How a tolerant UAE is welcoming Jews into the country

The Jewish community will soon have a prominent place to pray in the heart of the Gulf.

Jewish-man_16e9d5df1e7_largeDubai: “The fact that, for the first time in centuries, a new Jewish community established in the heart of the Arab world is nothing short of historic. This represents, in a way, its own call to prayer and I speak on behalf of the Jewish community, it’s our responsibility to answer,” said the newly-announced Chief Rabbi of the Jewish community of the UAE, Yehuda Sarna, during a speech on Tolerance Day on November 15.

UAE Embassy US

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“The fact that there is for the first time in centuries a new Jewish community established in the heart of the Arab World is nothing short of historic.” – Newly announced Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Community of the Emirates (JCE) @RabbiSarna.

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For centuries, Jews and Arabs have peacefully co-existed. They’ve done business together, lived as neighbors and even married one another. Even the Prophet Mohammed peace be upon him, was married to a Jewish woman. Her name was Safiyyah Bint Huyayy.

From the time of the prophet until the early 20th century Jews and Arabs mixed together. From Baghdad to Beirut and Cairo as well.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE GULF NEWS 

The Pittsburgh Playbook: How the Jewish Community Worked With Their Christian and Muslim Neighbors to Heal

1.8027476.2268327494After the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history, interfaith ties, initiative and compassion led to organization and solidarity others can model.

In Pittsburgh, they don’t call the blood-soaked anti-Semitic rampage that began at 9:50 A.M. on a rainy Saturday one year ago, when a white supremacist gunned down 11 Jewish worshippers “the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting” – although that’s how it is commonly referred to elsewhere. Rather, it is referred to in the city by the date no local resident will ever forget: 10.27.

Pittsburgh, people there will tell you, is a thriving and close-knit city that they love and identify with deeply, whose residents have come together across all walks of life – despite differences in religion, race and politics – to repudiate the deadliest attack on Jews in American history. Pittsburgh is “Stronger than hate” as the ubiquitous signs created in response to the attack continue to remind passersby from front yards and shop windows.

That comprehensive response was closely coordinated, with Jewish communal agencies taking the lead and dividing up responsibilities of security and mental health care in the immediate aftermath of the attack and beyond. Those efforts were buoyed by long-standing ties with local churches and mosques, by strong support from the mayor and municipal officials, and by the city’s bedrock of foundations, nonprofit agencies and academic institutions.

FULL ARTICLE FROM HA’ARETZ

Opinion: The Yom Kippur lesson I learned from a Muslim man

Yom Kippur begins Oct. 8. It’s the holiest day of the Jewish year, when Jews engage in self-reckoning and look for ways to fix their flaws. This year someone helped me with this. His name is Mohammed.

I showed up to my book club earlier this month to discuss Mohammed Al Samawi’s book, “The Fox Hunt: A Refugee’s Memoir of Coming to America.” In front of a coffee table filled with the usual nuts, chocolate and cheese, a smiling, dark-skinned man was sitting on the couch.

“I’m Mohammed,” he said.

And I said, “Wow.”

I had just read his book in a gulp. It is a gripping and true international thriller that, in the end, left me teary-eyed.

His story was miraculous, sure, but what really got to me were the lessons the book offers on how to heal the divisions that plague our country, our world and, ultimately, ourselves.

Al Samawi was raised in a devout Muslim home and trained in an educational system that taught him Western culture was corrupt and Jews were evil.

“The Jews are foxes,” one of his teachers told him. “Even if they seem good, they’re always hiding something.”

But first curiosity, then doubt, crept into Al Samawi’s mind. He began seeking out Christian and Jewish texts to see for himself. This led him to the internet, where Facebook groups brought him in contact with Jewish, Christian and Muslim interfaith activists around the world.

Mitzvah Day: Jews and Muslims come together to cook chicken soup

Traditional Jewish dish is prepared at East London mosque on day of social action.

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 Jewish and Muslim volunteers prepare the soup for distribution to homeless centres. Photograph: Yakir Zur

It is a beloved Jewish dish, served at Shabbat dinners to family and friends and reputed to have powerful medicinal properties. It is not normally cooked or served in a mosque.

But on Sunday, vast quantities of chicken soup – often known as “Jewish penicillin” – were being made at the East London mosque by Jewish and Muslim volunteers to be distributed to homeless centres.

Mounds of carrots, garlic, onions and celery were peeled and chopped on long benches by Muslim scouts, volunteers from Muslim Aid, members of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organisation and the New Stoke Newington Shul.

Tahir Iqbal, events director of Elite Caterers, was in charge of preparing 90 halal chickens for the pot. His company, which caters for Asian weddings and corporate events, donated the ingredients, equipment and transport for the cookathon.

“This is a new experience for us. I’ve never made Jewish chicken soup before, but I’ve been practising for two weeks, including on my family,” he said. The nearest Asian equivalent was chicken yakhni, a spicy broth, he added.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE GUARDIAN (UK)

Muslims offer ‘wonderful’ gesture of support to local synagogue after it is daubed with swastika graffiti

etz-chaim-synagogue-0A group of Muslim men have offered a “wonderful” gesture to their local Jewish community, after a synagogue was targeted with racist graffiti.

The swastika and a racial slur were daubed on the sign outside the Etz Chaim synagogue in Leeds on Tuesday night, shocking the community.

In response, four local Muslim men brought flowers to show support and solidarity, where they were welcomed by the synagogue.

A members of the Etz Chaim community, Harry Brown, commented on Facebook: “I was truly humbled by [the] amazing gesture – the gift of flowers and your support.

“This is what we want to see, and equally the Jewish community should reach out not only to Muslim faiths but to all other faiths.

“From an unpleasant episode came a wonderful outpouring of support which the whole community appreciates.”

 The instigator of the gesture was 36-year-old Shahab Adris, the Yorkshire and Humber regional manager of Mend, a not-for-profit company which hopes to reduce Islamophobia and increase engagement and development within British communities.

Jewish-Muslim relations in the Age of Trump

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The election of Donald Trump as president and the appointment of former Breitbart News chair Stephen Bannon as chief White House strategist have generated a great deal of unease in the Muslim community. As Jews, we have both a moral obligation and an enlightened self-interest to make sure Muslim Americans feel safe and completely at home in America.

Three years ago, North Brunswick resident Sheryl Olitzky launched the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, the only national organization focusing on Muslim and Jewish women with the goal of living in harmony. Of the approximately 50 Sisterhood chapters already running or in the works nationwide, 14 are in New Jersey.

“By providing a safe environment for Muslim and Jewish women to come together to focus on commonalities, respect differences, and create enduring friendships, we find that attitudes toward another religious community improve overall,” she said. In the weeks since the election, Olitzky, who now serves as the organization’s executive director, said, “We have heard from hundreds of women that the Sisterhood is the only place where they feel like they are understood, can be honest about their concerns and feelings, and find support.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM NORTH JERSEY JEWISH NEWS 

Muslims, Jews benefit by reading each others’ holy texts

9-Velgenaidi-maha-withnameI recently attended and spoke at an interfaith iftar at Peninsula Temple Sholom, as the Burlingame synagogue opened its doors to celebrate Ramadan. Iftar is the evening meal at which Muslims end their daily fasts during Ramadan, and this event was packed with people from the synagogue as well as from nearby churches and mosques.

Conversation at my table was filled with questions about Islam that I hope I answered to the satisfaction of the guests. Based on feedback from my tablemates and others I chatted with, people were grateful that they were able learn more about Islam and Muslims, and they appreciated our sharing of ourselves.

Many of them left committed to continuing to work toward peace and harmony in our communities while fighting all forms of bigotry, including that which results from Islamophobia.

In turn, I am eternally grateful to Jewish communities and organizations that have consistently spoken out against Islamophobia and bigoted policies calling for banning Syrian refugees or Muslims from entering the United States. Their courage to speak out has given much comfort to American Muslims, showing them that they’re not alone in their fight against the onslaught of bigotry and hatred by politicians and religious leadership.

I am also grateful for the many churches and other Christian institutions, as well as interfaith councils, who have reached out to Muslims to host similar interfaith events or who have attended mosque open houses that have now become regular events during Ramadan and throughout the year.

I remain proud of my American Muslim community for its resilience, courage, openness and ability to adapt, change and improve constantly in its response to growing Islamophobia. I have never in my experience seen such rapid change and growth in such a short span of time — between 9/11 and the present — by any minority community that is under siege as the American Muslim community is.

Once this idea that Muslims are foreign to America is put to rest, I look forward to the time when American Muslims will regularly reciprocate by inviting Jews and Christians to mosques to learn about Christianity and Judaism and to understand better the traditions, practices and values of our neighbors.

I know many Muslims believe that they already know those other religions, since Islam comes after them in chronology of revelation. I, too, thought the same thing until I had the opportunity to actually read the Gospels and parts of the Torah.

FULL ARTICLE FROM JEWISH WEEKLY