Rabbi Sarah Bassin, who was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles in 2011, has been named one of eight winners of the Joshua Venture Group’s 2012-2014 Dual Investment Program. Bassin, the executive director of NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change in Los Angeles, will receive $100,000 in funding to help realize her vision to transform the landscape of Jewish-Muslim relations.
More than 150 aspiring social entrepreneurs applied for the prestigious fellowship from the New York-based organization, whose concept of a “dual investment” involves identifying young Jewish leaders and supporting their groundbreaking ideas.
Bassin, a native of Overland Park, Kansas, has long been interested in interfaith relations. While living in Israel during her studies at HUC-JIR – from which she also received a certificate in Jewish Communal Service (now known as a certificate of Jewish Nonprofit Management – Bassin helped Jewish leaders better understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and traveled to Iran as part of a civilian diplomacy delegation. She spent the last portion of her rabbinic training as the program manager at the Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement, a joint effort between HUC-JIR, the University of Southern California, and the Omar Ibn Al Khattab Foundation. There she implemented the first comprehensive survey on Muslim-Jewish relations in the U.S.
As part of NewGround, she works to create a world in which trust and partnership replace an atmosphere of mutual suspicion among Muslims and Jews. Started in 2006 as an intimate fellowship for Muslim and Jewish young professionals, NewGround is now an independent organization housed in Los Angeles City Hall with the support of the Los Angeles City Human Relations Commission, and is poised to build a comprehensive approach to strengthening Muslim-Jewish relations in the U. S. Its signature Young Professionals’ Fellowship is now one piece of a multifaceted effort to strengthen Muslim-Jewish relations. NewGround also directly engages the broader Muslim and Jewish communities through public events, educational lectures and discussions, consulting, and fellowships adapted for a variety of contexts. Since becoming an independent organization in 2011, NewGround has partnered with 33 Muslim and Jewish organizations to bring transformative programs to over 2,200 people.