After "Aftermath"
A Visit to Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary

Muslims and Jews Standing Up for the Other

This weekend, over three hundred synagogues, mosques, and Muslim and Jewish organizations, and thousands of Muslims and Jews in over thirty countries on all six continents will begin to come together to celebrate unity between the two religions. It is part of the "Weekend of Twinning" programming series, a growing effort by Jews and Muslims to confront Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in their communities and beyond, and to replace hatred and fear with increased understanding and a sense of shared purpose. Programming will continue through the end of the year.


Now in its sixth year, the Weekend of Twinning began in 2008 as an initiative of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, which has expanded its mission to improve the relations of American Jews and Blacks into a global endeavor of cross-cultural acceptance. The theme this year is "Muslims and Jews Standing Up for the Other." It's a theme echoed in a book we recently published called Sons of Abraham, not coincidentally authored by two architects of the Twinning concept and affiliated Sons of Abraham
events, Rabbi Marc Schneier, founder and president of the FFEU, and Imam Shamsi Ali, the spiritual leader of Jamaica Muslim Center, New York City’s largest Islamic center. Sons of Abraham details how, in the aftermath of 9/11, amid increasing acrimony between Jews and Muslims, the two men both raised to be suspicious of "the other" overcame their prejudices and bonded over a shared belief in the importance of finding mutual respect. In his foreword to this "candid conversation," former President Bill Clinton says of Rabbi Schneier and Imam Ali that "their personal friendship is a poignant example of what is possible among people of deep faith and goodwill."

Again and again this weekend, in cities across the US and abroad, Jewish and Muslim organizations are hoping to spread some of that same goodwill. In Los Angeles, the city's most influential mosque will host three synagogues—one Reform, one Conservative, and one Orthodox—an unprecedented range of congregations and organizations coming together under the auspices of unity. In Michigan, the Muslim and Jewish communities of urban Detroit are making a long term commitment to their least fortunate citizens in an attempt to help rehabilitate the city. Here in Boston, where Muslim-Jewish relations have suffered over the years, the events will focus on how the two communities can work to overcome suspicion and build ties of friendship and trust in the wake of the Marathon bombing. There will also be Twinning events in the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Ukraine, Poland, and other European countries, plus anticipated events in Argentina and Peru, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia.

Chances are good that there will be a Twinning event somewhere close to you, and along with it an opportunity to build on the commonalities between the two faiths, rather than the differences. As Daisy Khan, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, says in the video above, "Islamophobia is just a metastasized form of anti-Semitism." Find out more about the Weekend of Twinning on the FFEU website, or, to read more about how both religions can find common ground in their shared Abrahamic traditions, be sure to pick up a copy of Sons of Abraham.