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Youth Innovators at the University of Pennsylvania    

In their latest email offering, NCDD members Len and Libby Traubman share the story of University of Pennsylvania sophomore Sam Adelsberg and his work at his school to bring Jewish and Muslim students together…

My freshman year at Penn was marred by controversy between the Jewish and Muslim and Arab communities. Distrust and animosity stood in the way of a provocative dialogue as numerous incidents further exacerbated the already existant isolation between the communities. I could only speak for my own feelings, but I saw many who have since become dear friends as “the other.” A year later, it is not uncommon to see Muslims eating at Hillel or Jews attending MSA events.  What happened? An initiative sparked by some student leaders on both sides attempted to “bridge the gap” that we all saw. Are all barriers broken down? Hardly. Through joint musical performances, joint panels, cultural events and a trip together to help rebuild New Orleans together, student leaders from both communities began to see each other as friends and not as others. Though there were times when it got tense, many beautiful friendships formed. While there is a long way to go, this is an exciting first step as many of these students who participated have tremendous potential to take this even further in the coming years.

Along with Sam’s story, they highlight other examples through articles from UPenn’s student newspaper.

Breaking the Ice via Stereotypes by Alex Melamed
Interfaith organization PRISM debunks common religious slurs in first fall meeting.

Mending Their Ties Through Music by Nandanie Khilall
Jews, Arabs and Muslims seek fresh cultural dialogue.

Religion and Rebuilding down South by Lara Seligman
Jewish and Muslim students come together for spring break trip.

Two Unlikely Groups Join Forces To Host An Event by Lara Seligman
“We are not on the West Bank; we are in West Philadelphia.”

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