Young Muslims, Jews Work Toward Peace

February 17, 2009

Author: Bob Smietana

Source: The Tennessean

Shoshana Jaffa sums up the conflict in the Middle East like this: "Everybody wants to meet halfway, but no one knows where halfway is."

Jaffa was one of about 45 Jewish and Muslim teens and young adults who met Sunday at Congregation Micah in Brentwood to discuss the recent fighting in Gaza.

It's part of a dialogue between local Jews and Muslims aimed at building understanding between young people of different faiths. Organizers hope that if young people can learn to discuss the Middle East civilly, perhaps their parents can, as well.

In fact, there was just one rule in place at Sunday morning's meeting — no parents allowed.

"Adults can't have this conversation," Michael Pote, a Sunday School teacher at Congregation Micah, said to the interfaith group meeting in a classroom at the Brentwood synagogue. "Things like this don't happen, and it's a shame."

Pote says that Jewish and Muslim adults rarely discuss the Middle East conflict without ending in a shouting match. He and other organizers hope that young people can show their parents and faith communities a better way.

Sunday's meeting was part of an ongoing dialogue between youth groups at the Islamic Center of Nashville and two local synagogues, Congregation Micah and West End Synagogue in Nashville.