Muslims and Jews Break Bread, and Build Bonds

13DINNERS-2-superJumboFlorence Nasar kept checking her phone. She was at an interfaith dinner last Sunday aimed at building friendships between New York Jews and Muslims, and the guests, all in their 20s and early 30s, sat on couches around her, sharing stories about their religious practices, their pasts and their quests to define who they are.

Ms. Nasar, a Syrian Jew, was actually living those themes. Her secret Muslim boyfriend was on his way.

She had not told her family about him, she explained to the other guests, because in the insular community in New Jersey where she was raised, intermarriage is forbidden. But Ms. Nasar, 27, an artist and a dancer, no longer lived at home.

She has recently been hosting interfaith events between Syrian Jews and Syrian Muslim refugees, eager to explore their shared heritage. Out of her own interest in understanding people, she had met someone.

 Ms. Nasar was one of about 100 guests at a series of intimate Jewish-Muslim dinners that took place last weekend around Manhattan and Brooklyn to build interfaith understanding. Lonnie Firestone, a modern Orthodox Jew and freelance writer from Brooklyn, came up with the idea for dinners after President Trump’s victory. She wanted to bring Muslims and Jews together in a spirit of friendship, so they could work together against anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

Jews, Christians and Muslims band together to protest Trump’s immigration orders

a7fb2355a538461eb7ea3055552982c8_1486179632799_2703119_ver1-0FOX 32 NEWS – Jews, Christians and Muslims all banded together Friday to protest President Trump’s immigration orders.

The protesters formed a human chain in front of a mosque in southwest suburban Bridgeview.

The human chain in front of the mosque was a symbol of many faiths linking together to fight the president’s orders.

“These are our neighbors living in communities next to us. And they need support and encouragement to know they don’t have to live in fear looking over their shoulder,” said Presbyterian Minister Adam Malak.

“I want them to know that I’m here in solidarity with them, as my faith tradition teaches me to love they neighbor, I wanted to be here to show that support to them,” said Deacon Michael Fakete.

FULL ARTICLE FROM FOX 32 NEWS IN CHICAGO

US Muslim community campaigns to repair Jewish cemetery

_94790553_cemetery2A US Muslim-led fundraising project to help repair a Jewish cemetery that was vandalised has raised almost three times its $20,000 (£16,000) target.

The crowdfunding campaign, which calls for “solidarity with the Jewish-American community”, aims to help “rebuild this sacred space”.

More than 170 headstones were damaged at the Jewish cemetery in St Louis, Missouri on Monday.

It comes after a string of anti-Semitic threats targeting the Jewish community.

The fundraising effort, launched by Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi, has received nearly 2,000 donations and has raised more than $55,000 (£44,000).

“Muslim Americans stand in solidarity with the Jewish-American community to condemn this horrific act of desecration,” the fundraising page states.

The project, which is still accepting funds, aims to repair damage at the Chesed Shel Emeth cemetery in St Louis, but the campaigners said that any additional funds raised would be used to “assist other vandalised Jewish centres nationwide”.


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On Tuesday, the Muslim organisations the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Missouri chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations both spoke out against the vandalism.

“We encourage our members to reach out to their local synagogue and Jewish neighbours to express their solidarity and support and to generously support the rebuilding of the recently desecrated cemetery,” ISNA President Azhar Azeez said in a statement.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE BBC NEWS 

Christians And Jews Team Up To Help Muslims After Texas Mosque Fire

mosqueChristians and Jews in a small Texas town reached out to help their Muslim neighbors after a fire destroyed a local mosque.

“Jewish community members walked into my home and gave me a key to the synagogue,” Dr. Shahid Hashmi, a cofounder of the Victoria Islamic Center, told The New York Times.

In addition, at least four churches offered space for the Muslims to hold their services.

Victoria is a small city about 125 miles southwest of Houston with a population of about 65,000.

Everyone knows everybody,” Robert Loeb, the president of the town’s Temple B’Nai Israel, told Forward. “I know several members of the mosque, and we felt for them.”

On Wednesday, children from a local Catholic school marched to the mosque to form what the Islamic Center called “a human chain of love and peace.”

They are literally our neighbors,” Gretchen Boyle, an English teacher at St. Joseph High School, told the Victoria Advocate. “We are responding to the call, ‘Love thy neighbor.’”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST 

In Bahrain, Arabs and Jews Gather (and Dance) at a Hanukkah Celebration

Orthodox Jews in black coats and skullcaps danced with Arabs in flowing robes and checkered kaffiyehs at a Hanukkah celebration over the weekend in Bahrain, a Muslim-majority monarchy whose king has sanctioned celebrations of the Jewish holiday.

Video of the celebration, which included a Jewish delegation giving a large silver menorah to Arab dignitaries and members of both groups dancing together, appeared on Monday on YouTube, where many commenters lauded the multicultural celebration.

The event drew the ire of Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, which called the celebration a “humiliating and disgraceful display” in a statement.

“The positive energy that there was tonight needs to be spread around,” an unidentified Jewish man tells the group in American-accented English before handing over the menorah, which he called symbolic. “The symbol is that hopefully through this night we can bring infinite light to the world.”

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that Bahraini officials hosted the Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony on Saturday, the first night of the eight-day holiday, and that it was attended by members of the country’s small Jewish population, foreign businessmen and “other local Bahrainis.”

The identities of the members of either delegation could not immediately be determined, but American Orthodox Jews suggested online that the Jewish group might have been backed by Eliezer Scheiner, a businessman and philanthropist from Brooklyn. Calls to Mr. Scheiner were not answered.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES 

Study finds Christians in the U.S. tend to be less educated than Hindus, Jews, and Muslims

ap02121302524A study published Tuesday by the Pew Research Center revealed that in the U.S., Hindus are nearly three times more likely than Christians to have attended college or vocational school. An analysis of data collected in 2010 revealed a surprising gap in education between Christians and religious minorities, with Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, and the religiously unaffiliated more likely than Christians to have obtained a postsecondary degree. Of the 267 million Christians in the U.S. in 2010, only 36 percent had gone on to receive a postsecondary education.

More than anything, the study says, the findings are reflective of the country’s immigration policies. Lead researcher Conrad Hackett explained the gap is “largely a byproduct of immigration policies that favor highly educated and highly skilled applicants who have the financial means to set up life in a new country,” The New York Times reported. While just 14 percent of Christians were born abroad, an estimated 87 percent of Hindus were.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WEEK

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