Outreach Coordinator Meets with Israeli-Palestinian Envoy

By Evan Fazio

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On Monday, Oct. 4th, CAIR-Chicago Outreach Coordinator Gerald Hankerson met with an international envoy from Israel and Palestine to share ideas on how to improve Jewish-Muslim relations through art.

The meeting was part of CAIR-Chicago’s participation in the Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative (JMCBI). Hankerson was joined by fellow JMCBI members Asaf Bar-Tura, JCMBI Coordinator at  the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA), and Tawfiq Farraj, Outreach Coordinator at the Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals (CAMP)-Chicago. The international envoy was comprised of delegates recognized by their respective countries as people of rising influence in performing arts.

Their purpose was to learn about “Arts and Coexistence” from Jews and Muslims in America. CAIR-Chicago was thrilled to share its own outreach initiatives with the envoy. Hankerson, along with Bar-Tura and Farraj, explained Café Finjan, a regular interfaith event where people meet and discuss important topics of the day and celebrate their diversity through art, music, and poetry.

The envoy drew on Hankerson, Bar-Tura and Farraj’s expertise in forming and planning Café Finjan, how they bring together Jewish and Muslim artists, how they engage people who aren’t initially willing to engage, who their audience is and what methods they find successful in drawing a large audience of Jewish, Muslim, and non-religious participants.

“CAIR is always glad to reach out and form relations with other faiths.  We were delighted to share our experiences with these individuals who will take our experiences and stories back to the Middle East to try and replicate similar efforts there,” said Hankerson.

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