News / USA

California Group Helps Young Muslims, Jews Find Common Ground

Group Helps Young Muslims and Jews Find Common Groundi
X
January 18, 2013 1:11 AM
Young Muslims and Jews are making friendships through an organization that builds one-on-one relationships between the two communities. The group is called NewGround, and Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles that it's building bridges.

Group Helps Young Muslims and Jews Find Common Ground

Mike O'Sullivan
Young Muslims and Jews are making friendships through an organization that builds one-on-one relationships within the two communities.  The group is called NewGround, and it is building bridges, partly through the sharing of personal stories.
 
A young Muslim neurosurgeon explains he was orphaned as a child and was raised by a Jewish family, who insisted he be reared in the Islamic faith.  A Jewish woman spoke of her childhood memories of her grandparents, Holocaust survivors from Eastern Europe.
 
They are on stage for a storytelling event sponsored by the group NewGround.  Off stage, an art installation helps people of both faiths view each other in a new way as they gaze at one another through holes cut in darkened boxes, seeing just a human face on the other side.  A wall map of Los Angeles invites conversation, as people point out and describe their neighborhoods.
 
A Muslim whose family comes from Bangladesh, Tanzila Ahmed, says the storytelling event celebrates the diversity of the city.
 
“It is such a kaleidoscope of stories and colors and different perspectives that when you are able to get narratives from the different communities, you can actually move the community together for a cause a lot easier," he said. 
 
Ahmed told a story about her own bi-cultural family, and says she has her own cause to promote.  She works with the Asian Pacific American Legal Center to mobilize immigrant voters.
 
Turmoil in the Middle East reaches into Los Angeles and can build a wall between the Jewish and Muslim communities, says Edina Lekovic.  She works for a Muslim advocacy group and co-founded NewGround, which she says brings the two communities together.
 
“They know how to engage one another.  They have authentic relationships, and at the same time, they are not trapped by what is going on overseas, but instead they are invested more so in what is happening here in Los Angeles," she said. 
 
A presentation on the history of Islam sparked discussion in the latest group of NewGround fellows, who join the program on some evenings and weekends through the year. 
 
NewGround's executive director, Rabbi Sarah Bassin, says many organizations bring Jews and Christians together, but few are building bridges between Jews and Muslims.
 
“That conversation largely has not begun.  We do not have the vocabulary to sit down at the same table in the same way that the Jewish-Christian communities have worked out over the last 50 or 60 years, especially in a post-Holocaust era," he said. 
 
New Jewish participant Abbie Barash says she is making good friends through the exchanges.
 
“And we have already become so close and I have just known them for like a month now.  So it has become extremely valuable for me," she said. 
 
Actor Amir Abdullah, a Muslim, says differences will remain between the groups.
 
“No, Muslims and Jews are not going to agree on everything.  Heck, most Muslims are not even going to agree with each other on everything.  But if we are able to share those experiences and share how we feel, we can at least get to understand one another, and I think that is really important," he said. 
 
Participants say they hope the dialogue will spread beyond Los Angeles. 

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Bratran Mavuabu from: Europe
January 18, 2013 5:08 PM
It is heartwarming to see people making friends. I wonder if the participants realize the inevitable asymmetry though...

In Response

by: Pekka Heinonen from: Finland
January 18, 2013 6:24 PM
That is important and usefull way.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid