Manchester Islamic High and King David High students take part in a joint lesson
Elham Asaad Buaras
Manchester Islamic High School for Girls has twinned with a local Jewish school to advance interfaith understanding and relations.
Manchester Islamic High will have regular joint lessons and assemblies with students from Manchester’s King David High.
Head of Jewish Studies at King David High, Rabbi Rickman, devised the idea “to share with our students stories of other groups in society that suffer from prejudice.”
The link has taken two years to develop. In a trial event, 10 girls from the Manchester Islamic High took an assembly at King David High and engaged in discussions with Year-10 students as part of Jewish studies.
“This is a topic covered at GCSE and after hearing the Jewish story I thought it would be fascinating to hear a different story. The idea then developed into an opportunity to forge greater understanding between the Jewish and Muslim communities by studying each others’ religious practices and culture,” Rabbi Rickman told The Muslim News.
“Our focus was local, just the Manchester community, and how through better understanding, two communities that live side by side can get on better, once we understand that there are many areas where the two religions overlap.”
He added: “I actually want to change the way we think about each other and ultimately improve the lives of our two communities, who so often live side by side but often seem so divided.”
Both schools say they have had positive feedback from their students, their parental bodies and from their respective communities.
King David High student Sarah said she didn’t realise “how many similarities there were between” the two faiths. “It was a unique experience where we had the opportunity to understand their religion whilst they connected to ours and will reduce prejudice between our communities.”
One Manchester Islamic High student, Amara, said it was good because “we will see each other in a different way”, while her friend Fatima said it had been a chance to “solve some misconceptions and prejudices that people have about Islam.”
Manchester Islamic High Religious Studies Head, Tahira Parveen, noted: “We haven’t had a link with a Jewish school and it is one community we needed to understand. Faith schools are criticised for segregation, but our aim is integration.
“As religions we have a lot of similarities. Even the questions the [Muslim and Jewish] pupils asked were very similar and we see our rituals embedded into everyday life in a similar way.”