-AN INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY of Muslim and Jewish children

EDITORIAL COMMENT

“A transformative experience for young Muslims and Jews”

OCTOBER 5, 2007 –  Children of Abraham is an organisation that seeks to build an international community of Muslim and Jewish youth that celebrates their religious identities through an engaging project involving a photographic exploration of Jewish and Muslim communities.

In the summer of 2003, two Orthodox Jewish high school students in New York, set out to capture in photographs the most visually compelling similarities between Islam and Judaism.

Interest in the project exploded from teenagers on six continents, and in July-August 2004 61 students from 23 countries were selected to participate in what was designed as a one-time project, with the twin goals of providing a transformative experience for young Muslims and Jews to discover one another, and of publicizing the photographs taken of the two religions all over the world so that more adherents of each faith might view the other with more respect and less suspicion.

Based on the success of the summer project, in November 2004, to broadened the mission beyond the photo project, Children of Abraham was created to foster dialogue between Muslim and Jewish youth via the Internet.

Matching gifts were solicited from two sponsors, one in the U.S.A and the other in Dubai,  in order to establish an essential organizational precedent, whereby funds supporting Children of Abraham would come from a balanced combination of Jewish sources and Muslim sources.

The organization states that it has graduated over 160 students from 43 countries from its online program. Alumni have gone on to host local photo exhibitions, write editorials in their local newspapers and recruit peers for subsequent groups.

In 2007, the organization is focused on the development of a pilot project in Morocco and the fourth version of an online Global Discovery Program, linking teenagers from Dubai, Damascus, Jakarta, Tehran, Marrakech, Riyadh, Moscow, Paris, New York, London and Montreal.

A selection of Muslim and Jewish religious leaders who serve on the advisory board that both publicly endorses and religiously sanctions  Children of Abraham include: Cheikh Khaled Bentounés, Leader of the Tariqa Al-Alaweeya Sufis, France;  Imam Yahya Hendi, Muslim Chaplain, Georgetown University, Washington DC;   Sheikh Yahha Pallavicini, Vice-President of Islamic Community, Italy;  Rabbi Naftali Brawer, Office of the Chief Rabbi, United Kingdom;  Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, Amsterdam, Netherlands and Rabbi Michel Serfaty, Ris-Orangis, France.

Children of Abraham states that it is neither a political pressure group nor a focus group for Palestine-Israel relations.

“We are a people-to-people organization whose mission is to work with youth. It is entirely consistent with our principles to express our support for the non-violent, peaceful and just resolution of this conflict (or any other). Since both Islam and Judaism espouse the sanctity of life and the peaceful resolution of conflict, we support negotiation and dialogue as the best way to end the conflict on peaceful and just terms for all people.”

Further information about this organisation can be seen at: http://www.childrenofabraham.org/homePage.html

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