Muslim-Jewish program Director Walter Ruby spoke on the theme of “Standing Up For Each Other In Challenging Times” at an #IAmAmerica event at the Bharatiya Hindu Temple in Troy, MI on Sunday November 20 co-sponsored by the Detroit Interfaith Outreach Network and the Greater Detroit Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Council. The event was also part of FFEU’s Season of Twinning and was attended by an audience of about 100.
On November 16th the Oldham ‘CHAI women project, led by Najma Khalid with a group of Pakistani Muslim women, visited a Synagogue in Gatley in Cheshire. They were hosted by Marilyn Berg and other Jewish women from Cheadle and Gatley. They were splendid hosts. The guests thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
Over tea, the women spent a delightful morning, with a heart warming sharing of their similar traditions regarding preparation of food, talking about their families, a recipe book produced by the CHAI group and children books written by one member, Sue Stern. Marilyn, Vice-Chair of the Jewish women and a trained comedian entertained the ladies with lots of jokes. The Muslim women guests were taken on a tour of the synagogue.The event ended with the holding of a banner, ‘WeStandForOneAnother’ and lots of warm hugs.
This event was organized by Qaisra Shahraz, Co-Chair of Faith Network 4 Manchester (FN4M), an international author & educationist and an executive member of the Muslim Jewish Forum, as part of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding ‘Season of Twinning’. The women will meet again on January 13th and chat over tea and samosas in Oldham, celebrating their unity and togetherness again, in an event hosted by the CHAI group this time. As well as some taking part in the Synagogue Mitzvah day.
Participants of the twinning event enjoyed the experience to meet together:
‘We really enjoyed ourselves and it was great to meet the Muslim women from Oldham. It was as though we had always known each other and were, indeed, old friends.’Marilyn Berg (Jewish Host)
“It was a fabulous event for all the women that attended. We were greeted with warmth, love & understanding. Great hospitality, sharing of stories, faith and culture was valuable knowledge. The Jewish women are so lovely. We have so much in common, great to be part of such a cohesion event, which breaks barriers and brings us together so we are all united, can’t wait to meet again”. Najma Khalid (Muslim Host)
” It was an excellent event promoting cohesion. It is very much needed in this current time. It broke a lot of barriers and was a pleasant experience” – Shabana Parven
June who was in attendance expressed, “I felt our meeting with the ladies from Oldham was very memorable. It was as though we met as strangers and parted as family!”
Safina Yousaf “Enjoyed this wonderful experience with some wonderful ladies. definitely would love to do this again”
Ambreen Raja “It was a fab day with wonderful and beautiful ladies. I learned so much about Judaism and women. Thank you so much”
Shazia Iqbal “It was a great day, very much needed, I really enjoyed my time with them. Learned a lot. Looking forward to meeting them again”
‘We had an amazing experience. The warmth, hospitality, love, friendliness, understanding is a treasure and will always be remembered. The time went too quickly and we wish we could hear more and share more. A lot of barriers were broken and we gained so much knowledge. All women are so lovely and interesting, each person that attended was amazing and we are so looking forward to meeting again. This sort of unity is so important and we are all so passionate about standing together. (Muslim participant)
Two other twinning events are planned by FN4M. An event with Jewish pupils from Kind David High School visiting Manchester Islamic Girls High School in Manchester on 23rd November. The third Twinning event is an exciting university Multi-Faith event, ‘We Stand For One Another’ celebrating unity, diversity and community cohesion with students of different faiths and community members, with food from different countries.
Find article on Moment Magazine website here
By Marissa Fox
The stickers read “Spread Hummus, Not Hate.” On the American University quad Oct. 20, people wore them as a reminder that we all have a part in conflict resolution.
The event was run by the Greater Washington Muslim-Jewish Forum, which ties together Muslim and Jewish activists, and co-sponsored by a collection of religious and academic groups. Throughout the day, advocates and chaplains alike spoke about the trials and tribulations involved with furthering peace between ethnic groups. Students, professors and religious leaders took the stage to discuss their faiths, their experiences with hatred and prejudice and their thoughts on peace.
Muslim and Jewish advocates separately led the audience in prayer, and then they tied the sermons together. They chanted a Jewish prayer of peace, which spoke of justice and equity “for insider and outsider alike,” and a Muslim prayer, “God is the greatest.” Finally, they chanted a prayer of three words, tying together Jewish and Muslim phrases: “Peace Salaam Shalom.” Two Chaplains, one Jewish and one Muslim, stood up together on the stage and recited separate prayers, eventually speaking in unison: “And as is written in both the Talmud and the Quran, if anyone killed a person, it would be as if he had killed all of mankind. And if he saved a person, it would be as if he saved all of mankind.”
Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic studies, told the crowd that he joined the university around the time of the 9/11 attacks. In the aftermath of the disaster, he said, “a chasm had opened between communities and religions,” and since then Islamophobia has continued to grow. But while he saw hate, he also saw an opportunity to fight oppression—and an opportunity for the country to learn about the Muslim community.
Now, the upsurge of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism around the presidential election is apparent, said Walter Ruby of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. Muslims and Jews, he added, should come out in public and commit to standing up for each other in the face of discrimination. And no matter what happens during the election, he stressed that both denominations are there for each other. Kathryn Orsborn, director of the Shoulder to Shoulder campaign to stop anti-Muslim bigotry, spoke about the Religious Freedom Pledge, which 100 leaders of different faiths have signed, and encouraged that we put pressure on our elected officials to stand up for these ideals.
But for many, prejudice starts early in life—a reality evident as two AU students, one Jewish and one Muslim, spoke about their childhoods. Their upbringings in the suburbs of Chicago and Boston differed, but the prejudice they experienced did not. The Muslim student explained that in high school, when she decided to wear her hijab, half of her friends stopped speaking to her. The Jewish student recalled when, in the fourth grade, another student told her she had killed Jesus. It is evident that prejudice and ignorance comes from the teachings of our parents, something both students said they discovered in their schooling. Despite this, the students were quick to urge that we remain allies, quoting Martin Luther King Jr: “I decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bare.”
Throughout the day, students sat on the grass chanting and reciting the prayers of both ideologies. There was a long line forming for students to enjoy hummus, pita bread and an assortment of vegetarian food. “Hungry college kids can’t resist free food,” an AU alum joked. A cantor chanted the Hare Krishna mantra, a call of service, as the food given to AU for the event was a service to humanity. Men and women of both faiths took photographs of the event and watched intently as the call for peace went on. There was a light fall breeze, and the delicious Middle Eastern food and sense of positivity spread throughout the audience and the event. “Go out,” Ahmed said, “and heal a fractured world.”
Students from diverse faith traditions came together came together in the outdoor courtyard of the USC Caruso Catholic Center at the University of Southern California on the evening of November 7 to pray for peace and reconciliation in America no matter the results of the election the following day.
The evening of prayer and reflection, which was co-sponsored by the USC Interfaith Council, USC Office of Religious Life and the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, featured student speakers representing USC Hillel, Muslim Student Union, Catholic Center, Church of Latter Day Saints Student Association, Crusaders for Christ, Secular Student Fellowship, the Sikh Student Association, as Hindu and Buddhist student groups. Students of all backgrounds lit candles and hugged each other as they evoked their varied faith traditions in praying for an America that will be compassionate and open to people of all faith and ethnic backgrounds.
FFEU Muslim-Jewish Program Director Walter Ruby opened the prayer session by urging students “to stand up for each other in the face of bigotry and hatred that has come up in the elections,” adding, “I pray that working together we will succeed to build an America where all religious, ethnic, racial, gender and other communities—including newly arrived immigrants and refugees, are treated with decency and respect and where no community is demonized or discriminated against.” FFEU Social Media Director Lindsey Dresbach also took part in the event.
Reading the millennial words of Isaiah 2:4 in Hebrew and English, SUC Hillel VP of Social Engagement Sam Korn urged USC students of all faith traditions “to join together and be a force for good” both on campus and in the wider world. Mohamed el Farra of the Muslim Student Union, prayed in Arabic and English, “Relent towards us, thou art the relenting and the merciful, and make us grateful for thy blessing and make us praise it while accepting it and give it to us in full,” el Farra said.
Rev. Jim Burklo of the USC Center for Religious Life, said, “We need to ask ourselves ‘When we vote, what are we doing to take care of each other? In that spirit let us go forward and vote, and then come together as a USC community no matter what happens tomorrow.”
See more coverage of the event on Daily Trojan
A coalition of Cristian, Jewish and Muslim leaders came together at the Islamic Center of Frisco on November 2 as part of the Season of Twinning to declare: We will Stand Up for Each Other and affirm our commitment to religious freedom for all faiths no matter the result of the election on November 8’.
The inspiring event co-sponsored by FFEU, the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign and the Islamic Society of North America as part of the Season of Twinning also featured the participation of civic leaders and top police officials from Frisco, a vibrant, fast-growing and multi-ethnic community of 158,000 20 miles northwest of Dallas. Among the speakers were Walter Ruby,Director of Jewish-Muslim Relations, Foundation for Ethnic Understanding; Catherine Orsborn, Director, Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign, Dr. Azhar Azeez, President, Islamic Society of North America; Imam Zafar Anjum, Islamic Society of Frisco; Rev. Dennis Webb Sr., Council Member, City of Irving, and Pastor, Bear Creek Community Church; Imam Omar Suleiman, President, Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research and Co-Chair, Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square; John Bruce, Chief of Police, City of Frisco; Bob Allen, Council Member, City of Frisco; Dr. Hind Jarrah, Founder, Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation; Pr. Richard Brindley, Pastor, The Village Church; Rabbi Elana Zelony, Congregation Beth Torah; Pastor Pr. Kyle Worley, Pastor, The Village Church; Jason Clarke, Founder and Executive Director, Seek the Peace; Rev. Mitchell Boone, Pastor, White Rock United Methodist Church and Imam Yasir Birjas, Valley Ranch Islamic Center.
Participants in the event publicly signed the Religious Freedom Pledge, which was launched earlier this year at the National Cathedral in Washington. The pledge commits leaders to “uphold and defend the freedom of conscience of all individuals by rejecting and speaking out, without reservation, against bigotry discrimination, harassment and violence based on religion or belief.” The endorsers of this Pledge will call on public officials to uphold these same values, particularly in this season on heightened anti-Muslim rhetoric and hate crimes.
Chief of Police Bruce drew loud cheers when he told the capacity crowd at the mosque, inaugurated earlier this year with the strong support of Frisco City Hall; “Frisco isn’t mine. It belongs to ya’all. Step by step, our diverse communities are reaching out to each other; moving beyond tolerance to mutual respect and appreciation.” Imam Suleiman said that by coming together at the Frisco mosque just days before the election, the participants were making the case that “We will not allow the poisonous political discourse to penetrate our communities. When we joint together like this, its an act of resistance.”
According to FFEU’s Ruby, “It was inspirational to come to a mosque in a dynamic city like Frisco in the heart of Texas and find a community made up of diverse faiths backgrounds deeply committed to the ethos of all faith and ethic communities working together for the betterment of all. There is no better place to send the message that we are committed to standing up for each other and upholding basic American values, no matter what who wins the election. I am hopeful that communities across Texas and America will emulate the inspirational example of Frisco.”
Rutgers Muslim, Jewish and Catholic students at Rutgers University came together with a wide assortment of faith leaders and elected and state officials from across New Jersey at a Stand Up for The Other rally at Rutgers University on the evening of November 1. The event, co-sponsored by FFEU with the New Jersey Interfaith Coalition and other groups, was a kickoff event for the 2016 Season of Twinning and featured student leaders and officials vowing to Stand Up for The Other if members of any faith or ethnic community come under attack. The participants signed a Stand Up for The Other pledge, written by Dr. Ali Chaudry, founder of the New Jersey Interfaith Coalition and a longtime ally of FFEU in Muslim-Jewish relations, promising that they will speak up0 if they hear bigotry against any community–even if the bigotry comes from members of their own community. Student leaders of Rutgers Hillel, the Rutgers Muslim Public Relations Council and Rutgers Salaam-Shalom promised to strengthen ties between Muslim and Jewish students on the campus, even while agreeing to disagree respectfully on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Photos from the event:
New Jersey Jewish News covered this event! Please click here to read the article!