Jews And Muslims Celebrate Holidays Together

September 22, 2009

Author: Neal Simpson

Source: Wicked Local Newton

Laden with bundles of kugel, challah and koshari, several dozen twenty-somethings filed into a Beacon Street brownstone in Brookline last Monday for an unusual feast.

They weren’t necessarily celebrating the same holiday, but that didn’t stop them from doing it together.

“We see this as a really powerful counterforce to divisiveness, to stereotypes, to fear,” Michelle Sternthal told the crowd of young Jews and Muslims packed into a small room at the Boston Workman’s Circle. “This is just the beginning.”

The joint celebration, meant to coincide with the end of Ramadan and the beginning of the Jewish High Holidays, was organized by an informal group of young Jews and Muslims weary of the tension and conflict they see between their communities, both in Boston and beyond. Organizers called it a beginning, something they hope will lead to productive conversations among friends, rather than the divisive, angry rhetoric they said has often typified interactions between Jews and Muslims.

“So many of the message we hear are of conflict between our communities,” said Margie Klein, one of the organizers. “But, in general, young Jews and young Muslims want to come together.”

The potluck dinner coincided with the end of both Ramadan and Rosh Hashana, and the some of the crowd came hungry after a day or more of fasting. There was much nodding of headscarves and yarmulkes as one young speaker after another talked about the ties between the two religions they’d discovered among the din of competing conversation in the cramped room.