A group of local Jewish and Muslim leaders have signed a joint statement urging better relations between the two communities, which have suffered a serious rift over each other’s response to controversial remarks by onetime leaders of a large mosque under construction in Roxbury.

The cautiously crafted statement, which is being released to coincide with tonight’s start of both Rosh Hashana and Ramadan, commits the leaders to “strive to address disagreements and community concerns in ways that promote reconciliation rather than conflict.”

That pledge appears to be a response to the mosque dispute, in which the breakdown in relations was so bad that it led to litigation, much of which was dropped in May. The statement also decries “all forms of terrorism, racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim prejudice, or any other form of discrimination or stigmatization against any racial, religious, or ethnic group.”

The statement includes the signatures of 20 individuals from each faith.

On the Muslim side, it includes the leaders of every prominent local Muslim institution, including five imams. On the Jewish side, where community institutions are under pressure from an Israeli advocacy group called the David Project to be skeptical of the motivations and backgrounds of Muslim leaders, the statement was signed by a number of prominent lay leaders but not by the staff who run mainstream organizations. (MORE)


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