PLEASE FORWARD -- University students transforming Arab-Jewish relationships
Dear Jewish-Palestinian Dialogue participants and supporters,
"The Me Generation" was attributed to youth, beginning in the '80s.
"The We Generation" of Palestinian and Jewish students is who are now meeting on university campuses.
In recent weeks, new Dialogue has begun at Yale, NYU, and Rice. Students at the University of California, Berkeley, are planning a "Week of Healing."
"An Evening of Engagement" was initiated by students at the University of Toronto to successfully bring Jewish and Arabs together, as reported in The Canadian Jewish News, 20 February 2003:
At Georgetown University there are now four new Living Room Dialogues, with 10-15 students in each. According to students, the campus has "turned around." They are planning an all-day event for students from 10 other campuses. It's described at:
Wednesday, February 19, 2003 -- last week at the University of
Wisconsin, Madison, young women and men took another step forward in their
landmark event -- Peace In The Text.
Students from the Muslim Students Association (MSA) and Kavanna, a progressive Jewish voice, joined forces to hold their first-ever forum. Kavannah organizers, including Sara Frailich ( SLFrailich@wisc.edu ) and Michal Ziv-el ( MCZivel@wisc.edu ) told us how encouraged she was, and about her new MSA partner, Shahin "Mimi" Khalili ( SMKhalili2002@yahoo.com ).
"We have to expand this," said Muslim Mamoon Syed. "God empowers all of us in this room to be the trailblazers. Not just here in Madison, but in the United States, and in the entire world."
Rabbi Andrea Lerner of Hillel read a blessing that is at the center of Jewish prayer: "Grant us peace, your most precious gift, O Eternal Source of peace, and give us the will to proclaim its message to all the peoples of the earth."
Syed was "dumbfounded" to find that the central Jewish blessing is nearly identical to an important Muslim prayer.
He concluded that "we need to harness the energy of our communal dream," referring to the night's forum.
He quoted Eleanor Roosevelt: "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."
The students have begun to walk their dream -- together.
Published in The Capital Times
Thursday, February 20, 2003 -- Madison, Wisconsin
Muslims, Jews come together on campus
By Samara Kalk Derby
UW-Madison students made history Wednesday when a campus Muslim group and a campus Jewish group joined forces to hold a forum to better understand one another.
"We have to expand this," said Mamoon Syed, one of the two panelists. "God empowers all of us in this room to be the trailblazers. Not just here in Madison, but in the United States, and in the entire world."
What Muslims and Jews share is so much greater that what divides them, said Syed, of Madison, who works as a health care administrator in Janesville and is active in a number of Islamic associations.
The event, "Peace in the Texts," also featured Hillel Rabbi Andrea Lerner. She and Syed quoted religious text and discussed how their respective religions view war, peace, violence and tolerance. They also addressed the state of relations between American Jews and Muslims and those around the world.
About 65 students filled the lounge at Chadbourne residence hall for the forum, which was sponsored by the Muslim Student Association and the progressive Jewish student organization Kavana. It was moderated by Mary Rouse, director of the UW-Madison Morgridge Center for Public Service.
Afterwards, the students - along with a few community members - mingled and shared refreshments.
In Madison there have been some tentative steps to bring Jews and Muslims together, said Lerner, citing the work of Rabbi Brian Field of Shaarei Shamayim and Imam Larry Pasha. Still, she could cite only one event, an open house at a mosque.
Nationally, the situation is the same, Lerner said. Rabbis throughout the country have relationships and dialogues with Muslim leaders, but there are no national movements or coalitions, she said.
Before Sept. 11, 2001, the majority of Americans saw the religious makeup of the country as mainly Christian with a small Jewish minority, Lerner said.
"People weren't talking about Muslims. We have not included this group in our dialogue."
There is a joke among Jewish people that there is nowhere to eat on Christmas, Lerner said, telling a story about a Jewish friend who called her raving about the Christmas dinner she had eaten at the Mediterranean restaurant Shish Cafe, which is run by a Palestinian couple.
"What do Jews and Muslims have in common? They don't celebrate Christmas," Lerner said.
Jews and Muslims also find common ground in their belief in God, she said.
At one point during the event, Lerner read the blessing that is at the center of Jewish prayer: "Grant us peace, your most precious gift, O Eternal Source of peace, and give us the will to proclaim its message to all the peoples of the earth."
Syed later said he was dumbfounded to find that the central Jewish blessing is nearly identical to an important Muslim prayer. It made him wonder why such a difficult situation exists between the two faiths in the Middle East when Judaism and Islam have so much in common.
He wrapped up his remarks by quoting Eleanor Roosevelt. "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams," he said.
"We need to harness the energy of our communal dream," Syed said, referring to the night's forum. He suggested that in the future the two student groups get together socially, for dinner or maybe for a sporting event.
The Muslim Student Association is promoting its Islam Awareness Week on campus March 1-7. Dr. Muneer Fareed will lecture on "Is there an American-Muslim identity?" on March 6; and Dr. Sherman Jackson will lecture on "Islam and Citizenship." Locations have not yet been announced.
Meanwhile, Hillel, the campus Jewish center, is showing the award-winning documentary "Promises" at 7:30 p.m. March 4 at Hillel, 611 Langdon St. The film focuses on seven Palestinian and Israeli children living in and around Jerusalem - a few miles away, yet worlds apart. A discussion will follow.