- For Immediate Release & Distribution -

Muslim and Jewish Artists to Perform, Explore “Crossroads” – TOMORROW

(Chicago – 3/15/2011) – Jewish and Muslim artists, musicians and community members will explore the crossroads we face in Chicago’s political scene, as well as the crossroads of ethnicities, cultures and religions that make our city great at the next “Café Finjan” event.

WHAT: “Chicago Crossroads,” event at Café Finjan

WHEN: 6:30 p.m., Thursday, March 17th

WHERE: Montgomery Ward Lounge in the Student Center East, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), 750 S. Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60607.

DETAILS: Open to the public, a donation of $5 is suggested. No RSVP is required.

CONTACT:
Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative, Coordinator: Asaf Bar-Tura, 773-852-6622 , E-Mail: asaf@jcua.org

CAIR-Chicago, Outreach Coordinator: Gerald Hankerson, 708-829-9069, E-Mail: ghankerson@cair.com

About Café Finjan http://www.jmcbi.org/finjan

Café Finjan is a series of interfaith arts exchanges, begun in 2004 by the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs as part of its Jewish-Muslim Community-Building Initiative. Café Finjan has consistently drawn hundreds people from the Chicago area for a rewarding evening of art, passion and community.

“The Jewish-Muslim Initiative, and Café Finjan as a part of it, promotes the idea that Jews and Muslims can collaborate locally on issues that are important to both communities, while perhaps disagreeing on international issues” says Asaf Bar-Tura, JMCBI coordinator. Tawfiq Farraj, a UIC alumnus and member of the Café Finjan organizing committee, said: “It is very rewarding to see Jewish and Muslim students on my former campus building stronger relationships through this collaboration.”

The goals of the organizers are to explore experiences as minorities, immigrants, and/or people of faith and to develop a shared agenda of pluralism, respect and civil rights in a domestic context. They believe that their communities and the relationships between them are shaped by much more than conflict. The performances and interactions at Café Finjan offer to creatively envision new points of contact and diverse aspects of Jewish and Muslim identities in Chicago and North America.

“Café Finjan brings people together for an authentic and inspiring cross-cultural engagement through art and dynamic participation” says Bar-Tura. “It creates spaces where people from diverse backgrounds and practices can explore their commonalities without the often distorted mediation by mass media or preconceived ideas.”

Under the umbrella of the Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative (JMCBI), Café Finjan is co-sponsored by the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA), the Chicago chapter of the Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals (CAMP-Chicago), the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago), the Inner-city Muslim Action Network (IMAN), Hillel at Loyola University Chicago (LUC), Hillel at UIC, the Jewish-Muslim Initiative at UIC, and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at UIC.

About JMCBI http://www.jmcbi.org

The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs established the Jewish-Muslim Community-Building Initiative (JMCBI) in 2001 in response to an increase in intolerance and hate crimes against Muslims following the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Reflecting a similar dedication to education, culture and civil liberties for all, the Muslim and Jewish communities are uniquely positioned to proactively engage our communities and advocate for equality and social justice. “The fact that we can work together for immigrant rights, criminal justice and other pressing social concerns, sends an important message to elected officials and policy makers, that our communities cannot be ‘divided and conquered’” says Asaf Bar-Tura, JMCBI coordinator.

Each aspect of the Initiative-cultural, educational, and joint action provides opportunities for dialogue, greater understanding, respect and deepening relationships between Jews and Muslims. This ultimately enables our communities to work together to create a more just city and society in which to live. Read full history at http://www.jmcbi.org/full-overview-of-jmcbi/.

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CAIR-Chicago is a chapter of America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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