What began as a letter finding experience several years ago involving relatives killed during the Holocaust, has a grown into a relationship building experience with members of the German community in which my relatives lived - Elmshausen-Lautertal. Attached is a photograph of the Kristallnacht commemoration I participated in earlier this November 9 evening in Lautertal. I attended the program, which featured 9th grade students recounting the events of Kristallnacht in their community, along with my uncle and cousin. The commemoration culminated in a candle lighting ceremony at a bridge adjacent to the former synagogue building. The building still stands.
My wife Hattie and I attended the AJC workshop-Bridging our Beliefs: Introduction to Islam on Thursday, October 30th. It was led by Rabbi Ephraim Gabbai, AJC Assistant Director, Interreligious and Intergroup Relations and attended by approximately thirty AJC members. It was the first of two AJC workshops being held in AJC NY’s offices regarding Islam. The second workshop,Bridging our Beliefs: The Global and Local Muslim Communities, will be held on Thursday, December 4th. The purpose of these workshops is toeducate AJC leaders on Islam and the global and local Muslim communities, and prepare participants for deeper bridge-building work with Muslim leaders.
We decided to attend these workshops because each year we have attended AJC Global Forum we have been very impressed with the Muslim presenters. Through these presentations, we have realized how important it is for the Jewish community to develop better, deeper relations with Muslim moderates. The world will be a better, safer place and the global initiatives of AJC, including supporting the security of Israel and combating anti-Semitism, will be significantly advanced through successful interaction by Jews, AJC members in particular, with Muslim moderates.
The first workshop was awesome. Rabbi Gabbai speaks fluent Arabic and is an authority regarding Islam. Through his superb, enlightening presentation followed by his expert responses during Q&A, we have been successfully introduced to the religious and political nature of Islam, now have a solid grasp of the theological underpinnings of Muslim beliefs and practices and will be comfortable approaching Muslim neighbors.
We are hopeful that AJC NJ will have the time and resources available to initiate significant discussions with moderate leaders within New Jersey’s Muslim communities. We would be honored and excited to participate in such dialogs.
We look forward to the second workshop with great anticipation.