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.

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