Muslims And Jews Pack Rutgers Dialogue Event

November 6, 2008

Author: Debra Rubin

Source: The New Jersey Jewish News


In what both sides hope will be the first of many interfaith encounters, Muslims and Jews at Rutgers University packed a student lounge in New Brunswick to discuss how they view dating, religious holidays, and food prohibitions.

At the Oct. 30 program, arranged by Rutgers Hillel and the Muslim Student Association, there were male students in yarmulkes and female students wearing hijabs, the traditional Muslim head scarves.

As students sat in same-sex circles of about 10, they discussed questions from a preprinted sheet that included the differences — and similarities — between kosher and halal dietary laws and the faiths’ respective Sabbath prohibitions. Jewish students cleared up confusion over the different denominations of Judaism and their different beliefs.

“How many times a day do you pray?” asked one Jewish student.

“Why can’t you drive a car on the Sabbath?” asked a Muslim.

The discussion was often punctuated by laughter as the two groups sought to understand each other. Indeed, when the 90-minute program ended, many stayed to continue the discussion or made plans to meet at another time for coffee.