The several dozen or so women assembled are students of a seven-week, Jewish-Muslim women’s text study course called “Blood, Milk and Tears: Menstruating, Nursing and Mourning in Islamic and Jewish Sources.”
After the presentations, they remark on the similarities between the two religions’ burial customs, particularly the shared reverence for the deceased.
The course, comprising both Jewish and Muslim women ranging in age from their 20s to their 60s, was created and taught by Shari Goldberg, an academic who’s been leading Jewish-Muslim text study groups since 2003.
Before that, she was involved in Jewish-Palestinian dialogue of a political nature, but found religiosity to be conspicuously missing from these conversations.
She grew frustrated, she said, with how the talks “often degenerated into screaming matches.”
Shifting to Jewish-Muslim dialogue that uses “classical religious texts as a springboard” has been a way to “start from a place of common ground, not one of conflict,” Goldberg explained.
While strife between Israelis and Palestinians has put enormous strain on Jewish-Muslim relations globally, there are Canadians from both faiths who are quietly and persistently working to foster mutual understanding between the two communities.
Among those at the forefront of these efforts, a consensus appears to have emerged on how to best build bridges between Canadian Jews and Muslims. They maintain that friendship and trust must first be established at a grassroots, person-to-person level, and that without it, the prospect of broaching contentious issues like Israeli-Palestinian relations is a non-starter.
One group leading the charge is the Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims (CAJM), established in 1996 with an objective to promote good relations between the two communities in Canada.
Barbara Landau, who co-chairs the organization with Shahid Akhtar, said the CAJM has been meeting with a renewed sense of purpose since 9/11, seeking to counter the inevitable rise of Islamaphobia by creating a strong model for Jewish-Muslim co-operation.The article is adorned with a photo of some of these women doing interpretive dance. Or a stretching exercise. Or something.
Saucy minx that I am, I dashed off this one to the CJN's editor:
It's so nice to see Canadian Jewish and Muslim women engaging with each other in such a friendly, non-threatening way. If only women in, say, Israel and Palestine could take a page from this group and involve themselves in creative movement and discussions about empowerment, there could finally be a true and lasting peace.
Gee, do you think they'll print it?Just kidding, of course. In the real world of the Middle East, Israel must continually assert its right to exist in the face of Arab/Muslim rejectionism, a state of affairs that has its origin in Islam's sacred texts which record the prophet Muhammad's "Jewish problem."
I have no objection to Ms. Landau and her group schmoozing like crazy and dancing up a storm. I do, however, object to the idea that it will lead to anything of value in the larger scheme. How could it when everyone is deftly avoiding the ever-present elephant in the room--the Jews' sovereignty over their ancient, ancestral homeland and the Islamic belief that once a land has been conquered for Allah, there's no going back?
One last thought: I would like to point out to the Jewish gals involved in this infrastructure project that sometimes the bridge you're building can be a bridge on the River Kwai--i.e. a bridge that you think is helping you out but that is actually doing more good for those who seek your destruction (none of whom, I'm sure, belong to this group).
In other words, you might be a "bridgeful" of Useful Idiots, all whistling "The Colonel Bogey March."