Under the banner of “Spread Hummus Not Hate,” Jewish and Muslim groups are joining in a campaign to combat Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and other forms of bigotry.
The program, organized by the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, includes widespread participation by Jewish organizations and individuals in New Jersey.
Following a Nov. 1 interfaith rally in Trenton, the events will include a gathering of several hundred Muslim and Jewish women in Princeton on Sunday, Dec. 6.
Members of 16 chapters of the Sisterhood of Salaam/Shalom from across the United States will come together for an all-day conference at Princeton University on the role of women in reconciliation between the Jewish and Muslim communities.
Their gathering will follow several interfaith actions sponsored by FFEU. One was a Nov. 5 bus tour of 15 Muslim and Jewish activists of institutions in the Washington, DC, area, including a synagogue, a mosque, and a Muslim community center.
The participants sang peace songs and shared pita and hummus with people they met, as they asked them to sign pledges to confront bigotry in their own communities.
“The point of ‘Spread Hummus Not Hate’ is to show that grassroots Muslims and Jews can come together as close friends and collaborators and take a united stand against Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and other manifestations of bigotry,” said Walter Ruby, FFEU’s Muslim-Jewish program director. “We are here to demonstrate that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers and will stand up for each other if either community is under attack.”
In an earlier action on Nov. 1, 36 organizations, including 11 from the Jewish community, gathered at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton for a rally titled “Stand Up for the Other.”
It was organized by the FFEU, the New Jersey Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee, the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations, and the Jewish Catholic Muslim Dialogue of Southern New Jersey.
“At a time of increased violence, fear, and mistrust among members of diverse faiths and ethnicities, the ‘Stand Up for the Other Rally’ offers a critically important opportunity for Jews, Muslims, Christians, and people of all faith traditions from across New Jersey to issue a call of conscience: reject violence, bigotry, and incitement against members of any faith or ethnic community and stand up for each other,” said Jacob Toporek, executive director of the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations.
The rally kicked off what FFEU called its fourth “Season of Twinning,” a series of annual meetings among people of many faiths. Faith communities join together in feeding the hungry and homeless and standing together against Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.
Speakers at the rally included state Senators Ray Lesniak (D-Dist. 20) and Linda Greenstein (D-Dist. 14); Jonathan Golden, director of Drew University’s Center on Religion, Culture & Conflict; and Dr. Ali Chaudry, president of the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge.
Chaudry urged participants to promise that “while interacting with members of my own faith or ethnic community, or with others, if I hear hateful comments from anyone about members of any other community, I pledge to stand up for the other and challenge bigotry in any form.”
Lesniak told NJ Jewish News, “This movement can save civilization from destroying itself. This is a global initiative that can bring all faiths together to stand up for each other. It has never been done before, and it is needed now more than ever.”
Among the Jewish organizations that participated in the Trenton rally were Adath Israel Congregation of Lawrenceville, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, Congregation Or Ha Lev in Mount Arlington, the Jewish Labor Committee, and White Meadow Temple in Rockaway.