Backstage With Six Rabbis, Six Imams and No ‘Kumbaya’

April 13, 2008


Source: The New York Times

Marc Schneier, 3 years old and not yet a rabbi, had a knack for getting the attention of adults.

The story is told that he liked to wander. One night he was nowhere to be found in the synagogue during Yom Kippur services. His frantic mother searched. His stern father, who was officiating, started the service anyway.

When the congregation concluded a prayer, the ark holding the sacred Torah scrolls (about the size of a minivan) was opened.

And inside, waving at the congregants with both hands, was the toddler.

Last week, Rabbi Schneier, 49, worked on his latest attention-getting venture: a television commercial to promote tolerance between Muslims and Jews.

It is set to air in September, during Ramadan, the month in which it is said the Koran was revealed to Muhammad. It will also play in early October, during the Jewish High Holy Days.

And in November, Rabbi Schneier’s group, the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, plans a national initiative matching a synagogue with a mosque in 25 cities and towns; together, they fight anti-Semitism and what the foundation calls Islamophobia.