The NewGround project is as controversial as it is ambitious (“It’s Not Just Talk,” Aug. 2). Although I am skeptical as to its potential success, I believe the focus of the Jewish-Muslim dialogue is myopic. Since 9/11, it has become increasingly obvious that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a symptomatic and symbolic flashpoint of a problem of much greater universal dimensions.
Most Jews and Muslims rarely talk — really talk — to one another. This is as true in the United States as elsewhere, a stark reality despite our nation’s vast diversity and the ability of so many different peoples to coexist. It is true also in Los Angeles, a city of strong ethnic identities, long drives and even longer cultural memories.
Muslims and Jews Inspiring Change (MAJIC), a program that brings together Jewish and Muslim high school students for a yearlong fellowship, has been named the faith-based organization of the year by California Volunteers, the state office charged with encouraging Californians to engage in service and volunteering.
A recent break-fast meal, held in the courtyard of the Westside Jewish Community Center, began with the blowing of a shofar. The sun hadn’t yet set, so the baskets of pita and dried dates placed on every table remained untouched.
The group will bring together Jews and Muslims in a community-building dialogue on issues ranging from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to immigration to homelessness.