Passover the Christian Extremists

Full blog post visible at patheos.com The recent tragedy at the Jewish Community Center in Kansas is a reminder that more than 3,000 years after the Jewish people were liberated from the oppression of pharaoh, anti-Jewish hatred is still a serious issue in America. This time the face of terror was one white Christian man with ties to the most prominent terrorist organization in America, the KKK. This man was not immediately identified as a “terrorist” because of his faith and skin color. Needless to say if the perpetrator was Ali the headlines would be very different. We’d see pundits and commentators pontificating the finer points of Islam and violent extremism. We would expect generalizations and disparaging remarks that perpetuate a fear and distrust against Muslims by self-proclaimed “experts”.
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NewGround Shares Stories

Lia Board Member Edina & Alumna Lia Share NewGround Stories: On January 11, 2015, NewGround had the pleasure of presenting at All Saints Episcopal Church for an Interfaith Study Group, which was founded in 2007 as a joint effort by All Saints, the Islamic Center of Southern California, and the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center. The evening eulogized the two great progressive religious leaders and longtime allies, Rabbi Leonard Beerman of the Leo Baeck Temple and Dr. Maher Hathout, founder of the MPAC. NewGround’s co-founder and board member, Edina Lekov ic, and graduate ofNewGround’s fellowship, Lia Mandelbaum, spoke to NewGround's methodology and experience with Muslim-Jewish relations in Los Angeles. Following the event, attendee Navjot Sekhon said that lear
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Change-maker Leads Intentional Listening Exercise at Yeshiva in Israel

4385896 Alumna Sarah Fort Sholklapper Leads Intentional Listening Exercise at Yeshiva in Israel I led an intentional listening exercise for my community at an traditional, egalitarian yeshiva in Jerusalem. I am rabbinical student here for a year-long program of intense learning. We wanted to enhance the communal aspect of and build safe space here at the Yeshiva. Rabbinical students from around the world and of different streams of Judaism attend the Yeshiva, as well as individuals who want to engage in rigorous text study for themselves. Building community is a priority and a challenge here, as we have so many future leaders coming from such vastly different backgrounds.
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Islam Plain and Simple’ by Tariq Jalil

4385896 One part of the NewGround process that stood out for me was being able to talk about Islam the way I understood it, how I practiced it and without having to speak and be held accountable for a billion people who also share my faith. Just being heard in that space was liberating for me. When I read my friend Tariq Jalil's new book "Islam Plain and Simple" I felt him channeling that liberated spirit in discussing Islam, I felt his empowerment and connected to his desire to speak in a straightforward manner about Islam. In NewGround, we have the opportunity to build relationships by building on a web of interactions. We start with the preliminaries and move into more sensitive areas of
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Passover The Christian Extremists

4385896 *Split the Moon welcomes guest contributor Tarek Shawky, an attorney and former Public Defender, with his first column. -Tarek Shawky The recent tragedy at the Jewish Community Center in Kansas is a reminder that more than 3,000 years after the Jewish people were liberated from the oppression of pharaoh, anti-Jewish hatred is still a serious issue in America. This time the face of terror was one white Christian man with ties to the most prominent terrorist organization in America, the KKK. This man was not immediately identified as a "terrorist" because of his faith and skin color. Needless to say if the perpetrator was Ali the headlines would be very different. We'd see pu

NewGround Alumni Share Core Values with Servas” by Ben Gertner and Fares Alhassen

4385896 As representatives of NewGround, we were invited to speak at a gathering of Servas about our experience as members of NewGround's first cohort in 2007. Founded in 1949, Servas works on building understanding, tolerance and world peace, in part by providing a international network of lodgings for Servas members. Dennis Mogerman, a Servas leader, had contacted NewGround about having alumni speaking at a Servas after reading a piece featuring NewGround in a recent issue of the Jewish Journal. Mogerman saw a natural alliance between Servas' mission and NewGround's work in Jewish-Muslim relations. The event opened by recounting our experiences to the members, starting with a discussi
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“A Muslim Take on Pew’s Poll on Jewish American Identity” by Affad Shaikh

4385896 A recent Pew Research Religion & Public Life Project study on Jewish life in America got the cogs turning in my head from conversations I had during NewGround. While Pew has done a few of these, the most recent one dealt with the intertwining issues of identity and spirituality today in the Jewish community. The Pew Study statistically reinforced what I heard during NewGround. I found the figure that 93% of Jews in the aging Greatest Generation identify as Jewish on the basis of religion; just 7% describe themselves as having no religion (which I think, for Muslims, is probably how my generation would view themselves today). By contrast, among Jews in the youngest generation
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A Jew and A Muslim? by Affad Shaikh

4385896 A Jew and a Muslim… ...sounds like the beginning of a joke or the beginning of an unpleasant story. Yet the recent Jewish Journal article with aforementioned setup tells a different tale altogether. It's a great read on NewGround – the Muslim-Jewish fellowship percolating within the Los Angeles community that is making strides at challenging perceptions inside and outside the respective communities. The article itself starts off from identities rooted in Muslim and Jewish perspective then ends with an almost exclusive focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While it does detail NewGround's unique methodolgy, the article does not hone in on what the organization emphasiz
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A Household Story

4385896 On May 30th 2012, participants, supporters, and friends of NewGround, led by Rabbi Sarah Bassin, gathered at the King Fahad Mosque to honor those who had been working so closely with the organization. The Mosque houses the third largest Muslim community in Los Angeles, and members of Temple Emanuel, where many of the Jewish participants had come from, is the second largest community of Jews in Los Angeles. The overwhelming feeling of closeness, community, and the shared experience that all of the participants went through was completely apparent in the room. The night was filled with stories and anecdotes of people's experiences and personal paths with Newground; how it had shaped a
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Bringing the Values of NewGround to UCLA by Zack Ritter

4385896 I have taught courses on racism, classism, and sexism, but NewGround opened my eyes to the depth of understanding that can arise from interfaith dialogue. All too often, there are images of hate between Muslims and Jews in the media, but if the conversations of mutual curiosity and cultural sharing were broadcasted in living rooms across the nation and world, I think people's historical notions that these two groups refuse to get along would be changed in an instant. Many dialogues about what it means to be a Muslim, what it means to be a Jew, and what it means to be an ally for both communities caused me have those "aha" moments – realizing that I could make a difference in my own
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