Global, Religion

Union for Reform Judaism and the Islamic Society of North America team up

WaPo reports on a new effort created jointly by the Union for Reform Judaism and the Islamic Society of North America, respectively the USA’s largest Jewish and Muslim organizations. 11 groups nationwide were picked to try this new curriculum, begun last December (WAPo’s local angle is that one of the 11 groups picked is led by Rabbi Steve Weisman of Bowie, Maryland’s Temple Solel and Khalil Shadeed (no title mentioned), a leader of the Islamic Society of Southern Prince George’s County, MD).
The six session group appears to be something of a break from the usual dialogues in that it is not seeking to avoid the difficult topics. Too often, Jewish-Muslim dialogues attempt to keep the peace by focusing away from differences and difficulties. The result being that, while individuals may get to know one another better, or even get to know one another’s religions better, no real progress is made in the area which need to be discussed in order for the members of each faith to really understand the motivations behind one another’s religious differences, political differences and views of those conflicts.
Still, while they are attempting to discuss more difficult topics, there are still some problems to work out about format:

At the meeting last month when Zionism came up, almost no one spoke. Sarah Crim, a 58-year-old editor and writer, said later that the six sessions offered too little time to go into detail and challenge people but enough to listen, learn and create relationships that could produce joint social justice work, her real passion.
“Sure, there are things people said here that bother me, but I try to keep my eye on the ball. If you’re trying to find a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli crisis and hope you’re going to come up with something from six sessions of dialogue, you’re not going to do that,” she said.

Still, any effort is a good effort in this arena. Good luck to them!

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