Session Topics

This is not a complete list of JIDS events.  It does not, for example, include any of the D.C.-area Imam-Rabbi Summits, for which JIDS was instrumental as a leading sponsor.  (Videos of portions of each Summit can be found on this website.)   However, the list below does include the vast majority of the JIDS dialogues. We are providing this list not only to allow members of JIDS to stroll down memory lane, but also to serve as a resource for other Jewish-Islamic dialogue societies that are searching for ideas about possible discussion topics and additional activities.

January 19th, Islamic Society of the Washington Area, Silver Spring

“Getting Closer to God: Jewish and Muslim Perspectives on Mysticism”

February 24th, the IMAAM Center, Silver Spring, MD

A screening and discussion of the film, “the Judge,” a documentary about a Palestinian who has the distinction of being the first woman judge in the Middle East’s Shari’a (family law) courts.

March 17th, at a home in McLean, VA

“The Essence of the Qur’an and Its Relationship to the Hebrew and Christian Bibles.”  The featured speaker, Safi Kaskas, spoke about his work as a bridge-builder and as a translator of the Qur’an into English.

April 28th, Adas Israel Congregation, Washington, DC

Empowered Women – Two Faiths, Common Challenges (this involved talks from highly successful Muslim and Jewish women)

June 23rd, Meadowbrook Park, Chevy Chase, MD

Summer picnic sponsored both by JIDS and JAMAAT, which stands for Jews and Muslims and Allies Acting Together.

August 25th, the Museum of the Palestinian People, Washington, DC

Members of JIDS tour this museum, which recently opened, and discuss what they saw there.

October 6th, Bethesda Jewish Congregation, Bethesda, MD

“If You Could Make a Plea, What Would It Be?” Pleas are made regarding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict from both the Zionist and Non-Zionist perspectives.  Additional pleas are made from both the Muslim and Hindu perspectives on the current conflict in Kashmir.

January 21st, Temple Rodef Shalom, Falls Church, VA

“Challenges of Survival: Religious Minority Communities in a Secular Melting Pot Nation.”  We looked at the experiences of Jews, Muslims and Sikhs in America.

February 25th, Hill Havurah, Washington, DC

“Abraham/Ibrahim: Our Common Father”

May 6th, Rock Creek Park, Washington, DC

Picnic – no organized activities. Just socializing.

July 22nd, Unitarian-Universalist Church of Arlington, Arlington, VA

“Envisioning Peace/Salaam/Shalom between Israelis and Palestinians.”   In this program, panelists and members of the audience  presented their visions for peace.

October 26, 2018, Capitol Hill United Methodist Church, Washington, DC

“God Wrestling: Jews and Muslims Reflect on the Christian Bible” (the moderator of this event was the pastor of the host church)

January 15th, McLean Islamic Center, Vienna VA

“Who Speaks for Islam/Who Speaks for Judaism.”  We addressed such topics as: What defines Judaism or Islam? Its text?  Its history?  Its spokespeople?  And which ones? Is it defined instead by the majority of those who currently self-identify with it, even if they are not clergy or recognized lay leaders? And how can we tell which imams, rabbis, or other “experts” quoted in media are legitimate spokespersons and which are not?

March 19th, Muslim Community Center, Silver Spring, MD

“Muslim/Jewish Engagement in Germany: A Refusal to be Enemies.”  This program featured Armin Langer, a young activist who since 2013 had coordinated the Berlin-based Jewish-Muslim Initiative called “Salaam-Shalom.” We explored Jewish and Muslim life in Germany and the state of Muslim/Jewish engagement in that country.

June 4th, Masjid Muhammad, Washington, DC

“God Wrestling Among the Family of Abraham.”  We heard presentations from JIDS members as well as high school students in the Operation Understanding DC program focusing on how each speaker conceives of God and how s/he came to have that understanding.  Presenters included Jews, Muslims and Christians.

August 13th, the Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation, Reston, VA

“Converts and Conversion in Judaism and Islam.”

October 3rd, American University School of International Service

“Finding Hope in a Time of Cynicism: Successes and Challenges in Jewish-Muslim Engagement in the Local Communities”

November 18th, Unitarian-Universalist Church of Arlington, Arlington, VA

“Peace, Salaam, Shalom” – a concert of brilliant contemporary Jewish and Muslim museums. All the net proceeds of the event went to benefit JIDS.

December 10th, Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation, Bethesda, MD

“The Refugee Experience as Told through the Story of a Holocaust Survivor in Words and Music.”  This presented the poignant tale of a man who lost his wife and son in the Holocaust, escaped and then returned to Poland as a soldier, and finally faced the situation of being a survivor after the war.  His tale was told in words by his daughter, and expert in Yiddish language and culture, and in music by a renowned guitar virtuoso.

February 7th, Temple Shalom, Chevy Chase, MD

“The Future of Judaism, the Future of Islam.”  (A nice way to spend the few hours immediately before the Super Bowl.)

May 15th, International Cultural Center, Montgomery Village, MD

“Enough with Preaching to the Choir: How to Get Out the Message of the Interfaith Movement to a Wider Audience”

September 18th, Muslim Community Center, Silver Spring, MD

“Non-Belief and Non-Believers”

January 25th, North Chevy Chase Christian Church, home of the Shirat HaNefesh Congregation, Chevy Chase, MD

“How Judaism and Islam Have Informed Our Views on Contemporary Issues.”  The issues discussed included such controversial topics as homosexuality and the right to abortion.

March 22nd, Ashburn location of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS Center), Ashburn, VA

This session involved a Cultural Exchange, which is an opportunity for JIDS members to share with each delicious food, family heirlooms, and stories, among other things.

May 31st, Islamic Society of the Washington Area, Silver Spring, MD

A screening and discussion of the film, “Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story” (this is the tragic, yet heroic story of a Muslim woman who, as a British Agent, helped to fight the Nazis during World War II)

October 19th, the All Dulles Area Moslem Society (ADAMS Center), Sterling, VA

“Pilgrimages” – Muslims reflect on their pilgrimages to Mecca during the Hajj and American–Jews reflect on their pilgrimages to Jerusalem

February 2nd, Bethesda Jewish Congregation, Bethesda, MD

“Trinitarian Monotheism” (we heard from representatives of the Eastern Orthodox, Jewish and Muslim traditions, and the moderate was a Presbyterian pastor)

April 27th, Islamic Center of Maryland, Gaithersburg, MD

“The Role of Religion in the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict: Is it Exacerbating the Problem?  Or Can it be Part of the Solution?”

June 1st, International Cultural Center, Montgomery Village, MD

“The Prophet Moses in the Torah and the Qur’an”

August 10th, at the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring, MD

“The Gaza War between the Israelis and the Palestinians” (this dialogue occur while the conflict was continuing)

September 28th,

“The Concepts of Social Justice and Human Dignity in Judaism, Christianity and Islam”

October 19th, Congregation Har-Tzeon Agudath Achim, Silver Spring, MD

“Obstacles to Peace (mistrust, fear, trauma, ignorance, etc.) and What We Can Do to Break the Logjam in the Israeli/Palestinian Peace Process.”

November 16th, Black Hill Regional Park, Boyds, MD

Twinning Weekend program bringing together Muslim and Jewish youth for both social action and dialogue activities.

December 14th, Islamic Center of Maryland, Gaithersburg, MD

“God: Mystery and Manifestation.”   This involves four thinkers with very different theologies — an Imam, a Traditional Christian, a Progressive Jew and an Atheist — who came together as a panel on different occasions because they’re all passionate about religious issues and share the desire to have a civil dialogue.

February 17th, Muslim Community Center, Silver Spring, MD

First installment of our multi-part series entitled “What Unifies Us, What Divides Us”

The group decided on the following unifiers: the experience of being a member of a minority group (at least here in America, our common ultimate values (e.g., charity, justice, peace, truth, humility and gratitude), the fact that we are both products of the Middle East in culture, history and language, and our strict monotheism.  The group decided on the following dividers: the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict, our ignorance about our cousin faith (meaning that Jews are ignorant about Islam and Muslims are ignorant about Judaism), the differences in the extent to which we accept or reject the literal meaning of our sacred texts and in the extent to which have “branched vertically” (i.e., embraced and institutionalized liberal/radical expressions of our faiths), and our beliefs with respect to the Prophet Muhammad.

March 15th, the International Cultural Center, Montgomery Village, MD

The next installment of JIDS’ “What Unifies Us, What Divides Us” series.

June 30th, Islamic Center of Maryland, Gaithersburg, MD

“Violence and Fanaticism”

September 22nd, the International Cultural Center, Montgomery Village, MD

The “What Unifies Us, What Divides Us” series continues.

October 20th, Bethesda Jewish Congregation, Bethesda, MD

“Capturing the Complexity of Judaism/Islam: Theology, Cultural, Institutions and Other.”  The discussion focused on the richness and plurality of Judaism and Islam, and how these civilizations evolved through a myriad of cultural, historical, linguistic and geographical developments over the centuries.

November 17th, Muslim Community Center, Silver Spring, MD

Rabia Chaudry addresses the group regarding her recent trip to Israel

December 8th, Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation, Bethesda, MD

A screening and discussion of the film, “Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet.”

January 22nd, the Moishe House of Montgomery County, Rockville, MD

“Are Muslims and Jews Doing Enough to Combat Extremism?”

February 12th, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC

We took a tour of the Holocaust Museum.

March 18th, Islamic Center of Maryland, Gaithersburg, MD

The topic was the Holocaust.  It was moderated by Dr. Sayyid Syeed, National Director of the Islamic Society of North America’s Office of Interfaith & Community Services.

July 1st, ISKCON of DC, Potomac, MD

“Non-Abrahamic Faith Teach-In – The Journey of the Soul in Hare Krishna, Buddhism and Sikhism.”

September 23th, Baitur-Rahman Mosque, Silver Spring, MD

“The Concept of the Brotherhood of Mankind in Judaism and Islam”

October 21st, Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Bethesda, MD

A talk by Beyhan Cagri Trock, the author of the Memoir, “The Ottoman Turk and the Jewish Girl” (Ms. Trock is the daughter of a Turkish-Muslim father and a Jewish mother)

November 18th, Meadowbrook Park, Chevy Chase, MD

Jewish and Islamic youth work together to clean up Rock Creek Park

December 9th, International Cultural Center, Montgomery Village, MD

Screen and discuss the movie “Arranged,” a lovely drama about two Brooklyn-based teachers, a Muslim woman and an Orthodox-Jewish woman, who become friends.

February 20th, Tikvat Israel Congregation, Rockville, MD

“Assimilation: Opportunities and Challenges” (this session examined the experiences of the Jewish and Muslim communities in striving to assimilate to American life without losing what makes our respective communities unique and beautiful)

March 13th, Muslim Community Center, Silver Spring, MD

“The Concept of the Messiah in Judaism and Islam”

March 28th, Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation

“An Evening with a Sufi Shaykh”

April 10th, Congregation Beth El, Bethesda, MD

“Even the Devil Can Quote Scripture: Taking Scripture Out of Context” (we confronted the various ways in which the Qur’an and the Torah are being taken out of context by Islamophobes and Anti-Semites to discredit our respective religions)

May 15th, Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation, Bethesda, MD

This session featured Tom Block, who spoke about his book, “Shalom, Salaam: A Story of a Mystical Fraternity,” in which he explores the profound historical influence that Sufi Islam has had on Judaism and addresses the influence that Judaism has had in return.

September 18th, Islamic Society of the Washington Area, Silver Spring, MD

“In the Spirit of Abraham and Muhammad: A Look at Our Most Influential Idol Smashers from the More Recent Past.”  We look at the ideas of such individuals as Baruch Spinoza and Muhammad Ibn Abd-al Wahhab.

October 30th, Medina Center, Potomac, MD

“Exploring Jewish and Islamic Mysticism”

November 20th, CCNV Homeless Shelter, Washington, DC

Jewish and Muslim teenagers and young adults come together to help the homeless.

January 10th, Islamic Center of Maryland, Gaithersburg, MD

A screening and discussion of the film, “The Woman from Sarajevo,” a documentary about two families, one Jewish and one Muslim.  The Muslim faith rescued the Jewish family from the Nazis during World War II, and then the Jewish family rescued the Muslim family from the inferno of Sarajevo 50 years later.

February 14th, Tifereth Israel Congregation, Washington DC

Brainstorming social, charitable and/or political activities that the JIDS community can embrace together.

March 7th, Idara-e-Jaferia Islamic Center, Burtonsville, MD

This session was devoted to the stories of Muslim and Jewish teenagers and young adults in our communities and how their religions have shaped their outlooks on life.  The teenagers and young adults were the primary speakers.

April 18th, Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation, Bethesda, MD

This session was devoted exclusively to the Environment and what we can do to save it.

April 24th, City Place Theatre One in the City Place Mall, Silver Spring, MD

A screening and discussion of the film, “Out of Cordoba: Averroes and Maimonides in Their Time and Ours”

June 13th, Idara-e-Jafaria Islamic Center, Burtonsville, MD

“God: Names, Attributes, Conceptions.”

September 19th

“Why am I a Jew?  Why am I a Muslim.”

The goal is for each panelist to speak from his or her heart about what makes them care so deeply about Judaism/Islam.

October 17th, Congregation Har Shalom, Potomac, MD

“Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism.”

November 14th, Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation

Our topic for this section is the notion of “land,” and the claims that have been made by Jews and Muslims over certain disputed land.  The presenters discussed the claim that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jews, as well as the claim that once land has been conquered by Muslims, it must forever be under Muslim control.

December 12th, Islamic Center of Maryland, Gaithersburg, MD

JIDS “Free for All.” In this session, we divided into small groups at the very outset of the session and gave each person in attendance the opportunity to set the agenda in that group for up to 15 minutes at a time.  The attendees were told either to ask a question to the group, speak about a topic of one’s choice and then solicit questions/comments, or simply pass and let the next person hold the floor.

February, at a home in Silver Spring, MD

This was our initial meeting.  The discussion focused entirely on God.  We continued to meet on a monthly basis for the next few months.

July 26th, Muslim Community Center, Silver Spring, MD

A Muslim member presented on “War and Peace in Islam.”  A Jewish member presented on “The Importance of Israel.”

August 16th, Congregation Or Chadash, Damascus, MD

“Schools of Thought in Islam, Schools of Thought in Judaism

September 13th, the Islamic Center of Maryland in Gaithersburg, MD

Two topics – “What Does it Mean to be Jewish?”  and “Gender in Islam.”

October 19th, Islamic Center of Maryland, Gaithersburg, MD

“Common Barriers Faced by Jews and Muslims in America”

November 8, Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation, Bethesda, MD

“How We’ve Been Inspired by Our Cousins’ Faith – The Stories of a Jew and a Muslim”

December 13th, the Islamic Society of the Washington Area, Silver Spring, MD

“Zionism: Principles and Methods.”  The meeting was coordinated by a Muslim member of JIDS, Sabir Rahman.