US Imams, Rabbis Meet to Bridge Gaps

WASHINGTON – Amid increasing tensions between Muslims and Jews in Palestinian occupied Holy Land, 60 American imams and rabbis have gathered in Washington, amid hopes of bridging the gap between the two religious communities.

“In my view we are the closest two religions in the world,” Rabbi Gerry Serotta, executive director of the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, who sees healing between Muslims and Jews as a blessing that will resonate, told Religion News Service on Monday, November 24.

“There is something about a Jewish-Muslim rapprochement that is very important for the rest of the world,” Serotta said.

“The perception is that Jews and Muslims are irreconcilable, and when people see that we’re not, it gives them hope.”

The leaders of both faiths attended on Monday an event under the title “2014 Summit of Washington Area Imams and Rabbis”.

The event was sponsored by the Greater Washington Muslim-Jewish Forum, the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society and Washington Hebrew Congregation, the synagogue where the meeting was held.

During the meeting, both imams and rabbis enjoyed a kosher-halal lunch at a Washington synagogue.

Though there are no official estimates, the US is home to an estimated Muslim minority of six to eight million.

A 2010 report of the North American Jewish Data Bank puts the number of Jews in the US at around 6.5 million.

Joining Hands

At the gathering, the participants discussed joint projects that included the feeding of homeless people, 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.

Attendants highlighted that Islam and Judaism were deemed the world’s closest two religions.

They referred to the fact shared by followers of both faiths that they are descended from the sons of Abraham [Ibrahim]; Jews from Isaac and Muslims from Ishmael.

Both faiths also share similar dietary laws, with halal food for Muslims and Kosher for Jews.

Interfaith ties between American Muslim and Jewish leaders have a history of successes.

Sponsored by The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, a New York-based nonprofit organization, the “Twinning Mosques and Synagogues » initiative aims to promote ethnic harmony and build inter-group grassroots ties.

Since the initiative began in 2008, the Twinning Mosques and Synagogues brought together 50 Jewish and 50 Muslim congregations across the United States and Canada at one-on-one programs.

A group of highp-rofile Muslim and Jewish organizations participate in the initiative, including the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the World Jewish Congress (WJC), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and the Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims (CAJM).

 

Islamonline

F.Achouri

Sociologue spécialiste de l’islam contemporain.

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