WINNIPEG — In a rare collaboration on Canadian university campuses, the Jewish and Muslim student associations here are co-hosting an evening of comedy on March 4, featuring the Israel-Palestinian Comedy Tour.
The Israel-based comedy troupe, which was formed in November 2006 and made its Canadian debut at the Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto in May 2007, features four standup comics. Charley Warady headlined comedy clubs and colleges across the United States, appearing on both NBC and Comedy Central, before emigrating to Israel more than 10 years ago. Ray Hanania is a Palestinian-American standup comedian and an award-winning columnist for publications including Yediot Achronot’s English website Ynetnews.com, the Arab News in Saudi Arabia and the Jerusalem Post. Aaron Freeman, a black American convert to Judaism, is a standup comedian, columnist and radio commentator. Yisrael Campbell is an Orthodox Jew who was born Catholic. He made aliyah eight years ago and has performed standup comedy around the world.
The Winnipeg program came together as a result of a meeting between Jewish Student Association (JSA) president Eyal Kraut and Muslim Student Association (MSA) president Asma Mneina. They met at an interfaith program in November where they both spoke to an audience of high school students about their communities.
“On so many Canadian campuses, there is tension between Jewish and Muslim students,” says Kraut, a third-year arts student at the University of Manitoba. “Asma and I thought that by having joint programs, we could alleviate that tension here. After all, we are all students at the university. Despite differences of opinion on certain issues, we all have similar concerns as students.”
“I thought it was a good idea to do something together,” says Mneina, a first-year arts student, also at U of M, who came to Winnipeg from Libya with her family when she was a baby. “I was active in high school, and when I started university, I saw a void in interfaith and intercommunal activities. There are a lot of different communities reflected at the university level. It’s refreshing to have Jewish and Muslim student groups working together.”
Kraut reports that the two groups have already held one joint event aimed at promoting the comedy evening. On Feb. 12, they staged a hummus competition. One Jewish student and one Muslim student each prepared a quantity of hummus, and students were invited to sample them and vote on which was the tastiest.
The hummus prepared by the Muslim student was preferred by the majority of students who took the taste test, Kraut says.
Mneina and Kraut are looking forward to more joint programming in future.
You can reach Eyal Kraut at email@example.com or 479-6190.