by Jeanette Friedman
Newark – A dialogue on Black-Jewish relations by the leaders of The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding — Rabbi Marc Schneier of the Hamptons Synagogue and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons — expanded its focus with the unplanned arrival of Imam Feisal Rauf of the controversial Cordoba House planned for Lower Manhattan.
The event, which also featured Newark Mayor Cory Booker, was held at the Newark Art Museum and was attended by members of the Newark Municipal Council, local activists, and a handful of concerned Jews.
Rauf entered the museum hall as Schneier, rabbi at the Hamptons Synagogue, was describing the media storm surrounding “the mosque at Ground Zero.” Schneier made the point that media can be used to almost instantaneously change the public perception of a group. “Overnight you could see how credibility could be shattered. There are so many examples of how the media can influence people to turn,” he said.
Simmons echoed those concerns. “The level of tolerance has dropped dramatically in the last twelve months. Things that were unacceptable twenty years ago are now allowed,” he said.