YU-NYU Event Spurs Dialogue between Jewish and Muslim Students
On the evening of February 7, members of the Stern Social Justice Club and The Yeshiva College Tzedek Society participated in a Jewish-Muslim dialogue event hosted by the NYU Bridges club. The students engaged in discussion groups focusing on the stereotypes of Muslims and Jews in the media, prompting engaging discussions amongst the students. YU and NYU students broke up into small groups, each with a mix of both Muslim and Jewish students, to watch clips of negative portrayal of Jews and Muslims in television and news. While most clips were from movies and TV shows with actual derogatory rhetoric surrounding Muslim and Jewish characters, some related to the reverse power that the media has to change the stereotypes created by American television and movies.
With close to fifty people in attendance, the room was full of discussion, but each group experienced different levels of conversation. Some students delved deep, sharing honest opinions regarding the stereotypes and personal experiences with antisemitism and islamophobia. Others expressed dissatisfaction with what they felt was a lack of depth in the discussions and with video prompts that did not spur meaningful discourse.
Golda Aharon, a YU participant from Queens, was proud to have represented YU at the event. Ms. Aharon said that the discussion helped her realize that, while she likes to call herself an open-minded and empathetic person, “I know (and generally care) so little about this community whose lifestyle is probably not that different from my own.”
The event was promoted by Amitai Miller, a YC sophomore from Houston, Texas who is passionate about initiating interactions between YU students and those of different ideologies and faiths. According to Miller, the event was meant to “confront the culture of ‘othering’ and stigmatizing that has pervaded media and mainstream society” and to “engender a larger feeling of understanding between our groups.”
To assist YU students in creating these connections, Miller reached out to Aliza Blond and Sana Mayat, the co-presidents of Bridges, a student group at NYU. When asked about the idea of an intercollegiate event, Blond and Mayat said they felt that “having a diverse group of Muslim and Jewish students from NYU and YU would lead to a thoughtful event with a range of opinions and backgrounds represented.”
The long-term effects of the event are yet to be determined. Miller hopes that these discussions “permeate back into our own communities.”
An earlier version of this article stated that “the Stern Social Justice Club and The Yeshiva College Tzedek Society, in conjunction with the NYU Bridges club, hosted a Jewish-Muslim dialogue” and that “the event was spearheaded by Amitai Miller.” The text above reflects revisions to the original article.