Jews, Muslims Seek Better Ties in `Twinning' Program

November 24, 2008

Author: Nicole Neroulias

Source: Religion News Service

The mistrust and misconceptions between North America's Jews and Muslims may run thick and deep, but leaders of a new nationwide interfaith initiative say the two sides have more to learn than fear from each other.

That was the message issued this weekend (Nov. 21-23) in more than 100 mosques and synagogues that signed up for a "Weekend of Twinning" in hopes of forming relationships to confront the dual threats of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

"For generations, there has been a series of misunderstandings by Jews and Muslims on what the other religious community believes and practices," said Rabbi Marc Schneier, head of the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, which organized the events.

"These misperceptions and other societal and political factors have unfortunately led to tensions between our two communities."

The effort grew out of a resolution passed at the National Summit of Imams and Rabbis last year in New York, which was hosted by Schneier's organization. Kick-off events were held in California, Florida and New York, and Schneier hopes to make it an annual event, expanding to Europe next year.

The Diaspora communities may clash over the long-running Israeli/Palestinian conflict, but they can still find common ground at home, which could eventually contribute to better global relations, said Gustav Niebuhr, author of "Beyond Tolerance: Searching for Interfaith Understanding in America."