Tomorrow, in a suburb of Washington, D.C., several dozen Muslim and Jewish religious leaders from the Greater Washington Area will assemble for the purpose of engaging in two activities. First, we will see if we can identify a social action cause that both communities can embrace and tackle together. Second, we will try to match up individual congregations of Jews and Muslims to form “twinning” relationships that can hopefully continue for months, or even years.
I have spent a lot of time during the past several weeks coordinating this event and am incredibly excited about the prospects. I can see the event being a great boon to Muslim-Jewish reconciliation in this area, and yet I can also see the possibility that it will accomplish little, due to a lack of follow-up. Ultimately, the responsibility for the event’s success lays with its participants – the rabbis, imams and lay leaders who will assemble. It is clear to me that they all care about Muslim-Jewish reconciliation and engagement, but they are also beset with a myriad of other demands on their time. It is not like the organizers are poised to lock them into a room for months until they’ve somehow bonded into lean, mean, interfaith machines. We organizers are going to lead these horses to water, but we can’t make them drink. In other words, we can’t force them to prioritize Muslim-Jewish activities above all their other duties. Believe me, though, we’re going to try to inspire them. And as far as I’m concerned, the world needs us to succeed.
I would love to go on and discuss the event in more detail, but because of my role and the fact that we’re only a day away, I don’t have the time to extensively blog this morning. What I can say, however, is that I’ll accept your prayers. Please pray that the stars align. Pray that the speakers find their voices. Pray that the social action cause that the group votes on is an inspired choice. And above all else, pray that those rabbis and imams who exchange names and phone numbers tomorrow afternoon actually follow-up and pursue these relationships going forward.
Jews and Muslims are the closest of cousins. It is time for us to recognize all that we have in common rather than to obsess exclusively about our differences. May tomorrow afternoon provide a significant step in that direction.