The Abraham Society was established in 2016 in Los Angeles, California. It is a “people to people” initiative whose broad mission is to foster relationships of trust, understanding and mutual interest among individuals residing in Southern California who are of Jewish, Muslim and Christian backgrounds (whether or not observant) who have historical, cultural and emotional ties to the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. We seek to foster, by example, a basis for greater understanding and engagement among these communities, premised on the conviction that we share broad areas of common interest.

In furtherance of its mission, The Abraham Society will work to advance pluralism through recognizing and advocating for fundamental principles of American life, including the following:

- The United States is premised on equal rights and equal protection under law. While this is a fundamental principle, it must be nurtured and never taken for granted.
- The United States is founded on and strengthened by the diversity of the people who live here, who come from all backgrounds, ethnicities and faith traditions. The United States has always been, and will continue to be, a nation of immigrants. It is our duty to welcome the stranger, not only as an ethical imperative but as a matter of our mutual self-interest - our society, culture and economy and sense of security depend on embracing our diverse components.
- While we may have different cultural backgrounds, we share a common humanity. Our lives and our society are enriched and enlivened by meaningful encounters with each other.
- It is important to strengthen the values of moderation in all of our respective traditions and to encourage constructive engagement in furtherance of mutual respect and tolerance.

We believe that, unfortunately, individuals in our various communities are too isolated from each other and do not generally interact on a regular basis, and that as a consequence, there is inadequate mutual knowledge and understanding.

We believe that it would be useful to initiate a bottom-up approach by bringing together diverse individuals who might not ordinarily come into contact with each other, and providing a context for them to know each other better and to develop meaningful relationships. We believe that this approach can have a “penumbra effect”, and if replicated more widely (both in and outside of Southern California) can have a positive impact on advancing American pluralism and the principles described above.

We also believe that in order for The Abraham Society to be effective, it is imperative that it coalesce around specific objectives and programs to further its principles. Especially in the current environment, we believe that developing effective resistance to hate crimes and discrimination is a key objective, both in and of itself and to serve as a means for our communities to work cooperatively and to deepen our mutual understanding. In the short term, we will identify and implement specific initiatives to address these disturbing aspects of contemporary American life, with the confidence that by so doing, we will advance our broader objectives.

We contemplate that The Abraham Society will evolve as it grows and serve as an example of the positive impact that open-minded individuals of good will can make, both domestically and internationally.

To learn more please contact AJC Los Angeles Assistant Director Saba Soomekh at soomekhs@ajc.org.
 

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