(RNS) — In April 2021, around Yom HaShoah, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Muslim founder of a museum in the Persian Gulf nation of United Arab Emirates welcomed a small contingent from a flagship U.S. Jewish Orthodox university. The school’s president would be giving a keynote address at the first Holocaust commemoration in an Arab country, and before the event the group of Jewish scholars was invited to view a letter from Theodor Herzl, the father of modern political Zionism. On the museum’s doorpost, the visitors noted, was a mezuzah.“When I was recounting the story to my parents,” said Rabbi Stuart Halpern, “they said, ‘Was the Messiah right behind you? Who can imagine that we would live to see such a day?’”
The unexpected welcome eventually led to a historic conference that will take place at the same “Crossroads of Civilizations” museum in Dubai on Wednesday (May 3). Yeshiva University in New York and the Mohamed Bin Zayed University for Humanities in Abu Dhabi are joining for the first “Interacting Philosophies, Shared Friendships” conference on the mutual influences of Islam and Judaism, with a focus on medieval scholar and physician Moses Maimonides.
“In light of a complex, to say the least, historical relationship, for a mill …
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