Jews of the medieval period certainly experienced horrific episodes of violence and persecution at the hands of their non-Jewish neighbors and could not imagine a different reality. Our natural human tendency to understand an issue through a lens of the past unintentionally blocks us from seeing the full range of tools in our hands to address the problem. But Ha-Meiri had the foresight to envision a reality not characterized by a past of mistrust and harm.
I look to Ha-Meiri as one of the most inspirational rabbis in history for his ability to break the mold. Having chosen to become a rabbi to pursue interfaith relations, I have always believed that my relationships with non-Jews have made me into a better Jew and that interfaith encounters offer as much to gain in self-understanding as in understanding of the other. Early in my rabbinic training, it became clear that the greatest misunderstanding existed in the relationship between the Muslim and Jewish communities and I chose to focus my energies here to help form a new reality.
I was drawn to NewGround because the organization embodies Ha-Meiri’s foresight. The founders of NewGround looked at the existing landscape of interfaith relations and envisioned the possibility for a different reality- one in which the pairing of “Muslim” and “Jew” does not conjure up images of conflict, tension, suspicion, violence, and hatred. Instead, they choose to put forth a new vision in which Jewish-Muslim relations are normalized and our communities join together on the issues we share in common.
But NewGround has more than just a vision; it has a model for successful impact to transform relationships between Muslims, Jews and our communal institutions. To learn more about NewGround’s unique approach, read about “Fellowship and Alumni” and contact us with your questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read Sarah Bassin’s biography, see "Who We Are".