Meet Saleha Jabeen: A Muslim Student at a Catholic Seminary, Building Relationships Between Jews and Muslims in Chicago

May 28, 2013

Meet Saleha Jabeen – an Indian-born Muslim student at the Catholic Theological Union, who is part of the leadership team organizing the annual “Iftar in the Synagogue” event, as part of JCUA’s Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative.

by Jessica Kim Cohen
JCUA Intern, Communications

Saleha Jabeen

Saleha Jabeen

In an event encouraging the Jewish and Muslim communities to come together, JCUA is partnering with other Jewish and Muslim organizations to hold its ninth annual “Iftar in the Synagogue.”

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, and break their fast each evening with an “Iftar” meal. In celebration of this, Iftar in the Synagogue includes prayers, speakers and a kosher/halal dinner. One of the major events of the JCUA summer, it will take place Thursday, July 25 at Anshe Emet Synagogue.

27-year-old Saleha Jabeen, a student pursuing an MA at the Catholic Theological Union in Hyde Park, is volunteering as a leader on the event planning committee (find out how you can volunteer as well).

“I always try to volunteer with different organizations, so I was excited to hear about JCUA. I love finding organizations that hold onto the core beliefs of a religion, rather than the traditional religious aspects,” Saleha said.

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Jewish and Muslim Cyclists Will Ride Together, Narrowing the Distance Between Faiths

May 21, 2013

On Sunday, June 30, area Jews and Muslims will share the road and their places of worship via bicycle tour of North shore Chicago-area mosques and synagogues.
Photo by The Chicago Tribune

Photo by The Chicago Tribune

The Jewish-Muslim Ride is the second in what Julie Hochstadter, of The Chainlink hopes will be a series of annual rides that share the faiths’ heritage and houses of worship. The Chainlink: A Chicago Bicycling Online Community, is managed by Hochstadter as a website that connects cyclists to biking news and events in Chicago.

Last year’s ride in the city was a surprisingly huge success,” says Hochstadter. “I’d love to see two rides a year in different parts of the Chicago-land area.”

Inspiration for the ride came in the mid 2000s after Hochstadter participated in a ride that brought Arab and Jewish students together to raise money for an environmental school in Israel.

“The ride not only got me hooked on biking, but on the power of bringing people of different faiths together for a fun, shared goal,” she says.

This year’s ride is co-sponsored by The Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative (JMCBI) (an initiative of JCUA) and the Evanston Bicycle Club. Interfaith and bicycle organizations interested in partnering to bring common ground to Muslims and Jews are welcome to sponsor or ride.

Riders will meet at the The Muslim Community Center at noon and ride to several synagogues and mosques in Morton Grove, Skokie and Evanston for a 15-mile, family-friendly ride. There are plans to tour a LEED-certified synagogue in Evanston and for a kosher ice cream stop at Chocolate Shoppe in Skokie.

“Our hope is to find common ground, quite literally,” Hochstadter says. “And show unity by riding together. The more time we spend with one other, the more we can do to bring together the two faiths and fight stereotypes and, possibly make change.”

North shore synagogue and mosque stops along the way include: The Muslim Community Center in Morton Grove; Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation; Beth Emet The Free Synagogue.

The Jewish-Muslim ride is open to riders of all abilities and all faiths.

More Information:


Julie Hochstadter, Director
The Chainlink


About The Chainlink:  With over 8,000 members, The Chainlink is Chicagoland’s premiere social media site for cyclists, from commuters to racers, from local aldermen and City of Chicago officials, to Peter Sagal of National Public Radio’s “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me.”

Meet the Slowbots: Bringing World Influences to Cafe Finjan

March 28, 2013

Cafe Finjan 2013
will bring together a variety groups in performances ranging from dance and spoken word to music and stand up comedy. One of the most excitingly diverse groups performing is the Slowbots. Their musical influences include soul music, Pakistani and Indian poetry, hip hop and R&B. Meet the Slowbots…
The Slowbots

The Slowbots

Cafe Finjan 2013:
Thursday, April 4, 6:00pm
American Islamic College
(640 W. Irving Park, Chicago)
$5 Suggested Donation
Get more details.

About the Slowbots:

The Slowbots’ music is a soulful rendering of influences from all over the world. Their style at times bucks the trend, and at times pays heartfelt tribute to the classics. Sultry, powerful vocals, strong melodies, and expressive music combine to pay homage to those broken moments in life that define us.  The Slowbots are currently working on their first album.

A little about the band members:

Nick Jaffe, the guitarist, is Chief Editor of the Teaching Artist Journal, a publication for the Center for Arts Policy at Columbia College.  He has also backed the performing artists Bobby Brown, Common, Dwele & Estelle.  His other musical projects focus on a wide variety of genres including soul, hip hop, rock and r&b.

Yasmin Ali, the lead singer, was trained from childhood in a sung form of poetry known as a Naat in India and Pakistan.  She seeks to combine that art form with a more contemporary one.

Angela Salva, the violinist, performs in the Dupage Symphony Orchestra among other projects. Katie Chow is the Slowbots’ intrepid drummer, and Todd Swope backs them on bass.  Rashik Farhan Rashid joins them on back up vocals and lead guitar.

Rakae Jamil

Rakae Jamil

For their performance at Cafe Finjan, the Slowbots will be joined by Rakae Jamil.  Rakae Jamil began learning the sitar when he was 12. His first teacher was Ustad Ashraf Sharif Khan of Poonchwalay, who was the son of one of the greatest exponents of the sitar and vichitra veena, Ustad Sharif Khan of Poonchwalay.  He has performed at the All Pakistan Music Conference, which was held in memory of its founder, the late Ustad Hayat Ahmad Khan, and has performed several recordings of it at the Sanjan Nagar Institute of Philosophy and Arts.

Rakae received the Ustad Fateh Ali Khan Gold medal for 1st place at the All Pakistan Music Conference in March, 2006, and the Ustad Sharif Khan Poonchwalay gold medal in April, 2007. In December 2005 he participated in the British Council “Music Masti” program in November 2005, and was awarded a 2-week trip to the United Kingdom for a music exchange program: Trinity College; Warwick University; University of Edinburgh & University of Glasgow.

Meet the Emcees of Cafe Finjan 2013: Adam and Taz

March 22, 2013

We are very excited to announce that the emcees of Cafe Finjan 2013 are a very dynamic duo: Adam Shames and Taz Rashid. They both have a lot of experience in engaging audiences in a creative and fun way!

Cafe Finjan: Jewish. Muslim. Art.
Thursday, April 4, 2013, 6:oopm
American Islamic Collage (640 W. Irving Park, Chicago)
$5 Suggested Donation

Adam Shames Photo [2]Adam Shames

Adam is a creativity expert, organizational consultant and speaker who specializes in innovation, teambuilding and community events.  He is also a musician, poet and executive director of Poetry Pals, an interfaith non-profit creativity program that brings together Muslim, Jewish and Catholic kids and their communities.

A former “Teacher of the Year” with a master’s degree from Stanford University, Adam is the founder of the Kreativity Network, writes about creativity in his “Innovation on my Mind” blog and is adjunct faculty for Depaul University School of New Learning.

Taz Rashid Headshot [1]Taz Rashid

Taz has been producing and part of creating conscious, spiritual events in Chicago, IL and California over the last few years and as a musician, he plays guitar, keyboard, Native American Flute, didgeridoo and hand percussion. He is also a Poet Educator with Poetry Pals, an interfaith non-profit creativity program that brings together Muslim, Jewish and Catholic kids and their communities. He also produces a drug alcohol free all ages dance party in Chicago called Club Divine.

Get all Cafe Finjan Details at:

CafeFinjan Postcard

Nationally Known Comedian, Dean Obeidallah, to Perform at Cafe Finjan on April 4th

March 21, 2013

We are excited to announce that Dean Obeidallah will make a guest appearance at Cafe Finjan 2013 via Skype from New York City. Cafe Finjan details: April 4, 6pm at American Islamic College.

Dean Obeidallah

Dean Obeidallah is an award winning comedian who was at one time a practicing attorney. He has appeared on Comedy Central’s “Axis of Evil” special, ABC’s “The View,” PBS’ special, “Muslim American Comedians come of Age,” and he can be seen weekly on CNN.

Dean is currently co-producing/co-directing a documentary entitled “The Muslims are Coming!” featuring a stand up comedy tour of Muslim-American comedians performing free shows across the South and West in the hopes of fostering understanding. The film features interviews with The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, comedians Lewis Black, David Cross and many more.

Dean Obeidallah - Photo1He also co-created the stands up comedy show “Stand up For Peace” with Jewish comedian Scott Blakeman that they perform at schools across the country in hopes of fostering understanding between people of different faiths.  He is also the co-creator of the annual NY Arab-American Comedy Festival.

Get the latest Cafe Finjan details at:

CafeFinjan Postcard

Exploring Cafe Finjan’s Venue: American Islamic College

February 26, 2013

American Islamic College will host Cafe Finjan – the annual Jewish/Muslim performing arts event – on April 4th, 2013. Find out more about this vibrant community institution that combines academic learning, community engagement and Islamic spirituality.

by Max Harkavy
Communications Intern, JCUA

American Islamic College (AIC), located at 640 W Irving Park Road in Chicago, was founded, it was intended to serve as a college of liberal arts & sciences that is grounded in Islamic spirituality.

Romana Manzoor

Romana Manzoor

“The building that houses AIC was bought from Immaculata High School in the 1980s with the hopes of creating a liberal arts college that would operate within an Islamic framework,” said Romana Manzoor, the program coordinator for AIC.  The first administration at AIC was able to work up to being fully accredited, but the institution has since seen their accreditation revoked.

“The new administration, that started in 2010, is working to revamp and revive the college,” said Manzoor.  “We are starting the accreditation process all over again.”

Since taking over, the new administration has enhanced the mission of the college, going beyond the attempts of the previous administration, by creating a hotbed for both spiritual and secular learning.  AIC seeks to be an institution that can offer classes that are academically rigorous, challenging, and thought provoking.  Offering these types of courses is important but the college also seeks to remain rooted in spirituality, while being a place where students can feel comfortable with expanding their knowledge of both Islam and other, more secular topics.

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