Once Upon a Different Conference

From the Jewish Journal:

My only Iranian friend I could talk to was the very first person I met last summer at a bus station in Bratislava while waiting to be picked by the MJC staff. I recognized her by the hijab (head covering). There are not many Muslims in Slovakia. This was keenly demonstrated when one of the ambassadors at the ceremony welcoming MJC to Bratislava (won’t disclose which country, not to embarrass him) asked me if the girls who are wearing those scarves were Muslims. We were a great attraction on that day for the city – hundreds of people dressed very colorfully as if it was a carnival of cultures – many in their traditional robes, laughing cheerfully, taking pictures and preserving memories together…

 

Bratislava Bus Station“Where’re you from?” I asked the girl at the bus station after we cleared up that we were waiting for the same car. :

“I am from Tehran. What about you?”

“I am from Bulgaria but I live in Berlin now.”

“Why did you move to Germany?”

“I came to study.”

“Why to Berlin?”

“Well, it has the biggest Jewish community in Germany.”

“Ah, so you are Jewish! I was still wondering until you said it, you could be Muslim as well.”

When I invite people to join our Muslim-Jewish Dialogue Group in Berlin, I sometimes have the feeling I am talking about self-help therapy group and it’s not far from the reality. There, we first admit as representatives of the both big communities or members of small ones that we have a problem. Once we do that, the next step is to break the ice or to be precise, the stereotypes we know about each other; third move – filling the knowledge gap about our both alienated folks.

While waiting for the car, we continued to talk:

“Have you heard about the“Israel Loves Iran Social Media Campaign?”

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