Imam and Rabbi Are
Building Faith Bridges

American News Service

TROY, N.Y. (ANS) -- The Muslim imam and the Jewish rabbi are back on the air with their examples of building bridges between religious and ethnic groups.

For an hour each Thursday morning, Mokhtar Maghraoui and Harry Levin try to offer an alternative to the divisiveness they say is often the fare of talk radio. Their show, The Imam and the Rabbi, airs on WRPI, a college station on the campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

"I was very interested in having Jews and Muslims together on the radio, and countering hate radio," said Gerald Zahavi, director of news and public affairs at the station.

"A lot of our programming deals with social justice issues," he said. "This is a way to reach out on religion with a progressive message."

Maghraoui and Levin, friends who have spoken out against racial and ethnic incidents in the Capital District of New York state, first entered the broadcast arena in early 1997. They were concerned at the time about abusive comments directed against Muslims on some commercial talk radio shows.

The duo hosted a two-hour weekly show on WQBK in Albany for more than two months. They discussed cultural and religious similarities and stressed respect for differences as they explored such topics as euthanasia, motherhood and cloning. They lost the show when the station went to an all-sports format over the summer.

Determined to find another home for the show, they first approached a public radio station, and then WRPI. They returned to the air in mid-November.

The show airs throughout the Capital District and into the western edges of Massachusetts and Connecticut. Zahavi says the show has the potential for a worldwide audience through its broadcast over the internet. Zahavi's brother listens in Boston.

In their first show in the new slot, Levin and Maghraoui told listeners how they have been working together to build relationships between Jews and Muslims. Levin said he expects future shows to examine the true meaning of jihad, a word of religious significance that he said has become distorted in the United States to represent Arab violence, and to address concerns about police entering a local mosque "in a manner that was less than respectful."

"It's really about building neighborhoods here and letting people know Muslims are not violent creatures to be scared of," Levin said. Copyright � The American News Service.

Posted January 19, 1998
Copyright © 1998 The American News Service

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