After a tumultuous election year, it is comforting to know that there are still change-makers who are dedicated to fostering unity and solidarity among people of all backgrounds.
Aziza Hasan, Executive Director of NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change, an organization that empowers Jewish and Muslim community leaders with the skills, resources, and relationships needed to improve Muslim-Jewish relations, is one of those change-makers.
NewGround was founded to create a national model for healthy relations, productive engagement and social change between American Muslims and Jews. Through a professional fellowship, high school leadership council and innovative public programming, NewGround impacts a broad political and religious spectrum of Muslims, Jews, and their institutions.
Hasan grew up in a household with a Muslim father and a Christian mother. “I felt like I had to defend the faith and ethnic background of one or the other parent regularly as a child," Hasan said. "At times, I resented it and rejected religious groups all together.”
At NewGround, the belief is that conflict is natural and inevitable but not intractable. The group remains dedicated to building relationships between Muslims and Jews so they can transform their communities through lasting partnerships.
“Throughout my childhood, my parents modeled faith in action," she said. “They were deeply involved in giving back to the community around them. In many ways, being involved with their love of community and service helped me see what could be built when people of different faiths come together.”