Muslim-Jewish relations have long-standing, active engagement in Silicon Valley, from dialogue groups hosted at Congregation Shir Hadash to JCRC relations with many Muslim institutions. You can find Jews and Muslims learning together, doing service projects together, and meeting at each other’s homes—both individual and institutional. We are focused on strengthening our local relations and learning about our respective faith and cultural traditions.
In 2015, we embarked on a special project to study the Exodus stories from both the Qur’an and the Torah, with Islamic Networks Group. Students from Zaytuna College pulled all references to Moses from the Qur’an, and thoughtful discussions on the similarities and differences between the Jewish and Islamic scriptures were held. Three dramatic renderings were created from each tradition, on the topics of Women of the Exodus, Moses and Pharaoh, and the Parting of the Sea. At a special springtime event, local Muslim and Jewish volunteers acted in the dramas, and together with table conversations and dinner, created a meaningful network of relationships.
In 2016, the joint effort stepped up a notch, with preparatory study sessions at Muslim and Jewish homes, a director for the plays, and live Middle Eastern music. The resulting Halaqa-Seder: A Celebration of the Exodus Story was as enlightening as it was a sheer joy for all who participated in it. The video above was created by Islamic Networks Group.
Catholic-Jewish relations have a very long and fruitful history in Silicon Valley, and they continue to evolve today. The Catholic-Jewish Clergy Dialogue group gathers at the San Jose Diocese offices, under the leadership of Bishop PJ McGrath, and interesting discussion topics are often led by Rabbi Melanie Aron and Father Jon Pedigo.
On February 9, 2015, the Catholic-Jewish Clergy Dialogue Group was convened for dinner and discussion by the Ignatian Center of Santa Clara University, in connection with their Bannan Institute lecture by Rabbi Abraham Skorka from Buenos Aires. Fondly known as “the Pope’s rabbi”, Rabbi Skorka shared a wealth of understanding of Catholic-Jewish relations gained through their personal friendship, as well as through the experience of presenting 31 television dialogues with then Archbishop Bergoglio. The two authored a book together, On Heaven and Earth, in 2010. In June of 2014, an historic meeting of Israeli President Shimon Peres, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and Pope Francis took place at the Vatican, following behind-the-scenes diplomacy efforts of Rabbi Skorka.
Catholic Jewish Clergy Dialogue Group met with Rabbi Skorka
Rabbi Skorka’s lecture at Santa Clara University, on February 10, 2015, was part of the series on Interreligious Dialogue and Leadership and was titled Building Relationships As Persons.
The youtube video of the lecture can be watched here. His thesis that dialogic relationships are required for civic leadership, to address extremism, and even God requires a dialogical relationship with man, is a thought-provoking message.
As partners in StepUp Silicon Valley, Catholic Charities' coalition working to cut poverty in half in ten years, JCRC has helped host a number of Poverty Simulations. A Poverty Simulation is a program made available by the Missouri Association for Community Action to organizations that want to promote a greater understanding of poverty. Participants in the simulation role-play the lives of low-income families trying to provide food, shelter and other basic necessities, using "play" money and other props, fictional scenarios and time limits. The frustrations and barriers encountered in living every day life become real to participants in the simulation. The goal is to increase the pool of people who understand the imperative to work toward real change to reduce poverty in our community.
The photos below are from the Poverty Simulation held at San Jose City Hall, at which JCRC Chair Heidi Eisips and JCRC Poverty Committee Chair Andrea Harris, worked at booths representing social service agencies.
Gathering on April 3, 2016 for Muslim-Jewish Halaqa-Seder: A Celebration of the Exodus Story.
Bathing the Buddha Ceremony at Chung Tai Zen Center interfaith guests include Rob Chaykin, JCRC co-chair
Teen Interfaith Leadership Council Immersion Trip, 2015
Teen Interfaith Leadership Council and NAACP Youth Group meet to discuss discrimination and watch Mississippi Burning 3/6/14 at African American Community Service Agency.
The Teen Interfaith Leadership Council, composed of local Jewish, Hindu, Zoroastrian, Catholic and Methodist teens, joined with a Shinnyo-en Buddhist group for the annual New Mexico Teen Interfaith Immersion experience July 25-29, 2013.
Rabbi Shelly Lewis and Hindu representative Arvind Patel speaking about Jewish and Hindu teachings on reconciliation at the JCRC Board Retreat, August 25, 2013.
Walk for Tolerance, August 21, 2012
The Shinnyo-en Buddhist Foundation graciously invited teens from diverse faiths to participate in the annual Lantern Floating Ceremony in Waikiki. Kara Samuels from Congregation Shir Hadash, was selected as the Jewish teen joining the Santa Clara County Teen Interfaith Leadership Council, led by JCRC Director Diane Fisher and Deacon Steve Herrera. Thousands of people remember their ancestors and lost loved ones through personalized lanterns that are floated en masse into the ocean in an emotional ceremony framed by music and dance from native Hawaiian and Japanese traditions.
Hunger Banquet (Fighting Poverty With Faith event),11/6/11
Harry Cornbleet, chair of the Interfaith Relations Committee, is often invited to special celebrations. Here he is ringing the bell at the Chung Tai Zen Center of Sunnyvale, in honor of Chinese New Years. The center was presented with a gift of a pomegranate tree as a way to share Tu B'Shvat and our shared environmental stewardship concerns.