Building a dialogue

Letters to the Boston editor, December 5, 2008
By BOSTON PHOENIX LETTERS  |  December 4, 2008

In the November 21 edition of the Phoenix, reporter David S. Bernstein makes a number of assertions about the Muslim American Society of Boston (MAS Boston) and the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in Roxbury, claiming they are indifferent to the welfare and pluralism of Roxbury, and Boston in general. (See “Menino’s Mosque,” News and Features.) We interfaith, civic, and academic leaders want to make clear that in our experience MAS Boston has shown a commitment to and history of working substantively with its partners in various areas of city life, ranging from health care, to economic well-being, to building interfaith and interethnic understanding, to immigrants’ rights, to the No on 1 campaign, to workers’ rights, to anti-hunger work, to working against the impact of gambling on the vulnerable amongst us, and much more. Much of this work has been covered in the media over the past couple of years. Additionally, we applaud Mayor Menino’s commitment to, and involvement in, leading efforts on behalf of diversity, tolerance, and interfaith understanding in Boston and beyond, and thus the article’s attempt to malign the mayor is offensive.

Our experience demonstrates that MAS Boston values its interfaith relationships and considers these friendships a vital part of its mission to help build a stronger, more equitable Boston. The organization has developed strong working partnerships with leaders in the interfaith, civil-rights, academic, and civic communities. We have every reason to believe that MAS Boston has learned a great deal from these partners and works with them out of a deep respect and feeling of friendship. And so we, the undersigned, write this in support of MAS Boston’s interfaith and civic efforts, and in continued commitment to working with MAS Boston at the new Islamic cultural center in Roxbury, to broaden mutual understanding and to serve the greater Boston community.

Signed (institutions listed are for identification purposes only),
The Reverend Jack Johnson
Executive Director, Massachusetts Council Of Churches
Reverend Ray A. Hammond
Senior Pastor, Bethel Ame Church
Rabbi Eric Gurvis
President, Massachusetts Board Of Rabbis
Cheri Andes
Lead Organizer, Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (Gbio)
Reverend Hurmon Hamilton
Senior Pastor, Roxbury Presbyterian Church; President, Gbio
Diana L. Eck
Director, Pluralism Project At Harvard University
David Gordis, Phd
President Emeritus, Hebrew College
Rabbi Ronne Friedman
Temple Israel, Boston
Geoffrey Lewis
Past President, Jewish Community Relations Council
Alexander Levering Kern
Executive Director, Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries (Cmm)
Father Raymond G. Helmick, S.J.
Boston College
Fran Godine
Vice-President, Gbio
Rabbi Stephanie Kolin
Temple Israel, Boston
Rabbi Jeremy Morrison
Temple Israel, Boston
Rabbi Jonah Pesner
Director, Just Congregations, Union For Reform Judaism
Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld
Co-Chair, Center For Jewish-Muslim Relations
David Dolev
Co-Director, Center For Jewish-Muslim Relations
Rabbi Moshe Waldoks
Board Member, Center For Jewish-Muslim Relations
Michael Felsen
President, Boston Workmen’s Circle
Janet Penn
Executive Director, Interfaith Action, Inc.
Imam Taalib Mahdee
Mosque Of The Quran, Dorchester
Imam Abdullah Faaruuq
Mosque For The Praising Of God, Roxbury
Dr. Abdul Cader Asmal
Past President, Islamic Council Of New England
Dr. Asif Razvi
Past President, Islamic Council Of New England
Rabbi Sanford Seltzer
Interreligious Center On Public Life
Enid Shapiro
Interreligious Center On Public Life
Dr. Sepi Gilani
Board Member, Center For Jewish-Muslim Relations
Dr. Nabeel Khudairi
Past President, Islamic Council Of New England
Jerome D. Maryon, Esq.
President, The Committee Of Contemporary Spiritual-&-Public Concerns

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