Muslim-Jewish Relations in the Bay Area


* ING President Addresses Jewish Women’s Philanthropist Group, 5/16/06

* ING Participates in Workshop at the National Christian Unity Inter-Religious Dialogue Conference, 5/11/06

* ING Addresses Healthcare Issues for Muslim Patients, 5/08 & 5/16

* ING President Participates in Pilot Program to Reverse Image of Islam in America, 5/05-5/06

* “Future of Religious Freedom in America” Conference Releases Report, 4/28/06

ING President Addresses Jewish Women’s Philanthropist Group, 5/16/06

On Tuesday, May 16th, ING President, Maha Elgenaidi, addressed the Women’s Alliance of the Jewish Community Federation – “Lions of Judah”. The audience included over 100 top Jewish women donors in the Bay Area. Two events were held: one before the group’s monthly luncheon, and one during the luncheon. The event before the luncheon was a discussion on “Jewish-Muslim Relations in the Bay Area” which included a dialogue between the audience and a panel of speakers that included Abby Porth, Associate Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JRCR), Maha Elgenaidi, ING President, and Barbara Kaufman, Director of Governor Schwarznegger’s San Francisco Bay Area Regional Office. Maha and Abby addressed the existing partnership between the ING and the JCRC, whose vision and mission is as follows: Vision: Our diverse community of Muslims and Jews will be a model for interfaith understanding, respect, appreciation and cooperation on issues of common interest.

Mission: Our mission is to create an interfaith community of Muslims and Jews through community outreach, education, advocacy and sociability.

The group, which consists of twenty Bay Area Muslims and Jews, who represent mainstream organizations in their respective communities, meets monthly addressing issues of common interest to both communities, such as Islamaphobia and Anti-Semitism; maintaining our religious identities in a secular society; diversity within each of our communities; and civil rights and global security issues.

The luncheon topic addressed “Muslim moderation versus extremism,” where Maha Elgenaidi began by presenting Muslim American demographics, similarities of beliefs and practices, and Islamic perspectives on American ideals such as democracy, freedom of expression, and minority rights. The question and answer session continued long after the luncheon was over. The audience, many of whom had never interacted with Muslims before, was delighted to learn about the diversity within Islam, the work of ING, and the growing relations between mainstream Muslims and Jews in the Bay Area.

ING Participates in Workshop at the National Christian Unity Inter-religious Dialogue Conference, 5/11/06

On Thursday, May 11th, ING participated in a workshop at the Christian Unity Inter-religious Dialogue Conference, which was held in San Jose. The panel consisted of Rabbi Dana Magat (Jewish), Maha Elgenaidi (Muslim), Rev Gerald Sakamoto (Buddhist), Fr. Jon Pedigo (Catholic), Rev Dick Roe (Protestant), and Dr. Andrew Kille (Interfaith leader) who each put forward ideas for furthering interfaith dialogue and cooperation in our increasingly divided world. Attended by 50 or more national Christian leaders, the dialogue between the panel and audience was extremely valuable and instructive for everyone attending the workshop.

ING is regularly requested to participate in interfaith events and presentations to churches and other faith groups, such as the panel we participated in at the Dominican University on May 10th on the topic of Islam and Muslims, or a presentation on May 7th to the Unitarian Universalist Church in Palo Alto on contemporary Islamic perspectives. ING is also a frequent guest at Catholic schools, either in religion classes, such as three presentations made to the all girls Holy Names High School, on May 4th and 5th, or for teachers training on Muslim students, which also addressed Muslim perspectives on world events at the prestigious Sacred Heart School in Atherton on May 17th.

ING Addresses Healthcare Issues for Muslim Patients, 5/08 and 5/16/06

ING trainers addressed issues relating to healthcare and the Muslim patient at two separate events, on Monday, May 8th and Tuesday, May 16th. The first event took place at Santa Clara University and was titled “Cultural and Religious Diversity in the World of Health Care.” The event began by showing the film “Hold Your Breath,” which is a new documentary by Prof. Grainger-Monsen that reveals the complexities of cross-cultural communication in contemporary America through the dramatic journey of Mohammad Kochi, a refugee from Afghanistan. After the film’s showing to an audience of 70 students, the panel, which included ING speaker Dr. Sarah Azad, Prof. Grainger-Monsen, and Dr. Ali Bassiri, ICU director at O’Connor Hospital in San Jose suggested ways the film relates to the needs of Muslims in healthcare.

The second event that ING participated in was a brown bag luncheon for the city of Berkeley public health workers on the topic of Healthcare for the Muslim Patient. The presentation is one of four ING power point presentations specifically designed for health care providers–including mental health and social service agencies–which are increasingly in demand by a variety of venues, including hospitals, chaplains, and other healthcare agencies. ING healthcare presentations begin by a brief overview of Islam and Muslims and then focuses on the religious and cultural implications for health care providers. Presentations range between one to six hours in length depending on the institution asking for the training.

ING President Participates in Pilot Program to Reverse Image of Islam in America, 5/05-5/06

On the weekend of May 5th -6th, ING President Maha ElGenaidi attended a program in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, called the Reverse Bridges Forum. The pilot program, which was sponsored by the East West Institute, brought together 40 leading Americans from the Muslim and other faith communities in government, academia, media, business, and civil society to address the topic of “How Do We Better Combat Extremism and Counter Islamaphobia?” This initiative will lead to a series of similar forums throughout the U.S. and around the world with the purpose of significantly altering the debate between Muslims and those of other faiths. Recommendations arrived at in the workshops will be forwarded to policy makers.

The event was preceded on Friday morning by a pre-conference leadership seminar, which took place at the historical Gettysburg battlefield. Hosts of the seminar included George Russell, the main founder of this initiative, and other leading strategists who analyzed the leadership challenges confronting today’s leaders in comparison with the challenges that faced past generations of leaders. Also attending the event were Muslim representatives from ASMA society in NY and MPAC in Los Angeles organizations.

“Future of Religious Freedom in America” Conference Releases Report, 4/28/06

A conference held last October on the topic of religious freedom resulted in a conference report titled the “Future of Religious Freedom in America.” ING has been a long time supporter of one of the conference sponsors, the First Amendment Center, and ING’s president, Maha ElGenaidi was one of two Muslim participants invited to the conference. The First Amendment Center advocates issues relating to freedom of religion, parti
cularly in schools, and the center’s guidelines have been the basis for many of ING’s guiding principals on the issue.

The conference report, based on a consensus of the participants, recommends such policies as a renewal of guidelines on religion in public schools, and the development of similar principles on religion in the workplace. Participants also concluded that any discussion of religious freedom in America should include an understanding of religious freedom in other nations, and how American foreign policy affects those freedoms. All of the recommendations were developed by a broad spectrum of leaders from all the major world religions. For more information on the report, visit:

The complete report may be found at:

For upcoming ING events, go to: