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My life in Muslim-Jewish relations

| October 15, 2018 | 0 Comments

As the Islamic New Year and Jewish New Year coincide this season, it is a time for reflection and introspection with the common goal to further understanding and cooperation between Jews and Muslims in the month ahead.

attends Combating Islamophobia at the JCC in Manhattan on March 14, 2012 in New York City.


By Rabbi Marc Schneier

Back in 1989, armed with census information forecasting that the United States would become a minority-majority country in the 21st century, I founded the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU) to strengthen relations between American Jews and other minority communities – African-Americans, Latinos and Asian-Americans. In the early 2000s, I considered the sobering demographic reality that there were only 16 million Jews in the world compared to 1.6 billion Muslims and resolved to take on the mission of building ties of communication and cooperation between Jews and Muslims globally.

Person of Conscience
What I didn’t expect at the outset of this mission some 13 years ago, was that over time, thanks to personal friendships I formed with Muslim leaders, I would come to care for the safety and well-being of Muslims as well as for Jews. I have stepped forward to defend my Muslim friends on many occasions when they have been scapegoated or demonized – including by the President of the United States. On two occasions, I have organized mass rallies in Times Square in New York City to declare, “When my Muslim brothers and sisters are wrongly attacked, I will stand up as a Jew and person of conscience and declare: ‘Today I am a Muslim too!’”
Judaism and Islam
Over the years, I have learned how much Judaism and Islam have in common: the same forefather, Abraham/Ibrahim, and a multiplicity of similar prayers, rituals, customs and traditions. I learned that the Quran, like the Talmud, contains the concept that saving one life is like saving the world, and that Islam, like Judaism, teaches that each of us has a personal responsibility to feed the hungry, visit the sick and reach out a helping hand to those in need. I have come to understand that in a profound way, Jews and Muslims share a common faith and a common fate.
Since November 2008, the FFEU has partnered with the Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims (CAJM) and then with the Centre for Research Action on Race Relations (CRARR), and the Muslim-Jewish Council of Calgary to encourage Canadian synagogues and mosques to hold joint learning, social service and celebratory events during our global Season of Twinning of Mosques and Synagogues. Many of the friendships formed – both between houses of worship and on a person to person basis – continue to this day.
As the Islamic New Year and Jewish New Year coincide this season, it is a time for reflection and introspection with the common goal to further understanding and cooperation between Jews and Muslims in the month ahead.
(Rabbi Marc Schneier is President of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and a global leader in Muslim-Jewish relations. He co-authored, with Imam Shamsi Ali, a book titled “Sons of Abraham: A Candid Conversation about the Issues that Divide and Unite Jews and Muslims”)
(Extracted from ffeu.org)

Category: Interfaith Harmony