After visiting relatives in Israel during the Gaza war, and attending four days of intensive briefings with heads of intelligence and military leaders, Daniel Pincus boarded a plane bound for Qatar. He was the only Jew to attend the Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow Conference in the Islamic kingdom’s capital city.
Through his interfaith work as chair of ACCESS NY — the young leadership branch of the American Jewish Committee — Pincus has become involved with New York’s young Muslim community.
While the Gaza war was a major topic of conversation in Doha, Pincus also sat in on discussions about religious authority in Islam, conflicts between Islam and the West, Islamic extremism and representation of Islam in media. “I met an imam from Kuwait, who came to stay with me for a weekend,” he says.
“Because of our conversation he’s committed himself to interfaith dialogue. This is a person who, when he originally sat down with me at breakfast said, ‘I don’t hate Jews; I just hate Zionists.’”
In March 2009, Pincus traveled to Geneva as part of the UN Durban Review Conference. In New York, he continues to champion interactions between young Jews and Latinos through his leadership role at the AJC. Last December, he co-chaired an ACCESS gala featuring Newark Mayor Cory Booker; the gala raised $180,000 and attracted 400 attendees.
Pincus hopes that ACCESS will now expand beyond New York City. “We need to take this local organization and make a strong multinational network of people and take this mission forward,” says Pincus, who hopes young Jews will get involved in ways beyond “a Facebook level of activism. We’re going to have to define the Jewish organizations of today and tomorrow. And that’s why I see ACCESS as so important.”
Passion for dance: Pincus is board director of Decadancetheatre, an all-female hip-hop dance company in Brooklyn.
An artist, too: Pincus is a photographer whose work appears in galleries and is part of the permanent collection at Mount Holyoke Art Museum.
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