Rift Over War Tears Muslims, Jews Apart

November 3, 2006

Author: David Crumm

Source: Detroit Free Press


On the holiest day of the Jewish year, Rabbi Joseph Klein rose before his congregation in Oak Park last month to deliver a stunning sermon in which he apologized for working with local Muslim leaders and vowed to boycott interfaith events.

He accused Muslim leaders of complicity in "hate-filled and violence-promoting rallies" against Israel in Dearborn this summer, referring to protests in which Muslims carried signs equating the Star of David with a Nazi swastika.

The sermon was a thunderclap marking the edge of a storm that has been building for more than a year as local Jewish and Muslim communities pulled apart. Now, the tensions are open and obvious. Rabbis are avoiding events attended by imams and, when they do show up, conversation often becomes strained.

As a result, after years of pioneering efforts in southeast Michigan to create a haven for dialogue among Jews, Christians and Muslims, metro Detroit's world-famous interfaith tapestry is unraveling.

A month after they were spoken, Klein's words still are echoing across the Internet, cut and pasted into e-mails circulating among Christians, Muslims and Jews and leaving a trail of shock and sadness.