Lunch and Learn with Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom

Building Bridges with the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom
at the NCJW/Essex Lunch and Learn

In a moving afternoon of solidarity and friendship, NCJW/Essex sponsored a Lunch and Learn with the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom (SOSS), a national organization focused on building relationships between Muslim and Jewish women. The program, Creating a Movement of Muslim & Jewish Women Changing the World, attracted over 150 people and was held at Congregation Beth El in South Orange, NJ.

In his opening remarks, moderator Rabbi Jesse Olitzky reminded the audience that the past doesn’t dictate the future. “Regardless of what happened in our history, we can hope for a better future. We have an opportunity, a responsibility and an obligation to live in a world where we refuse to stand idly by.” Introducing the panel from the SOSS he urged, “It is our responsibility to look out for ourselves and to look out for others. We extend our hand to know the other.”

Panelists including Sheryl Olitzky, co-founder and Executive Director, and SOSS members Nausheena Bhayat, Cyndy Wyatt and Miniimah Bilal Shakir, spoke eloquently about their mission of bringing together women, forming bonds and developing positive relationships that will ultimately have a positive impact in building interfaith alliances. “It’s easy to hate someone you don’t know,” reflected Sheryl Olitzky, “but we are about growing in friendship and seeing the world through someone else’s eyes.”

In recent months, Muslims and Jews have banded together to fight against hate and prejudice. Interfaith coalitions like SOSS are strengthening their efforts to promote cooperation instead of hatred. The growth of SOSS across the country has been exponential in recent months, growing from 43 chapters in November, 2016, to 150 chapters across the country in April, 2017.

Through the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, Muslim and Jewish women are building bridges and fighting hate, negative stereotyping and prejudice. The feeling of love and friendship shared among the sisters at the NCJW/Essex Lunch and Learn was palpable. “We can do this,” said SOSS member Miniimah Bilal Shakir, “one sister at a time.”