May 2, 2012

April 2012 Abraham's Vision Newsletter

In this Issue

BBIP and BBB Spots Still Open

UP Students Speak!

April 2012 Newsletter
Dear Friends,

How can YOU change the world?

The answer is education, education, education!
"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world"
- Nelson Mandela

By making a monthly tax deductible DONATION to Abraham's Vision, YOU can take a stand and become actively involved in helping young people all over the world reach their human potential. Are you ready to be an effective agent of change?
Salam, Shalom, Peace,
Huda Abu Arqoub and Aaron Hahn Tapper
Co-Executive Directors

Here are this month's updates:

• Unity Program Students Speak!

• Beyond Bridges: Israel-Palestine - Only A Few Spots Still Available

• Beyond Bridges: Balkans - Spots Available

• AV's Strategic Assessment Continues

• AV Book—Muslims and Jews in America

• Recent Events

• Upcoming Events

• In the News


Unity Program Students Speak!

UP 12 discussion
Recently, we asked several of the 2011-12 Unity Program students to share their thoughts and experiences about their participation in the program. Below, in their own words, our students talk about the program:
"Some activities from the Unity Program made me discover how many of our thoughts are predetermined.  We make many assumptions without really thinking them through.  However I also believe that we have the ability to rise above this and become strong, independent thinkers who can criticize and analyze the world that we live in.  Through the many discussions that we had this year, I could see this.  Many different opinions were heard.  I am glad that I can feel comfortable in this environment and I know that my thoughts will be listened to but also that everyone is free to agree and disagree.  One of the most interesting aspects of today's group process was when we tried to define what peace meant to us.  Most of the answers attempted to define it using war as a basis.  I thought it was interesting that so many of us had trouble defining peace and much more easily could define war.  Also, we discussed aspects of our identity.  Throughout many of our group processes this continues to be an important theme. It was interesting to note the different elements that we used to define ourselves: race or ethnicity, ideologies, gender, family heritage or past experiences, etc."

- Unity Program student (Jewish)
"Starting the first day some students were nervous, others outgoing, and all undeniably excited to embark on a journey.  This was a journey in which we learned about each other, the world, and most importantly, ourselves.  Describing our religions, what we have in common, and the most exciting part of our classes...dinners in which we all spoke freely about interesting topics!  I must say I have grown throughout this journey.  Increasing my knowledge of Judaism and Islam as well as history has been very important.  I learned to discuss intense topics with an open mind.  Learning to set aside opinions to for new ones through my increased knowledge and understanding was an invaluable part of the Unity Program."

- Unity Program student (Muslim)

*These are our students' thoughts in their own words, they have not been edited or altered for content.*

Beyond Bridges: Israel-Palestine - Only A Few Spots Still Available

BBIP Jerusalem
Gearing up for our third consecutive summer, Beyond Bridges: Israel-Palestine (BB:IP) is seeking ambitious, politically conscious under/graduate students for the last few spots on this unique three-week study course. Based in Jerusalem, students travel to Bethlehem, Haifa, Hebron, Jaffam Jenin, Nablus, Tel Aviv and beyond to meet with scholars and activists from across the political spectrum. The BB:IP staff is refining the course curriculum and securing on-site program logistics within Israel-Palestine. Run through USF, BB:IP is an accredited study abroad program that engages narratives often absent or underrepresented in mainstream discourse and challenges its participants to see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from different angles.

This summer's trip will run from June 13 - July 4. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis (first come, first serve!). Click here for more information.

Beyond Bridges: Balkans - Spots Available

BBB Sara
In partnership with the Center for Global Education at the Universtiy of San Francisco (USF), the Center for Transformative Education is officially launching our first Beyond Bridges: Balkans summer program, an intensive summer course working with university students  on a journey of comparative conflict analysis and conflict transformation Bosnia-Herzegovina. The program combines rigorous academics and practical hands-on training, allowing students to explore questions at the core of all conflicts. This accredited program will also challenge participants to see the Balkans conflicts from different angles, engaging narratives often absent or underrepresented in mainstream discourse.

The dates for Beyond Bridges: Balkans are July 3 to July 17. Click here for more information.

AV's Strategic Assessment Continues
AV Logo small
One of our most practiced values is transparency and inclusiveness, especially when it comes to sharing AV's current state with our supporters, partners, and students. We are planning to take time from our regularly-run programs in order to evaluate our work based on the open and honest internal and external feedback we have received from all of you. The Taproot Foundation has granted us an opportunity to work with a team of extremely talented people who will work with us on marketing and branding, one important 'piece of the puzzle.' Simultaneously we have begun a major internal evaluation.
Funding is one of the main challenges that is facing us right now, and we are taking the time to examine what we can do internally to open up more funding resources. Our team of exceptional educators and students are actively participating in this internal evaluation process and we hope that you, our dedicated supporters, will also continue to support us during this time.

AV Book – Muslims and Jews in America

Released in April 2011, Muslims and Jews in America: Commonalities, Contentions, and Complexities is a compilation of essays co-edited by internationally acclaimed author, writer, and AV Board member Reza Aslan and AV Co- Executive Director Aaron Hahn Tapper.
This one-of-a-kind book explores contemporary Jewish-Muslim relations in the United States and the distinct and often creative ways in which these two communities interact with one another in the American context. Each of the book's sixteen essays discusses a different episode from the recent twentieth and current twenty-first century American milieu that links these two groups together.
Some of the individuals who contributed to this important volume are as follows:
  • Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf
  • Salam Al-Marayati
  • Debbie Almontaser
  • Dr. Reza Aslan
  • Rabbi Amy Eilberg
  • Rabbi David Ellenson
  • Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN)
  • Rabbi Brad Hirschfield
  • Dr. Ingrid Mattson
  • Dr. Judith Plaskow
  • Dr. Omid Safi
  • Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie
Proceeds from this groundbreaking project are going to Abraham's Vision! Click here to order it on-line.


Recent Events

Recent events section 2
  • Co-Executive Director Aaron Hahn Tapper was a finalist for the prestigious 2012 Goldziher Prize, awarded to individuals "for work that contributes significantly to reverence, understanding and collaboration in common moral purposes between Jews and Muslims." Congrats Aaron!
  • Change From Within, a documentary about AV, was selected to be shown at the USF Human Rights Film Festival. Click here to see the program's full line-up.


Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events
  • On May 9th, Aaron Hahn Tapper will be speaking  about Muslim-Jewish relations at Santa Clara University. For more information, email
  • The Seventh Unity Program Graduation Ceremony at USF - On June 3rd, 2012 at 12 pm, Abraham's Vision will graduate another class of students from its 10-month high school program, bringing our total number of UP graduates to 240! The Keynote Speaker for this year's graduation will be the spiritual leader of Netivot Shalom, Rabbi Menachem Creditor.


In the News

This Just In
  • Co-Executive Director Aaron Hahn Tapper wrote an Op-Ed  entitled, "President Obama is not a Muslim (not that there's anything wrong with that)." Click here to read the full article on
  • AV's book, Muslims and Jews in America: Commonalities, Contentions, and Complexities, is referenced by Yehezkel Landau, a Faculty Associate in Interfaith Relations at Hartford Seminary, in an article entitled "Jewish Muslim Relations in the 21st Century." Click here to read the full article on State of Formation.

On Independence: Freedom For

On Independence: Freedom For © Rabbi Menachem Creditor "We men and women are all in the same boat, upon a stormy sea. We owe to each ...