Over 600 Muslim and Jewish women came together early this month for the fourth annual Muslim Jewish Women’s Leadership Conference which took place at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, and was hosted by Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom (SOSS).
The theme of the conference was “rise up” against hate, and tackled such tough topics as Israel-Palestine relations. Letty Cottin Pogrebin, founding editor of Ms. Magazine, encouraged people of both faiths to listen to one another. “You have to be able to hear each other’s narrative without feeling like you are losing yourself. Listening with curiosity is not the same as being converted…. Yom Ha’Atzmaut and the Nakba — you have to be able to hold both in your mind.”
Sheryl Olitzky, cofounder of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom (SOSS), told a packed audience that “for every relationship between sisters in this room, there is a ripple effect.” Seaker Ingrid Mattson, an Islamic studies scholar and interfaith activist, said it was time for Muslims and Jews to come together, as both groups had to fight bigotry and hate. “It is necessary to pull away from comfort of our own group and take risks, to progress and become strong so we can return and rectify the wrongs.”
The New Jersey Jewish News reports that “at the end of the conference, participants said they were inspired to take actions both to effect change and to better understand each other.” Participant Beverly Rubman found the conference transformative. “Everything in the conference was positive — a feeling that in this world we Jewish and Muslim women matter, and we will stand together in solidarity, and that we are going to spread that message.”