A program to introduce better relationships between Judaism and Islam, synagogues with mosques, rabbis with imams, was created in the United States of America in 2008 – and it continues to this day, bringing together two religious groups to gain a better understanding of each other. There are now many synagogues and mosques that have partnered together, and many Jewish people and Muslim people attend workshops that have been created to help the two groups comprehend each other.
Many believe that the key ideas of acceptance and understanding other people is placed firmly within the center of both religious texts. In the Quran (49:13) it states: “O humanity! We created you from a single male and female, and made you into tribes and nations, that you might know one another.” A sacred text for Jewish people also follows a similar line: “Thus was humanity made from a single being … to promote peace among God’s creatures, that no one may say, my ancestor was greater than yours.” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5)
As the Islamic faith and the Jewish faith have so much shared history and shared religious teaching, many were surprised that these sort of interfaith relations had not been established earlier – and indeed, it was discovered that some mosques already had links with synagogues. Now however many more are being encouraged to reach out and start engaging with those of the opposite faith. Many hope that a better understanding and appreciation between Jewish people and Muslim people in the United States of America could trickle back and improve relations between Jewish people and Muslim people in the Middle East. There are now many practical projects being run by both Jewish and Muslim people to feed the homeless, help those with medical concerns, and celebrate their religious holidays together.
One such project is the publication of Sharing the Well: A Resource Guide for Jewish-Muslim Engagement, edited by Kim Zeitman and Mohamed Elsanousi. Sharing the Well is a book meant to enrich Jewish-Muslim interactions at the community level. It will be published as a free download next year at http://www.jtsa.edu/sharingthewell.