Hello, I’m Henry Goldschmidt. I’m the Director of Programs at the Interfaith Center of New York, and also a member of Congregation Kolot Chayeinu, a progressive Jewish community in Brooklyn.
First and above all, I want to tell you on behalf of the Interfaith Center that we, as an organization, are honored to stand today with the other speakers and organizers, and with New York’s diverse Muslim communities. ICNY has been working in partnership with Muslim leaders for nearly 20 years – in good times and bad – and we’ve got your back now.
But also, more personally, I want to reflect for a moment on what it means for me, as a secular Jew, to say “Today I am a Muslim too.” It’s not shahada, but it’s much more than just political solidarity, so what do I mean?
Solidarity is essential in these dark times, and I absolutely want to affirm that I stand with Muslims against the horrifying bigotry of the Trump administration. But even more than that, I want to affirm that my own life – as a New Yorker, a Jew, a human being – has been enriched by everything I have learned from my Muslim neighbors, from the Islamic tradition, and from the moral example of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
I’ve learned a great deal from my Muslim neighbors’ faith, although I don’t share it, and from their determination to live their faith in every aspect of their daily lives. I’ve learned from their passionate commitment to justice, and from their resilience in the face of injustice. And above all, I’ve learned from the creative ways they reconcile a deep commitment to their faith community with a full engagement in American life. This is a balancing act for many people of faith, and I’ve been inspired to see New York’s Muslim communities pull it off with uncommon grace.
In all of these ways, my own life is richer thanks to my relationships with my Muslim neighbors. That’s why I’m so proud to say “Today I am a Muslim too.” And that’s why we must all work together to build a more inclusive America – an America that welcomes our brothers and sisters from every corner of the globe and every faith tradition.