The Center for Jewish-Muslim Relations
1. Jews and Muslims, sharing many traditions of love and respect, are in the midst of a generations-old conflict in the Middle East that has brought about in many areas of the world non cooperation, distrust and violence between Muslims and Jews.
2. Both of our communities live in the Greater Boston area as minorities within a Christian majority. Our two communities have much in common. Leaders and individuals in both communities feel that learning and working together is an important process and statement that can bring benefits to both communities and to the larger society.
3. In the past few years, there have been a small but growing number of ongoing activities between the two communities.
4. Individuals and institutions in both communities are voicing the will to engage with one another while expressing insecurities on how this can be done. We know that many others are open to dialogue but need additional nurturing and support in order to realize this.
Aim of Joint Jewish –Muslim Activities
A. Enable members of both communities to get to know each other, learn from and with one another, and educate each other about one another.
B. Help individuals experience that which we and our cultures have in common. Understand the other's faith and learn to acknowledge differences without feeling the need to debate or resolve differences.
C. Work together to explore similarities and consider ways to act together as people of faith and goodwill.
D. Bring together members of the two communities who would never otherwise meet each other and build bridges of understanding.
E. Develop a model of constructive Jewish-Muslim relationships. We hope that this model will be able to influence interpersonal and intercommunity relationships far beyond the greater Boston area.
Rationale for The Center for Jewish-Muslim Relations
The Jewish community of Greater Boston comprises approximately 200,000, the Muslim community approximately 70,000. Both communities are very diverse in their socio- economic make-up and in the political views of their members.
The level of engagement between the two communities could be highly intensified if there were a central agency in the Jewish and Muslim community that could support and encourage structures of engagement between the two communities. These structures of engagement look different in different contexts. For example, a dialogue group of Jewish and Muslim educators would look different from a dialogue group between people of different occupations living in the same city or town.
If members of the two communities hear each others voices and stories, the result will be greater understanding, trust and cooperation between the communities.
In order to create these frameworks of engagement two essentially different types of work need to be done. The first is to help those who have voiced an interest in being engaged with the other community. The second is to reach out to specific individuals in each community in order to cultivate a willingness to engage with individuals in the other community.
Our Vision for The Center for Jewish-Muslim Relations
In order to support engagement between the communities the Center will eventually:
1. Provide assistance and support in making connections between individuals and institutions in the two communities. 2. Initiate contact with potentially-interested institutions and individuals. 3. Provide resource material and curricula for different types of engagement. 4. Provide facilitation assistance, consulting services, training and ongoing support for the initiators of the interfaith groups. 5. Provide assistance in the recruitment of funds that may be needed to support local initiatives.