Tuesday, January 1, 2008

U.S. Jews and Muslims Seek Paths to Harmony

Dec 24, 2007

by Michael Conlon

Muslims and Jews, a tiny slice of the U.S. population, are looking for new ways to get along that could set a worldwide example for two ancient but often alienated faiths, religious leaders and experts say.

"I've encountered (among Muslims) a more centrist, a more moderate voice that is looking to the Jewish community to help project that voice ... to the greater world," said Rabbi Marc Schneier of New York, speaking of a national summit of imams and rabbis he helped organize earlier this year.

He also cited a recent incident in a New York subway "where four young Jews were being verbally and physically assaulted on a train for wishing the passengers a happy Hanukkah, and the only individual to come to their rescue was a young Muslim man," Hassan Askari, of Bangladeshi heritage, who was beaten.

"That is a very, very powerful example" of what can happen. The challenge is to try to strengthen Jewish-Muslim cooperation and have it serve as a paradigm for communities around the world," added Schneier, who founded the New York Synagogue in Manhattan and also the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.

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