Following the successful outcome of the first National Imams and Rabbis Conference for London and South East in March 2006, the Joseph Interfaith Foundation, was invited once more to organise the second Imams and Rabbis National Conference for Manchester and North West in March 2007.
In summer 2004, a group of British Imams and Rabbis started meeting on an informal basis in order to begin a meaningful dialogue between religious leaders of the two communities. They formed the Imams and Rabbis Steering Committee. Mehri Niknam, the Executive Director of the Joseph Interfaith Foundation – the only officially registered joint Muslim-Jewish interfaith organisation – is a member of the Committee. All Committee members share a vision for creating trust and understanding between our faith communities at both local and national level.
We appreciate the invaluable and continued support we have received from the government through the department for Communities and Local Government.
On Monday 26th March 2007, we held our second one-day National Conference at Hilton Hotel, Manchester. Over 120 Jewish and Muslim religious leaders, educators, interfaith activists and grassroots members from across both communities attended the conference. The objectives of the project are to provide an opportunity for Muslim-Jewish dialogue and to establish a nationally recognised framework for inter faith interaction with the Muslim and Jewish communities.
We were delighted Rt Hon. Hazel Blears MP, Minister without Portfolio and Labour Party Chair, and John Battle MP, Prime Minister’s Envoy to the Faith Communities addressed the conference. They both expressed the important role that faith plays in shaping our relations with each other as citizens of this country and the support that government gives to interfaith interactions that reflect the democratic values of our multi-faith, multi-ethnic society.
The format of the conference enabled the participants to discuss themes pertinent to both faiths and interfaith through a series of workshops. The aims of the discussion workshops were to demonstrate how thinking had progressed since the last conference on a range of significant issues, where more work needs to be focused, and to identify further practical steps for building positive partnerships based on inter faith dialogue and good relations.
The Manchester conference was the second step towards establishing a nationally recognised framework for interfaith dialogue and co-operation between British Muslim and Jewish communities. The Foundation will continue its sustained efforts to move forward the aims and objectives of the Imams and Rabbis Steering Committee.
Photos by Lawrence Purcel