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Isaac and Ishmael Side by Side

I agree with Rabbi Waxman that we must be proactive in working towards strengthening the relationships between our various Jewish movements to facilitate closer cooperation and deeper respect within the Jewish community here and in Israel. However, I also agree with Rabbi Stern that we need to more actively cultivate a dialogue with the Muslim community.
In addition to the Children of Abraham, another important project is Roads to You, a foundation of tolerance founded by the young Jordanian pianist, Zade Dirani. Dirani has brought together Muslims, American and European Christians, and Israeli and American Jews to perform together and to work together on tolerance issues through their music. Their concert at my synagogue helped spark other Muslim –Jewish cooperative projects and dialogues.


That said, I must note that Ari Alexander (as quoted by Rabbi Stern) is wrong about one important thing: while it is true that much of the Muslim world is being taught to hate Jews in the most virulent of ways, the same cannot be said about what Jews are being taught about Muslims. In fact, it has been the Jewish organizations, such as ADL, who are in the forefront of fighting against stereotyping or discriminating against Muslims. In my community, it has been the Board of Rabbis and the Jewish Council who have supported the Muslim community in debates about head coverings and Friday religious observances in our public schools. In contrast, I do not know of even one organization of Muslim clerics anywhere in the world which has stood up to decry the defamation of the Jewish people in school texts and public media. The one monumental exception is King Abdullah II of Jordan, who is trying to make advances in the area of tolerance. He should be in all our prayers this coming week.
We have a long way to go before Jewish-Muslim dialogue approximates the advances that the 1960s-80s saw in Jewish-Christian dialogue. The biblical story of Abraham that we read on Rosh Hashanah ends when Isaac and Ishmael come together in peace to bury their father. At gravesite they recognize their shared lineage and stand side by side, cooperatively in a great purpose. Hopefully the day will come when Jews and Muslims will be able to stand side by side cooperatively in a great purpose, the purpose of peace and tolerance. But it can only happen if we have a partner with whom to stand, and that is up to the Muslim community. In the meantime, let us be brave enough to take the small steps we can with our neighbors. Perhaps someday they can become our friends as well.

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Eileen Schuler`

posted September 8, 2007 at 2:55 pm

You are right. The muslims must also reciprocate and also speak up for the Jews, their brothers(1/2 brothers) We are all related, and fighting is a waste of time, where we should get together as brothers, and discuss our problems

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posted September 8, 2007 at 6:48 pm

Question: read the post on felier fuller site -god out of the syngogue..i know some modern jewish people and some christian denom do this but other that being a cultural jew, you cant(or at least shouldnt) delete God from the picture and say you are still christian/jewish. If you have doubts that is ok, but changing the books to say you can be jewish but not believe in god or be christian without jesus is fool hardy!

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posted September 9, 2007 at 10:56 am

To anonymous commentator who wrote: “changing the books to say you can be jewish but not believe in god or be christian without jesus is fool hardy!” You’re half right. A Christian without Jesus is a contradiction. But “Jewish” and “Jew” are ethnic / national labels as well as religious. A Jewish atheist remains fully Jewish by Jewish law. Please note: it is not merely “cultural Jews” who recognize a Jewish atheist as Jewish. So does the Orthodox rabbinic world. The Jewish community and its rabbis decide who is Jewish, not (well-meaning but poorly informed) outsiders who import their own classifications into the Jewish world.

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Roland P. Young

posted September 9, 2007 at 11:19 pm

Please let us never forget that bridge building is a two way street. To ask more of Jews is to not see all people as equal with equal obligations to do the right thing.

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posted September 10, 2007 at 12:29 pm

Hare Krishnas have ahimsa, non-violence, as THE pillar for their spirituality and ethical system, we don’t even eat meat out of compassion for animals. I believe that every religion should be firmly established on the pillar of non-violence and develop a firm rhetoric of non violence instead of using military imagery, glorifying ‘martyrs’ and promoting jihad and crusades which dignifiy brutality, religious bigotry and violence.
If the leaders of every religion develop this rhetoric of non-violence, this theology of non-violence, within the context of their religious systems, I believe that it is entirely possible that there will be peace on Earth. But only if non-violence, as exemplified by Ghandi and later (under Ghandi’s influence) by Martin Luther King Jr, is established firmly and taught to ALL children everywhere, of all religions, as a basic, fundamental human value and religious value.

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posted September 10, 2007 at 12:51 pm

Jerry wrote: “Jewish” and “Jew” are ethnic / national labels as well as religious.
So what are French Jews, German Jews, American Jews? When I was in junior high (a long long time ago) one of my classmates explained to me that he was of the Jewish faith, a Hebrew ethnically, and an American by birth. That has always stayed with me – it was important to him. It became important to me – very important. But I guess what you are saying is that, even though G-d called upon Abraham to share his Faith (G-d exists, there is only One G-d, humans have a G-d given purpose, Justice, morality, ethics, and compassion are key in everything; and, that learning is part of a life that will fulfill G-d’s plan) with the world, what G-d really meant was that Abraham only share with other members of his tribe.
I don’t understand how that would work towards any far-reaching good. And, after knowing and loving G-d all my life, and finding a Faith that actually reflects the G-d I have known and loved all my life, I can not believe that G-d meant that his existance, love, trust in us to do the right thing, mercy, and beauty were not for All his ‘children’.

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posted September 12, 2007 at 3:32 pm

May the God of peace, the God of Abraham, the father of Ishmael and Isaac, led both Abraham’s sons to–peace.

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laura t mushkat

posted September 21, 2007 at 3:58 pm

A wonderful article on a difficult subject
to the author BRAVO

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Fahad F Ansari

posted September 23, 2007 at 1:47 pm

A wonderful Article! So true! We Muslims do not seem to wake up to the reality that if we make friendship with the Jews of the world it can only do good to us. There is such maddening hatred towards the Jews among us in Pakistan that it is difficult to believe that some Jew can possibly exist in our society, even secretly! Although in Pakistan Jews are hated mostly because of modern Palestine, they are hated more than even in the Middle-East where people are more tolerant of the Jews. True, there is no single Muslim organization seeking to overcome this situation. We Muslims should realize what an honor it is to be monotheists, and therefore should respect and love the other two Monotheistic faiths.

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posted October 1, 2007 at 1:12 pm

Fahad, your post leaves me with some hope that one day, individuals such as yourself can have their voices heard and their hopes put into practice.

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