April 30, 2014 -- New York -- AJC honored Chelsea Clinton and Linda Mills with the global advocacy organization’s Interfaith Leadership Award for co-founding the Of Many Institute at New York University. The award was presented at the AJC Women’s Leadership Spring Luncheon, attended by more than 350 at The Pierre Hotel.
“Your visionary leadership in advancing interfaith partnerships in pursuit of the common good has paved a vital pathway for all who seek to build a world based on generosity and mutual respect,” states the inscription on the award. Cori Berger, chair of AJC’s Women's Leadership Board, and Betty Cotton, president of AJC’s New York Region, presented the award. Following the award presentation, Clinton, Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation, and Mills, NYU’s Chancellor for Global Programs and University Life, engaged in a 30-minute conversation about their vision and work with AJC Executive Director David Harris. The Of Many Institute offers academic courses, dialogue programs and other events to deepen understanding among different faiths on campus and in the broader New York City community.
“I am deeply optimistic that this work will be taken up on other campuses and in other communities,” said Clinton. “It is important to recognize people’s potential for doing this work and to support them. Sometimes it is a rabbi and an imam, and sometimes students will be in the vanguard.”
The genesis of the Of Many Institute was the increasingly cooperative relationship between Imam Khalid Latif and Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, NYU’s Muslim and Jewish chaplains.
Mills emphasized that the relationship between Latif and Sarna set a tone for Jewish-Muslim interaction and cooperation that is the basis for the Of Many Institute. “When conflicts emerge, the tests for dealing with them are the bridges, friendships already built,” said Mills. “At NYU, we live in a much more embracing space. Of Many has built a bridge between Jewish and Muslim students that can allow us to get through a conflict.”
AJC has been a pioneer in interfaith relations for more than a century. AJC’s leadership in the 20th century advanced Christian-Jewish relations. Even as that commitment continues, AJC has expanded its dedication to furthering Muslim-Jewish relations in the United States and abroad in the 21st century.