Abraham’s Vision Produces Student made Unity Program Documentary
(New York, NY, 11/27/2007) Sara Hadi and Rebecca Katz, two Muslim and Jewish graduates from the Al-Iman School and the Abraham Joshua Heschel School in New York City, partnered and produced a ten-minute documentary upon their graduation from the Unity Program, a full-year high school course that educate Muslim and Jewish students about Islam and Judaism while strengthening the relationships students have to their own religious tradition. This powerful documentary is a window into students’ experiences while they were engaging in this groundbreaking inter-group education program.
Through the Unity Program, students defy stereotypical Jewish and Muslim relations. Hadi and Katz in particular spent Summer 2006 together creating this, interviewing their fellow 2005-06 Unity Program student-graduates, and even the Unity Program Co-Educator team. In the documentary students share their experiences as Jewish and Muslim teens living in the US, modeling how transformative the Abraham’s Vision inter-group education programs are. Saleha Lodhi, an Al-Iman School alumna, shares with us her fear when at the beginning of the year-round course. “I was afraid of talking to them. I didn’t know what to expect or what they wanted to expect from us. I didn’t know that we were actually going to get along. I didn’t know that we were just ordinary regular people”. In this documentary, students from the 2005/2006 Unity Program talk about their personal experiences and how it has had an impact beyond their expectations. Heschel School alumna, Sharon Bukspan, shares how the Unity Program exceeded her farthest expectations, eloquently stating, “And I learned through my own experience that ‘interfaith dialogue’ doesn’t have one definition because our definition kept changing as we kept seeing what was possible what we could learn and what we could learn about ourselves and each other… see[ing] how much was possible. Interfaith dialogue isn’t just going into a room and talking and sitting around and doing icebreakers and things like that. It’s really about having an experience and going through a transition and learning”.
In light of recent current events, this documentary embodies hope, reminding us that we as individuals can make a difference . Only together can we build a better place for the next generations to come. Even though Americans are physically distant from the Middle East, tension between Muslim and Jews in the US is very much a reality. Yet these young, courageous students were the first students to participate in this course, a program that is without historic parallel having never before been undertaken in the. In the documentary students open their hearts, eager to spread share what they have learned with others. As Heschel School alumna Esther Gottesman states, through this course she watched how a program with twenty students could create ripple affects that could ultimately change the world. Candidly telling their story, personal journeys, and fears, this documentary is a message and an inspiration to us all. For additional information on the Unity Program and the documentary, contact Unity Program Director Honda Abadi or visit http://www.abrahamsvision.org
About Abraham’s Vision:
Abraham’s Vision is a conflict transformation organization that explores group and individual identities through experiential and political education. Examining social relations within and between the Jewish, Muslim, Israeli, and Palestinian communities, we empower participants to practice just alternatives to the status quo. The Unity Program is a high school course designed to educate students about Islam and Judaism while strengthening the relationships students have to their own religious traditions. We examine the relationship between Islam and Judaism, the historical relationship between Muslims and Jews, and issues within North American Jewish and Muslim communities.