Muslim Mystique Explored

November 5, 2006

Author: Sara Bakhshian

Source: The Malibu Times

A conference at the local synagogue brings participants together to discuss thoughts on Israel and Palestine, and Muslim and Jewish relations.

"We are here this morning to open our eyes [a little more]," said Rabbi Judith HaLevy of the Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue on Sunday during the opening invocation of a conference titled "The Muslim Mystique: Facing Fears and Stereotypes."

More than 50 people attended the conference presented by the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics. Participants spent about five hours asking questions and discussing thoughts on Israel and Palestine, and Muslim and Jewish relations. Matters of reconciliation were discussed and religious texts and those of contemporary scholars, theologians and politicians were read. A clip from the controversial documentary "Encounter Point," was screened as well.

While the institute, whose mission is to promote peace and its values, has had interfaith events with members of the Muslim community, this conference was targeted to synagogues. Director Stephen Sideroff, Ph.D., said he wanted to take a step back and build a foundation in the Jewish community, and added later that a similar event set for early January would invite Muslims and Christians.

Sideroff said he hoped the conference would broaden the participants' ideas and be introspective. For example, Jews have always shown compassion for others but he questioned what was happening in their survival mode in Israel.