Introduction to the Halaqa-Seder Program

This project for joint Muslim and Jewish study and celebration of the Exodus story is the latest fruit of a years-long effort on the part of a group of Bay Area Muslims and Jews to build relationships of trust and friendship between their two communities. This Halaqa-Seder project represents a large step in our developing relationship. We have known from the start that building relationship means more than simply dialoguing on issues of common interest; it needs to reach to the point of connecting spiritually, respecting differences but also embracing commonalities. And one of the profound commonalities connecting Muslims and Jews is the Exodus story, found in the key sacred texts of each of our faiths—in the Qur’an of Islam and the Torah of Judaism. This narrative is foundational to Jewish existence and also of great importance to Muslims—Moses is mentioned more frequently in the Qur’an than any other prophet. So bringing Muslims and Jews together around the Exodus story is a natural step in our journeying together.

The Exodus story lends itself naturally to dramatic presentation, and we originally intended to prepare a play or series of plays for young people. We have not given up this idea, but along the way we decided that we needed to try out interacting with adults around this story, and the present document is the result of that effort; it has already been used successfully in a Muslim and Jewish gathering in Palo Alto this past March, generating great enthusiasm among all the participants. We are putting it forth here for others to use as a springboard for their own events, so that we can all join in this process of spiritual exploration. We are still planning to create out of the ideas here some plays and events that will bring Muslim and Jewish children together.

Halaqa is a Muslim term denoting a gathering (often involving food) to study a religious text. The Jewish Seder is a ceremonial meal celebrated at Passover, the holiday commemorating the Exodus, which includes as one of its primary components the recitation and study of the Exodus narrative. Both celebrations have in common the conjunction of a convivial meal and convivial study, expressing the spirit in which we want to meet. We hope that this project serves to bring American Muslims and American Jews together to share their rich spiritual heritages and to grow together toward the understanding and peace that we all long and strive for. We would be delighted to hear from other communities about their experience in following this path.

To see photos or videos from past events, click here.

For information on hosting your own Halaqa-Seder, click here.