On August 3, 2016 student leaders from Israel were invited to the Islamic Center of Long Island to share their interfaith experiences. The students, two Jewish girls, Yam and Amit and two Muslim boys, Hameed and Muhammad, accompanied by their UN Model mentor, Steven Aiello spearheaded lively discussions regarding their life in Israel and their involvement in Model UN groups with the Interfaith Encounter Association in Israel. These four students who exhibited strong leadership qualities were chosen amongst their peers to come to the United States for the first time to participate in a program Jerusalem Peacebuilders which volunteered with Syrian refugees in Connecticut. Their empathy for the refugees was apparent as they told us of their experiences working with the refugees and “just trying to make a difference in their lives”. They worked side by side with other students of different faiths based out of a church in Connecticut.
The Interfaith event was well attended by Muslim and non-Muslim guests. Many of the comments by the audience applauded the work of the students to break down barriers and build bridges at a grassroots level and to carry forth the spirit of unity to their friends and family. The effect the program had on the attendees was clear as one mother stated “I brought my daughter so she could learn something and I ended up learning so much from the young panelists myself! It was very encouraging to see our future generation trying to connect as humans irrespective of religious, political, etc. differences”. Mr. Aiello hopes to make ICLI a yearly visit on the itinerary for his future student leaders as well as for further collaborative events with both our students in New York and possibly Israel.
This event attracted a large gathering, received extensive TV and print media coverage in Newsday, Long Island Press and Islamic Horizon magazine.
Earlier this year when we heard about the visit of Pope Francis we extended an invite for him to formally launch the interfaith institute at ICLI which he was unable to accommodate.
The presentation was very well received. We were able to share a short video from the Oct 25th launch of the interfaith institute of ICLISee full story
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