Two years ago I mentioned that there was a Muslim-Jewish art festival at the University of North Carolina. Looks like they made it an annual event. I just read an article in the U’s student newspaper about “the third annual Jewish-Muslim arts festival – ‘A Night Under the Moon and Stars.’ … Six Jewish performers and six Muslim performers will display their talents through spoken word and poetry.” It is cosponsored by Muslim Students Association at the UNC and North Carolina Hillel.
I wrote in the past about several joint comedy nights or programs. This time it happened at NYU as its student paper reported. The program was titled One Muslim, One Jew, One Stage starred Rabbi Bob Alper and Azhar Usman. The event that drew 250 people was co-sponsored by the Islamic Center, Shuruq, and the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life. The article and the event also linked to the alternative spring break I wrote about.
Dr. Bernard Sabella, a Sociology professor at Bethlehem University and member of the Palestinian legislative council write a short article on the occasion that each of the three Abrahamic religions has a major holiday within the span of one week. “Last Saturday, Muslims celebrated Al Mawled Al Nabawi (Birthday of the Prophet); Jews celebrated Pessach (Passover) on Monday and Christians celebrate Easter this Sunday.” He suggests that “The failure of monotheistic religions lies in their inability to open up to each other’s narratives, beliefs and details of faith.” He is hoping (and me too) that:
that the religious will cease to be a basis for claims that negate the other and what he/she stands for. It is then that the test of the belief in the One God can become a factor for peacemaking and healing rather than for continued confrontation and plight.
I read the above at the Common Ground News Service, but they note that its source was Miftah.org. The latter is “The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy. They however credit DSPR as their source. I couldn’t decipher what that stands for.
I found a press release about an exhibition titled “Sacred: Discover what we share” on ManagingInformation.com, but it is much more legible at its original location on the British Library’s website. Sponsors came from all three faiths, but there are too many of them to list here. They present “some of the world’s earliest-surviving, most important and beautiful religious texts from the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths… [There will be] around 230 manuscripts, texts and other objects displayed in a unique and compelling modern context….Priceless examples of the Torah, New Testament and Qur’an mounted alongside each other – not individually in separate zones.” The page also gives 15 detailed examples of the kind of objects visitors can see between April 27 and September 23. The image below is from the practical information page of the exhibition.
The account of the North Jersey interfaith Seder (Jewish Passover celebration) is rich in expressions of hopes for the future, of good intentions, of discussions how this is an opening. However halfway through the article I learned that amongst the 120 participants where the majority was Jewish and a minority Christian, only two Muslim leaders showed up. I would have hoped for more balanced numbers. But the next paragraphed warmed my heart. As one of the leaders explained why the Muslim turnout was so low (it has to do with their celebration of the birthday of the prophet Muhammad) he mentioned that his wife gave birth ten days prior to the event. The crowd’s reaction: singing spontaneously Siman tov and Mazel tov, a spiritual celebratory song. That shows the spirit of the night.
The Examiner (from Baltimore) has a typical Passover story in which the rabbi expounds how the Exodus story is about freedom. To make it more interesting the rabbis connected the speech to Albert Einstien and Martin Landau. However what caught my eyes and the reason I post this here was the capture under the image:
Rabbi Steven Schwartz, right, breaks Matzah bread with Imam El-Amnin. Schwartz was teaching Passover traditions during a Muslim/Jewish Seder hosted by the Baltimore Jewish Council and the Maryland Muslim Center at the Jewish Community Center. The two groups meet regularly to share knowledge of their traditions.
The caption of a European Jewish Press story reveals that the “The British government has revealed that it wants an inter-faith framework to bring the country’s Jews and Muslims closer together.” The first paragraph tells the context of how it was revealed:
Hazel Blears, the Labour Party chairman, told a conference of UK rabbis and imams in Manchester on Monday that the Government wanted the event – and a further conference run by Jewish and Muslim women later this week – to be the springboard for greater inter-faith cooperation between the religions.
The rest of the article presents soundbites of Blears’ speech and covers briefly the history of the interfaith issue.
The Oakland Press provided informative coverage of an event, starting with “Women of Jewish and Muslim faith broke bread Sunday afternoon for a three-hour cultural exchange. It included presentations about the Muslim religion, a Middle Eastern buffet and a question and answer session.” Then it goes on telling the readers what happened at “An Educational Day About Islam” attended by 125 women, organized by the “Women’s Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach in Metro Detroit,” abbreviated as WISDOM. The article ends with a simple point “If you can change just one person’s mind, that’s good…We can do it one person at a time.”
The Arab American Media Services’ blog entry pointed me to The Thirteenth national Jerusalem Women Speak: Three Women, Three Faiths, One Shared Vision tour organized by Partners for Peace. It happens between April 9 – 26, 2007 and cover Chicago and Wisconsin. Here is an excerpt form the press release:
These women are working professionals, activists, mothers, daughters, and partners, all involved in their own way in resolving the conflict and charting a brighter future for their region.
Each woman lives the hardships of conflict and the tragedy of occupation in unique ways. Each has also witnessed the deterioration around them over the past six years of Israeli-Palestinian violence and the intermittent attempts to rekindle peace talks. They have made a commitment to address American audiences about their hopes for the future and what must be done to improve today’s deteriorating situation.
These three women will travel together on a national speaking tour for three weeks (April 9 – 26) to address realities of the conflict – the loss of family, the demolition of homes, persecution, occupation, violence, the separation barrier currently being constructed in the West Bank, Israel’s unilateral “disengagement” from the Gaza Strip, recent escalations of the conflict in Gaza and Lebanon, and more. They are here to demonstrate that peace, while difficult, is possible.