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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid