was enthusiastic as they discussed the possibility of leaders of two communities that have had relatively little contact in recent years, rolling up their sleeves and working together for the good of all Detroiters.
FFEU Muslim Jewish Program Director Walter Ruby opened the meeting, by describing the evolution of FFEU-initiated Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committees in metropolitan areas across North America with a common agenda of Muslims and Jews standing up for each other; Educating ourselves about each other and holding festive and social service events, but then explained that Detroit will have a special mission; for Muslims and Jews to work together for the revitalization of a city that both love deeply. According to Ruby, “Here is a great city that has gone through 50 years of very hard times and is now struggling to get on its feet and here are two large and influential communities with considerable economic and political clout. Just think what we can accomplish if we join forces and work together for the good of the city! And what an amazing, inspiring symbol that would be to Jews and Muslims everywhere.”
Also speaking about the enormous potential of what the Detroit Muslim and Jewish communities can achieve by working together were the three principle Detroit-based organizers of the event; Rabbi Dorit Edut, a self-styled ‘Rabbi Without Borders committed to the revival of downtown Detroit, who has organized several Weekend of Twinning social service events in the city; Siham Awada Jaafar, a professional in community, public and media relations who organizes annual conferences on Commitment, Engagement and Empowerment Through Diversity, and Jeremy Salinger, a progressive Jewish community activist, regional board member of Ameinu and Innovation Program Manager at General Motors R&D.
Shahid Akhtar, co-founder of the Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims in Toronto, spoke about the work of his organization; the oldest Muslim-Jewish body in the world and model for the Solidarity Committees FFEU has helped to birth in Los Angeles, Washington, New York, New Jersey, Denver and Detroit.
Among the prominent members of the Detroit Muslim and Jewish communities taking part in the inaugural meeting of the GDMJSC were Robert Cohen, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, Arif Huskic, leader of the Detroit Bosnian community and the Common Word Alliance, attorney Tareq Baydoun, Soumaya Ahmed and Amina Iqbati of the Michigan Muslim Council, Samantha Woll of the Downtown Synagogue, Nancy Titus and Gigi Salki of Zaman International, Rabbi Robert Gamer of Congregation Beth Shalom and Imam Mohammad Mardini of the American Muslim Center.
Participants in the event decided to kick off GDMJSC’s program of social service work on behalf of Detroiters in need by joining with Zeman International in its annual Ramadan Fight Against Hunger. The group also voted to commence work on a project focusing Educating High School students on Diversity, Etiquette and Dialogue Techniques. The GDMJSC also plans to facilitate a Literacy and Poetry Project for Young People and will focus on ongoing social service initiatives such as feeding the hungry, neighborhood cleanups and providing transportation support for people without cars or access to public transportation.