Muslim and Jewish Youth Inspiring Change (MAJIC) is a high school leadership program created by NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change.
MAJIC decided it was time to stand up to hate with compassion and courage. They teamed up with filmmaker Wesam Nassar to create a public space on the Santa Monica Promenade to affirm their stories. This film, CircleofCourage, makes the case that young Muslims and Jews are more powerful when they stand together. In this atmosphere of increasing intolerance, we hope you can help us amplify this message of solidarity and hope coming from these emerging young leaders. #Courage2Stand#Islamophobia#Antisemitism
Our teenagers have learned through their program the injustice of these blanket statements, and will spread a new message of curiosity over assumptions for the next generation.
Alumni initiated and lead an annual exchange program between Muslim and Jewish day schools. For the last four years, the 7th and 8th graders connected with each other and the traditions of Islam and Judaism.
Over sixty 7th and 8th graders attending Muslim (New Horizon) and Jewish (Sinai Akiba Academy) schools learned about the other faith community through more than a text book this year. With the help of NewGround, these schools integrated visits to each other’s campuses to learn firsthand about the practices and practitioners of Islam and Judaism. Click here to learn more.
Two Faiths One Prayer was borne out of our experience as fellows of NewGround: A Muslim/Jewish Partnership for Change. As part of the fellowship — an eight month conflict resolution, leadership training, and interfaith learning program — we participate in two weekend retreats. During bi-monthly sessions and retreats, we learn about each other’s religions, histories, and build strong connections and friendships that help dissolve whatever blinders we may have previously worn.
On our first retreat, after sharing our traditions of Shabbat and Isha, we realized that our prayer times intersected, and that perhaps, instead of praying in separate spaces, we might share a prayer space. Though our rituals and avenues of connection are different, our G-d and our goals are the same. The experience was profound for both participants and observers. Those praying expressed a heightened sense of focus and intention in their prayers, and those observing reported a feeling of unity and deep connection. We were surprised by the resonances and sense of “call and response” between the prayers of the two traditions.
This experience led us to experiment more inside the small, safe space of the fellowship. But then we began to see our experiences as they connected to other efforts happening around the world. We were first struck by the swell of support in Chapel Hill after the shooting deaths of three Muslim students – and the number of people in the Chapel Hill community who came out to pray. Several weeks later, Muslims came to encircle the Oslo synagogue in solidarity on the Shabbat following shootings at a synagogue in Denmark.
So inspired, we now seek to design a safe, sacred space for others to experience what we felt (and what was, perhaps, felt by the communities in Chapel Hill and Oslo) — or at least to witness that it’s possible for Jews and Muslims to come together in prayer. We hope that people of our own faiths, and others, will realize that we are praying to the same One G-d who sees each of us as unique human beings worthy of dignity and respect.
Our small group of Jews and Muslims will not solve the Middle East crisis, nor will we eliminate hatred among people worldwide. But we can stand together in prayer, and strive to be a channel for Change. Hope. And Divinity.
#2Faiths1Prayer Receives Recognition:
Our #2Faiths1Prayer short documentary has been viewed by over 26,137 viewers on YouTube and over 33,283 people on Facebook — that’s a total of 59,420 total & still counting!
Media coverage from Huffington Post, Al Arabiyah, The Express Tribune (NY Times affiliate in Pakistan), and more press outlets from all over the world include but is not limited to the following:
We’re bringing Jews and Muslims together to socialize over a drink. We teach simple and effective techniques used to craft delicious non-alcoholic beverages. We do this together, creating unique experiences that spark friendships and conversation. Our fresh ingredients, bar tools, and mocktails are our 72 Virgins. “For too long, ’72 virgins’ has been a phrase that has yielded a lot of power. We’re reclaiming that power by unpacking stereotypes & learning different techniques on how to make mocktail drinks that we can all enjoy.” -Aziza Hasan, Executive Director
Alumni have built houses through Habitat for Humanity, served the needy through the Humanitarian Day program in downtown Los Angeles, and participated in Big Sunday. Our alumni work through their network to help improve the quality of service initiatives that enrich the Los Angeles Community.
See the video below to learn more about our NewGround change-makers’ projects:
Two alumni organized a Muslim-Jewish Film Festival with the help of the Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement and the University of Southern California.
The Muslim-Jewish Film Series featured films that explore core identity issues for both Muslims and Jews and how they understand the other. Each movie in the series was followed by a facilitated dialogue with the audience.
“Paradise Now” was among one of the films screened as part of this Muslim-Jewish Film Series. It was followed by a discussion on the dilemma of violence and the prospects for peace.
The NewGround Academy brings together Jews and Muslims for monthly sessions to both study Muslim and Jewish texts and learn Arabic and Hebrew. Initiated by Alumnus David Mattis, the group is open to those who wish to expand their knowledge on teachings from Hebrew and Arabic texts. To get involved, email David by clicking here.