Spotlight: Muslims and Jews Inspiring Change (MAJIC)

In California, Muslim and Jewish high school students are working together to improve the community they live in and help their neighbors who are in need. This year they were named the faith-based organization of the year, one of eight awards presented by the state of California on May 22. After only a year of doing this program, they made a huge impact on their community and the interest is only growing from this point on.

MAJIC is actually a project from the organization New Ground, which was founded in 2007 to bring Muslim and Jewish adults together in conversation. Therefore the new group, MAJIC, was an attempt to make this message applicable to high school students. Obviously this message was received and the outcomes were outstanding.

Photo Credit: MAJIC

Read more about MAJIC here!

One of their main projects was a Carnival Against Hunger which attracted between 100-150 people to come and play games to raise money for the cause, learning about hunger in their communities through the games played. At this event people also could plant fruit trees and package food for local hunger organizations. Several other locations in the area also had stations to educate people about what they could do about hunger in their community.

As a leader of an interfaith group, I find this really inspiring and applaud MAJIC for their success and well-deserved award. I think we can all learn a lot from the example of this group and bring a little interfaith “magic” to our own communities. Keep up the great work MAJIC!

For more information check out the group’s Facebook page.

Exhibit Showcases Muslims Who Saved Jews in Holocaust

When learning about the Holocaust in school we always talked about all of the kind Christians who hid Jewish families in their homes to prevent them from being sent to concentration camps. However, less discussed in history classes are the Muslim families who did the same thing! In London a exhibit, photos and stories will be displayed educating the public and preserving the history of these families.

Read all about it on BBC!

Hardaga family

Photo Credit: BBC

While history is always important to preserve, it is especially important to remember this special relationship between Muslims and Jews, mainly in Bosnia. Currently there is tension between Muslims and Jews, causing there to be varying opinions on how Muslims should view the Holocaust. Fiyaz Mughal, co-author of the Role of Righteous Muslims describes the religious tension:

“One of the main drivers of the project is that there are some small sections in Jewish communities who are trying to rewrite history and say that Muslims overwhelmingly helped the Nazis. And on the other side, there is a small section of the Muslim community who do not want to talk about the Holocaust for the sake of not wanting to build up an empathy with Jewish communities. That is unacceptable, because factually it’s untrue.”

That’s why the exhibit is there: to build bridges. If history is displayed for all to see, accurately showing their inspiring stories, then it sets an example for current religious leaders to follow so that they can work together. If the people during the Holocaust could set aside their differences and work out of love rather than hate, then today’s religious people can form similar friendships. This really is a great example for all of us regarding interfaith dialogue, not just Muslims and Jews. I just wish I was in London to be able to see the exhibit!

Spotlight: Sami Rahamim

Today I would like to take the time to reflect on a special individual who has used their faith as a support for their activism: Sami Rahamim, a 17 year old Jewish teen from Minnesota. After Sami’s father was killed by a past employee, Sami pursued his passion for activism and spoke out against gun violence in response to his father’s death. The result? Him sitting two seats away from President Obama at a discussion against gun violence in Minnesota.

Sami and his father, Reuven.
Credit: Religion News Service photo courtesy Sami Rahamim

Read the Huffington Post article here.

I personally find this story extremely inspiring! Looking back on my own life, there have been so many times that I have thought to myself, “I am too young to do that,” or even worse, “I am too young to make a difference.” Sami shows that is far from true. At 17 this kid has done more than most people do after graduating college, and the passion behind it all is truly inspiring.

Along with the love of his father, Sami is inspired by his Jewish faith. Like many activists, his faith gives him strength and guidance. I know that for me personally, I can sometimes get so lost in the activism part that I forget the reason why I am doing it. My personal relationship with God can get put to the back burner and suffer because I am not making it the main reason for my work. Sami continues to be a great example, showing us how putting our religion or non religion at the forefront of our activism can lead us to do even more for the world around us.

“One of the things I am working toward is to be known for advocacy, not for the unfortunate circumstance that put me here.”

How different would the world be if we all had that attitude? How different would the world be if we all wanted to be known for what we put into the world rather than what wrongs have happened to us? What if instead of having the negative things in our life be weigh us down, we made them the wind in our sails?

Think of all of the good we could create. Together.