After finishing the 2014 IAS and moving back to her hometown of Detroit, alumna Lindsay Acker took it upon herself to get to re-know the city, which she had been away from for several years. Immersing herself in the Jewish community where she grew up and starting to understand the landscape of interfaith relations, Lindsay also began to get to know the Detroit metro area’s Arab and Muslim community, one of the United State’s oldest, largest and most diverse. Lindsay, who came out of IAS program with full professional fluency of the Palestinian dialogue, was a surprising figure in the Arab community, there are few activate interfaith initiatives between Jews and Muslims in the area, and even fewer Jews who speak fluent Arabic! Through getting to know the community, Lindsay has even picked up knowledge of Lebanese and Syrian dialects; quite a setting to jump into after spending half a year really getting to know the language.
As her exploration of the two communities continued, Lindsay saw the importance of building bridges and starting conversation—especially in the context of a renewing Detroit, a city that is going through major transformation in many aspects. When Lindsay met Tarik, a Palestinian from Gaza and a fellow musician, the two instantly connected. Soon, after meeting several times over Jam sessions and shisha, a new interfaith group, Muslim-Jewish Forum of Detroit was born.
The group, now about half a year old, defines themselves as “an interfaith community of young, determined, and idealistic Muslims and Jews from, or living, in the Detroit area. We are a group intent on creating change and promoting understanding between our two communities and serving our city of Detroit through local service and educational initiatives.” In the last months, the group has participated in volunteer work with other local organizations doing social justice and community work as well as hosted several of their own events. The largest gathering to date was an interfaith Passover Seder, attended by young about 25 Detroiters. At the Seder, a first for many of the attendants, the group discussed the Passover story and shared different perspectives. The Forum is currently in development and growth phase, building their visionary and leadership board as well as new projects and initiatives. This month they will be hosting their first book club, hosting a dialogue on David Eggers Zeitoun. For more info and to get involved check out the Forum’s Facebook.