The partnership of USC's Center for Religion & Civic Culture (CRCC) with Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) and the Omar Ibn Al-Khattab Foundation (Omar) represents an unprecedented institutional initiative promoted by three proven and successful educational structures. These organizations have formed the Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement (CMJE) housed and administered at the University of Southern California’s Center for Religion & Civic Culture. These three participating institutions share among them a vast array of resources and expertise and moreover, through their history of academic excellence, are linked to a large network of experienced religious and communal leaders and scholars. The very structure of the Center provides a powerful example of the benefits and possibilities of joining together for common cause.
Center for Religion and Civic Culture, University of Southern California (CRCC, USC)
825 Bloom Walk, ACB 439
Los Angeles, CA 90089-1481
213-740-5810 - fax
The Center for Religion and Civic Culture marked its tenth anniversary in 2006 by continuing its core activities: engaging communities, conducting and encouraging research, and hosting major events. Donald Miller and John Orr co-founded the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture in 1996 with a grant from The James Irvine Foundation. Their exploration of the role of religion in Los Angeles has expanded to include local, regional, and global research. While continuing to conduct projects in Los Angeles, CRCC also has a presence around the globe, in Tanzania, Kenya, and other countries in Africa. CRCC research associates are working with a consortium of universities and non-governmental organizations in Kenya to provide better services to homeless and street-living children.
In 2002, CRCC received a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts and was named one of its "Centers of Excellence," joining nine other centers at major academic institutions. Thus, CRCC was able to expand its impact on the USC campus by creating opportunities for faculty members, and students, both graduate and undergraduate.
The Center has also played a catalytic role in the community by helping to launch organizations such as Churches United for Economic Development, assisting groups like the Salvadoran American National Association, and conducting action research for regional community organizing groups such as the Industrial Area Foundation and the Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches, a network of African American congregations that is engaged in breaking the cycle of recidivism in Southern California’s communities. CRCC is home to an important initiative, Passing the Mantle Clergy and Lay Leadership Institute, led by the Rev. Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray and funded by the James Irvine Foundation. The institute is an intensive training program that aims to pass along the experience of Civil Rights era pastors to a new generation of African American clergy and lay leaders and graduated 70+ fellows in its first two years.
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR)
3077 University Avenue
Los Angeles, Ca 90007
213-747-6128 - fax
Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is the nation's oldest 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 American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and communal service professionals, and offers graduate and post-graduate programs to scholars of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise renowned library and museum collections, the American Jewish Archives, biblical archaeology excavations, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. HUC-JIR invites the community to an array of cultural and educational programs which illuminate Jewish history, identity, and contemporary creativity and which foster interfaith and multiethnic understanding.
Omar Ibn Al Khattab Foundation (Omar)
1025 W. Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90007
The Omar Ibn Al Khattab Foundation is a non-profit Muslim organization based in Los Angeles and was established in 1982. Since its inception, the Foundation has dedicated itself to serving the community of Los Angeles, both Muslims and non-Muslims alike, by creating programs designed to administer educational, religious, and cultural activities. The mission of the Foundation is to provide Islamic religious and education services to the followers of the religion of Islam; to elevate the general level of public consciousness and awareness of Islamic social and cultural values; to provide services to the general community, regardless of religion, that will aid in improving the cultural, social, and intellectual quality of life of its residents; and to foster participation with others in the community who have similar goals and objectives. In order to meet these challenges, the Foundation has instituted numerous programs to help facilitate its efforts. These programs include: the Omar Center for Science and Technology, the Omar Academy, the Pontifex Media Center, the Omar Center for Social and Cultural Relations, the Omar Scholars Fund, and the Masjid Omar Ibn Al Khattab.
Masjid Omar Ibn Al Khattab is a landmark in the Los Angeles skyline and is the first Mosque in California to be designed and built for the specific purpose of establishing a Muslim place of worship. It is currently only one of two Mosques in Los Angeles County that has a traditional minaret and dome. The congregation at the Masjid is composed of Muslims originating from all over the globe, including immigrants, first, and second generation Muslims. The Masjid is so diverse some have called it "the United Nations on its knees," as even distinctions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims often seem to evaporate in the Los Angeles context.
Locally, the Masjid acts as a place of worship, but serves a secondary function as a place to introduce non-Muslims to Islam. Specifically, the Masjid's multi-purpose hall is a community resource and forum where officials, institutions, and people from the community gather in a positive and open environment to discuss ways in which Muslims and non-Muslims can strengthen and maintain their foundation in mainstream America. As an active participant in the local social, cultural, and educational activity of Los Angeles, the Foundation has created strong ties with USC and the LAUSD Board of Education. The Omar Foundation offers diversity and multicultural in-service professional development workshops for public school teachers and special age/grade appropriate programs for students to learn more about Islam and Muslims. The Omar Foundation has also sponsored and hosted Muslim–Jewish dialogues and is represented on the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Human Relations Council and the Advisory Board of Days of Dialogue.
A central goal of the Omar Ibn Al Khattab Foundation is to create and motivate young American Muslim Scholars. The Omar Scholarship Fund sponsors qualified students who are accepted to Ivy League Universities with the hope of promoting contemporary Islamic thought and increasing dialogue amongst American Muslims and Non-Muslims. By encouraging new scholarship in the field, the Foundation hopes that empowered young leaders will emerge and contribute to a growing network of contemporary Islamic thinkers while promoting further understanding of the religion in the United States.