For Immediate Release
Contact: Noor-Malika Chishti, 626-379-0018 / Walter Ruby, 917-294-1772
December 2, 2015
LA JEWS AND MUSLIMS TO UNITE IN SHARED PRAYER CELEBRATION AND TO DECLARE ‘WE REFUSE TO BE ENEMIES’
Los Angeles — At a time marked by terrorism, violence and polarization between faith communities around the globe, Los Angeles area Jews and Muslim will unite to declare ’We Refuse to Be Enemies’ in a program featuring joint Muslim-Jewish prayer and a celebration of traditional Muslim and Jewish musical motifs on Sunday, December 6 from 1:00 – 3:00 pm at the I.M.A.N. Cultural Center, 3376 Motor Avenue, LA.
The event is an initiative of the Southern California Muslim-Jewish Forum (SCMJF), a two-year-old organization created by imams, rabbis and Muslim and Jewish activists focused on building ties of communication and cooperation between Muslims and Jews throughout Greater LA. SCMJF is one of seven Muslim-Jewish solidarity committees in metro areas across the U.S. initiated by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU), which has been working since 2007 to strengthen Muslim-Jewish ties around the world. This year, FFEU is sponsoring more than 50 ‘We Refuse to be Enemies’ in 20 countries as part of its annual Season of Twinning featuring Muslim-Jewish events around the world.
Organizers of the Los Angeles ‘We Refuse to Be Enemies’ event cited as highly significant that the event will take place at the I.M.A.N. Iman Cultural Center, LA’s premiere Iranian cultural center, which holds a variety of programs attended by both Iranian-American Muslims and Jews. The I.M.A.N. Cultural Center is a non-political, non-profit, independent organization established to promote cooperation and affiliation within the Iranian and Muslim communities, as well as with people of all races and religions.
Noor-Malika Chishti, a leader of SCMJF and Vice President of regeneration said, “We are thrilled to share our work in Muslim-Jewish reconciliation with LA’s large Iranian Muslim and Jewish communities.”
Walter Ruby, FFEU Muslim-Jewish Program Director remarked, “Iranian Muslims and Jews, who share a common language and culture, can play a highly significant role in inspiring Muslims and Jews across LA to reach out to each other.”
Dr. M. Sadegh Namazikhah, President of the I.M.A.N. Center, “We are honored to host this vibrant Muslim-Jewish gathering as part of our ongoing effort to strengthen interfaith relations in LA.”
Central to the December 6 program is the opportunity for Muslims and Jews to pray side-by-side under the aegis of “Two Faiths One Prayer”; SCMJF members and fellows from New Ground: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change, who last spring prayed together at sites across LA, from the beach at Santa Monica to City Hall last spring and made a YouTube video which went viral.
According to Andrea Hodos of Two Faiths One Prayer, “We are excited to bring to the I.M.A.N. Center the spiritual connection that happens when Jews and Muslims pray together in the same space and recognize the parallels of the ideas expressed in our respective prayers.”
SCMJF leader Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels of Congregation Beth Shir Shalom in Santa Monica, a veteran performer of Jewish music will coordinate with Muslim musicians Ahmed Pierstroff, Bassem Rashidi and Moose Simjee to create a joyous and spiritually uplifting musical celebration that will serve to enhance the shared-prayer experience.
Rabbi Laura Owens of Congregation B’nai Horin will speak about the meaning of Chanukah, which will commence on the evening of December 6. According to Owens, “We believe that by praying, singing and celebrating together, we can set a radiant example to Jews and Muslims across of the U.S. and around the world of how we can overcome fear and mistrust with mutual respect and friendship.”