You might think from the headlines that there is no greater oxymoron than “Muslim-Jewish relations.” From the Anti-Defamation League’s opposition to the Islamic center near Ground Zero, to frosty relations between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian academics, the chances for accord and dialogue look slim.
But as the ADL has pointed out, and as JTA reported last week, Jewish-Muslims relations are not as fractured as they might seem. Jewish groups have helped imams fight off challenges from neighbors who oppose a mosque in their neighborhoods (a particularly troubling trend noted in The New York Times this week) and have offered their support in cases involving restrictions on religious garments and rituals.
Locally, we have been happy to report on the efforts by a rabbi in Middlesex County to get the public schools to close on two Muslim holidays. As NJJN’s Debra Rubin reported last month, Rabbi Robert Wolkoff of Congregation B’nai Tikvah enlisted other clergy and helped persuade the South Brunswick board of education to close the schools on Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. A grateful Imam Hamad Ahmad Chebli recalled the reaction of congregants at his South Brunswick mosque. “I could see the tears in the eyes of the many mothers and fathers,” said Chebli. “And if there is any credit, this should go to the members of our South Brunswick Area Clergy Interfaith Association and our wonderful rabbi.”
There is still much that divides Muslims and Jews, but the example of “our wonderful rabbi” is something to be celebrated.