We hope all of you are well, and that our Muslim friends enjoyed a joyous celebration of Eid al-Fitr.
Even as Muslims and Jews have strengthened our ties of communication and cooperation in cities where we live side by side around the world in the six months since our 2015 Season of Twinning, there have been deeply worrying increases in Islamophobia and in anti-Semitism in many countries.
During the US electoral process, we are witnessing a rise in anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic inflammatory rhetoric. Islamophobia has also been on the rise in countries across Europe and around the world, with far right parties steadily gaining in power and influence, while anti-Semitism continues to mushroom as well. The recent Brexit vote in Britain has stimulated a dramatic rise in bias crimes against supposed 'outsiders' including many against Muslims. To no one's surprise, many of the haters indulging in these attacks, appear to despise both Jews and Muslims.
In response to the growing incitement against both of our communities and in accordance with the guiding principle of our movement that Muslims and Jews should stand up for each other if either community is under attack, we have decided that the theme of 2016 Season of Twinning will be "Standing Together Against Islamophobia and anti-Semitism."
The Season of Twinning will kick off on Sunday, October 29, 2016 and Sunday, November 6, 2016 --- days on which we urge twinning mosques and synagogues and Muslim and Jewish organizations to hold public events in which Jews and Muslims vow to stand together against Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry. These events, which will take place only days before the U.S. Presidential election on November 8, 2016 will forcefully make the point that whatever the results of the election, Jews and Muslims will have each others' backs as we go forward. This is a message that will resonate powerfully not only in the U.S., but in many other countries as well.
|2015 Season of Twinning event in Manchester, England.
As in past years, participants in the Season of Twinning are absolutely free to choose the form and content of their own programs and can organize events focusing on joint text study, feeding the hungry or other forms of joint social service, festive and cultural events and others. Yet this year it is more urgent than ever before that we come out in force to let the whole world know that we are standing up for each other. We have learned all too well the grim lessons of the 1930's, when Pastor Martin Niemoller uttered his mournful lines:
"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out...
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out...
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out...
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me-and there was no one left to speak out."
This time, we must make crystal clear that we will not stand down and look the other way when Muslims, Jews or any other group is demonized or persecuted. This time, we must resolve to truly be there for each other. At this critical historical moment, let us use the opportunity of the 2016 Season of Twinning to make that point as emphatically as we possibly can.
2015 Season of Twinning: Feeding the Hungry event at the Brotherhood Synagogue in NYC.
If you are interested in organizing a Twinning event in your hometown, please do not hesitate to contact FFEU Muslim-Jewish Program Director Walter Ruby, (
) for assistance and information. You can also reach us by phone at (917) 492-2538 or email us at
with the subject line, "Season of Twinning".
To read about our past Season of Twinning events, visit out website and our blog on it.
Rabbi Marc Schneier
President, The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding