Interreligious and Intergroup Relations

Jonathan Franklin, and Clifford Wolf, Co-Chairs

Mission: The mission of the AJC Westchester/Fairfield Interreligious & Intergroup Relations Committee (“IIRC”) is to build relationships based on mutual understanding, thereby providing a foundation for cooperation and mutual respect among people of all faiths and ethnicities.

The IIRC fills this role by facilitating communication, experiences and discussion among the groups, helping each community understand the concerns and sensitivities of the others. These relationships will enable us to collaborate and advocate on issues of common concern.
Recent Activities:

Committee Communications.  Joan Saslow, Communications Chair for the Interreligious and Intergroup Relations Committee, regularly produces an e-newsletter which includes listings of upcoming events, information and links to critical and breaking issues in interfaith relations.

Jewish-Muslim Dialogue
. Jewish Muslim dialogue is important for our region and mirrors a focus nationally on this. The Committee recently appointed Richard S. Cohen as the Chair of Muslim Outreach. Under his leadership, AJC leaders have recently participated in interfaith meeting and Iftar dinners.

Jewish-Christian Dialogue
. The committee has a long history of deep and meaningful dialogue with Christian partners. Most recently the committee sponsored a program along with Rabbi Rick Jacobs, head of the Union of Reform Judaism and Rev. Katharine Henderson, President of Auburn Seminary to bring together clergy of both faiths to discuss key issues including BDS and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Interfaith Prayer Services
. The Committee has recently organized and co-sponsored, along with faith groups from around the region, four interfaith programs to bring the multifaith community together to support healing and reconciliation. The first program was organized during the 2014 Gaza conflict and subsequent services were organized to honor the victims of the terrorist attacks in France, the attack at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina and the victims of violent extremism around the world. Between 200 and 350 people of all faiths and ethnicities have attended these services.

Annual Thanksgiving Diversity Breakfast. This annual Breakfast is held the week before Thanksgiving. It is a chance for the entire community to come together and celebrate our diverse roots and shared values. The event consists of honoring those in our community who exemplify this purpose of the Breakfast, music, inspiring speeches and roundtable discussions. About 375 faith and ethnic leaders attend this annual event.

Shared Roots, Divergent Paths series at Iona College. This program held every fall and spring looks at an issue from both the Jewish and Catholic perspective. The program is now in its 16th year. This past year’s programs commemorated the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate and featured discussion groups (October 2015) and a presentation by Dr. Amy-Jill Levine of Vanderbilt University (February 2016).

Sacred Spaces. Our ongoing program brings together members of different faiths to attend worship services in different communities. This is a community-wide program that opens up sacred experiences to interested individuals outside the various congregations. So far we have brought people of all faiths to Mormon, Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, Presbyterian, Quaker, Greek Orthodox, Sikh, and a Jewish Renewal service.