By Summer Suleiman, CNN
ATLANTA (CNN) - Canvases with bold colors and Arabic letters lined the walls of the rooms. Downstairs, students rapped about Islam and Judaism to their own version of the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” melody, followed by songs performed in Arabic, Hebrew and English. For the first time, Muslim and Jewish students at Emory University collaborated for an interfaith art gala.
The Muslim Student Association has planned galas for the past eight years, but this year, the group decided to take it a step further. It joined with Emory Hillel, the Jewish student organization, to host the gala. The program strives to use art to promote understanding and tolerance.
Asad Abdulla, president of the Muslim Student Association, is a senior at Emory. When he started as a freshman four years ago, he said, there was a clear divide between Muslim and Jewish students, with little interaction on campus. The students have worked hard to change that.
“We want to serve as a model for other schools, to show that this is what other campuses should try to strive for in terms of Muslim-Jewish relations,” Abdulla said.
Their efforts bear tragic relevance. Last month, an attack at a Jewish school in France left four people dead. In California, a Muslim woman was beaten to death in her home and left with a note that read, “Go back to your country.”