YOUTH LEAD:  UPenn students, others model

year of Arab-Jewish and interfaith success

Monday, 16 June 2008


                When we are no longer able to change a situation,
                we are challenged to change ourselves.
  Victor Frankl

     Around Earth, youth-innovators are leading the way.
     Transcending old thinking, surpassing old thinkers.
     Young adults are turning dreams into life on-the-ground and on-the-campus. 
     Idealism is working in real life.

     They are starting with themselves.
     Beginning with personal connection and excellent communication, they are not skipping any steps in the process of change:

     WATCH and LISTEN, then READ below about the new, young opinion-leaders, community-builders, world-changers.
     Then replicate their models as soon as you can.
     Support these kinds of endeavors wherever you live, as much as you can.



Muslim and Jewish Students Break Bread Together

Middle Tennessee State University - November, 2007 video (4 min)

Jewish and Muslim Students Speak Out

Interviews with students of Muslim and Jewish schools that reached out to each other - January, 2008 video (11 min)

More about the facilitators, Abraham's Vision, is at


     In 2007-2008, no campus in North America - probably on Earth - was more exemplary than the University of Pennsylvania.
     One student visionary and initiator, UPenn sophomore Sam Adelsberg ( ) implored fellow scholars to engage, communicate properly, and create a true campus community to demonstrate substance, before insisting people do better in the Middle East.
     Other determined students were Samir Malik ( ) and Orly May ( ).
     READ the narrative of one student - sophomore Sam Adelsberg - describing UPenn change through his eyes.

     My freshman year at Penn was marred by controversy between the Jewish and Muslim and Arab communities.

     Distrust and animosity stood in the way of a provocative dialogue as numerous incidents further exacerbated the already existant isolation between the communities.

     I could only speak for my own feelings, but I saw many who have since become dear friends as "the other."

     A year later, it is not uncommon to see Muslims eating at Hillel or Jews attending MSA events.

    What happened?

     An initiative sparked by some student leaders on both sides attempted to "bridge the gap" that we all saw.

     Are all barriers broken down? Hardly.

     Through joint musical performances, joint panels, cultural events and a trip together to help rebuild New Orleans together, student leaders from both communities began to see each other as friends and not as others.

     Though there were times when it got tense, many beautiful friendships formed.

     While there is a long way to go, this is an exciting first step as many of these students who participated have tremendous potential to take this even further in the coming years.

     Finally, READ excerpts from four 2007-2008 University of Pennsylvania front-page newspaper articles that describe what can happen for a campus, community, nation, world.


Published in The Daily Pennsylvanian - 18 September 2007
Breaking the ice via stereotypes
Interfaith organization PRISM debunks common religious slurs in first fall meeting
Alex Melamed

     What do you get when a money-grubbing Jew, a cow-loving Hindu and a polytheistic Catholic walk into Huntsman Hall? An event that breaks down common religious barriers.
     Last night's introductory meeting of Programs in Religious and Interfaith and Spirituality Matters featured a heated discussion about religious stereotypes to kick off the organization's second year
While some stereotypes stemmed from a lack of knowledge, others were simply popularized slurs.
     "In the past, discussions were more substantive. But today we discussed and dismissed mostly superficial stereotypes," said returning member and Wharton and Engineering sophomore Nechemya Kagedan.
     "There could have been tension, but people chose not to take it personally," he added.
     Weiner, PRISM's only returning board member, wants it to "serve as the connector between the different religious organizations and bring religion to the forefront" this year.


Published in The Daily Pennsylvanian - 30 January 2008
Mending their ties through music
Jews, Arabs and Muslims seek fresh cultural dialogue
Nandanie Khilall

     The Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities at Penn made history last night.
     With the launch of a new collaborative initiative called Bridging the Gap, these communities took a step toward building long-lasting working relationships within the Penn community.
     Through dialogue and cultural events, this program hopes to foster a sense of mutual understanding that "is often lacking in the world today," said Mariam Ezz, Wharton senior and president of Penn Arab Student Society.
     "While there will always be a place for partisan events on campus, an initiative like Bridging the Gap will expose Jewish, Arab and Muslim students to a way of thinking that will foster compassion and mutual understanding," added Ezz.
     Ezz, who was born in Cairo, grew up speaking Arabic and was never exposed to the "other side of things," she said.
     "Bridging the Gap is an attempt to provide all parties involved with a different outlook on the issues," she added.
     "I found it ironic that we hope people in places like Israel will make peace when there is no effort to even engage with each other in our own backyards," said College sophomore Sam Adelsberg, co-chairman of Hillel's Israel Dialogue sector.


Published in The Daily Pennsylvanian - 19 March 2008
Religion and rebuilding down South
Jewish and Muslim students come together for spring break trip
Lara Seligman

     While some college kids jetted off to Florida or Cancun for spring break, one group of Penn students spent time gutting houses and discussing religion in New Orleans.
     Last week, 22 students and three facilitators travelled to the site of Hurricane Katrina to be a part of Penn's first-ever student-run interfaith service trip.
     The trip was a collaboration between Hillel and the Muslim Students Association with the dual purpose of serving the community and strengthening the relationship between the two faiths, explained College senior Naveed Rashid, a participant. It was sponsored by a $17,000 grant from the Fox Leadership program.
     The group was made up of 11 students from Hillel, 11 students from MSA, Rabbi Michael Uram, Interim University Chaplain Charles Howard, and Religious Studies graduate student Ludmila Zamah.
     The students worked with a community-service program called Acorn, similar to Habitat for Humanity, College and Wharton sophomore Sakina Zaidi.
     Along with other controversial topics, the group discussed their religious identities and backgrounds, morally troubling passages from the Koran and the Old Testament and the influence of mass media on religion.
     On Friday, the group attended both Muslim and Shabbat services. Malik explained that while watching the Jewish services, MSA students found out how similar the two services were.
     It was a "good opportunity for us to work together and to really give back to the community," Rashid said. "I can't see a better way of interacting with someone of a different faith than through service."

Published in The Daily Pennsylvanian - 04 April 2008
Two unlikely groups join forces to host an event
Lara Seligman

     "We are not on the West Bank; we are in West Philadelphia."
     So said Sam Adelsberg, a College sophomore who organized a discussion that took place between the Penn Israel Coalition and Students for Justice in Palestine last night in Huntsman Hall. This marked the first time that PIC and SJP have come together to jointly sponsor an event.
     During the discussion, four panelists told their personal stories and described how the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has affected the evolution of their identity. After each panelist had his or her say, there was a question and answer session.

                When we are no longer able to change a situation,
                we are challenged to change ourselves.
  Victor Frankl