“Abraham’s Bridge,” a Jewish-Muslim dialogue with Jacob Bender and Saeed Khan, will be presented starting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 31 in the Geneva Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library. All are invited.
This hour-long production, sponsored by HWS Hillel, is a dialogue about historical and contemporary Jewish-Muslim relations that aims to bridge the antagonism dividing the two communities.
A breakfast discussion, for those who would like to continue the dialogue, will begin at 8 a.m. the next morning at the Intercultural Center.
In their dramatic and engaging presentation, using projected visuals, Khan and Bender review the religious and intellectual cross-fertilization between Jewish and Muslim civilization, which has lasted hundreds of years. They also explore parallels between Islamic and Jewish beliefs and practices; patterns of Jewish and Muslim immigration to America; nonviolent paths to Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation; and strategies for contemporary cooperation.
With a backdrop of the War in Iraq, acts of terrorism, and a world climate that includes accusations of both Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, organizers hope that “Abraham’s Bridge” can perhaps open the hearts and minds of its audience, allowing Jews and Muslims, and by extension Christians as well, to hear the other’s pain. They believe the dialogue will provide proof that the numerous religious traditions can yet be a source of hope, inspiration, and mutual respect in today’s troubled times.
Bender is an interfaith activist, media producer and Jewish educator. During the many years he lived in Israel, he produced media projects for the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem and the Israel Ministry of Education. In the United States, he has directed dozens of media projects for Jewish institutions and organizations including the American Jewish Committee, Hebrew Union College, Jewish Theological Seminary, Yeshiva University and the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education.
A former drama director of the Los Angeles Bureau of Jewish Education, he has taught at synagogues and temples and delivered more than 200 public talks on the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Holocaust, and other topics in Jewish history. He has led delegations to meet with numerous Israeli political leaders, as well as King Hussein of Jordan, since deceased. Bender holds a Bachelor of Arts in Jewish History from UCLA and studied at NYU’s Graduate Film School.
Khan is a lecturer in the Department of Near East and Asian Studies at Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich., where he teaches Islamic Studies and Middle East and Islamic History. He is also an adjunct professor in Modern Middle Eastern and Modern World History at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Mich. He has lectured on Islamic Studies at numerous colleges and universities around the world, including Harvard, MIT, Yale and Duke.
He also serves as a Muslim representative for the Interfaith Initiative coordinated with the Salam Institute and the Fuller Theological Seminary, in an effort to increase understanding between Muslims and Evangelical Christians. Since Sept. 11, 2001, he has delivered more than 300 lectures for interfaith organizations and events. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Medieval Literature from University of Michigan and a Law Degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He is Secretary of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists.
In April 2006, they were invited by the Foreign Ministry of Qatar to participate together in the Fourth Doha Conference on Religious Dialogue.