By Sarah Gold
JCUA Manager of Community Building
As some of you may have heard, after much thought, JCUA decided not to hold our annual Jewish Muslim Community Building event, Iftar in the Synagogue, this summer. You may be wondering: Why did JCUA cancel this popular event? Is JCUA still engaging in Jewish Muslim work here in Chicago? What kind of Jewish Muslim programs will JCUA hold in the future?
All of these questions are important and valid. JCUA staff, friends and both Jewish and Muslim community partners are also thinking about these same questions. While JCUA remains dedicated to doing meaningful work with the Muslim community around issues of discrimination here in Chicago, the challenge is HOW and WHAT are we going to do together.
A Brief History of JMCBI
JCUA established the Jewish-Muslim Community-Building Initiative (JMCBI) in 2001 in response to an increase in intolerance and hate crimes against Muslims following the attacks on 9/11. Since then, JMCBI has been fostering collaborations between Muslim and Jewish organizations and individuals in Chicago as well as nationally. These collaborations include cross-cultural engagements, building bridges among leaders and community members, joint advocacy, and solidarity in times of crisis.
JMCBI programming has been rich and fulfilling, but JCUA wants to take this summer as an opportunity to assess and examine how we can leverage the awesome work that has already been done to ensure it stays relevant and meaningful for everyone. We want to engage in structured, purposeful and meaningful conversations to determine how best Muslim and Jews can engage in significant work that helps to make positive, systematic change here in Chicago.
So this year, in lieu of Iftar in the Synagogue, JCUA is participating in the Chicago Community Trust’s On the Table campaign. On May 12, thousands of people from all over Chicagoland will be participating in real-time conversations around how to make Chicago better for everyone. JCUA is using this event as a platform to engage with our long-standing Muslim partners to brainstorm how we can work together moving forward. We are partnering with CAIR-Chicago for a small and focused dinner conversation on how issues of Islamaphobia and anti-Semitism might be better addressed with joint programming in the future. Overall, we are seeking to build a stronger partnership and solidarity around issues in Chicago that impact members of both communities. Building on more than ten years of work in this arena, we hope to spur the development of meaningful future programming.
We will update you on the outcomes of the conversation on May 12, and look forward to engaging with everyone who is interested in Jewish – Muslim work with JCUA to help ensure that our work is affecting positive change in Chicago. In the meantime, if you have any questions or ideas, please be in touch with Sarah Gold at firstname.lastname@example.org.