Muslim-Jewish Forum offers growth for interfaith relations

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Peace is a warm house on a winter night filled with friends and soon-to-be friends drinking hot tea from mismatched mugs sharing conversation and laughter and music.

Lara Khadr and Molly Elizabeth Mardit

In a country where leaders are calling for walls of division, we, Jews and Muslims, crowded side-by-side on sofas and hardwood floor and reached across labels to share our time together.

On Feb. 12, the grassroots group Muslim-Jewish Forum gathered at Detroit City Moishe House on the east side of Detroit for a meaningful night of grassroots interfaith relations through dialogue, food and music.

Melanie Rivkin performing

“Growing up in competitive musical environments, constructive criticism was essential to improving my practice technique prior to any given performance,” Melanie Rivkin said. “Yet as only one of three performers at Muslim-Jewish Forum of Detroit’s Music Night, the only hope I had was to effectively relate my music with the audience.

“For me, this was a simple task. In my experience, people come to Muslim-Jewish Forum events looking for a sense of belonging with one another. Our greater desires to build relationships is what we grapple with and, inevitably, also share. We all have the capacity to connect and to give back to one another in times of greater struggle.”

The forum started about two years ago with Lindsay Acker and Tarik Baraka convening a group of young professional Muslims and Jews to see if there was an interest, and it grew from there, explained Sam Woll, who is active in the group.

Rachel Lerman and Sam Woll

“Lindsay had recently returned from living in Israel in an Arabic-speaking community and was inspired to bring both communities together in Detroit,” she said.

Since then, the Muslim-Jewish Forum of Detroit has held potluck dinners, a film screening and discussion, book discussion and more. They have met in various locations, including Repair the World Detroit, Tech Town, the Balkan American Community Center in Troy, the Taubman Center at the College for Creative Studies, and the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Currently, no activities are planned, but check the group’s Facebook page for any updates.

Relaxing with cups of tea

Jane Gazman Special to the Jewish News

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