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Naazish YarKhan

Naazish YarKhan

Posted February 11, 2009 | 09:03 PM (EST)

Chicago Jewish, Muslim Leaders Reaffirm Solidarity, Condemn Hate


Chicago Muslims and Jews Speak with One Voice on Peace and Justice

My friend Donna Yates of Poetry Pals has an observation - she says that unless Muslims and Jews are at each other's throats, there isn't an interest in the media to cover their relationship. She runs inter-faith poetry and art workshops in Chicagoland amongst students of Muslim, Jewish and Christian day time and weekend schools. And unfortunately, there's been little interest from the media.

Well, maybe the media won't pick it up, but there's no reason readers shouldn't know that Muslims and Jews can get along and can trust each other and even have dialogue!

In the wake of the recent violence in Gaza, Chicago-area Jewish and Muslim leaders have
released a statement under the aegis of JCUA's Jewish Muslim Community Building
Initiative to reaffirm their friendship and solidarity.

"This process reinforced the importance of open communication and continuous dialogue
between our communities," said Jane Ramsey, JCUA executive director. "As tensions
between the Jewish and Muslim communities fester, it is that much more urgent that our
work continue and that we remain even more dedicated and tenacious in pursuing every
avenue for dialogue and joint action."

JCUA created the Jewish-Muslim Community-Building Initiative (JMCBI) in 2001 in
response to increased intolerance and hate crimes against Muslims following the 9/11 attack
on the World Trade Center. JMCBI has expanded JCUA's social justice focus to include
Chicago's Muslim communities in a long-term, consistent way, and to create greater
understanding and respect between Jews and Muslims.

This Joint Statement signed by over a dozen organizations/ entities really puts into perspective what both communities have been working on while the Gaza crisis took center-stage. It says:

We are representatives of Chicago's Jewish and Muslim communities who have come together with shared values grounded in our respective faith traditions, in light of the recent events in the Middle East and the tragic loss of innocent life, to reaffirm our friendship and our mutual commitment to the preciousness of human life. The Jewish and Muslim communities have lived peacefully side by side in Chicago for many years. Our respective communities have worked together in partnership to fight injustice, racism, poverty, and indifference From this position of solidarity and renewed friendship:

• We condemn anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

• We affirm the preciousness of human life and the safety and security of the people in
Gaza and Israel. The life of a Palestinian child and the life of an Israeli child are
equally precious.

• We condemn wanton violence, human suffering, and targeting of innocent civilians.

• We pray for a Middle East where Israelis and Palestinians are safe from all forms of
violence.

• We pray for continued friendship, and the growth and development in our
understanding of one another.

• We pray for an end to the conditions that produce hopelessness.

• We commit to communicating and listening to each other throughout these difficult
times.

• We commit to respecting each other even when we disagree.

• We commit to our ongoing relationship, not contingent upon agreement.

• We commit to supporting each other and protecting each other from hate and
aggression.

• We embrace the message of hope, peace, and justice for all our communities.
We urge that as our respective communities gather for demonstrations, that the language and
symbolism in our signs and chants, while protected by our precious right of freedom speech,
do not cross lines and demonize the "other" or incorporate elements of anti-Semitism or
Islamophobia.

They believe that these times must serve as a reminder for all of us, individually and
institutionally, to redouble our efforts to build bridges with people of all faiths, races, and
classes. Only then, will we stand--in all our diversity of opinions--as a united front against
hatred, injustice and brutality, locally and abroad. After all, we are only being asked to follow the prophetic model in our respective communities; the prophetic values of justice, compassion and courage in working together to bring a lasting peace to our community here and to our sacred region of the world.

The Signatories Include:
ORGANIZATIONS
Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative, Co-Chairs, Rabbi Asher Lopatin and
Rabbi Andrea London
Jewish Council on Urban Affairs
Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago
Inner-City Muslim Action Network
Jewish Labor Committee, Stuart Appelbaum, President, Mike Perry, Chicago Chair
Muslim Bar Association
Islamic Society of Northwest Suburbs
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, President: Steve Masters,
Chicago Chapter Chair: Michael Peshkin
INDIVIDUALS*
Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder, Ph.D., Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion
Imam Senad Agic, Islamic Cultural Center, Northbrook
Rabbi Lisa Bellow, Congregation Beth Am, Buffalo Grove
Rabbi Matthew Berger, Temple Chai, Long Grove
Rabbi Marc Berkson, Congregation Emanu-El B'ne Jeshurun, Milwaukee
Rabbi Simcha Bob, Aitz Chaim, Lombard
Rabbi Herbert Bronstein, Rabbi Emeritus, North Shore Congregation Israel, Glencoe
Rabbi Miriam Burg
Rabbi Paul Cohen, Temple Jeremiah, Northfield
Rabbi Shoshanah Conover, Temple Sholom of Chicago
Rabbi Darryl Crystal, KAM Isaiah Israel, Chicago
Rabbi Ellen Dreyfus, B'nai Yehuda Beth Sholom, Homewood
Rabbi Laurence Edwards, Congregation Kol Ami, Chicago
Rabbi Bruce Elder, Congregation Hakafa, Glencoe
Rabbi Capers Funnye, Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation, Chicago
Rabbi Wendi Geffen, North Shore Congregation Israel, Glencoe
Rabbi Suzanne Griffel, Chaplain, Glenview-based Midwest Palliative & Hospice Care
Center
Tabassum Haleem, Executive Director, Organization of Islamic Speakers, Midwest
Rabbi Sidney Helbraun, Temple Beth El, Northbrook
Dr. Hesham A. Hassaballa, co-author, The Beliefnet Guide to Islam
Rabbi Peter Knobel, Beth Emet Synagogue, Evanston; president, Central Conference of
American Rabbis
Rabbi Jonathan Magidovitch, Congregation B'nai Torah, Highland Park
Rabbi Steve Mason, North Shore Congregation Israel, Glencoe
M. Khalid Mozaffar
Ayesha K. Mustafaa, Editor, Muslim Journal newspaper, Homewood
Rabbi Robert J. Marx, Rabbi Emeritus, Hakafa; Founder, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs
Camille Odeh, Executive Director, Southwest Youth Collaborative
Rabbi David Oler, Beth Or, Deerfield
Eboo Patel, author, Acts of Faith
Rabbi Aaron Mark Petuchowski, Temple Sholom of Chicago
Jane Ramsey, Executive Director, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs
Rabbi Brant Rosen, Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, Evanston
Amina Saeed, president-elect, Muslim Bar Association
Rabbi David Sandmel, Congregation Kol Ami, Chicago
Rabbi Michael Stevens, Temple Beth El, Hammond, IN
Rabbi Dov Taylor, Congregation Solel, Highland Park
Rabbi Jeffrey Weill, Temple Beth-El, Northbrook
Rabbi Michael Weinberg, Temple Beth Israel, Skokie
Rabbi Ira Youdovin, former executive vice president, Chicago Board of Rabbis
Rabbi Michael Zedek, Emanuel Congregation, Chicago