Authored by Lachin Hatemi M.D.
Published by www.kulturekritic.com
The hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, a devoted Buddhist, and high profile Jewish Rabbi Marc Schneier had been working together to fight against bigotry and build bridges between religious communities, mostly between Muslims and Jews. Even Jay-Z joined the duo to spread their message of interfaith dialogue.
Russell Simmons and Rabbi Marc Schneier are the co-founders of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU), a New York-based organization dedicated to promote Muslim-Jewish relations around the world.
At a time of rampant Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, FFEU’s Twinning programs bring members of synagogues and mosques together every year to work on joint programs for the common good. Twinning events had been rapidly expanding to more than 100 locations in the USA and in 30 countries.
The achievements of their foundation is staggering- from getting American Islamic leaders to send a letter to Hamas asking for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit's release, to orchestrating joint Muslim-Jewish marches to protest racism.
After the home improvement retailer Lowe's pulled its advertisements from TLC's reality show "All-American Muslim" after being pressured by conservative groups, Russell Simmons purchased those advertising spots for the show himself solely to protest Lowe’s and show his support for the show.
This collaboration between Simmons and Schneider almost echoes what Martin Luther King Jr. encountered during the Civil Right struggle. Dr. King received help from an unlikely source, the Jewish Rabbis. Jews made up almost 30 percent of the white volunteers who rode freedom buses to the South, organized blacks, and boycotted segregated establishments. Several dozen Reform rabbis marched in the demonstrations in Selma and Birmingham.
I applaud Russell Simmons and Rabbi Schneier for their hard work and for planting the seeds of cooperation and mutual understanding between Jews and Muslims.
Next time you see, Russell Simmons or Rabbi Schneider talking to the president of Israel or the King of Saudi Arabia, do not be surprised. The duo has a very important mission and theirs is a very hard act to follow fro anybody.
Lachin Hatemi is a physician located in Buffalo, New York. His interests include Human rights, racial equality and interfaith dialogue. You can reach Lachin at Lachinhatemi@gmail.com.