This past Saturday, Feb. 21, marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X in Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom in the year 1965. I was a teenager when I first read “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” and I can still remember the emotional impact it had upon me as a white student involved in the Civil Rights Movement, as well as upon my political development. The book was my first real introduction to the religion of Islam, and led to my life-long dialogue with its faith and the Muslim community.
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?”
I had the pleasure of representing CAIR at several venues these past weeks. First, on Nov. 3, I gave a talk at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster. About 100 people (faculty, students, and community guests) turned out to hear my talk about my experiences working for one of the leading institutions in the American Muslim community.
I will be speaking about CAIR and Muslim-Christian-Jewish relations at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA on Monday evening, Nov. 3. I will also be screening my documentary film, “Out of Cordoba,” at New African Center on Friday night, Nov. 14.
This past Sunday, Sept. 21, I was privileged to join over 400,000 of my fellow human beings in the largest demonstration in history to warn of the dangers of climate change to future life on earth.
On Friday, Aug. 8th, I joined CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Committee member Iftekhar Hussain at the Islamic Society of Delaware for jumah. Iftekhar gave a wonderful khutba on the theme of how Allah (SWT) requires us to respond to injustice in the world, which was much appreciated by the community in light of the events in Gaza this summer. Following the khutba, I also addressed the community on the same theme, and specifically about the anger and sadness I feel as an American Jew watching Israel’s brutal attacks against the Palestinian people in Gaza.
In our last Newsletter, I reported on the opening of a photo exhibit at Philadelphia International Airport on the history of civil rights in Philadelphia at which Mayor Michael Nutter spoke both about CAIR and my own role as Executive Director. See video of Mayor Nutter’s remarks…
Opening of Airport Exhibit Last week, Katera Moore, CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Committee Member, and I had the honor to be invited guests at the official opening of an exhibit at the Philadelphia International Airport called “Civil Rights in Philadelphia” that includes a photograph of a CAIR-Philadelphia action.
On Sunday, June 15, I was one of the speakers at an all-day Symposium at Masjidullah on the theme of “The Muslim American Community: Our Legacy and Our Destiny.”
Last week I travelled to Harrisburg to represent CAIR at the “Annual Connections Event” of the CRN-Community Responders Network, a coalition of local religious and secular leaders “who seek to build a more inclusive community by preventing and responding to acts of bias and intolerance in Central Pennsylvania.” The organization was started in 2008 following an incident that targeted a local Muslim family, and concerned individuals from different faith communities came together to stand with their Muslim neighbors.