Please note: our new address is 1501 Cherry St. Philadelphia PA 19102 and our new phone number is 267-515-6710.
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Why I Work for CAIR: A Letter from Executive Director Jacob Bender

As most of you know by now, I am not a Muslim. I spend my days, and many evenings, however, working for the nation’s preeminent Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization. And so, since starting as CAIR-Philadelphia’s Executive Director in October 2013, I have been asked, and sometimes confronted, with the question: “Why would a Jew work for a Muslim group, especially one that has been accused of being connected to terrorism?”

There are several reasons why I work for CAIR, and I would like to share those with you in this letter.

1. Today, American Muslims, both as individuals and as a community, face an onslaught of discrimination and intolerance, the latter from a well-financed Islamophobic network operating across the country. As a life-long supporter of civil rights, I believe the responsibility to oppose and ultimately defeat this campaign of anti-Muslim hate should not just fall upon Muslim shoulders, but should be the responsibility of all people committed to social justice.

2. I work for CAIR because, as a Jew, I feel a special responsibility to work with the Muslim community, helping to revive the memory of centuries of Jewish-Muslim coexistence in the Ummah, and how Jews fleeing persecution in Christian Europe found refuge and new homes throughout the Islamic world. I am honored to be employed by CAIR, and humbled by the warm reception I have been given throughout the diverse Delaware Valley Muslim community.

3. I work for CAIR because this is a courageous organization that repeatedly denounces injustice and violence around the world, no matter the victim, no matter the perpetrator. Whether it is ISIS beheading American journalists in Iraq, or Israeli troops killing hundreds of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, or the Taliban murdering over 150 school children in Pakistan, or police shooting unarmed African-Americans in our cities, CAIR has repeatedly denounced terrorism and indiscriminate violence, as well as the anti-democratic conditions prevailing in the authoritarian regimes of the Arab world. So make no mistake: the recent malicious charges associating CAIR with terrorism made by the UAE are absolutely false and without merit.

4. And finally, as a social justice activist, I was glad to bring my media, communications, and artistic expertise to CAIR. Quite simply, there is no other organization that has accomplished so much for American Muslims, both nationwide and in the Greater Philadelphia region: responding to Islamophobia in the media; providing free legal services to those facing discrimination, harassment, or intimidation because of their Islamic faith; training both students and adults how to respond to anti-Muslim school bullying; and educating the public about the Islamic values of peace, justice, and tolerance.

However, the many achievements of CAIR described above and in our End of Year Newsletter (PDF) cannot continue without your help. I urge you to join me in this great challenge, defending the rights of your community, and helping to make America a more just and equal society for all.

To make your tax-deductible and zakat-eligible donation online, please click here.

Please feel free to circulate this letter to your friends and colleagues, so that they may also become familiar with CAIR’s importance to the Muslim community.

With my prayers for a successful, happy, and healthy 2015 for you and your families,

jacob-sig
Jacob Bender
Executive Director
CAIR-Philadelphia

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End of Year Letter from Our President

Osama Al-QasemAs-Salamu Alaikum,

Your ongoing generosity has enabled CAIR-Philadelphia, “the voice of the Muslim community,” to continue its mission to defend area Muslims facing private or public discrimination because of their faith. Despite false charges and bigoted attacks, CAIR persists as the nation’s leading Muslim advocacy group. We engage with media to ensure accurate reporting and oppose Islamophobia whenever it rears its ugly head.

I invite you to read our “End of Year Newsletter for 2014” (PDF), which describes our numerous accomplishments this year.

We graciously ask for your support so that we might continue to provide free legal services and educational programs to the region’s Muslim population. And remember, your zakat-eligible donation is also tax-deductible for 2014 if made by December 31st.

Finally, please take note of our upcoming annual banquet, which will be held on March 7th, 2015 at Springfield Country Club. This promises to be a very exciting and entertaining evening for the whole family, with Imam Suhaib Webb as our keynote speaker, and the very talented Al-Bustan Takht Ensemble providing entertainment.

On behalf of CAIR’s Board of Directors, Executive Committee and staff, I wish you and your family a healthy, happy and prosperous 2015.

Best Regards

sig-OAQ

Osama Al-Qasem
President
CAIR-Philadelphia

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CAIR-Philadelphia Files Civil Rights Lawsuit Over Mosque Refusal

PHILADELPHIA—The Philadelphia Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Philadelphia) and co-counsel filed a federal lawsuit yesterday on behalf of a Muslim congregation called Bensalem Masjid, challenging the township’s denial of their variance application to build the first mosque in Bensalem, as well as the discriminatory and burdensome zoning system in that township.

Bensalem has more than 200 Muslim families who currently pray in a fire hall because the township has no mosque.

“Our community has spent five years simply trying to find an appropriate place to come together to pray,” said Dr. Imtiaz Chaudhry, one of the members of Bensalem Masjid. “All we want is the same freedom to practice our religion that other faith groups have in Bensalem.” Read more…

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Important Notice: CAIR-Philadelphia is Moving

Dear CAIR-Philadelphia Friends and Supporters:

Beginning November 24, 2014, our new mailing address will be:

CAIR-Philadelphia
1501 Cherry St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Please forward/share this message with your contacts and join us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn!

Phone calls may not be answered during our move and transition period, so please direct all correspondence to info@philadelphia.cair.com or use our website contact form.

Thanks for your continuing support,

CAIR-Philadelphia Staff and Executive Committee

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CAIR-Philadelphia in today’s Inquirer

The following Letter-to-the-Editor by Jacob Bender, CAIR-Philadelphia’s Executive Director, was published in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer:

To the Editor,

As the Executive Director of the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, I believe your readers should be aware that many Muslim organizations, including ours, have condemned the recent brutal murders in the Jerusalem synagogue. CAIR’s national statement reads in-part, “We condemn this and any other attack on a house of worship and urge all parties in that holy city to refrain from actions that further inflame religious tensions.”

It is precisely at tragic moments like this, however, that we must reject the temptation of hopelessness, and attempt to turn our fear into faith, and our despair into reconciliation. Too much Arab and Jewish blood has already been spilled in this conflict, but it must be remembered that the conflict over Israel/Palestine is not an eternal war going back to biblical times, but is rather a modern conflict only some one hundred years old, a complex mix of competing nationalisms, colonial meddling, and religious fervor. But it is a conflict that is eminently solvable, if both sides can finally recognize their common humanity, and reject the occupation and the repression, the revenge and retaliation that will neither lead to Palestinian liberation or Israeli security, but only to more death.

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