(photo credit: Courtesy)
The second annual Muslim- Jewish Conference kicked off in Kiev, Ukraine, on
Sunday, with 70 students and young professionals coming from around the world to
promote mutual understanding between global Jewish and Muslim
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The event is sponsored by the Foundation for Ethnic
Understanding based in New York and the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, among
others, with participants coming from Austria, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany,
India, Israel, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Saudi Arabia and the United
“Most young Jews and Muslims never really meet because of the
situation, and only learn about each other from their respective communities and
through the media,” Muslim- Jewish Conference Secretary- General Ilja Sichrovsky
told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
“The conference is designed to be a
platform for dialogue between Muslims and Jews to talk to each other instead of
about each other,” Sichrovsky said.
Ayse Cindilkaya, vice secretary-
general of the organization, said the political conflict can “overshadow”
relations between the two communities but that they are not focusing on
“We are trying to start from new but we are sensitive to the
conflicts,” Cindilkaya said.
“Instead we are focusing on breaking down
stereotypes, sharing our religious traditions and culture, and filling in the
gaps on our mutual knowledge of each others faith.
One of the major
issues that the conference is addressing is the increasing xenophobia and the
rise of far-right groups in Europe.
“We are careful not to equate
Islamophobia and anti-Semitism,” Sichrovsky said, “although there are
The impact often feels subjectively the same and we are
trying to find a strategy where young Jews and Muslims come together and stand
up for each other.”
“The conference offers the opportunity to bring
together some of the most outstanding Muslim and Jewish leaders in their 20s and
30s,” said president and chairman of the FFEU, Rabbi Marc Schneier.
conference steps beyond non-communication and estrangement and helps
participants connect with each other.
The five-day conference will
include working committees on the question of religious practice, fundamentalism
and citizen loyalty; countering Islamophobia and anti-Semitism; and methods for
conducting sustainable dialogue.