The Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council, a national coalition, convened Dec. 8, 2019, at the Muhammed Ali Center in Kentucky, to launch the Louisville MJAC.
The national co-chairs, of MJAC, Stanley Bergman, chairman of the Board and CEO of Henry Schein, Inc, and Farooq Kathwari, chairman, president and CEO of Ethan Allen, addressed the launch event. The Louisville MJAC co-chairs, Dr. Muhammad Babar and Becky Ruby Swansburg, also addressed the audience.
“We are honored to be the home for the newest regional Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council. This work has never been more important. People of good faith have to stand together and speak out,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, is quoted saying in a press release. “We have been working in our community to create social muscle. It is essential to the health of our city, and from time to time it will be called upon to respond to acts of hatred. When you don’t respond to hate it gets stronger,” Fischer emphasized.
The MJAC is a civil society coalition co-convened by American Jewish Committee (AJC) and Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in 2016. The national MJAC brings together 46 civil society, religious, and business leaders from across the U.S. to advocate for domestic policy issues of common concern, the press release from the organization, said.
“It’s appropriate that the launch of the Louisville MJAC takes place at the Muhammad Ali center. Ali had the courage to dream and the confidence to turn dreams into reality,” AJC’s U.S. Director of Muslim-Jewish Relations Ari Gordon, is quoted saying in the press release. “The national Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council is not an interfaith endeavor. It is Muslims and Jews coming together to better this country for all. Ali’s values of defiance, persistence and, above, all heart are key ingredients for our success,” Gordon said.
Louisville is the 11th regional MJAC. The other ten, in Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., represent a network of hundreds of Muslim and Jewish leaders committed to working together for the good of both communities and the country.
“I can’t think of a better place to have the 11th MJAC chapter. Louisville is a beacon of hope and inspiration to the rest of the world,” said Lonnie Ali, widow of Muhammed Ali, and honorary chair of the Louisville MJAC. “I look forward to being an active member of the Council. This is the work my husband would want me to do.”
The Louisville MJAC says it “builds on growing connections between Muslims and Jews in the area and formalizes the relationship, connecting the two communities to others across the U.S. to engage in joint advocacy.” The national MJAC enables the local activities to become part of a broader movement of Muslims and Jews working together to strengthen the social fabric of America and its democracy, the press release said.