A twinning project in Manchester, England is promoting the cultural exchange between Muslim and Jewish high school students in the hopes that it will improve relations between members of the two communities.
According to the BBC, the Jewish King David High School in Crumpsall has opened its doors for the first time to pupils from the Manchester Islamic High School for Girls in Chorlton-cum-Hardy. A recent discussion saw Muslim pupils attend an assembly with Jewish children where both groups discussed their respective backgrounds.
King David’s Head of Religious Education, Rabbi Benjamin Rickman told the BBC he has said he has high hopes for the project.
“We have two communities that have so much in common; there are so many similarities, philosophically, theologically and culturally but the two communities are divided by so much more,” he said.
“I actually want to change the way we think in Manchester.
“It upsets me greatly that there is ignorance and prejudice and I want to create a situation where we can walk down each other’s streets and be welcomed without the looks and ignorance.”
Head of Religious Studies at Manchester Islamic High School for Girls, Tahira Parveen, also believes the project could have a positive impact.
“It allows, if nothing else, the new generation to see each other in a good light,” she said.
“These are the young people who will be the teachers and leaders of the future. I think links like this are very important.”
One student, Amara, told the BBC the project was good because “we will see each other in a different way,” while her friend Fatima said it had been a chance to “solve some misconceptions and prejudices that people have about Islam.”
There was positivity too amongst the Jewish students – one pupil, Sam, said it had been a “special and historic day for this school and the two communities.”
He added he had “found it very informative” and that “there needs to be more interaction and more education like this.”
In 2011 Manchester had the highest number of anti-Semitic incidents of any place in England.