Largest Gathering of Muslims, Jews Kicks Off Third Year of Programming Confronting Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism
More than 100 Mosques and 100 Synagogues in 22 Countries on 4 Continents Will Participate in 3rd Annual Weekend of Twinning
NEW YORK – Throughout November and December, thousands of Muslims and Jews from across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa will take part in the world’s largest gathering of Jews and Muslims, the Weekend of Twinning of Mosques and Synagogues.
Organized annually by The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU) in cooperation with the World Jewish Congress and the Islamic Society of North America, the Weekend of Twinning is an annual initiative based on synagogues, mosques and Muslim and Jewish student and young leadership groups forming partnerships and holding joint programs together with the goal of building ties of communication, reconciliation and cooperation between Muslims and Jews.
The 2010 Weekend of Twinning will kick off with a Virtual Twinning program on October 31 with the majority of twinning events being held around the world during the weekend of November 5-7. In total, more than 100 mosques and Muslim student and community groups and 100 synagogues and Jewish student and community groups from throughout North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa are participating in this year’s mobilization, including first-time twinning events in the State of Israel.
This year’s Weekend of Twinning is being held after a tumultuous summer that resulted in an increase in anti-Muslim sentiments across the U.S. and Europe following the announcement of plans to build an Islamic community center near the former site of the World Trade Center. Additionally in California and Tennessee, the Muslim communities also faced opposition to their plans to build or expand mosques in their communities, while a pastor in Florida threatened, but eventually relented in the face of an international outcry, to burn Korans on the anniversary of the September 11th attacks.
“The targeting this summer of Muslim communities in New York, Tennessee and elsewhere demonstrate that we as a country have a long way to go until all men and women are accepted as equals,” said Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and lead organizer of the Weekend of Twinning “I am proud to see so many join in on the Weekend of Twinning and rather than joining in the chorus of unacceptance choosing instead to confront Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and bigotry head-on. It is clear that the message of tolerance is actually the real majority.”
Among the programs planned for this year’s Weekend of Twinning is a Worldwide Virtual Twinning event to be held on Sunday October 31. Participants from Indonesia, Pakistan Lebanon, Israel, Austria, Spain, Sweden, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Slovakia, Hungary, Nigeria, Morocco, Canada and the United States, will log in to hear reports on Jewish-Muslim initiatives underway in various countries and discuss how they can use the Internet to pool their efforts and spread Jewish-Muslim dialogue globally, including to Muslim countries where there are few or no Jews.
On Sunday November 7, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Detroit, the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan will organize with Muslim and Jewish doctors an Interfaith Health Fair to provide free medical screenings for the area’s working poor who lack insurance but do not qualify for government-provided or other no- or low-cost health care programs.
Also on Sunday November 7, Montgomery County, Maryland synagogues and mosques are organizing teenagers from around Greater Washington to participate in mulching and cleanup activities in Meadowbrook Park in Chevy Chase. The event, tagged Twinning Weekend and Community Service Day will allow young Jews and Muslims the opportunity to live out their ethical commitment to repairing the world, while building new friendships in the process.
And on November 14, Muslims and Jews living in Queens, New York will meet with city and state officials and political representatives to jointly lobby for a number of community reforms including better police protection around Mosques and Synagogues and increased access to legal advice and help in setting up small businesses.
“The Weekend of Twinning has time and time again shown us that Jews and Muslims can not only live together peacefully as neighbors, but also partner together to build a better community at-large,” said Rabbi Marc Schneier. “This year’s mobilization is no different.”
The Weekend of Twinning grew out of a resolution passed at the National Summit of Imams and Rabbis hosted by FFEU in New York in 2007. The first Weekend of Twinning was held in November 2008. Each year, participants have pledged to work together on an ongoing basis to combat Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.
In the three years since, thousands of Jews and Muslims from California to New York and Toronto, as well as London, Paris, Brussels, Frankfurt and other European cities where relations have been particularly tense, have not only visited each others’ houses of worship for the first time, but have studied Torah and Quran together, served meals side by side to poor and homeless people, and have built year-round personal friendships.
“The Weekend of Twinning is not the culmination of our efforts, but the beginning of interreligious activities between Muslims and Jews that we hope will continue for generations to come,” said Rabbi Marc Schneier.
Additional details about this year’s Annual Weekend of Twinning, including a calendar listing of all twinning events, can be found at: http://www.ffeu.org/
The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, under the leadership of Rabbi Marc Schneier, president, and Russell Simmons, chairman, is a 501 (c) (3) national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting racial harmony and strengthening inter-group relations. The Foundation, founded in 1989, has offices in New York City.