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2nd Buncher Interfaith Conference Eyes Social Service Solutions in Tough Economic Times


Michael Geller / JDC Telephone: (212) 885-0838

For Immediate Release

On November 13-15, leading UK and U.S. government officials and top professionals from secular and faith-based community organizations in Europe, Israel, and the UK gathered for a landmark conference on innovative social development organized by the JDC International Centre for Community Development (JDC-ICCD), CEDAR: the European Muslim Professionals Network, and the Faiths Forum for London. The Lambeth Palace-based event enabled participants to share expertise and innovative practices with an eye to developing collaborative social service delivery in the midst of ongoing economic turmoil.

“As the global economic downturn continues and we face reductions in public funding, the kind of unique exchange and partnership that this conference fostered is absolutely invaluable. Not only does it increase collaboration between professionals of diverse cultures and religious faiths, it will vastly improve the effectiveness of social service programs at a time when whey are desperately needed,” said Marcelo Dimentstein, Operations Director of the JDC-ICCD.

Dignitaries present at the conference included: Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a UK Cabinet Minister and first Muslim woman to serve in the UK Cabinet; Farah Pandith, Special Representative to Muslim Communities for the United States Department of State; and Hannah Rosenthal, the Obama Administration’s Special Envoy and the head of Office To Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. They discussed how communities could combat discrimination, improve volunteering and work together to deliver social action side-by-side.

“This conference sets the example with a ground-breaking partnership between two large Muslim and Jewish organisations. For European Muslims the future of communities in Europe requires for engagement in social action and joint learning across communities and faith groups. We are here to learn from each other,” said Ahmed Larouz, Chair of CEDAR.

More than one hundred participants attended sessions that focused on social action projects, cross-collaboration, and building funding partnerships, among other topics. With a focus on providing strategically effective help to the elderly, poor, and other vulnerable groups hit especially hard by the current economic atmosphere, the sessions spurred ideas for social innovation and multi-faith responses.

“As part of the Buncher Family Foundation’s pioneering vision, this year’s conference built bridges between different faith-based and cultural communities in an apolitical and pluralistic setting,” said Alberto Senderey, director of JDC-Europe and president of the JDC-ICCD.

With more than 50 organisations represented, the conference’s global focus included professionals from NGOs in the UK, Israel, Bosnia, France and Hungary. The broad range of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish participants were hosted by the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury and observed the multi-ethnic, multi-faith partnerships that exist and thrive in England’s capital.

“This is an opportunity to share best practises and show that London is global hub for faith-based social action. We are delighted to be working with two great international organisations and showing off London’s achievements of collaboration and cooperation between faith communities to promote the social good,” said Alexander Goldberg, Chair of Faiths Forum for London.

About JDC

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization. JDC works in more than 70 countries and in Israel to alleviate hunger and hardship, rescue Jews in danger, create lasting connections to Jewish life, and provide immediate relief and long-term development support for victims of natural and man-made disasters.

For more information, please visit

About the JDC International Centre for Community Development (JDC-ICCD):

The JDC International Centre for Community Development (JDC-ICCD) is a UK charity foundation created by American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)—the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization—and based in Oxford University that is devoted to understanding and analyzing communities, minorities and social needs. To learn more, visit

About Faiths Forum for London:

The Faiths Forum for London has been developed to reflect the capital’s rich diversity of faith traditions. FFL has embarked to bring together regional organisations and groups from the nine major faith communities in the capital, local interfaith and multi-faith groups and faith based organisations to foster engagement with public sector agencies. The Faiths Forum for London provides a means of contact and channel of communication between London government bodies and faith communities; provides an additional channel between London’s faith groups and thereby support inter-faith relations; shares good practice; endeavours to be a centre of research on regional policy; and facilitates the development of social policy expertise, networks and civic engagement. The Faiths Forum is a member of the English Regional Faiths Forum Network and we are working in close co-operation with the Mayor’s Initiative. The nine faith communities represented on the Forum are from London’s Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist, Bahai, Jain and Zoroastrian communities.

About CEDAR: the European Muslim Professionals Network:

CEDAR seeks to generate a culture of success and leadership amongst Europe’s diverse communities and expand pathways to career opportunities and development for the next generation. CEDAR develops systems to mainstream members’ participation in public discourse and expand interaction and membership in wider professional, political and social networks, beyond the narrow focus on Muslim issues. The CEDAR network currently has an ever increasing membership spanning 11 European countries.

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