An International Model for Interfaith Community Building

From left to right: Eser Polat, Rev. Dr. Michael Tita, Rinkeby Hus, Asaf Bar-Tura, Yassmine El Ksaihi, Gerald Hankerson, Said Shagaviev

By Kayla Higgins
JMCBI Fellow, JCUA

On March 21, 2011 the Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative (JMCBI) hosted an interfaith delegation from various countries in Europe who came to learn about the JMCBI model for interfaith collaboration.

JMCBI coordinator Asaf Bar-Tura and CAIR-Chicago’s Gerald Hankerson spoke with the group about intercultural exchange programs, as well as joint endeavors to promote social justice in a domestic context.

The group inquired about the challenges faced by JMCBI, the details of its operations and the broad vision for its future.

“I think this meeting gave our guests a tangible model for what they may hope to build in their own communities,” said Bar-Tura. “Though JMCBI’s focus is local, our approach is attracting interest globally, and that should be a sign of hope for all of us.”

The diverse group of community leaders, clergy, and scholars included:

  • Said Shagaviev – Dean of the Faculty of Theology at Russian Islamic University (Russia)
  • Rinkeby Hus – Community Advocate for Immigrant (primarily Somali) Youth (Sweden)
  • Eser Polat – Attorney and Community Leader (Germany)
  • Rev. Dr. Michael Tita – Patriarchal Counselor, The Romanian Patriarchate (Romania)
  • Yassmine El Ksaihi – Founder and Director of Community Foundation (The Netherlands)
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