Jewish advocate uses interfaith work to fight Muslim stereotypes: CAIR’s Jewish director

Jacob Bender

Although it might seem unusual for a Jew to lead a Muslim organization, it was a natural next step for Jacob Bender.

In October, he became executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) Philadelphia chapter — and the first non-Muslim to head up any of the 30 chapters. The organization focuses on civil rights protection for Muslims and counteracting negative stereotypes about Islam through education and advocacy.

“The question a lot of people ask is: Did I receive opposition in the Muslim community about being a Jew working with their community? And the answer is no, across the board,” he said.

But that doesn’t mean it was without controversy.

“There has been some opposition to my working here from, let’s say, extreme right wing, anti-Muslim elements, both in the Jewish community and not,” he said…