CAIRO - Seeking to bolster relations between followers of the two Abrahamic faiths, Muslims and Jews in Chicago have sponsored an initiative for a bike ride from the city's mosque to a synagogue to highlight commonalities between the two religions.
"We have a lot more in common than we have differences," Julie Hochstadter told the Chicago Tribune at the end of the eight-mile bike ride.
Organized by the Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative, about 60 Muslim and Jewish riders joined together in a bike ride in Chicago in an effort to bring followers of the two faiths closer.
They met in a mosque for a breakfast of baklava and bananas in the worship place's prayer room, where Muslims perform their daily prayers.
After the breakfast, the participants took an eight-mile ride from the mosque to a North Side synagogue.
The group traveled "as a single organism" north along Broadway to Anshe Emet Synagogue and on to the lakefront in Lincoln Park for a picnic.
"I believe in the idea that Jews and Muslims should do activities in the city together as a way to move the world closer together," said Northwestern University professor Laurie Zoloth, who participated in the ride.
Though there are no official figures, America is believed to be home to nearly eight million Muslims.
A 2010 report of the North American Jewish Data Bank puts the number of Jews in the US at around 6.5 million.
Muslims and Jews hailed the initiative for creating a common ground for followers of the two faiths.
"We fight, but we are still cousins," Muhammad Ullah, a building manager at the Islamic center, told The Chicago Tribune.
"We love each other, but we don't want to share."
Attendants encouraged similar events to ease up tensions between Muslims and Jews.
"So here we are as active Muslims, Jews and Americans," said rider Melissa Simon.
"We cannot fix the Israeli-Palestinian conflict today. But we can put all of our heart energy into the pedals and spend time with people."
Interfaith ties between American Muslim and Jewish leaders have a history of successes.
Sponsored by The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, a New York-based nonprofit organization, the Twinning Mosques and Synagogues", has launched an initiative that aims to promote ethnic harmony and build inter-group grassroots ties.
Since the initiative began in 2008, the Twinning Mosques and Synagogues brought together 50 Jewish and 50 Muslim congregations across the United States and Canada at one-on-one programs.A group of high-profile Muslim and Jewish organizations participate in the initiative, including the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the World Jewish Congress (WJC), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and the Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims (CAJM).
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net