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David Micley Reflects on his Documentary "Cousins of Faith"

David Micley Reflects on his Documentary "Cousins of Faith"

Author Iman Naim by

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David Micley

Atlanta Muslim sat down to speak with David Micley, who directed and presented the documentary 'Cousins of Faith' at Emory University. The documentary takes viewers on a journey through the everyday lives of two men: a practicing Jew (Kivi Bernhard) and a practicing Muslim (Ehab Jaleel).

'The general message is just to say that this is who Muslims and Jews are in a day in their life. They're just people that want to raise their families with good values,' explained Micley.

Growing up in a Jewish community and attending a Jewish school, Micley didn't know any Muslims until he reached college, where he befriended a Muslim student from Pakistan.

'We had a lot in common from our upbringing and our culture, even though we came from two very different religious backgrounds,' Micley said of his friend.

This friendship and an eagerness to learn more about other cultures and customs led Micley to build relationships with other Muslims while he was a student at Emory University. When the relationship between the Jewish and Muslim communities at Emory came under stress because of an incident concerning the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Micley worked to found the group 'Children of Abraham'.

'I felt like a lot of Jews didn't really know what the Muslim life was about, and I felt like the Muslim community didn't know what the Jewish life was about,' said Micley of his reasons for starting the group.

Children of Abraham focused on fostering relationships between Muslims and Jews through celebrating each other's cultures and holidays together, rather than talking about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict all the time.

'It's much easier for Jews and Muslims to have good relations here when they're not talking about their property, land, state, and very livelihood that's at stake,' he continued.

Although Micley has worked on improving Jewish and Muslim relationships for many years, he was surprised to discover certain similarities between the two faiths while filming the documentary.

'[They] both try not to describe [God] too much because they know it's just an ineffable, indescribable being. The languages [Arabic and Hebrew] are both written in the same direction, even the physical way the rituals are expressed.'

Micley himself was changed by the project. While attending a fundraiser for the Zaytuna Institute, he was able to discuss the movie and related topics with Muslim scholars.

'Islam has me thinking about looking deeper into my own roots, exploring my own Jewish identity, and getting more in touch with my religion. Obviously I knew something, but it made me want to know more.'

Cousins of Faith Panel Discussion from David Micley on Vimeo.

Cousins of Faith from David Micley on Vimeo.

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