Muslims and Jews are meeting more than ever.
     They are changing and bringing the rest of their communities and world with them.
     They show the way to the future, while old-thinkers remain preoccupied with "enemies," pointing fingers, antagonistic in the battle for victimhood, distancing themselves from each other -- the predictable failure.
     But life promises us much more, if we'll take the step.  
     See it happening on America's East and West coasts. 
     "Jewish-Muslim dialogue goes on despite tensions," featured this week's Jewish Advocate in Boston -- Friday 10 February 2006.
     Read the story at .
     Walking through each other's doors is growing trust and new social understanding in The Muslim-Jewish Study Circle.
     The women and men are largely of members of the ISB mosque in Cambridge and nearby Temple Beth Shalom.
     The have been meeting every six weeks for the past three years.
     The signs are they intend to stay together, ever-learning, growing together.

     And inspiring Greater Boston is The Center for Jewish-Muslim Relations -- , shepherded by:
                Muslim Salma Kazmi --
                Jewish David Dolev --

     Today on the Pacific Coast, another 3-year-old Dialogue found its newspaper's front page. 
     "Jews, Muslims share dream of peace:  Group brings people of two faiths together," reads the banner.
     Their recent California meeting demonstrated how overseas and Middle East Dialogue activities inspire and inform one another.
     Every conversation, every relationship, every person, every idea. . . matters.
     The time is always right.
     The power of one person is huge.
                - L&L

Published in the Antelope Valley Press (Calif.) -- Tuesday, 14 February 2006
On the Web at
Front page photo at

Jews, Muslims share dream of peace
Group brings people of two faiths together

Valley Press Staff Writer

     PALMDALE - As they sat in the back yard of a Palmdale house Sunday afternoon, Jews and Muslims did something they wish political leaders thousands of miles away would do.
They sat and talked.
     The topic of conversation was not inflammatory cartoons, the health status of an ailing prime minister or the deep political divides that have separated the two cultures.
     It was how the people, about 15 Southern California residents with such birthplaces as Egypt, Israel, Syria and Germany, can get others to sit with them and talk. They are members of the Jewish-Muslim/Arab Living Room Dialogue Group, an organization that hopes to bring people from the two religions and cultures together to talk.
     The group made one of its treks to the Antelope Valley on Sunday, stopping at the home of Abdul-Wahab Omeira, Islamic chaplain at the state prison in Lancaster and a member of the Antelope Valley Interfaith Alliance.
     Omeira said the meetings are a small start, but the right one.
     "The journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step," Omeira said.
     In the back yard of his house, even before the official meeting began, Muslims and Jews talked about their religions. Omeira's wife, Rhoda, told some of the Los Angeles-area Jews about construction of the Antelope Valley's first mosque. They all commented on the wonderful weather Palmdale experienced Sunday, with the warm sun and pleasant wind (which, of course, sometimes picked up in gusts to blow napkins and plastic plates).
     Different people from different walks of life, those attending the dialogue session gave different reasons but the same idea for gathering and talking.
     They want a peaceful resolution between the two religions, especially in Israel and Palestine.
     Madeline Taylor said she began attending the meetings after the Sept. 11 attacks on America, when she realized how closed her world was.
     "I realized I didn't know any Muslims," said Taylor, a Los Angeles resident who is Jewish.
     "Somehow if we're going to stay strong as a country and counter all the violence they're having around the world, we need to come together and know each other personally."
     Founded in the Bay Area in 1992, with the Los Angeles chapter starting three years ago, the Jewish-Muslim/Arab Living Room Dialogue group meets once a month at the homes of its Muslim and Jewish members.
     At each meeting, there are no talks about politics or how the Middle East can be at peace.
     They have only agreements that members listen to each other and that all want peace in the region. Every meeting includes a story from members about their lives and their faith.
     Last month, group members Ihab Ali, an Egyptian Muslim, and his wife, Irit Perla, an Israeli Jew, shared their story. The two were at Omeira's house with their 4-year-old son, Adam, to hear this month's talk from Dr. Yehuda Stolov, the executive director of a similar dialogue organization based in Israel.
     Paul Waller, who with his wife, Joan, founded the Los Angeles chapter three years ago, said the purpose is mainly "to get to know each other on a deep level. Both have a shared vision of what life can be as a people in the Middle East."
    Waller said he has a different perspective on today's Arab-Israeli conflict.
     Born in Germany, Waller's family fled to America in 1939, when the Holocaust began.
     "Half of my family, on my father and mother's side, did not survive," he said. Having lost so many family members, Waller said he wants to end any more bloodshed between the two religions. "I can't see the Jews doing to the Muslims what the Nazis did to the Jews."
     At Sunday's meeting, the guest speaker from Israel showed the group what is being done in Israel and Palestine with a similar program.
     Stolov, the executive director of Interfaith Encounter, spoke about his organization's effort to mix Palestinians and Israelis in dialogue groups.
     Stolov said the idea for the dialogue groups came at interfaith meetings that focused on a speaker, but left Muslims and Jews sitting next to each other without any interaction.
     "There are 15 (dialogue groups) across Israel and we're in the process of building another seven or eight," Stolov said.
     Stolov said the dialogue groups are taking individuals ready for peace and putting them together, rather than wait for the respective governments to make the changes.
     "The government will probably come last, but the people are coming in now," he said.
     Though the dream of peace between the two countries, religions and cultures may seem far off depending on the current day's news, Omeira said he cannot lose hope.
     "Even if I don't see it happen myself, I'd like to see my son carry the torch and it doesn't have to be him, it could be my grandson," Omeira said.