Largest World Gathering of Muslims, Jews Kicks Off in U.S.

More than 200 Mosques and Synagogues from 22 countries to participate in Twinningsm, 3rd annual ethnic understanding weekend.

Shlomo Shamir
Shlomo Shamir
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Shlomo Shamir
Shlomo Shamir

The third annual Twinningsm weekend kicked off this weekend as Jews and Muslims, as well as representatives of Mosques and Synagogues from across the globe cross came together to take part in the world's largest gathering encouraging ethnic tolerance.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) shakes hands with Imam Abdelali Mamoun, as Rabbi Marc Schneier (L), President of The Foundation For Ethnic Understanding look on, July 2009Credit: AP

Organized annually by The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU) in cooperation with the World Jewish Congress and the Islamic Society of North America, the Twinningsm weekend joins Muslim and Jewish students and young leadership groups to form partnerships and joint programs together, with the goal of building communication ties, reconciliation and cooperation between the two religions.

This year's Twinningsm seminar is being held after a tumultuous summer that resulted in an increase in anti-Muslim sentiments across the U.S. and Europe relating to the plans to build an Islamic community center near the former site of the World Trade Center in N.Y.

In California and Tennessee, the Muslim communities also faced opposition to their plans to build or expand mosques in their communities, while a pastor in Florida threatened, but eventually relented in the face of an international outcry, to burn Korans on the anniversary of the September 11th attacks.

"The targeting this summer of Muslim communities in New York, Tennessee and elsewhere demonstrate that we as a country have a long way to go until all men and women are accepted as equals," said Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and lead organizer of the Weekend of Twinningsm. "I am proud to see so many join in on the Weekend of Twinningsm rather than joining in the chorus of unacceptance choosing instead to confront Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and bigotry head-on."

"The Weekend of Twinningsm has time and time again shown us that Jews and Muslims can not only live together peacefully as neighbors, but also partner together to build a better community at-large," said Rabbi Schneier.

In total, more than 100 mosques, Muslim students and community groups, as well as 100 synagogues, Jewish students and community groups are participating in this year's mobilization.

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