Local Interfaith Dialogues Respond to Middle East Conflict

Source: The Boston Globe

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2006/07/18/jews_muslims_work_to_keep_local_dialogue_going/

On July 18, 2006 The Boston Globe reported, “Local Jews and Muslims are working hard to keep their interfaith groups alive and communications open as the Middle East conflict deepens.

So far, leaders say, they are succeeding — partly by concentrating on long-term, local goals rather than reacting to day-to-day developments in the region, and partly by keeping a low profile.

‘From the Muslim side, the whole reason to establish a dialogue group was to . . . prevent hostilities and misunderstandings locally, at the grass-roots level,’ said Mahmoud Jafri , cochairman of the Muslim-Jewish Dialogue of Greater Boston , in a telephone interview yesterday. ‘It would be a travesty for the dialogue to stop.’

The group Jafri chairs was founded in 2002 and is believed to be the oldest Muslim-Jewish group in the region, which was formed as the Muslim population in the Boston area grew.

Members of Muslim American Society’s Boston chapter and Brookline’s Moishe House , a Jewish social-action group, met Sunday for joint study and conversation — and came away feeling encouraged… ‘In the midst of all the heartbreaking violence in the Middle East, it is possible to feel really powerless,’ said Margie Klein , a rabbinical student at Hebrew College in Newton who participated in the discussion. ‘To listen to one another, to see each other as people and study social justice is exciting, and it does not feel powerless. We feel like the young leadership of our communities is building a foundation for Muslims and Jews to work and talk together in the future’…

A Jewish-Palestinian dialogue group organized by the American Jewish Committee also met as planned despite the spiraling violence last Friday. Members talked for about 90 minutes about their feelings as Palestinians and Jews and discussed the situation in the Middle East.”