I helped to organise and took part in our first UK interfaith ‘Twinning’ event in schools in Manchester. Twinning Muslim and Jewish pupils in Manchester Grammar School. This event is part of the Twinning season initiative, spearheaded from New York, Foundation For Ethnic Understanding under the directorship of Walter Ruby. The message is simple – promotion of peace, tolerance and togetherness amongst different faith communities -with slogans ‘We Refuse To Be Enemies and Spread Hummus Not Hate.’ My Jewish friend Heather Fletcher representing Muslim Jewish Forum as its Co-Chair and I representing the same forum as an executive member and as Vice Chair of Faith Network 4 Manchester led and spoke at this session.
It was a pleasure visiting my sons’ former school. Heather talked about the wonderful work of the Muslim Jewish Forum and her positive experiences as a result of it. She said through friendship and interacting with the Muslim community her life was totally ‘enriched’. I talked about something similar during my last visit in the summer with Jonny Wineberg. This time I talked about how I took the same messages of peace and tolerance to other countries, Malaysia, Philippines, Israel and Pakistan in recent weeks and about the twinning initiative. Heather and I had a great time.
Then began the celebration of the ‘Twinning’ project. I left the boys with pledges to ‘twin’ with another boy from another faith. Also to talk about this twinning initiative at home. And to actively challenge Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism and even with their families. Lastly to spend more time together in school or outside learning about each other’s world’s i.e. customs, cultures, rituals etc. To start the process off I formally Twinned my nephew Adam with Max – nephew of Heather Fletcher who were also part of this gathering.
Over 300 boys and several teachers attended. As they got into the spirit of twinning Muslims and Jewish boys enthusiastically held banners together in the Memorial Hall and outside for our group photo.
There was a lovely and lively atmosphere as we enjoyed eating Hummus and Pitta bread and posing for pictures. Most memorable and happy afternoon.