Chicago Roundup

  • Large Turnout at Café Finjan: People of Different Faiths Meet to Build Bridges
  • HDF National Board Meets in Chicago, Strategy for 2010 Chalked out
    Kashmir Solidarity Day Observed in Chicago
    By Dr Mujahid Ghazi


Large Turnout at Café Finjan: People of Different Faiths Meet to Build Bridges

Large turnout at Cafe Finjan as people of different faiths meet to build bridges

Chicago February, 2010: This year’s Café Finjan attracted a large number of Jews, Muslims and people of multiple faiths to witness the performance of a very talented group of presenters and organizers to bring the communities together. It is an annual event of Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative (JMCBI). This year it was cosponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals (CAMP), Hillel at Loyola University Chicago, Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), Loyola University Chicago Muslim Students Association Luc.msa and Jewish Council on Urban Affairs.

The program which was emceed by Tawfiq Farraj and Fawad was divided into three segments “Stereotypes”, “Identity” and “Beyond Tomorrow” with very effective presentations by the performers. After each segment the audience, which was divided by color coding, gathered in five different corners of the auditorium to express and share their opinion about these issues. The groups included young Muslims, Jews and other individuals along with some faculty members and other older guests.

The performers included the author of “Everyday People” and “Slingshots” Kevin Coval, “Tel Aviv to Ramallah” fame actor Yuri Lane. Indigo, a dynamic Muslim Duo of Ameenah Nefertiti Muhammad and Aaisha Sheereen Durr and Stereo Sinai, Miriam Brosseau and Alan Jay Sufrin.

It was a well attended event with free refreshments and a great opportunity to bridge the gap between the communities. Following is a brief introduction of Café Finjan and Jewish-Muslim Community building Initiative from


Café Finjan

Café Finjan is a series of interfaith arts exchanges begun in 2002 by the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs as part of its Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative. The series establishes points of contact, and nurtures a greater understanding between Jews and Muslims of Chicago while creating spaces for people of these diverse backgrounds to come together and give voice to their identity and experience as part of a larger community.

Finjan , a word in both Arabic and Hebrew, is a metal pot for brewing coffee in the traditional Middle Eastern style, not only in the home, but also on a campfire, with friends gathered around for warmth.


Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative

JCUA established the Jewish-Muslim Community-Building Initiative (JMCBI) in 2001 in response to an increase in intolerance and hate crimes against Muslims following the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Reflecting a similar dedication to education, culture and civil liberties for all, the Muslim and Jewish communities are uniquely positioned to proactively engage our communities and advocate for equality and social justice. Each aspect of the Initiative-cultural, educational, and joint action provides opportunities for dialogue, greater understanding, respect and deepening relationships between Jews and Muslims. This ultimately enables our communities to work together to create a more just city and society in which to live.

Unlike many interfaith organizations, JMCBI is not a dialogue group, or an Israel-Palestine peace effort organization. JMCBI is an initiative that brings about grassroots organizing of Jews and Muslim to participate in cultural programs and political advocacy. As JMCBI member Jonathan Berman describes, “We are attempting to go beyond dialogue groups and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  JCUA and our Muslim partners are forming a working alliance on domestic issues of shared concern: safeguarding our civil rights and civil liberties, and undoing bigotry and prejudice in our own communities.” 

This is a unique initiative bringing Jews and Muslim to collaborate on domestic issues. Through the regular encounter of the two communities, there is a realization of their common interests, concerns and hopes. Both communities are grappling with the fact that they are non-Christians attempting to be embraced as part of the American fabric into American society, while holding on to their religious and cultural traditions. The initiative attempts at a true partnership, where Muslim and Jews explore together what it is to be a united community for social justice.

  The JMCBI has three major goals:

  • Creating and sustaining relationships with Muslim organizations and constituencies;
  • Developing relationships with Muslim partners to build coalitions for more effective advocacy campaigns;
  • Producing Jewish and Muslim cultural and educational programs to build bridges between our communities.

HDF National Board Meets in Chicago, Strategy for 2010 Chalked out

HDF National Board meets in Chicago to chalk out strategy for 2010

This past week-end the Human Development Foundation held its quarterly national board meetings at their Schaumburg office. This three-day event saw the beginning of the new year with much enthusiasm and excitement as the newly appointed Chairperson, Dr. Atiya Khan from Maryland, conducted the meetings. The Board members from all over the US, Canada and Pakistan attended this event. These meetings were open to all who wished to learn more about the organization and get involved.

The local Chicago HDF Network held a special dinner on Feb. 6 th, to introduce their top donors to the entire group of management and board of directors and trustees from North America and Pakistan. The incoming local network co-chairs, Raza Khan and Dr. Shehnaz Rehman welcomed their guests and thanked them for their continued support of HDF. This was also a great opportunity for the Chicago supporters to ask the entire HDF team any questions they had in an informal and comfortable setting. A group of about 110 people dined at Lazzat Restaurant and took the opportunity to learn about the HDF projects currently underway in Pakistan. A moment of silence was also observed for those who lost their lives in Karachi on Friday, Feb. 5th.

 Everyone was also reminded of the upcoming Annual Chicago Fundraiser on 17 th April at the Marriott in Oak Brook. Tickets are available by calling the office at 847-490-0100. At the Gala, HDF will proudly recognize the seven individuals from Chicago whose names are included in the 500 most influential Muslims of 2009. This was the result of a global study conducted by Georgetown University. We are indeed privileged that HDF’s Dr. Khalid Riaz was acknowledged in this influential list for his work in philanthropy and human development. 

The entertainment for the evening will be provided by music sensation, Roxen – Mustafa Zahid, who is visiting from Pakistan to perform on April 17 th. His vocal talents have landed him as one of the most desired Pakistani singers in the South Asian music industry. 

Kashmir Solidarity Day Observed in Chicago

The Consul General of Pakistan meets journalists on Kashmir Solidarity Day in Chicago

Consul General of Pakistan hosted a luncheon meeting at the Sabri Nehari Restaurant to express solidarity with the movement of Kashmir. Speaking at the meeting the Consul General stressed on the significance of arranging a plebiscite in Kashmir. He said that India has continuously denied the rights of self determination to Kashmiris in the valley. He said recently there was a move for bilateral talks between India and Pakistan. He said it is in the interest of both Pakistan and India to resolve the issue of Kashmir as soon as possible.

He said Government of Pakistan has always stood for a political solution of the Kashmir conflict. He read out the messages of the President and Prim e Minister of Pakistan. Both leaders reiterated the position of the Government of Pakistan and expressed deep concern on the human rights violation in the valley and assured the Kashmiris that Pakistan will keep supporting them until their right of plebiscite is granted to them.



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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