Dearborn Interfaith Leaders Group Presses on Despite Tensions

July 19, 2006

Source: The Detroit News

On July 19, 2006 The Detroit News reported, "As Muslims, Jews and Christians traveled to an interfaith meeting at St. Paul's Lutheran Church on Tuesday, some stopped at a demonstration by 7,000 mostly Arab-American and Muslim residents, protesting the Israeli incursion into Lebanon. 'We're just stopping by to see what is being said, to pick up on people's concerns,' said Brenda Rosenberg, who is Jewish and an interfaith activist from Birmingham. 'Our work is extraordinarily difficult now.' When violent events roil the Middle East, emotions run high in Metro Detroit, the home to about 100,000 Jews and 200,000 to 300,000 Arabs of both the Muslim and Christian faiths. Since Sept. 11, 2001, people of the three faiths have attempted to establish a deeper relationship, with varying degrees of success. Whether those ties bind amid events like the dire current circumstances is the true test of their efforts, they say. 'When one knows of a loved one in either Lebanon or Israel who has been wounded or killed, it is so easy to go to a place of fear and hatred of those who are causing the pain,' Rosenberg said. 'But we can choose a different response.' So far, they say, things have gone well -- and not so well. The important thing, they say, is that the work continues toward the goal of uniting religious groups to foster a better society, especially in an area as diverse as Metro Detroit. 'We are going through some strains right now,' said Eide Alawan, of the Islamic Center of America. 'But the group is still talking to each other, mostly through the Internet and on the phone.'"