March 28, 2014 – Detroit – A survey of Detroit area Jews and Muslims reveals high levels of interest to learn more about the other, find ways to experience each community’s practices and customs, and engage in joint activities.
“Both groups express willingness to engage with each other,” concludes the survey, Building a Shared Future: Understanding the Muslim and Jewish Communities of Southeast Michigan. “Those who have already experienced an activity with the other group are likely to do it again.”
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) -- Michigan Muslim Community Council (MMCC) survey will be released at a conference, “A Shared Future: Jews and Muslims in Metro Detroit,” co-sponsored by AJC Detroit and MMCC, on Sunday.
The University of Michigan-Dearborn conducted the survey during July and August, 2013. Of the 600 survey respondents, 41 percent were Jewish and 59 percent were Muslim. The survey and the conference were generously supported by a grant from the Ravitz Foundation.
The survey found substantial commonality among Detroit area Jews and Muslims, a good basis for a variety of social interactions. Ninety percent of all respondents are “willing to consider activities with the other community,” such as working or eating together, visiting someone’s home, or being friends. Forty-nine percent reported they already are friends with someone in the other community, and 78 percent have shared a meal with someone in the other community.
Asked whether they would do something with someone from the other community, 43 percent of Jewish respondents said they already have visited a Muslim home, and 74 percent have eaten with a Muslim.
Nearly 60 percent of Muslim respondents indicated they have visited a Jewish home, and 86 percent said they have Jewish work colleagues.
Muslims respondents tended be more observant than Jewish respondents. Ninety percent of Muslims and 35 percent of Jews observe dietary laws. Ninety percent of Muslims and 32 percent of Jews agree that prayer is part of daily life. Asked if they take religious advice into consideration for serious personal problems, 83 percent of Muslims and 34 percent of Jews said they “almost always” or “usually” do.
“While there are differences between the communities in the role religion plays in daily life, they share similarities in the ways they engage in observing and practicing religion,” the survey concludes.
The survey also explored interest within each community in engaging in joint activities, including education, distributing food to the homeless, protecting women and children from violence, and visiting a Jewish or Islamic museum.
The survey found that “individuals who regularly apply their religious teachings and who are regularly influenced by their religion, regardless of community re more interested in a wide range of activities and program possibilities to build a shared future.”
The survey and the conference were generously supported by a grant from the Ravitz Foundation.