So, A Rabbi & A Hip-Hop Mogul Go To Israel… By Russell Simmons

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    This coming Sunday, Father’s Day, is a day that reminds us of our 
responsibility as men to stand up and model for our children the right
 path to follow.

    Next week, I am taking my first trip to Israel with my partner Rabbi 
Marc Schneier to promote Muslim and Jewish reconciliation. Through our
 leadership at The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU), we have created and implemented successful and groundbreaking initiatives that
 have now joined together the Muslim and Jewish communities in 26
 countries on 4 continents – including North America, Europe and Latin 
America.

    For the past 5 years, FFEU’s Weekend of Twinning has joined together 
imams and rabbis and their congregants in synagogues and mosques around 
the world. “Learning about the other” and sharing commonalities and
eventually working together in their respective Muslim and Jewish 
communities is always the ultimate objective. Now is the time for this
 divine work to be done on the ground in Israel. Muslims and Jews must
 ready themselves for when peace comes to the region. Imams and rabbis
 in synagogues and mosques throughout the area must open their doors to 
greet their neighbors. After all, we are all brothers of the same 
patriarch Abraham and our family must learn to trust each other and live 
in peace and harmony.

    We will be in Israel at the invitation of President Shimon Peres and 
will appear in a couple of plenary sessions at the Facing Tomorrow
 Presidential Conference in Jerusalem to talk about our work in helping
 to prepare Muslims and Jews for when peace occurs. The ultimate goal of FFEU’s programs is to spread the message of understanding and
 cooperation around the world.

    Years of cross-cultural and interfaith work with Rabbi Schneier have 
shown me how powerful it is to reach across our fears and expectations 
in order to share our knowledge and our dreams. I am confident this 
visit will help encourage others of the value of promoting enhanced
 dialogue between Muslims and Jews.

    Rabbi Schneier said that the trip will be an important step forward in
 educating the global audience of the importance of interreligious 
dialogue. “Russell is a passionate ambassador of hope who recognizes 
that global peace requires new and increasingly innovative approaches
 and we know that his voice of moderation will now be heard by people all
 over the world.” Those are kind words from a long-time friend.

    It’s our responsibility to teach our children mutual tolerance and
 respect. As we are taught from Proverbs 22:6, we should “train a child
 in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. “
We should also remember the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “If we are to teach 
real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against 
war, we shall have to begin with the children.” How else will our 
children know what to do if we don’t lead them down this path?

    I will be on a plane on Father’s Day heading to Israel. I will have sent
 my two beautiful daughters back to Los Angeles, after they have had
 spent a week with me at the beach. I was to have spent fourteen days
 with my children, including Father’s Day, but when President Peres asked 
me to come to Israel with the chance to bring our programs there with
 his support, it was too great to pass up…so my daughters are in
 agreement that I had to go. I am always sad to leave my daughters, but I
 hope they understand that their daddy was just trying to make them proud.

    -Russell Simmons

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