Since its founding in 2017, MJAC NY has worked to stem the rise in hate crimes in the United States though legislative advocacy, working with law enforcement, and strengthening community relations. MJAC NY has also advocated for generous and humane immigration and refugee resettlement policies.
MJAC NY consists of a diverse group of Muslim and Jewish members, including religious, business, medical, and non-profit advocacy leaders. Among MJAC NY’s accomplishments have been successfully advocating for the establishment of the NYC Office of Hate Crime Prevention and a bill that was signed into law by NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo to establish a hate crime prevention training program for law enforcement in New York. MJAC NY also called for the establishment of a task force responsible for studying white supremacist organizations and acts of violence encouraged by these groups.
MJAC NY also promotes education and advocacy on immigration reform. MJAC NY partnered with AJC NY’s Latino-Jewish Coalition for a program entitled Perception and Realities of Immigrants Today. Policy experts discussed the state of immigration laws and practices in New York City, New York State and nationally, and the various means of immigration into the U.S. MJAC NY also heard the inspirational stories of three immigrants who have come to the U.S. and added to the vibrancy of American democracy.
Leadership and Council Members
Bahman Farahdel is the Global Head of Sanctions and Anti-Bribery/Anti-Corruption at Bloomberg L.P. In this role, he has created sanctions and anti-bribery programs, including policies, procedures, and training for all of Bloomberg’s businesses worldwide. He liaises with the firm’s senior management, in-house and outside counsel, and regulators to address day-to-day and long-term management of these programs. Bahman sits on the New York Regional Board of the American Jewish Committee.
Betty Cotton, a past President of AJC NY, is Chairperson of NY Project Interchange Task Force and serves on the Board of Governors. She is a member of the National Policy Steering Committee and the NLDC. She is also a former President of AJC Westchester/Fairfield and was honored by the Women's Leadership Board in 2005. In addition, she is a member of the NYS Commission on National and Community Service, the Westchester Community College Foundation Board, and the Greyston Foundation Wisdom Council.
She has worked as a consultant to not-for-profit organizations for many years and serves on the Steering Committee of the Westchester Not for Profit Leadership Summit. Currently, she is the Chairperson of Tristate Maxed Out Women's PAC.
Betty received a BA from George Washington University and an MS from Hunter College in Urban Affairs.
Faroque Ahmad Khan
Dr. Faroque Khan served as chair of medicine at NCMC in NY and as consultant at KFMC in Riyadh Saudi Arabia. Dr Khan was awarded Mastership in American College of Physicians (ACP). Dr. Khan has held leadership positions at national professional and community organizations. Dr. Khan is a founding member of the Islamic Center of Long Island (ICLI) and a co-founder with Rabbi Jerome Davidson of the award-winning program American Muslims and Jews in Dialogue - AMJID. Dr. Khan initiated and helped launch the interfaith institute of the ICLI.. This institute evolved from the long standing, progressive interfaith activities with the Jewish and Christian communities of Long Island. Dr. Khan has received several awards and accolades for his pioneering work in improving interfaith relations on LI/NY and beyond. Dr Khan serves as the chair of the interfaith institutes board of trustees.
Imam Tahir Kukaj
Imam Tahir Kukaj is the religious leader of the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center on Staten Island. In addition to his clerical duties, Imam Kukaj is one of the original members of the Muslim Advisory Council for the NYPD, formed in 2012 so that Muslim leaders could have direct access to the police commissioner to advocate for issues affecting their community.
A physician by profession, Dr. Isma Chaudhry is an interfaith advocate and a champion for the rights of Muslim Women. She is the Director of Public Health programs and teaches in the department of Health Sciences at Hofstra University. She also works as a diversity and sensitivity coach and a consultant on inclusion and cultural competence for government and private organizations. She has been actively involved with the Islamic Center of Long Island for over 20 years dispelling myths and misconceptions about Islam and building bridges of respect and understanding between various communities. In 2015 she was elected as the first female president of the mosque and in 2018, Isma was elected as the first female chairperson of the Board of Trustees. She is listed among the 50 most influential Long Islanders.
J.R. Rothstein is a transactional real estate and construction law attorney at a mid-town Manhattan law firm. He previously was a Fulbright visiting scholar at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law where he lectured on comparative real estate transactions. Mr. Rothstein is a member of the Board of AJC ACCESS and the former Chair of the Muslim-Jewish Alliance. J.R. is a 2018-2019 Broome Fellow of Muslim-Jewish Relations at the American Sephardic Federation in New York City. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Jewish- Muslim Sourcebook Project operating in conjunction with the Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement at the University of Southern California. Mr. Rothstein received his Juris Doctor from Cornell Law School where he was Editor of the Journal of Law and Public Policy and an Albert Heit Scholarship recipient. He simultaneously obtained an L.LM. Master of Laws in International and Comparative Law from Cornell Law School and spent time studying Islamic Law at the American University of Cairo in Egypt. J.R. completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and was both a Legacy Heritage Fellow at the United Nations and Ariana De Rothschild Fellow at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School in Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Josh Seftel is a filmmaker and documentarist from New York. He received an Emmy nomination and Peabody Award in 20017 for his series Secret Life of Muslims. He began producing documentaries at age 22, and was nominated for an Emmy for his documentary Lost and Found, which highlighted the plight of Romanian orphans.
Junaid Chida is a partner at O’Melveny and Myers where he specializes in counseling, structuring, negotiating, and deal management guidance on M&A and financing transactions. He focuses on both domestic and international markets for a wide range of energy, infrastructure, and transportation assets. Junaid, who attended the University of Wisconsin for both his undergraduate and law degrees, has received numerous awards for his legal expertise.
Dr. Mehnaz Afridi is the associate professor of religious studies and director of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center at Manhattan College. Dr. Afridi teaches courses on Islam, the Holocaust, genocide, and issues of gender within Islam. Her articles have been published widely and she is the author of Shoah through Muslim Eyes (Academic Studies Press, 2017). Dr. Afridi earned her Ph.D. from the University of South Africa, and her M.A. and B.A. from Syracuse University.
Michelle Kravtin Gary Z”L
Michelle Kravtin Gary is a former corporate attorney who is now a community activist, involved in where she has lived: Washington D.C., Atlanta, Boston, and New York. She presently sits on the New York Regional Board of the American Jewish Committee and on the boards of the Jewish Women’s Archive, and Camp Ramah Darom. She formerly taught special-needs children in the Gateways Program of Boston. Michelle was active in the World Pilgrims Organization of Atlanta, a group of Muslims, Christians, and Jews who travel the world together. She was a co-founder of the Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capital. Michelle received her Juris Doctor Degree cum laude from the Georgetown University Law Center and her B.A. in American government summa cum laude from Georgetown University.
Rabbi Bob Kaplan
Rabbi Bob Kaplan is the founding director of the Center for Community Leadership at the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC NY), the central coordinating and resource body for 60 major Jewish organizations in the metropolitan New York area. He also co-directs the New York – Jerusalem Experts Exchange, a joint project of the JCRC and the Jerusalem Intercultural Center that exchanges best practices in building diverse societies. Rabbi Kaplan is involved in coalition building, conflict resolution, ethnic media, interracial/inter-religious relationships, combating hate crimes, and community building. He acts as a consultant to many community-based organizations -- Jewish and non-Jewish -- on issues of intergroup relations and capacity building. He served for five years as the Associate Executive Director of Hillel of New York. Rabbi Kaplan is a member of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Clergy Advisory Council, The Micah Roundtable, and the NYC Department of Education’s Diversity Council. He is also on the board of the NYU-Lutheran Medical Center and co-chairs the DOHMH Hypertension Task Force.
Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky
Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky is Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he joined the faculty upon his ordination as rabbi in 1977. He now serves as the Louis Stein Director of the Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies at JTS, running programs on public policy. Visotzky also directs JTS’s Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue. Professor Visotzky has been a visiting faculty member at Oxford, Cambridge, and Princeton Universities and the Russian State University of the Humanities in Moscow. Rabbi Visotzky serves on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Committee on Ethics, Religion, and the Holocaust. Professor Visotzky also serves on the “Steering Committee on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect” for the UN under-Secretary General and is on the advisory board of the UN Inter-Agency Taskforce on Religion and Development. He is a member of the J-Street advisory board and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Richard S. Cohen
Richard S. Cohen has led the Walden Group, a strategic healthcare investment banking and consulting group, for more than 15 years. He started his career as a corporate and securities attorney at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, and was afterwards associated with a corporate acquisitions firm, where he was a senior officer. He has been an officer and director of several public and private companies, including president of manufacturing and distribution companies. Cohen also serves on the AJC Westchester Board, where he chairs the Muslim-Jewish Relations Committee and Co-Chairs the Interfaith Committee. He earned a B.A. from Cornell University, a J.D. from The New York University School of Law, where he was an editor of the law review, and attended the Leonard M. Stern Graduate School of Business, New York University.
Sheikh Moussa Drammeh
Sheikh Moussa Drammeh is the founder of Muslim Media Corporation, which publishes Muslim Community Report, and Parkchester Times newspapers. He has led and inspired many community and religious initiatives, for which he has received a number of proclamations from elected officials, including the mayor of New York City and the governor of New York State. He received the 2007 New York Post Liberty Award for Leadership. Drammeh is executive producer of the Muslim Community Report and Public Emergency Management Adherence (PEMA) television shows on Bronxnet Television. He is also a frequent media commentator on issues relating to Islam and African immigrants.
Shireena Drammeh has led the Islamic Leadership School in the Bronx since she cofounded it in 2001. Besides offering a rigorous curriculum of both secular and religious studies to students K-12, the Islamic Leadership School promotes peaceful co-existence and has partnered with the Museum of Jewish Heritage and several other Jewish and Islamic schools in New York. Prior to founding the Islamic Leadership School, Shireena worked in finance and banking after graduating from the Borough of Manhattan College with a degree in applied science. Shireena has co-founded several nonprofits such as the Islamic Cultural Center of North America, Masjid-Al Iman, and Adopt –A-Friend, Inc. She has been recognized for her outstanding work in the community, and has been honored by the NAACP, Parkchester Branch; Assemblyman Peter River during Women’s History Month; Senator Rev.Ruben Diaz Sr. as a Woman of Distinction; and City Comptroller John Liu for promoting peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Jews.
Suzi Jaffe is President of S.D.J. Associates, a pension fund consulting business. Previously, she served as managing director of several investment management firms. She also served as the Deputy Comptroller for Investment and Cash Management of New York State. She currently serves on the Executive Council. Suzi is a past President of AJC New York, as well as a past Vice President of the National Board of Governors. She is the immediate past chair of AJC’s Investment Committee.
Suzi serves on the Board of Project Interchange and the Blaustein Institute for Human Rights. Suzi is a member of the Board of UJA-Federation of NY, where she serves on the Finance Committee as well as a number of other Committees. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Jewish Community Relations Council of NY. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Burnham Investment Trust, Research Corporation for Science Advancement, Coro New York Leadership.