Interfaith group bond on trip to US

By Jessica Elgot, July 28, 2009

A delegation of European imams and rabbis met at the White House last week to discuss how to combat rising Islamophobia and antisemitism.

The group was made up of leading clerics from from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom

Rabbi Jacqueline Tabick from North West Surrey Synagogue, Sheikh Dr. Muhammad Al-Hussaini, who teaches interfaith studies at Leo Baeck College, Rabbi Reuben Livingstone from Hamstead Garden Suburb Synagogue and Imam Shahid Hussain, head of the Interfaith Department at London Central Mosque, were the UK's representatives on the trip.

The trip culminated in the leaders signing a declaration to combat prejudice as part of a four-day interfaith trip to the US, organized by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, the World Jewish Congress United States and the Islamic Society of North America.

The group also pledged to begin the twinning of local mosques and synagogues to hold interfaith meetings and forums to combat prejudice and to engage young Jews and Muslims. The group has previously organised the twinning of 50 mosques and 50 synagogues in the US.

As part of the trip, the group visited the White House, the State Department, Congress, the United Nations, Ground Zero, US Holocaust Memorial Museum and even the Yankee Stadium.

Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the FEU said: “Bringing together Muslims and Jews is among the greatest challenges facing our communities today.

“By expanding to Europe what has already been a successful and groundbreaking twinning initiative in the United States, we together will combat Islamophobia and anti-Semitism to promote mutual understanding and productive cooperation through dialogue.”

He added: “This mission is the first step toward better relations and open and honest dialogue. We began to answer some of the toughest questions through meaningful discussions,”

“I was incredibly moved by the commitment of this impressive delegation to strengthen relationships between the Jewish & Muslim communities around the world,” said Russell Simmons, chairman of the FEU.

He added: “This is the type of work that will secure a better future for our young people. We are also honored to join efforts with the President and his administration to rebuild the relationship between our country and the Muslim world.”

Last updated: 5:02pm, July 28 2009