All posts by AdRF

Welcoming Our 2017 Fellowship Cohort

We take great pleasure to announce to you the AdR Fellows of 2017. This year’s Fellows will be taking part in what promises to be a unique experience for innovative  entrepreneurs that are doing business but still care about doing good in the world .

The 2017 cohort will be engaging  in critical analysis and enlightened debates about enterprises/projects that face business challenges. Fellows will learn how to identify and build on the opportunities that accompany social and business innovation. At the same time, AdRF puts together every year a timely and exciting social sciences theme as follows:

“There’s something strange in the neighborhood”:  Living with difference in divisive times.

This timely theme will include discussions about politics and media discourses of “othering”, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, hospitality and generosity, acknowledgement and forgiveness, the refugee crisis and much more.

This year we are inspired by lighthouses. Lighthouses symbolize the way forward and help us to navigate our way through rough waters (literally for the strangers showing up on European shores) whether those waters be financial, personal, business or spiritual in nature. Fellows are lighthouses in their communities. Now more than ever may they shine and illuminate the way forward. Here’s to a successful 2017!

Please check out our facebook page to learn about this years Fellows:


AdR Fellowship 2017 @ Windsor Castle!

Calling all entrepreneurs and social innovators!

If you are an entrepreneur or a social innovator looking to take your enterprise/organization/business to the next level or are seeking to achieve self-sustainability, then you are in luck!

The AdR Fellowship represents a unique experience for entrepreneurs, social innovators and those who practice doing business while at the same time doing good, particularly (but not exclusively) from a Jewish and Muslim cultural background, who demonstrate a proven commitment towards inclusion and forging bridges to other communities while at the same time strengthening the sustainability of their organization/enterprise or business. This is an amazing opportunity to spend one week at Windsor Castle’s, St. George’s House in the UK to network and work on your project with other entrepreneurs, all expenses paid from July 21st  to July 29th 2017.

Please spread the word about the call for application about the Fellowship to your network. Also, if you know of any individuals whom you can especially recommend, please do let us know!

To learn more about our mission please click here:

Click on the following link to apply:

Deadline for applications: Sunday, April 23rd  2017 (midnight EST New York)


Pride and Tears from Paris

Pride and Tears from Paris

F article piccy 22015 has started in a tragic manner with the recent terrorist attacks in France. I was in Paris on the 7th January at 11am at the start of a tragedy, which would capture the world’s attention until its dramatic conclusion two days later. Like most people living in this beautiful city, I experienced all at once shock, bewilderment, fear, pain and outrage throughout the crisis. Then came the pride of witnessing on that historical Sunday an unprecedented mobilization across social backgrounds, cultures and religions against obscurantism and violence. With over 4 million people marching together under the banner Je suis Charlie, this was the largest-ever public demonstration in modern France. La France debout (France rises) was a great comfort to someone like me who chose to become a French citizen and espouses its values, its distinct identity and its cultural legacy.

At the same time, I could not help a feeling of malaise towards those who brandish the principle of laïcité (a French version of secularism) as the only legitimate response to terrorism. This particular outlook on society is deeply entrenched in French history. It dates back to a law of 1905 that strictly defines the boundaries between state and religion and came about as the definitive extinction of the Catholic Church’s interference in politics and society. It was also enacted in order to ensure the equal treatment of religious minorities, particularly Protestants and Jews. Its impact has proven decisive in shaping the values of la République of which France is so proud. It influenced the mindset of generations of politicians, workers, civil servants and teachers. It created a public space where religious differentiation would simply not be allowed, in the name of égalité and fraternité (equality and human solidarity). It also means that in the name of integration, which in the French context can mean assimilation, hyphenated identities are not welcome.


Laïcité, however,has simply not stood the test of time, nor France’s demographic transformation and economic challenges. To many, laïcité is deemed an unjust curtailment of individual freedom, that very liberté which is the third pillar of the French Republic. Adopting any sign of religious belonging is frowned upon, to say the least. When it comes to religion, the public display of individual identities is sacrificed on the altar of the Nation. While the interdiction of such display is only officially limited to public institutions, such as schools or government offices, it effectively limits individual liberty and forces many to lead a double existence: my hijab or my kippa ismy way to practice my faith but I must take it off not to lose my job, especially that the State is still the largest employer in a country that suffers from chronic unemployment. Discrimination is widespread in French society, not only by the name you carry, the way you look, or the color of your skin but increasingly because of your religion. Redressing such inequalities, particularly in the work place, is confronted with numerous legal hurdles because remember: religious differences don’t officially exist. Indeed, the State imposition of laïcité is itself largely responsible for preventing France from embracing its extraordinary diversity.

article quote Discussing the tragic events with a taxi driver, he wondered why in a country that insists on laïcité, the media wags a collective finger at les musulmans for causing social evils, and in the same stroke forgets to commend Muslims for bravery. The police officer who was shot at point blank in front of the Charlie Hebdo offices was referred to as a policier. The fact that he was Muslim simply mattered less. In his initial statement after the horrific killings, the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls stated: nous sommes tous Charlie, nous sommes tous policiers, nous sommes tous juifs (we are all Charlie, we are all policemen, we are all Jews). Many resented the fact that he omitted adding: nous sommes tous musulmans (we are all Muslims). I did. He ignored the fears and the outrage of nearly 10% of French population, equally shocked, which does not condone such acts of savagery, yet is at risk of bearing the collective responsibility. On TV, the mayor of a Paris suburb wondered where les quartiers (read poor Muslim neighborhood) wereduring the explosion of solidarity on the 11th January. Did he mean to divide the “haves” from the “have-nots”, the secular urbanites from the religious banlieues on this unprecedented day of solidarity? A bewildering comment indeed, especially from a French public official. He simply could not acknowledge a spontaneous uprising that restored the greatness of the French people. Together.

A day after the historical demonstration, I attended a formal evening at the Paris Opera to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the partnership between two outstanding scientific institutes: Weizmann and Pasteur. The lead performer was Patrick Bruel, a popular French singer and actor. I will be terribly un-French by adding that he is Jewish with Tunisian roots. After a minute of silence, he pronounced the sentence that by now had become a national slogan: nous sommes tous Charlie, nous sommes tous juifs and added nous sommes tous musulmans, nous sommes tous français (we are all Muslims, we are all French). The audience, mostly Jewish, gave a standing ovation despite having lost four members of their community to a self-proclaimed jihadist. The Prime Minister was present.

At last, fierce and quasi-obsessive debates are now taking place all over France on what went wrong, how to better recognize the Other, how to rebuild a more inclusive citizenship. And yes, even how to revisit laïcité – a value whose sound foundations have soured into dogmatism and exclusion.

This national catharsis makes me proud once again of being French.

Firoz Ladak CEO Edmond de Rothschild Foundations


Memorable Moments from 2014 Cohort!

Congratulations to our Fellows of 2014!!!

You made it! Well done!
Last month, the Fellows gathered together in Cambridge, sharing their thoughts and experiences, generating new ideas and consolidating their international network – new friends were made and steps towards overcoming challenges were taken. No doubt a memorable experience for everyone involved.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Fellows of 2014; for making this year’s program a memorable one, for all they shared with us, and honouring what the Ariane de Rothschild Fellowship stands for.
As a small thank you, a short video was made to commemorate the occasion.  Please share with your friends, family and networks. You can view the video by clicking on the banner above or the YouTube link below.

Spread the word about our Fellows by joining our FacebookTwitter and Linkedin page; and subscribe to  our YouTube channel.

Again, congratulations to our 2014 cohort.

A call for an end to violence by Stephen Shashoua

As the violence in Gaza and Israel continues, we must keep working toward peace, wherever we are.

While we may not be able to directly influence the conflict on the ground, we can work to stop the hostilities spilling over into our own neighbourhoods.

Many will be feeling angry, frustrated and worried about what is happening. In these times, we must make every effort to protect the relations between our communities we are working so hard to build. Regrettably, we are seeing flare-ups of violence and hearing hostile voices in our public spaces, the media and online. Let us remember that hate begets hate.

We must all do what we can to defuse tensions, by talking and listening with an open mind about how the conflict is affecting us, trying to understand all sides. We must raise our voices to reject all forms of hatred and call for an end to violence.

In times of turmoil, it’s only natural to feel the urge to retreat back into our own communities. Now is not the time to go into our separate corners. We encourage people to resist this urge and instead come together, seek to understand each other and work towards peace.

Article source:

Ariane de Rothschild Fellows 2014

Ladies and gentlemen. Boys and girls. Drum rolls please!

We take great pleasure to announce to you the Ariane de Rothschild Fellows for 2014. This year’s Fellows will be taking part in what promises to be a unique experience for social entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial dialoguers; they will be making the best use of their passion and skills in order to connect, exchange and benefit one another as well as the world we live in. Below is a list of this year’s Fellows with links to their social enterprise.

Sabri Abarkan (might be wrong picture)
Nathalie Ballan
Ilana Ben Ari
Tamar Berger
Kevin Berkane
Elisa Birnbaum
Maggie Dunne
Anja Fahlenkamp
Ali Ferhi
Frank Fredericks
Soufeina Hamed
Abdelaziz Hammaoui
Karim Hauser
Rachel Hodes 2
Ibrahim Jaaber
Zachary Levine
Karim Mahmoud Vintam
Nick Martin
Khadijah Matin
Afnaan Moharram
Kameelah Mu'Min Rashad
Alejandro Okret
Sohayle Sizar
Selina Ullah
Maria Lucia Uribe Tores
Ben Yeger

We look forward to seeing the fellows this year in Cambridge in August 2014. Stay tuned!

3FF Director & AdR Fellow, Stephen Shashoua accepts Doha Interfaith Award

The 25 March 2014, 3FF received the Doha International Award for Interfaith Dialogue for its schools work. The award was presented at the 11th Doha International Conference for Interfaith Dialogue held 25-27 March in Qatar. 3FF won the Best Organization Award that celebrates interfaith work with an impact on society in general but on youth in particular.

3FF Director Stephen Shashoua, who accepted the award, said: “This award recognises the many hours that not only we put in but also that of our beneficiaries and stakeholders be they the teachers, children, university students, artists, partner organisations, and others.”

The conference is held yearly and aims to promote understanding and peaceful coexistence among followers of different faiths. This year, the prize was allocated to projects around the world that promote dialogue of youth from different backgrounds. The crucial role of youth in society was mentioned by Stephen: “They are not only our future, but our precious present as well. We must assist them in navigating the rich tapestry that is humanity”.

3FF’s Schools work promotes understanding among students of different faiths and beliefs in UK schools through its School Linking Programme and Education Workshops. In 2013, 3FF educational work reached more than 11,000 young people and trained more than 1,000 people, including teachers, educators or leaders.

Stephen explained that the Award will help 3FF reach more schools, hopefully in different cities around the UK with little or no faith diversity. “It will be a reminder for us to strive further, to measure up to the ideals and promise of interfaith”.

“Spiritual Junkies” by Shahwiqar Shahin

I get calls to attend or help organise Islamic events. With some events, they bring over scholars from a land far, far away, drawing in the crowd – feels like a circus at time. I look around, listen and I keep asking myself, “What’s this all for? What purpose? What end?” There comes a point, when I begin noticing groups of people coming again and again; the same group who seem to get a “spiritual fix” listening to the scholars from a land, far, far away, later going on for a healthy dose of fried chicken and chips to clog their arteries and bottles….buckets of coca cola’s finest….nay…Muslamic cola, to satiating the liver. Spiritual stimulation of the mind, body and soul at its finest.

This self-abuse needs to stop.

Not one to knock it all, throwing the baby out with the bath water, if used right, Islamic events, any faith based event for that matter, can be used to great effect; raise funds for projects, initiatives or individuals as well as raising awareness of concerns in the local community (Think globally, act locally….come back to that later in another post). If used appropriately, it can bring about real change.

But if you want to talk, just talk – get a camera, film yourself and put yourself on YouTube, spread your word to the world, not to a select few ‘yes-people’ or groupies. It’s not hard, it’s cheap, it’s quick, and it has impact.

The thing is…..the groupies who look for that “fix”. We all want that “fix” but with a dollop of substance I guess. Sometimes, I feel we all yearn for that prolong stimulus…a “kick” that keeps us going. Like a safe space or a thought that makes it all worthwhile, gives us meaning, a purpose to do what is good, to do the right thing. Sometimes, these prolonged fixes can be dangerous, but when it’s good….magic happens.

Serial, short-term fixes are not the solution; feels good at the moment, but this dependency, this need to “latch on” is not healthy…this “fix” ought to be self-sustaining, come from within; adds meaning…purpose to one’s life, something you cherish. This purpose, this drive, can be very, very appealing to others looking on, where they say, “I wouldn’t mind a bit of that”.

Stop the pushers!

People observing that drive, watch what they have, listen to the purpose in their voice – giving off that ’empowered’ vibe around them (like a Super Saiyan), but in their own terms, coming from within, a drive that gives them something to live for, to commit their life to, a purpose that leads others to watch and say, “I wouldn’t mind a bit of that”……and so on, and so on….

Stop the pushers!

I was watching Man of Steel the other day – and I was thinking; you have Kal El, he has two fathers, Jor-El and Jonathan Kent, and they both have ambitions for their son. Jor-El wants his son to be the saviour of the human race and to be an example to them; Jonathan Kent on the other-hand wants his son to be a good man, not “Superman”, but a good man who changed the world for the better. Two different ambitions for their son; you’d think, “Aren’t they the same thing?”. I don’t know….what I do believe, Kal-El did not just become “Superman”, it something grew into, he needed to grow into , to come to terms with his own way. He did not just wear the cape, grow his beard….(sorry – wrong example)….fly around, show-boating his gifts. Superman is not a trained monkey, bringing the show in town, with audiences clapping, he had a purpose, he embraced what he had, on him own terms, and did something positive with it.

No…..DC Comics ain’t your thing…… ”

….there are signs in all this for those who think about it.” Qur’an (2:164)

…let’s look for signs then, in books, in society…all around you, up in the air, “Is it a bird? Is it a plane?….”….under a rock…..OK then…..Jesus (Peace be upon him) [i] & [ii]…..

We have Jesus (PBUH), born from the Virgin Mary (PBUH), went on to walk on water, turn water to wine, bring the dead back to life (now that’s power kid)….but all this plays second fiddle to Jesus’ (PBUH) real power, his greatest gift; as Christians would have his believe – his humanity which people can relate to and his ability to forgive.

From what I read about Christianity, Jesus (PBUH) forgave even the most savage of people, like the Roman soldiers peddling his lot to those in the crowd, the criminals looking at him is disgust, the religious leader (smh), judging him, mocking him, acting all sanctimonious with a ‘told-you-so’ look to him and the crowd; and the crowd, cursing him out, humiliating him, swearing at him (you think Justin Bieber got it bad).

Jesus (PBUH), as Christian’s believe, looks down upon all them all and says: “….forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34)

Now, that’s what I’m talking about! Hit them right where it hurts, the heart. This act is an act…the act that has penetrated the hearts of people. Even today, one billion individuals vouch for this magnanimity, this generosity of spirit.

No….Christianity not your ‘cup-o-cha’…..OK….Muhammad (God’s blessings, peace and salutations be upon His beloved messenger) [i] & [ii].

You have the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), born to a noble Arab tribe; orphaned, lost his father before birth, mother by age six. The world he lived in saw him as a good boy, “He’s a good boy, trustworthy, honourable….” Then all of a sudden poof….

With great powers comes great responsibilities…..

God gave Muhammad (PBUH) the responsibility to spread his word; thrust it upon him.

Why me?!

Muhammad (PBUH) kept asking himself, “Why me?!”, dawned on him, then understood, “This is why.” Came to terms with his gift, his blessing; going as far to tell people around him to give credit where credit is due. “This ain’t from me, it’s from Him”. Magnanimous and down to earth, to the core. That’s what I’m talking about.

With great powers come great responsibility….

Let’s be genuinely critical – you can’t deny the scope of Muhammad’s (PBUH) followers, across the earth from Casablanca to Manila – it’s enveloped the earth now. With 25 million Muslims in Europe and around 10 million in the Americas, North and South. So what happened?

With Arabs, I get it – Muhammad (PBUH) dropped lyrics, against poets and soothsayers who got burned – and his message, God’s message as Muslims believe, became the hub of the Arabic language. Easy enough. What about those who don’t speak Arabic?

Outside Arabia, it’s a simple case of “Action speak louder than words”, Muhammad’s (PBUH) deeds, Muhammad’s (PBUH) actions, driven by what Muslims believe to be God’s word and work – he was known as a good man, trustworthy, honourable – examples that changed the world for the better…what a guy!

Like Jesus (PBUH), Muhammad (PBUH) magnanimity and mercy upon people, to all people, penetrated the hearts of people. Even today, one billion individuals vouch for this magnanimity, this generosity of spirit.

With great powers come great responsibility…..I digress….let’s start from the beginning. ….

we need to stop being spiritual junkies. Looking for that moment of euphoria only to come crashing down the next day; it’s dangerous. People start developing tolerance to what they hear, what they read, what they watch. Tolerance towards religious kumbiyaism, not just the extreme form of Hare Krishna/Sufi movements in all our faiths (of the Abrahamic, Dharmic, and neo-Spiritual persuasion. Come to that later….) but also more conservative views, leading to stuff that’s a little bit stronger. Step-by-step increments of short quick little fixes that eventually becomes very difficult to manage – going for that stronger stuff, to the point where either we:

1. Spiritual burnout – disillusioned, walking away from it all, with regret feeling nothing was achieved, or…

2. Lose track of where we are going – spiralling out of control; Tolerance is a bad thing; it’s a very bad thing – It’s virtue without conviction. Like chicken and chips and Muslamic cola.


[i] In the Abrahamic traditions, extending honourific titles to distinguished personalities of their faith is an important practice. Think about how when one is honoured with a knighthood in the United Kingdom, they earn the title “Dame” or “Sir”, one who earns a PhD, they earn the title “Doctor”, a member of the papal earns the title “Reverend” or “Father”, etc…in the same way, Muslim honour their prophets and distinguished personalities of their history, believing they earned their distinguished titles, earned their place in history and therefore make the effort to honour their legacy. [ii]For Muslims it is incumbent upon them to make the declaration “??? ???? ???? ????” when mentioning the Prophet Muhammad; translated it means, “God’s blessings, peace and salutations be upon His beloved messenger”. I have not placed the full statement “God’s blessings, peace and salutations be upon His beloved messenger” after mentioning Muhammad in the body of the article, but instead placed the (PBUH) after his name; this I have done as a way of honouring the Muslim practice and to sustain the flow of the article. As a recommendation for Muslims, I encourage that on occasions when Muhammad (PBUH) is mentioned that they say, “??? ???? ???? ????”, as it is highly commendable to do so. In a tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), or as I like to call them, the Gospels of Muhammad (PBUH), one of his companions, Abu Talha ibn Thabit (May God be pleased with him), shared: “One morning, the Messenger of God, Muhammad, was in a cheerful mood. His companions asked, ‘Messenger of God, you seem to be in a good mood; how so?’ The Messenger of God responded, ‘Of course I’m in a good mood. I was just told by Our Lord, God that “Whoever among your community sends blessings upon you, Muhammad, I will take note of their declaration and shower upon them 10 good deeds and erase from their record 10 worrisome sins, thereby raising their status by 10 folds – This is My Acknowledgement; this is My Response to their greetings”.’” – Abu Talha ibn Thabit, Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal. By: Shahwiqar Shahins


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