Here is a photo of me in 2012, teaching a group of rising leaders from all over the world about the history of the Jewish people & the Holocaust.
I was 25. After spending the previous ten years of my life deeply immersed in American Jewry, I found myself able to use my experiences to make a difference in the world. Before me were a dozen of the brightest, most talented young leaders from across the globe. A few of the Arab students had draped me in a red & white keffiyeh--a symbol of leftist politics in the Levant--and then asked me a question: "What was the Holocaust?"
For the next 45 minutes, I explained the painful, heartbreaking story of the Shoah to young people from across the world. I did so at their behest, and as an American.
This moment was the culmination of a decade-long interfaith project to quietly study and be a part of Maryland’s vibrant Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and Orthodox Christian communities as a participant observer of goodwill & interfaith understanding.
Learning to think and belong to these many faithful communities changed me forever. It drove within me a passion to bring Americans and people the world over together to better understand one another, and repair the world through social justice—Tikun Olam in Hebrew.
There I was, a Muslim American, former president of a Jewish fraternity standing in a hotel lobby in Baltimore with young people from the Arab World, West Africa, the Subcontinent, Eastern Europe & Southeast Asia. What ran through my mind were the words: "We made you into nations and tribes so that you might come to know one another."
In these trying and difficult times, we need to build bridges between one another in order to build understanding for a better world—and form a more perfect union. E Pluribus Unum: Out of Many, We Are One.