A new initiative sponsored by American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Mimouna Association is bringing together for the first time a group of young Americans, Israelis, and Moroccans to deepen understanding and build cooperative relationships.
The AJC -Mimouna Michael Sachs Emerging Leaders Fellowship follows on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that ACCESS, AJC’s young professionals network, and the Mimouna Association, an organization of young Moroccan Muslim leaders, signed in January. The two groups agreed to jointly educate and build ties among their American, Israeli, and Moroccan peers.
The inaugural cohort of 22 Fellows includes eleven Moroccans, four Israelis, and seven Americans. They include members of Morocco’s parliament, and civic, business and technology leaders in Israel and the U.S.
The fellowship is named in memory of the late Michael Sachs, an AJC leader who dedicated his life to promoting Muslim-Jewish dialogue. The six-month program will focus on leadership development, interreligious bridge-building, and advocacy. Meeting virtually, Sachs Fellows will engage government officials, civil society and business leaders in discussing a number of issues, including:
-- Bridge Building and Partnership
-- 2500 Years of History: An Overview of Jewish Heritage in Morocco
-- Religion and the Role of Peacemaking
-- The Holocaust in North Africa
-- Diplomacy and Storytelling
-- The Future of Arab-Jewish Relations in the 21st Century
The fellowship will culminate with a joint trip to Morocco and Israel in the spring of 2022.
“The Sachs Emerging Leaders Fellowship enables young Moroccans, Israeli Jews and Arabs, and American Jews to learn together and build the cooperative relationships that will be essential to expanding the ties among their countries in the years ahead,” said Benjamin Rogers, AJC Director for Middle East and North Africa Initiatives.
Cooperation between AJC ACCESS and the Mimouna Association began in 2014, centering on the importance of Jewish heritage to Moroccan identity and culture. In 2017, the two organizations held a conference in Essaouira, Morocco, to discuss interfaith approaches to advancing common understanding in the Middle East. A follow-up conference in 2018 examined the importance of education and social media in promoting interfaith cooperation.
AJC delegations have been visiting Morocco regularly for decades. In December 2020, Morocco, home to a Jewish community that once numbered more than 300,000 and today remains the largest in the Middle East and North Africa, reestablished diplomatic ties with Israel.