Muslims and Jews Inspiring Change Awarded "California’s Faith-Based Organization of the Year"

Friday, May 24, 2013

Muslims and Jews Inspiring Change (MAJIC), a high school leadership council convened by NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change and led by HUC-JIR alumna Rabbi Sarah Bassin (pictured, right), has just been named “California’s Faith-Based Organization of the Year” by California Governor Jerry Brown.

This award is one of the Governor’s Volunteering and Service Awards, all of which serve to inspire Californians by honoring amazing individuals, organizations, and companies who are making an impact in their local communities through volunteering and service.  “California’s Faith-based Organization of the Year” honors an outstanding faith-based organization which actively engages volunteers in addressing community needs.

MAJIC offers a select group of Muslim and Jewish high school students the opportunity to build their leadership skills, create lasting relationships across faith boundaries, and have an impact on important social issues in Los Angeles.

Rabbi Bassin states, “When NewGround set out to create a teen leadership program last year in response to the call of our community leaders, we knew that the program had the potential to be a game-changer for interfaith relations. “  Rabbi Bassin, student leaders of MAJIC, and representatives of the MAJIC Advisory Board will visit the State Capitol Building in Sacramento to receive their award.

Under the leadership of Rabbi Bassin of NewGround and Soha Yassine of the Islamic Center of Southern California, an Advisory Board of Muslim and Jewish communal professionals have built a partnership to provide this opportunity for a cadre of teen leaders in Los Angeles and each year, a select cadre of teens is chosen to participate.  After a fall retreat, students meet 1-2 times per month to learn about how organizations in their communities respond to major social issues.  During the spring semester, students develop their own joint Muslim-Jewish response to a social issue they deem most important.  Learn more about MAJIC.

NewGround began in 2006 as a response to the climate of tension and mistrust between Jews and Muslims in Los Angeles.  But more importantly, NewGround was founded to create a national model for healthy relations, productive engagement and social change between American Muslims and Jews.  To transform the landscape, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and Progressive Jewish Alliance joined forces to create a fellowship for emerging Muslim and Jewish leaders to change the tone of the conversation.  Today, NewGround is an independent group fiscally sponsored by Community Partners and housed at the City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission. Learn more about NewGround.

Sarah Bassin grew up in Overland Park, Kansas and graduated summa cum laude with a BA in religion and history from Lafayette College in Easton, PA.  Deeply interested in interfaith relations, Sarah entered the rabbinical program at HUC-JIR, with the intention of pursuing a rabbinate in community relations.  During her Year-In-Israel, Sarah became both a participant and a facilitator for Encounter, helping Jewish leaders better understand the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. She traveled to Iran in November 2008 as part of a civilian diplomacy delegation through the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Having served as student rabbi of Congregation Bamidbar Shel Ma'alah in Victorville, CA, and as rabbinical intern at the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, Sarah spent the last portion of her rabbinical training as the program manager at the Center for Muslim/Jewish Engagement, where she implemented the first comprehensive survey on Muslim-Jewish relations in the United States.  She received a certificate in Jewish Communal Service in August 2010 and was ordained as a rabbi in May 2011.


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's first institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu