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Interfaith and Intercultural

IMG 3852 cropJFS' Will Berkovitz, Muslim Association of Puget Sound's Aneela Afzali, and Rabbi Ruth A. ZlotnickIt is imperative to our rabbis and our temple's community that we stand up with our neighboring communities of faith against all forms of discrimination. We support freedom and respect for all people, no matter if we share the same history or culture. Under our traditions of tikkun olam, Temple Beth Am has held lasting friendships with a variety of temples, mosques, and churches. Our interfatith and intercultural committees and programs are leading the way in bridging the gaps.

Our vision to build meaningful relationships with other faiths and cultures also extends to provide help and assistance when needed. For ways to do this, please refer to this resource list from the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS).

Interfaith and Intercultural Initiative (I3)

Our congregation has a long history of engagement in interfaith and intercultural activities. To support the many ways in which our rabbis and members engage with people of other faiths, this group fields requests and undergoes committee-oriented work toward opportunities for interfaith collaboration. 


Through education, advocacy, collaboration, communication, outreach, and engagement, the Interfaith Cultural initiative strives to:

  • Foster the establishment of a committed, strong, active network of congregation members,
  • Cultivate and maintain meaningful relationships with other faiths and cultures, and 
  • Be a resource for the understanding of Jewish values and religious practices by other faiths and cultures.

MAPS CeremonyRabbi Jason Levine and Mahmood Khadeer, the President of MAPS

Established in 2015, Temple Beth Am's Interfaith and Intercultural Initiative has already organized a variety of presentations by noted guest speakers, took part in the annual Faith Action Network Summits, represented Temple Beth Am at religious and cultural observances located at other communities of faith, and is planning many more engagement opportunities.

In the process of reaching out to our neighbors, we hold open, vibrant conversations where every participant's ideas and experiences help expand our vision. Are you interested in joining us? For more information on this initiative, please contact Diane Baer.


Upcoming Events:

African Asylum Seekers in Israel with Eritrean Refugee Yekealo Beyene and UW PhD Candidate Oded Oron
Wednesday, March 21, 7:00 - 8:30 PM
Beth Am Sanctuary
The principle of welcoming the stranger is a core Jewish value, repeated 36 times in the Torah. Yet, this essential Jewish principle is being challenged in modern-day Israel, as the Israeli government seeks to deport over 38,000 African asylum seekers currently longing for freedom and safety in Israel. Join us on Wednesday, March 21 to learn more about this complicated and important human rights issue from someone who lived through it.

The thousands of asylum seekers include Eritreans who fled a harsh dictator who demands 40 years of compulsory military service and Sudanese who escaped genocide in Darfur and fighting between Sudan and South Sudan. Having wandered across Egypt and illegally entered Israel, these men, women, and children have no legal standing in Israel and are not considered refugees. Now, the Israeli government wants to initiate a mass deportation of the remaining 38,000 asylum seekers, shipping them to Rwanda or Uganda, where they face an uncertain future.

Come to Temple Beth Am to learn more about this crisis. Meet Ykealo Beyene, an Eritrean asylum seeker and one of the lucky few able obtain refugee status and find a home here in Seattle. Also speaking is Israeli Oded Oron, a PhD candidate at the University of Washington and activist focused on this issue who will explain how this crisis unfolded and what action you can take.

The event is co-sponsored by Beth Am’s Interfaith and Intercultural Initiative (I3), dedicated to supporting and standing in solidarity with immigrants and refugees through outreach, education, direct action, and advocacy and the Israel/ARZA committee an arm of the URJ (Union Reform Judaism), which is one of many organizations that has asked the government of Israel to reconsider its deportation plans.

Mimouna: A Muslim and Jewish Interfaith Celebration
Saturday, April 7, 2018, 7:00 - 9:00 PM
Temple Beth Am
MimounaMimouna is a centuries old celebration where Jews and Muslims mark the end of Passover. There will be music, poetry, art projects, and guided tours of Temple Beth Am. Vegetarian/Halal/Kosher-style snacks and sweets will be served.

This event is free, family-friendly, and open to everyone! Funding for Mimouna was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. Sponsored by Temple Beth Am's Interfaith and Intercultural Initiative.

Refugee Resettlement Task Force (RRTF)

MiMi Globe Goods at Gates Giving Marketplace 4MiMi Globe Goods at the Gates Giving Marketplace

Maimonides taught that the greatest level of tzedakah is giving, so that a person can become self-sustaining. The Refugee Resettlement Task Force (RRTF) brings together members of Temple Beth Am who want to support international refugees as they work to rebuild their lives in the Seattle area.

The greater Seattle area is the new home for refugees from the world over. Many more refugees will continue to arrive. These men, women, and children have fled a variety of horrors and hardships - from drought and other natural disasters to war, discrimination, and oppression. They urgently need housing, household goods, jobs, education, and other basic necessities as they begin the next chapter of their lives in our community.

MiMi Globe Goods at Gates Giving MarketplaceLibby Cohen volunteering at MiMi Globe Goods at the Gates Giving Marketplace

The RRTF supports international refugees in the Seattle area and collaborates with other organizations that support them. Our efforts are based on four pillars:

  • educating the community about refugees’ situation and needs
  • advocating
  • building community by bringing together Temple Beth Am members who are interested in supporting refugees; by welcoming refugees to Temple Beth Am and the larger Seattle community; and by forming connections between Temple Beth Am members, the refugee community, and other supporting organizations
  • collecting and distributing resources, working with organizations such as Jewish Family Service (JFS) and/or the International Refugee Committee (IRC) to identify what resources are needed, who needs them, and where and when to provide them. 

We encourage assistance, ideas, and participation from anyone and everyone with a desire to welcome and support refugees and contribute to their well-being and independence. The Jewish people have been refugees many times during our history. We welcome the opportunity to improve the lives of international refugees in our community.

Contact Cecily Kaplan at cksings@msn.com to learn how to participate.