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.
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When Muslims come to the Jewish-Christian table

study-862994_1280-771x514(RNS) — I spent the 16th anniversary of 9/11 at the 16th annual meeting of the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations, held under the joint auspices of the Union and Jewish theological seminaries in New York City. Appropriately, the central question before the group was how best to expand long-standing Jewish-Christian interfaith encounters in America to include Muslims.

My assignment was to discuss the use of “Judeo-Christian” language to reinforce the idea of a clash of civilizations. As in when Tony Perkins said on the Family Research Council’s “Washington Watch” in 2014, “We are a nation that was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, that’s the foundation of our nation, not Islam, but the Judeo-Christian God.”

Or when, last year, retired Air Force Col. Tom Snodgrass, a contributor to a website called Right Side News, referred to “the overt and covert war being conducted by the political forces of Islam in order to subjugate the Judeo-Christian religions and their societies.”

A fellow panelist was Columbia’s distinguished Middle East historian Richard Bulliet, who spoke about his “Islamo-Christian” conception, first published in 2004 as “The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization.” Bulliet’s idea is that theologically, doctrinally, and historically, Islam and Christianity have far more in common than most adherents of either faith tradition realize.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGIOUS NEWS SERVICE 

Jewish-Muslim relations in the Age of Trump

jewish-muslim

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 

Two friends (Jewish & Muslim) find common ground in a divided Holland

muslim jewishRabbi Lody van de Kamp, a bearded, bespectacled, yarmulka-wearing rabbi, is a 66-year-old retired director of an orthodox Jewish school in Amsterdam. He’s pretty well-known in the small Jewish community here. Back in 2010, Rabbi van de Kamp’s students told him that Muslim youths were hurling racist epithets at them. And that it was happening all over the city.

The rabbi is what you’d call “visibly Jewish,” so, together with a couple of his students and a film crew from the local Jewish broadcaster, he walked through Amsterdam’s Muslim-majority neighborhoods to collect footage. At one point, the group walked past a group of teenagers. One of the boys stood up, thrust his arm into the air, and gave Rabbi van de Kamp a Nazi salute.

The interaction was broadcast on Dutch national TV the next day. For a few days after, the incident dominated the larger discussion of the integration of Muslims into Dutch society. One Dutch Moroccan activist saw the program and later facilitated a meeting between Rabbi van de Kamp and the boy who gave him the Nazi salute. They talked and became friends.

But since then, attacks by Muslim extremists on Jews and Jewish institutions have become common in Europe, such as the 2014 attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels and the shooting in the kosher supermarket in Paris early this year. Similar incidents were happening on a smaller scale in Holland too.

Some Muslims have tried to address the problem, like Fatima Elatik, former city alderman for Amsterdam East for the center-left Labor Party. Her colorful headscarves and red lipstick are as recognizable throughout the city as her outspoken views on tolerance.

“The Jewish community is a very small community in our society and when I hear Jewish people say, ‘I want to leave. I don’t feel safe,’ that hurts me,” she says.

When conflict breaks out between the two communities, Elatik makes it a point to call her Jewish friends — among them, Rabbi van de Kamp. She recalls calling him after the supermarket attack in Paris: “I told him, I’m ashamed. … Because someone is abusing my religion that gives me so much inspiration, to hurt people like you who are my friends.”

She says this gesture is one step toward changing the society they live in. And it’s the core of the mission of Salaam Shalom, an organization she founded with Rabbi van de Kamp. Salaam Shalom, which means peace in Arabic and Hebrew, has one simple but ambitious goal: to keep the conflict between Jews and Muslims in the Middle East from spilling over to Amsterdam.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PRI INTERNATIONAL 

60 Imams, Rabbis Meet In Washington For Muslim-Jewish Interfaith Summit

thumbRNS-IMAMS-RABBISa-427x320(RNS) Frustrated by dangerously high tensions between Jews and Muslims in the Holy Land, 60 imams and rabbis gathered Sunday (Nov. 23) to hatch concrete plans to bridge the gulf between their communities, minus the kumbaya.

The “2014 Summit of Washington Area Imams and Rabbis,” its organizers hope, will be the first of many such gatherings of Jewish and Muslim clergy in cities across the U.S.

After prayers and a kosher-halal lunch at a Washington synagogue, the clergy resolved to limit the feel-good dialogue and spent the afternoon trading ideas both tried and novel. Among them: joint projects to feed the homeless, basketball games between Muslim and Jewish teens, Judaism 101 courses for Muslims and Islam 101 for Jews.

“Host a Seder in a mosque and hold an iftar dinner at a synagogue,” suggested Rizwan Jaka, who chairs the board at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society in Northern Virginia.

They threw out tough questions: “Do you invite people in your community who are particularly closed-minded to participate in interfaith dialogue?” asked Dan Spiro, co-founder of the Jewish-Islamic Dialogue Society. “Something to think about.”

And when Jews and Muslims meet, several imams and rabbis advised, do not sidestep the focal point of their mutual pain: the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Rage over the ability of both faiths to worship at Temple Mount — a site holy to Muslims and Jews, has heightened tensions with the violence culminating last week in a Palestinian attack on Jews praying in a Jerusalem synagogue that killed four worshippers and a Druze police officer.

“Discuss things from a spiritual narrative as opposed to a political narrative,” suggested Imam Sultan Abdullah of the New Africa Islamic Community Center in Washington, D.C.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST 

Mideast conflict affects all Muslims and Jews: Marmur

At times such as these it’s impossible for Muslims and Jews living outside the Middle East not to be affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in their relationship to each other. Those living far from the scene often hold even more extreme views than those in the region. Others believe that they can make peace there by acting here.

Shai Har-El, businessman, scholar and rabbi is among the latter. His book, Where Islam and Judaism Join Together, argues contrary to received wisdom that religion doesn’t fuel the conflict but is potentially “a catalyst for action in the battle for peace in the Middle East.” With this in mind he founded the Middle East Peace Network in 1990 and has since also helped to establish the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago.

In a recent interview Dr. Har-El, who was born in Israel and holds degrees from the universities of Tel Aviv and Chicago, outlined his plan that notwithstanding its political agenda would harness the religious forces that make for unity and tolerance in the service of a lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis. But despite his seemingly good intentions, his efforts don’t appear to have had much of an impact.

His utopian desire to temper politics with religion isn’t unique. For example, theLevantine Cultural Center in Los Angeles, which was launched more than a decade after the Middle East Peace Network, seems to have a similar agenda. In addition to its religious base it promotes intercultural activities and political discussions that include criticism of Israel and Zionism. As a result, Jewish mainstream organizations have kept their distance and it’s not clear to what extent Islamic groups have embraced it. Again, the effort may be praiseworthy but the results seem meagre.

The proposed House of Prayer and Learning in Berlin aims to be very different. Instead of seeking to solve the conflict in the Middle East, its stated purpose is to establish good relations between Jews and Muslims locally. While respecting religious differences, it stresses the fundamental similarities between the monotheistic faiths. The dialogue it promotes seeks to mirror the multiculturalism of the German capital.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE TORONTO STAR

Imam: Holocaust denial cannot be Islamic cause

122106-Holocaust2-500Eight days after Iran held a two-day conference denying the Nazi Holocaust, Washington-area Muslim leaders gathered at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to honor the memory of Jews murdered during the Shoah.

Standing before the eternal flame in the D.C. museum’s Hall of Remembrance, they lit candles to remember Jewish suffering.

Muslims “have to learn from the lessons of history and to commit ourselves, never again,” said Imam Mohamed Magid of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) in Sterling.

Joining him were American University professor Akbar Ahmed, who helped arrange the visit on Wednesday of last week, museum director Sara Bloomfield, three Holocaust survivors, ADAMS president Rizwan Jaka and representatives from the Council on Islamic-American Relations (CAIR), the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Arab American Institute.

Magid, whose father had been a mufti of Sudan, had heard about the Teheran conference on his car radio. He wanted to go beyond condemning the event by organizing a delegation of Muslim leaders to declare their solidarity with Jewish victims.

“No Muslim anywhere has the right to turn Holocaust denial into an Islamic cause,” the Sudanese native said. “I applaud the Jewish community for making sure humanity never forgets how the Nazis murdered Jews, gypsies and disabled people, including more than 1 million children. They set an example for the rest of us on how to make people more aware of horrors like the genocide in Rwanda and slavery.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM WASHINGTON JEWISH WEEK