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Community News (V11-I23)

May 28, 2009 by  


CT school district considers Muslim holidays

PROSPECT, CT–A Connecticut school district is considering a proposal to close schools on two Muslim holidays. The Region 16 Board of Education is expected to take up the Student Council’s proposal this week.

The board represents the towns of Prospect and Beacon Falls, Conn. The resolution asks the board not to hold classes on Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha.

Jewish-Muslim Interfaith Directory Launches to Foster Dialogue

New York, NY — JewishMuslimDirectory.org today announced the launch of an online interfaith directory to facilitate dialogue between Jewish and Muslim communities in the United States. The website’s central feature is a comprehensive directory of organizations and individuals involved in interfaith dialogue across the country.

The site’s founders, members of both the Muslim and Jewish faiths, were spurred to create a comprehensive directory of interfaith organizations after successfully engaging in dialogue activities during their time as students at the University of Pennsylvania. Struggling to match the depth and frequency of engagement outside of their university experience, the founders saw the need for a single site that could direct interested parties to appropriate groups across the country.

“By cataloging many of the organizations approaching the interfaith space, JewishMuslimDirectory.org hopes to increase access to interreligious and intercultural organizations across the country” said Samir Malik, the site’s co-founder and a former president of the University of Pennsylvania’s Muslim Students’ Association. “Interfaith works. As students, we were surrounded by open-minded peers immersed in a culture of isolation and self-segregation. By taking steps to bridge the gap between the Jewish and Muslim communities at Penn, we helped to foster an environment of dialogue and mutual respect” Malik said.

Aiming to extend those efforts beyond the college environment, JewishMuslimDirectory.org allows visitors to search for organizations and share feedback about successful programming with other users. Intended as user friendly and participatory, users can add organizations to the directory by submitting contact information through a simple web interface.

“Though the site is primarily a tool for finding relevant organizations nearby, it is also a forum for exchanging ideas” said co-founder Sam Adelsberg, who also leads LendForPeace.org. “We actively encourage visitors to add and update their organization information and to participate in constructive discussion about successful interfaith programming” he said.

With this launch, JewishMuslimDirectory.org hopes to contribute to the broader effort of improving relations between the United States’ Muslim and Jewish communities.

Islamic college proposed in Berkeley

The proposed Zaytuna College would be a first: a four-year, accredited, Islamic college in the United States.

“Part of the process of indigenizing Islam in America is for the community to begin to develop its own leadership from inside the country, develop its own scholars,” said Hatem Bazian, chair of the management board for Zaytuna College and a senior lecturer of Near Eastern studies at the University of California at Berkeley.

“There is a growing need in the Muslim community to provide a variety of trained specialists to fulfill a growing and diverse community infrastructure and institutional framework,” Bazian said — to work as imams, as chaplains, or within the growing network of Islamic non-profit organizations. Currently, Bazian said, American students who seek a high-level Islamic education must study in the Muslim world.

The proposed college would be built out of an existing institute with significant influence in the Islamic community. The Zaytuna Institute and Academy, an Islamic educational institute founded in 1996, is transitioning into Zaytuna College; the Berkeley-based institute already offers classes, but not for university credit.

Interfaith ride of discovery in New Jersey

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ–Adherents of the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faiths in New Jersey went on an innovative ride last week–a ride of discovery.

The participants in the May 17 Interfaith Ride of Discovery traveled from Temple B’nai Shalom in East Brunswick to St. Bartholomew Catholic Church in East Brunswick and ended at the Islamic Society of Central Jersey in Monmouth Junction.

Many participants rode together in buses draped with large banners bearing a star of David, a crescent, and a cross.

The event was the result of an initiative proposed last year by Rep. Rush Holt (D-Dist. 12), whose district includes parts of Monmouth, Middlesex, and Mercer counties.

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