The 2011 Muslim Jewish Conference is a turning into a Muslim Jewish Family. We gathered together for a wonderful reception at Hotel Rus in Kiev’s city center. We heard from Ukrainian members of parliament, leaders from the Ukrainian Jewish and Muslim communities, as well as our inspirational MJC hosts, Ilja Sichrovsky and Ayse Cindilkaya. Both Ilja and Ayse gave passionate speeches about who they are, where they come from, and why they do what they do – bring Muslims and Jews together from around the world.
We heard about the historical background of the Muslim-Jewish friendship and common problems shared by both communities. It came down to this: misconceptions between Muslims and Jews result from a lack of knowledge about one another. Educating ourselves and our peers is the only way to break down stereotypes and misconceptions and will bring about results that are beneficial to Muslims and Jews alike.
We heard the story of how Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) attended a Jewish funeral. When the body of his companion passed by, he stood up. Those in attendance asked Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) why he stood up for a Jew. The Prophet (peace be upon him) answered by saying, “Aren’t they humans?”
What a great lesson for Muslim Jewish relations.
During dinner, the Jewish members of the conference showed everyone what a traditional Jewish dance looked like. Everyone enjoyed seeing and learning about this tradition. The Secretary General of the MJC, Ilja Sichrovsky, broke in by announcing, “Hey guys…just two more songs!”