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Photo: David Karp
European rabbis, imams to promote understanding
Delegation of spiritual leaders from Europe visits US to learn about 'twinning synagogues' initiative aimed at advancing interfaith dialogue, battle anti-Semitism and Islamophobia
A delegation of over two dozen European imams and rabbis in a meeting late last week at the White House pledged participation in American-led efforts to combat Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

 

The declaration, signed by leading clerics from nine European nations came at the conclusion of a four-day interreligious mission to the United States that brought the group to the White House, State Department, Congress, United Nations, Ground Zero, US Memorial Holocaust Museum and even Yankee Stadium.

 

The mission was hosted by The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU) in conjunction with the World Jewish Congress United States and the Islamic Society of North America.


White House visit (Photo: Ron Sachs)

 

As part of the declaration, the rabbis and imams endeavored to take part in the upcoming Weekend of Twinning of Mosques and Synagogues in North America and Europe, which will take place November 13-15, 2009. During the “Twinning,” local mosques and synagogues will join together on a one-on-one basis to hold programs to promote unity and mutual understanding.

 

The Twinning programs will focus on a range of issues including fighting Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, combating poverty, ensuring fair treatment of immigrants and refugees, saving the environment and ways to bring together Muslim and Jewish youth.

 

Encouraging dialogue  

The declaration additionally urges ongoing dialogue and cooperative projects between Muslims and Jews, and encourages members of both faiths to find commonalities in their religions, support human rights for all people and fight bigotry and assaults on houses of worship.


New York Yankees welcomed delegation as special guests (Photo: David Karp) 

 

“Bringing together Muslims and Jews is among the greatest challenges facing our communities today,” said Rabbi Marc Schneier, president and founder of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. “By expanding to Europe what has already been a successful and groundbreaking twinning initiative in the United States, we together will combat Islamophobia and anti-Semitism to promote mutual understanding and productive cooperation through dialogue.”

 

Throughout the mission, the delegates were introduced to successful American-style interfaith initiatives that could also be implemented in their own countries to facilitate and encourage a dialogue with colleagues, and work to improve America’s standing with Muslims abroad. The imams and rabbis come from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

 

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