Shared Dreams: Martin Luther King, Jr. & the Jewish Community
By Rabbi Marc Schneier
Preface by Martin Luther King III

Published by Jewish Lights Pubishing

Jewish support for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the American civil rights movement is widely known. However, this history has another side--one that has not been fully told until now. In the 1960s, while King was consumed in the fight for African Americans to secure full civil rights in this country, he made the time to speak out for the rights of Jews. On January 20, 2009, the day after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, when Barack Obama was sworn in as the President of the United States of America, many of us reflected on King's legacy of social justice. How can Jews embrace MLK Day and help return social justice to the national agenda?

"King understood that a people who fought for their rights were only as honorable as was their concern for the rights of all people," writes Rabbi Marc Schneier in SHARED DREAMS: Martin Luther King, Jr. & the Jewish Community. "Jews should be proud of their participation in the civil rights struggle. They should hold that up as an inspiration to all generations: it is emblematic of what the sages call tikkun olam, the mandate for Jews to repair the world."

SHARED DREAMS presents the untold story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s involvement with the Jewish community. Through the use of previously unpublished material and interviews with those who marched at King's side, the long-neglected story of mutual support between King and the Jewish community is brought to life. It is a story that will shed new light on the commitment and the relationship between the Jewish and African American communities as they have struggled together to fight for justice and civil rights in our nation. Even more, it is a story that encourages all of us--people of all faiths, all backgrounds--to continue to fight for justice in our world.

Quinquennial Report

The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU) is proud to introduce our first report on our pioneering work in Muslim Jewish relations. Since our first modest initiative in this field five years ago with a visit to a Muslim high school in New York, FFEU’s groundbreaking Muslim Jewish programming has expanded
around the world; bringing together tens of thousands of Jews and Muslims on five continents to engage with each other and to build ties of growing friendship and trust.

Interethnic Directory

In our ongoing mission to promote dialogue, reduce tensions, and foster racial harmony between all communities, The Foundation For Ethnic Understanding has developed, this unique directory to promote cooperation in our home community. The New York Interethnic Directory lists and categorizes a broad spectrum of organizations which actively work in the field of Intergroup relations. It is our hope that this directory will become a "yellow pages of racial harmony" allowing distinct communities and organizations in the New York metropolitan area the opportunity to connect, share similarities and differences, and build cooperative coalitions for the future of races, ethnicities, and creeds.

Muslim Jewish Relations

March 26-28, 2012- Mission of Latin American Muslim and Jewish Leaders to Washington D.C.

On March 27, 2012 FFEU joined with Muslim and Jewish leaders from Latin America in Washington D.C. The Mission was intended to introduce Latin American imams and rabbis to the pioneering work spearheaded by FFEU to strengthen Muslim-Jewish relations in North America and Europe, and to jump-start a process of dialogue and cooperation between the Muslim and Jewish communities throughout Latin America.

March 14, 2012- JCC Conversations "Combating Islamophobia"

Photos by Nancy Adler

On Wednesday, March 14th, Rabbi Marc Schneier, President of The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and Imam Shamsi Ali, former spiritual leader of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York were joined by Chelsea Clinton who moderated a discussion between them on “Combating Islamophobia.” The sold out event at the JCC in Manhattan was attended by many leaders of the American Muslim and Jewish communities from New York, Washington, DC and California.

December 28, 2011- FFEU President Rabbi Marc Schneier met with the King of Bahrain King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa

Schneier said that he welcomed a suggestion by King Hamad to host a gathering of Jewish and Muslim clerics in Bahrain in 2012.“Bahrain is a role model in the Arab world for coexistence and tolerance of different faith communities, including a small Jewish community. I am deeply honored to be the first rabbi to be hosted by the King of Bahrain at his palace, and I am excited that he and his government are fully committed to building bridges between our two communities,” Schneier said in a statement."

November 18-20, 2011-More than 250 synagogues, mosques and Muslim and Jewish organizations and thousands of Jews and Muslims in countries around the world—including new ones like Australia, Argentina, Georgia and Ukraine—took part in the Fourth Annual Weekend of Twinning. This year, in addition to mosques, synagogues and student groups, two new forms of twinning became prominent; twinning between Muslim and Jewish young professionals and twinning between Muslim and Jewish women, which took place in Paris, London, Brussels, Jerusalem, Toronto, New York, Atlanta and Kiev, Ukraine. At the same time, there was a greatly increased focus on community service, as Muslims and Jews in many cities came together to feed hungry and homeless people as an expression of the moral imperative in both faiths to repair the world and succor those who are most in need

Brussels, November 2011- FFEU President Rabbi Marc Schneier attended the World Jewish Congress Executive Committee Meeting .

Friday, June 17th- FFEU President Rabbi Marc Schneier addressed a group of 25 young Muslim leaders from across the United States at a breakfast meeting in New York. The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) sponsored the gathering of these young leaders on a media tour from Washington, DC to New York. Salam Al-Maryati, Executive Director of MPAC and Walter Ruby, FFEU Muslim Jewish Program Officer were also in attendance.

Europe Day 2011, Sunday May 8- Jews and Muslims in France, Britain and 8 other countries across Europe delivered a clear message in commemoration of Europe Day, marking the defeat of Nazism 66 years ago; they stood in united opposition to Islamophobic, anti-Semitic and racist appeals being increasingly injected into European body politic by extremist political movements, and also oppose pandering to those movements by mainstream leaders; a rebuke to British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, all of whom have in recent months made speeches condemning multiculturalism in their countries.

March 8, 2011—FFEU and the World Jewish Congress joined forces again in Europe for the first coordinating committee meeting of European Muslim and Jewish leaders. These same leaders who gathered at the meeting in Brussels in December joined together to express their common will to stand up to rising ultra-right political parties in Europe. At the meeting, they adopted a declaration in which they say it is unacceptable to trivialize these racist and xenophobic parties and warn against the growing danger they pose to ethnic and religious minorities on the continent. The coordinating council of Islamic and Jewish leaders from Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the United States and other countries also announced it will launch a series of public events in European capitals on May 9 in honor of Europe Day.

Brussels, December 6, 2010—Leaders of Muslim and Jewish communities from across
Europe came together in Brussels for a historic conference focused on how the
two communities can work together on a continent-wide basis. Muslim and Jewish leaders from France, Britain, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Bosnia-Herzogovina discussed the common stake for the two communities in developing Europe-based principles of democracy and pluralism. They promised to work together to oppose Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and other expressions of bigotry and xenophobia. At the opening session of the Gathering, Iman Dr. Abduljalil Sajid from Britain recited prayers for the victims of the recent Carmel forest fire in Israel as well as the floods in Pakistan. A delegation from the Gathering met with the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, who expressed strong support for the group’s efforts. At the close of the meeting, the European Jewish and Muslim leaders issued a declaration calling for closer cooperation between the two communities in Europe and urging steps “to ensure that Jews and Muslims are able to practice our respectiven faiths fully and unimpeded by intrusive, discriminatory and unfair governmental regulations.” Rabbi Schneier remarked, “Today, we have hopefully kick-started a movement that will spread across Europe. The recipe really is quite simple: our two communities must focus more on what unites us than what separates us. We also must restrain the radicals within our own ranks and make sure they don’t gain the upper hand.” Dr. Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, declared: “I think it is very important that Jews and Muslims start talking more with each other, and less about the other. Pointing the finger at the other side and accuse it of being the root cause of all evil on this planet may be easy and convenient, but most of the time it is wrong - and counter-productive.” The gathering was co-organized with the World Jewish Congress and the European Jewish Fund

Paris, December 8, 2009—Rabbi Marc Schneier was keynote speaker at the dinner gala of the Amitie Judeo-Musulmane de France (Muslim Jewish Friendship Society of France.) Speaking before an audience of rabbis, imams and Muslim and Jewish leaders from across Europe who gathered at the glittering City Hall of the 16th Arondissement, Rabbi Schneier praised the pioneering work of Rabbi Michel Serfaty of the AJMF. Rabbi Serfaty brought together 20 mosques and 20 synagogues in France to take part in the FFEU-sponsored 2nd Annual Weekend of Twinning. Rabbi Schneier said, “At a time when the conventional wisdom says that our two peoples must live in perpetual conflict, Rabbi Serfaty and the AJMF are showing that there is a much better way. We are gratified that this is happening not only in France, where conflict between Muslims and Jews has been especially intense, but across Europe as well.” The gala was co-sponsored by the CRIF (the umbrella body of French Jewry), the Great Mosque of Paris, the Consistoire (Rabbinate) of Greater Paris and the European Jewish Fund. The event was both a celebration of what FFEU and its European partners have accomplished together during the past year and an opportunity to chart future FFEU work with Jewish and Muslim leaders in the years ahead.

New York and Washington, DC, July 19-17, 2009: Mission of European Imams and Rabbis to the US

FFEU took its first major step to turn its Muslim Jewish initiative from a North American movement to a world-wide one, when it hosted a delegation of over two dozen European imams and rabbis in a memorable four-day mission. The imams and rabbis from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom attended meetings in New York and Washington, D.C. They visited the United Nations, Ellis Island, Ground Zero and the U.S. Holocaust Museum, and met with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, top officials of the Obama Administration at the White House, and Jewish and Muslim congressmen on Capitol Hill. They even had the chance to cheer on the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

Throughout the mission, the imams and rabbis were introduced to successful US-based interfaith initiatives that could also be implemented in their own countries in order to facilitate and encourage a dialogue. At the end of the mission, the participating imams and rabbis issued a declaration promising to take part in the 2nd Annual Weekend of Twinning of Mosques and Synagogues in November, 2009. “Bringing together Muslims and Jews is among the greatest challenges facing our communities today,” said Rabbi Schneier. “By expanding to Europe what has already been a successful and groundbreaking twinning initiative in North America, we will together combat Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, promote mutual understanding and productive cooperation through dialogue


New York, May 21, 2009: Standing Together to condem U.S. Terrorist Plot

Joining together for a press conference after the completion of a prayer service at the Islamic Cultural Center, Rabbi Marc Schneier and Shamsi both strongly condemned the alleged plot by four men arrested
after planting what they thought were explosives near two New York City synagogues. In addition, Rabbi Schneier presented letters denouncing the alleged plot he had just received from Dr. Sayyid Syeed, National Director of the Islamic Society of North America and Salam Al-Maryati, Executive Director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. In his letter Dr. Syeed noted pointedly, “The Quran commands Muslims to respect and protect all places of worship including mosques, churches, synagogues and temples, as well as the worshippers within.” Mr. Al-Maryati stated, “On behalf of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, I want to demonstrate solidarity with you and all Jewish Americans against any attack motivated by anti-Semitism.”

2005:The Foundation Launches Muslim-Jewish Dialogue Initiative

At the urging of our Chairman, Russell Simmons, and President, Rabbi Marc Schneier, The Foundation has launched a Muslim-Jewish Dialogue initiative in 2005, leading two high profile Muslim-Jewish symposia. On October 30, 2005, The Daniel Pearl Dialogue for Muslim-Jewish Understanding was presented at The Museum of Jewish Heritage in conjunction with The Tribeca Film Institute. The program, co-sponsored by The Foundation, was introduced by Rabbi Schneier and Russell Simmons. Soon after, on November 16, 2005, Rabbi Schneier got a warm welcome at the largest Muslim dayschool in Queens, the Razi School.

Rabbi Schneier was the featured speaker at the Razi School event which was organized by Walter Ruby, Boris Pincus and Dr. Ghassan El-Cheikhali of Religions in Dialogue, an organization dedicated to interfaith education.Rabbi Schneier spoke on the similarities and differences between Islam and Judaism to an audience of 200 students in grades 8 through 12. Students were given chance to ask questions and took the opportunity to quiz the Rabbi on topics as diverse (and controversial!) as modesty and dress for women to co-habitation before marriage and the nature of Jewish prayer. Other distinguished guests included Sayu Bhojwani, the Mayor's Deputy Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs and Razi School principal Dr. Ghassan El-Cheikhali who greeted the audience with a message of optimism and reciprocity, "The best way to increase tolerance is to listen to each other's stories and build relationships." New York Newsday and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency both covered this historic event.

Stressing the necessity of reconciliation, Professors Judea Pearl and Akbar Ahmed strive to shift the nature ofdiscourse from accusation and fear to inquiry and respect at the Daniel Pearl Dialogue for Muslim-Jewish Understanding. Doctors Pearl and Ahmed have been engaged in public dialogues across the country and abroad. The world came to know Daniel Pearl as the Wall Street Journal reporter who was murdered by terrorists in Pakistan, in early 2002. Since then, he has been remembered more for his courageous work than for his senseless death. Guided by shared values and inspired by Daniel's legacy, Professors Judea Pearl and Akbar Ahmed discussed Muslim-Jewish relations with a New York City audience for the first time. A highlight of their past dialogues was an appearance at the House of Lords in London, where they were welcomed by a Jewish, a Muslim, and a Christian Lord.

Judea Pearl, father of Daniel Pearl, is President of the Daniel Pearl Foundation. The foundation was formed by Daniel's family and friends to continue his mission and to address the root causes of his death, in the spirit, style, and principles that shaped Daniel's work and character. Judea Pearl is the Director of UCLA's Cognitive System's Laboratory. He holds a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.

Akbar Ahmed, is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies and Professor of International Relations at American University in Washington, DC and the former High Commissioner of Pakistan to Great Britain. Dr. Ahmed is a distinguished anthropologist, writer, and filmmaker. He has been actively involved in interfaith dialogue and the study of global Islam and its impact on contemporary society for many years. Dr. Ahmed is a regular syndicated columnist for Religion News Service.


More than 70 young leaders from 25 countries demonstrate that new generation of Muslims and Jews can overcome decades of mutual fear and build a brighter future for both communities

Black Jewish Relations

May 19, 2011: "20 Years After Crown Heights"

On May 19th, the 92nd street Y held a panel discussion, “20 Years After Crown Heights: Black, Jews and Jews of Color.” The panel included Russell Simmons, Rabbi Marc Schneier, City Council Member Letitia James, Rabbi Bob Kaplan, Shira Schmidt, and April Baskin.

Feburary 15, 2010: Conversation with Mayor Booker

Newark, NJ – February 10, 2010 –Mayor Cory A. Booker, members of the Newark Municipal Council, and The Newark Museum will host a conversation on the Black/Jewish Alliance with businessman, author and philanthropist Russell Simmons and prominent Jewish leader and author Rabbi Marc Schneier, on Tuesday, February 15, 2011, at 7:30 p.m. at The Newark Museum, in celebration of Black History Month. The Newark Museum is located at 49 Washington Street

Janurary 16, 2011: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Every year the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by participating in several Martin Luther King Jr. Day events in the New York Metropolitan area.

Washington Post On Faith Forum
Honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by embracing the American
Muslim community

By Russell Simmons and
Rabbi Marc Schneier

The Epoch Times: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dream Resonates After Arizona Shooting

Rabbi Marc Schneier and Martin Luther King III

Youth Leadership

JUNE 10, 2011: ST. LOUIS

Rabbi Marc Schneier and Russell Simmons hosted 31 African American and Jewish high school students from St. Louis during their visit to NYC. They are members of a youth leadership development organization called Cultural Leadership, a not for profit that trains students to be change agents, social justice activists and community organizers. The students engaged in conversation with Rabbi Schneier and Russell Simmons to discuss ways to dismantle racism, anti-Semitism, and bigotry in their communities.

June 16, 2005: Black and Jewish Youth Leaders Meet with Foundation President and Members of Congress

On June 16th, 2005, Foundation President Rabbi Marc Schneier spoke to a group of students from the non-profit organization, Cultural Leadership. This program, founded by Karen Kalish, who had previously launched Operation Understanding, aims to combat discrimination between Black and Jewish communities by bringing young people from these communities together. Students listened as Rabbi Schneier spoke about the work of The Foundation addressing race relations and promoting public dialogue. He also answered questions about his book Shared Dreams (published by Jewish Lights), his relationship with Russell Simmons and the history of Black/ Jewish relations in America. "It was a pleasure meeting with these students and talking to them," said Rabbi Marc Schneier. "This is what The Foundation is about - promoting dialogue - and there is no better place to start than with our youth."

The students, ages 16 & 17, retraced the journey of the Civil Rights Movement during the summer, meeting with leaders from black and Jewish communities, visiting major civil rights landmarks in the south, Jewish memorials, and attending religious services at synagogues, mosques and Baptist churches.

As part of the program, The Foundation coordinated visits for the students with various Black and Jewish members of Congress when they visited Washington, D.C. Members who participated included Congressmen Henry Waxman, Alcee Hastings, Danny Davis, William Lacy Clay, Barney Frank and Mel Watt, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The students visited the following cities: New York, NY; Washington, D.C.; Atlanta, GA; Anniston, Montgomery, Tuskegee and Selma, Alabama; Philadelphia, PA; Jackson and Utica, Mississippi; Little Rock, Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee.


Foundation Director of Programs Eric Deutsch met with students from the Mickey Leland Kibbutzim Internship Foundation in August. He led the nine students in a workshop based on The Foundation's Shared Dreams Curriculum Guide. Among the topics discussed were whether fighting for a cause is worth going to jail, and whether ethnic slurs are acceptable if they are about one's own ethnic group. The Mickey Leland Intern program was founded in 1980 by the late Rep. Mickey Leland of Texas. Every summer, it would select inner-city students within his former district to experience life on a kibbutz and in modern Israeli society for a six-week work and travel experience. Because of security concerns, the students no longer can travel to the Middle East. An alternative program now enables them to go to New York City and Washington, DC to meet with United Nations representatives, embassy officials, peace activists, scholars, government agencies, business leaders and citizens from the Middle East.

Pennsylvania Highschool Students do their best to strengthen Race Relations

This letter from a 10th grade high school English class in Bradford, Pennsylvania was received unsolicited. The Foundation would like to thank Rebekah Garris and her students for their commitment to our mission of strengthening race relations

The Foundation Mourns the Passing of Mrs. Coretta Scott King

The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding mourns the passing of the first lady of the civil rights movement who championed her late husband’s legacy of human rights and the strengthening of black-Jewish relations. To our cherished partner and supporter, Martin Luther King III, and to the entire family, our heart felt sympathy. May her memory encourage people of all faiths and ethnicities to continue the struggle for justice and freedom.

March 29, 2005: The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding Mourns the Passing of
Trustee and Former Honoree
Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr.

It was with great sadness that the world heard of the passing of Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. on March 29, 2005.

Cochran had been a member of The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding’s Board of Trustees and was honored by The Foundation with the Joseph Papp Racial Harmony Award on November 13, 2001 for his efforts to strengthen intergroup relations.

Mr. Cochran was well known in the community for his work as a defense lawyer for several high profile clients; he was also well respected for his work defending those who were not in the public spotlight. Cochran had hoped Jews’ success in winning Holocaust reparations could serve as a model for African Americans seeking redress for slavery.

Past MLK Projects

2010 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Project

2009 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Project

2008 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Project

2007 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Project

2006 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Project

2005 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Project

Latino Jewish Relations

Latino Jewish Relations

March 2011: Latino Insights Poll

March 2011

US Census Reports: 50 Million Latinos, 1 Out of 6 Americans

National Survey of Jewish and Latino Americans Finds
Anti-Semitism Exists Within The Latino Community


Press Release

Landmark Survey In Latino-Jewish Relations

The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding under the leadership of Rabbi Marc Schneier released the findings of the first national survey on Latino-Jewish relations on Wednesday, March 7, 2001. This survey, conducted by Global Media Research Services, Inc., interviewed 500 Jewish and 500 Latino individuals from all across the nation.

The objective of this survey was to measure perceptions, misconceptions, attitudes, shared values and concerns in order to determine what prescriptions would be needed to strengthen relations. The results of this survey will provide a roadmap for Latinos and Jews to address areas of mutual cooperation and concern.

Survey reveals these commonalties:

Survey reveals these differences:

Latino-Jewish Leadership Summit

B'nai B'rith International, The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials and the New American Alliance sponsored a groundbreaking conference between leaders of the Jewish and Latino communities in Washington D.C on March 4th and 5th, 2001. The Foundation For Ethnic Understanding partnered with these organizations to work toward establishing permanent and systematic relations between the two communities.Rabbi Marc Schneier joined Henry Cisneros, former Secretary of the Department of housing and Urban Development, and Congressman Silvestre Reyes, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, in delivering keynote addresses at the inaugural dinner.

Dina Siegel Vann, Latin Affairs Director of B'nai B'rith international commented "This relationship is particularly important because the Latino community is becoming increasingly influential as well as more numerous--and because it shares a number of core values with the Jewish community." In this spirit, the summit produced a joint declaration of principles, which called for fair presentation of Jews and Latinos in the media, strengthening of public education, support for the State of Israel, increased aid to Latin America, and economic empowerment in minority communities. As a result of this summit, The Foundation joined The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials and the National Association of Jewish Legislators in distributing our National Survey in Latino-Jewish relations to over 1000 local, state, and federal officials