Category Archives: Muslim-Jewish

Positive connections

Students Connecting in Albuquerque

I wish the otherwise excellent Beliefnet would mark when a certain article was posted. For example I have no idea how old this warm personal piece is that I came across today about gradeschoolers showing what they learned about the other kids’ faith as part of the program where “20 third- and fourth-grade Muslim students from Albuquerque’s Salam Academy visited with more than 20 Jewish students at Solomon Schechter Day School.” As one of the teachers put the simple result: “The kids are learning people are people — we’re all the same.”

Peace Walk in Tucson Arizona

Here is an excerpt from an Arizona Daily Star article. More there:

Sunday (March 25) afternoon’s fourth annual Jewish-Muslim Peace Walk for the first time will begin at a Downtown locale — the Historic Stone Avenue Temple, 564 S. Stone Ave. — and proceed north for 2 1/2 miles, ending at the Islamic Center of Tucson, 901 E. First St. At least 200 walkers are expected. Organizers say they’ll stick to sidewalks, and no street closures will be required.

Alternative Spring Break

Lindsay Katona wrote up her spring break experience for NYU’s student newspaper. She coordinated and participated in a Jewish-Muslim Alternative Spring Break trip to New Orleans with a goal of bringing “15 Jews and 15 Muslims together to help rebuild New Orleans.” The idea came from the Edgar M. Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life. By Lindsay’s account the trip was not just successful but fun too. She shares some of the highlights of both the activities and the insights gained. For example: “There was a true openness to the views of others that I have never felt before in a group setting.”

MCB leader at JCC in London

I first saw it at the European Jewish Press and then at the Associated Press of Pakistan, that “Inayat Bunglawala, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), is due to speak at the Jewish Community Centre for London in Hampstead, north London.” Apparently it is a big deal, because it is happening the first time and because MCB is pressured to move towards moderation. Mr. Bunglawala will be participating in a debate title ‘Does more unite Muslims and Jews than divides them?’ I presume his opinion hasn’t changed since “he argued, in an interview with the Jewish Chronicle last Friday, that the Jewish and Muslim communities have much in common, despite being divided by differing views on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.” It’s nice to see that high level connections are built not just the kind of grassroots I usually mention here.

Play Time in Cotati

Muslims and Jews in Cotati, California organized some fun time for their children and themselves as the Press Democrat article recounts. “Leslie Gattmann, director of the synagogue’s religious school Aisha Morgan, director of the Islamic Society’s religious school, organized the event, which they hope will become the first of many.” The “families gathered in Cotati on Sunday were there to laugh and talk and teach their children the ways of peace…. they sang songs, played games and ate snacks.” So simple, but that’s all it takes. This sentence summarizes it well: “So the children of Ner Shalom Congregation sat in a circle with the children of the Islamic Society of Santa Rosa, and behind them men wearing Jewish yarmulkes stood beside women wearing the Islamic hijab.”

Thank you for the pointer to Thea Greenhalgh, fellow Brainstomer.

Interfaith Story

Adah Hetko, a 15 year old girl wrote up her experiences for the Times Union (of Albany, NY) how she organized interfaith storytelling for children. She attended the adult version with her parents, but recognized the need for more children. So she became active in this regard. She has a keen eye and interest in discovering similarities e. she “realized how similar a nun’s habit is to a Muslim woman’s head scarf, or a Christian baptism is to a Jewish mikva.” Here is the mission of the Interfaith Story organization:

gathering of storytellers and listeners who share a common desire to bring the teaching and healing power of wisdom tales from around the world and sacred stories from every spiritual or faith tradition, present and past, to individuals, groups and communities.

Mixed Heritage

The American Muslim published an article by Rabbi David Rabeeya that caught my attention. He is an Iraqi Jew who describes himself as “Culturally Arab, Religiously Jewish, 100% American.” Besides the self-analysis (of the seemingly conflicting parts of his background and how he integrates them) he has some insights about cultural sensitivities. The one that helped me the most was this:

An example of misunderstanding of the meaning of a word can be found in Shalom vs. Salam (peace). Peace in English connotes the idea of lack of hostility. Shalom in Hebrew means to complete a process. Salam, in Arabic, as a political term, may represent the highest level of peaceful co-existence between opponents. In Arabic there is also a specific term for armistice and another specific term for “cold peace.”

Another important and timely example is the meaning of honor in the Arab culture. This involves self-respect which is profoundly vital to the Arab persona who will never tolerate being degraded in public. Most Westerners do not take honor to this degree.

Christopher D. Ringwald: A Day Apart (2006)

I just read a review of Christopher D. Ringwald’s A Day Apart: How Jews, Christians, and Muslims Find Faith, Freedom, and Joy on the Sabbath at the Houston Chronicle‘s website. The author did extensive scholarly research about the history of the day of rest for three Abrahmic faiths. The review gives a one paragraph summary of each. But Ringwald went further and “combined historical research with a personal approach.” I.e. he went with his family to services on Fridays at the mosque, spent Sabbath with his Jewish friends and went to church on Sunday. Overall he found the day of rest idea refreshing: “It’s amazing how many things you can let go of, and it’s a real relief when you stop worrying about work or money. Any little thing you can do that helps make Sunday a day of rest pays off.”

Interfaith Group Urges Congress to Insure All U.S. Children

Here is a quote from a TV station’s website:

Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders are urging Congress to extend health insurance coverage to all of America’s children.
At a news conference, the clerics said 9-million American children are uninsured.
Rabbi David Saperstein said the nation’s health care system “needs healing.”
The Reverend Richard Land said health coverage for children is “a pro-life issue” for Southern Baptists because, “We’re not be pro-life just from conception to birth, but after birth as well.”
Bishop George McKinney, a leader of the Church of God in Christ, said God’s blessings are conditioned on how the nation cares for “the least of these.”
The leader of the Islamic Society of North America said the Quran teaches that caring for children is the responsibility of the entire community, not just the parents.

It does not need much commentary, but I will illustrate it. There are 40+million uninsured in the US. I copied below from here a map of percentage of uninsured children by state. It’s a real red flag.

Map