The Muslimische Jugend Östterrich (Muslim Youth of Austria, MJÖ) and the Jüdische österreichischen Hochschüler:innen (Austrian Union of Jewish Students, JöH) joined together in 2022 for a joint project: Tikkun Alam. It appeals to Jewish and Muslim students and young adults in Austria to create spaces for discussion, dialogue, and shared learning. Projects like the Jewish-Muslim thinktank Karov-Qareeb, founded under the umbrella of DialoguePerspectives, and the thinktank Schalom Aleikum inspired DialoguePerspectives alumna Sophie and her partners from the MJÖ and JöH to start their own interreligious project. With Tikkun Alam they seek to promote Jewish-Muslim dialogue in Austria, thus helping to create more social solidarity and cohesion. As part of the multi-month project they created safer spaces for exchange, dialogue, and joint action for more solidarity and against antisemitism and anti-Muslim racism through various activities and methods such as film and cooking evenings, lectures, and workshops.
Here is a short overview of the launch in June 2022 from Sophie, co-founder of the project:
We organised a shared evening of cooking as our Tikkun Alam kick-off event, during which we got to know not only new dishes, but also each other. Culinary highlights from a variety of cultures and countries to which our participants have a personal connection were prepared together at different stations. These encounters between people allowed them to gain insights into – sometimes different, sometimes similar – worlds, allowing for a dialogue among equals to develop. It was inspired by the idea of breaking down mental barriers so we can build shared bridges. And all that at a shared dinner where all could come together to enjoy the dishes they had just prepared in good company. In our opinion, successful Jewish-Muslim dialogue must include practicing being OK with conflict, talking about crises, and taking on challenges. We thus made these the topic of a workshop with the two trainers Shemi Shabat and Mohamed Ibrahim and 16 participants, where we worked out how a strong, resilient relationship between our organisations might look.
Further intriguing events are planned as part of the project for 2023, at which we will seek to address the collective and individual dimensions of belonging among our participants. By visiting prominent places of workshop, we will grapple with both the histories of the Jewish and Muslim communities in Vienna and the ways in which we religiously live out our identities.
Guided by the question ‘What does Islam/Judaism mean for me, and how do I implement it in my life?’, we are pursuing our shared work in a particularly personal way.
˝The DialoguePerspective programme has created a unique platform for discourse and debate on a wide range of topics that have significance for the EU currently and in its future. DialoguePerspectives offers the opportunity to share, learn and explore as a community, questions that are relevant to our identity and the diversity of Europe. I highly recommend the programme.
Santhi, DialoguePerspectives participant