On a warmish sunny Sunday afternoon Nov. 17th Servas Los Angeles gathered at the home of host Linda Mansouri in Valinda, California. Linda’s home is a tribute to her numerous trips abroad. She has collected tribal and ethnic textiles, clothing and articles from all over the globe and displayed them beautifully throughout her home. It made it the perfect atmosphere to have a Servas meeting.
People came from all over Southern California—from as far south as San Diego and north to the Simi Valley. We had 38 people who came to partake of a delicious pot luck lunch and listen to two wonderful speakers. Our Friendship Force friends Sharon Lavenberg and Sharon Levy joined us too. Many of us ate outside in the yard but, squeezed comfortably into Linda’s living room for the program.
Our speakers, Fares Alhassen and Ben Gertner, are alumni from NewGround. NewGround began in 2006 as a response to the climate of tension and mistrust between Jews and Muslims in Los Angeles. But more importantly, NewGround was founded to create a national model for healthy relations, productive engagement and social change between American Muslims and Jews.
To transform the landscape, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and Progressive Jewish Alliance joined forces to create a fellowship for emerging Muslim and Jewish leaders to change the tone of the conversation. Today, NewGround is an independent group fiscally sponsored by Community Partners and housed at the City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission.
Fares and Ben shared their personal stories and what it has meant to part of NewGround. They are both fathers now and this will be undoubtedly be passed onto the next generation. You are invite you look at their web site http://www.muslimjewishnewground.org/