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Celebrating Old Friendships, Forging New Ones

Omar Foundation luncheon honors USC College Dean Howard Gillman, spotlights new joint center.

Celebrating Old Friendships, Forging New Ones

At the end of a recent luncheon honoring USC College Dean Howard Gillman, leaders from the Omar Ibn Al Khattab Foundation and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) joined Gillman around a table to put pen to paper.

Dafer Dakhil, president of the Omar Foundation, and Steven Windmueller, dean of HUC-JIR’s Los Angeles campus, pledged their institutions’ support to a unique partnership housed in the College’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture.

The signing of a memorandum of understanding formally establishing the Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement — a collaboration between the three organizations — served as the culmination of the event. The July 31 luncheon was hosted by the Omar Foundation in its headquarters, a mosque and cultural center just across Vermont Avenue from the University Park campus.

The Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement aims to promote dialogue, understanding and grassroots, congregational and academic partnerships among Jewish and Muslim communities.

The center’s initiatives to-date include events promoting interfaith engagement, as well as partnerships to bring Judaic studies to universities in Muslim nations. Future plans call for expanded grassroots collaborations and the online dissemination of scholarly work on the Abrahamic faiths.

Established in 1982, the Omar Ibn Al Khattab Foundation is dedicated to providing Islamic religious and education services to Muslims and promoting awareness of Islamic social and cultural values. The foundation serves the Los Angeles community, both Muslims and non-Muslims alike, by creating educational, religious and cultural programs.

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is the nation’s oldest institution of higher Jewish education, with campuses in Cincinnati, New York, Los Angeles and Jerusalem. HUC-JIR’s Los Angeles campus, located across Jefferson Boulevard from the University Park campus, is an active participant in Jewish life at USC, working with the USC Office of Religious Life, USC Hillel, the College’s Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life and the Center for Religion and Civic Culture.

The Center for Religion and Civic Culture — founded in 1996 with a grant from the James Irvine Foundation — is a research unit of the USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences. CRCC investigates the civic role of religion and collaborates with congregations, scholars, funders and faith-based organizations. CRCC is a catalyst for interdisciplinary research and innovative partnerships in the community and at the University of Southern California.

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