A LOOK AT WHEN JEWS AND MUSLIMS SHARED A 'FERTILE RELATIONSHIP'
As the Muslim world, and now Iran, make increasingly hostile overtures toward Israel, it's hard to imagine that relations between Jews and Arabs were ever harmonious.
But as biblical scholar Elsie Stern pointed out, during the pinnacle of Islamic power, Jews and Muslims often had a "really fertile" relationship -- one based on shared religious convictions and intellectual and cultural progress.
A new lecture series sponsored by the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies of the University of Pennsylvania aims to shed light on this formerly symbiotic relationship.
Beginning this week, the five-month "Jewish Life Under Caliphs and Sultans" program will bring leading Judaic scholars to synagogues in Center City, Elkins Park and Montgomery County to give both a basic primer on Muslim beliefs and practices, and to examine special topics in Jewish-Muslim history.
The latter will illuminate issues such as Islam's effect on the Hebrew Bible, and how Jewish-Muslim relations in the Middle Ages waxed and waned between cooperation and conflict.