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Sometimes people do bad things, and the recently reported rise in hate crimes is proof of that. However, its truly incredible when people come together with a noble goal in mind. The most amazing thing about this is that they prove the ability of us, humans, to overlook any differences and to focus on what’s truly important. And that we can live together in peace and help others to achieve the same.
There are plenty of examples in history that show how extremely different groups can not only coexist peacefully but respect and support each other. And all of these examples show that there is no magic or some secret techniques involved in bringing such groups of people together. All that’s needed is to look not at our differences but on the similarities below. It’s from this that we can learn to respect others in spite of their views and beliefs.
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Muslim and Jewish Women Uniting to End Hate Crime
One of the brightest examples of this is the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, which is a shocking union of two groups that are so very different. It’s founded by Sheryl Olitzky, a Jewish lady from New Jersey, and Atiya Aftab, who is an adjunct professor at the Rutgers University as well as an attorney. In a show of inspiring open-mindedness, these two women started a group that brings together Jewish and Muslim women all over the US and Canada and helps them fight hate crimes together.
Most importantly, this group educates people about both of these cultures, which, in itself, is the key to combatting hate. In the majority of cases, hate crimes are born out of ignorance as well as the rejection of everything that’s different from us. And yet, as these two women clearly prove, being different doesn’t mean that we can’t be happy together.
The nonprofit started by Olitzky and Aftab has grown from a dozen women meeting up at one of their homes to a sisterhood that spans the continent. It now has chapters in 32 states and Canada. It regularly organizes various educational events that might include a variety of activities where one gets to learn a lot about either culture. This means that you might visit the Holocaust Memorial or go on the Building Bridges Trip to various countries. The sisters commit to social action work as well as do their best to end hate crimes.
It’s staggering to think that this whole thing started with a curt tour guide that Olitzky met on her trip to Europe. That’s when it hit her that for all her people’s plight, there were others who are also shunned and discriminated against even today. And she realized that while she did not support those views in any way, she had no Muslim friends or even acquaintances.
So, she came back home and went to make some Muslim friends, and hence the Sisterhood was formed.
That’s how from one tiny seed can flourish a movement that will impact the lives of hundreds and thousands of women and communities. That’s the lesson that the Sisterhood is teaching us.
The Impact of Sisterhood and Other Similar Joint Projects on the World
The support this group provides is desperately needed by members of both communities because the acts of violence against Jews and Muslims increased in number. Only recently, there was an attack on three Muslim women in San Diego as well as multiple anti-Semitic attacks in Brooklyn. Each of the incidents proves that the matter of educating communities about the many groups living within them should be a priority.
That’s because learning that various groups of people are human beings first and their religious beliefs, nationality, and even sexuality are all things that come later. One doesn’t have to share them or even like them to live alongside the people who are different in some ways.
The Sisterhood is only one of the many examples of Jews, Muslims, and various minorities coming together to support each other through difficult times. They do this through fundraising, offering protection and support, offering help, and just being a friend when it’s needed. And the fact that these acts of kindness happen everywhere every day proves that people can rise over their prejudices and extend a helping hand to anyone who needs it.
The importance of these groups lies not only in the fact that they bring some people together directly. That is essential and helps greatly, especially to the victims in the aftermath of some hate crime. However, such collaborations have a much higher purpose.
They increase awareness.
And that is truly crucial because one of the reasons why hate can flourish is that most people are standing aside completely overlooking the very existence of the problem.
It’s like Olitzky before that fateful trip to Europe. She was distantly aware that Muslims faced similar struggles. In that way, we all are aware that minorities are facing problems. And yet, so few people truly think about this and do anything to help.
However, each and every one of us has the power to help. Simply making friends in other communities is all that’s needed to make your own contribution to the eradication of hate.
Will Hate Crime Be Defeated?
There’s no easy answer to that question, but one definitely hopes that such crimes will become a thing of the past. This won’t happen tomorrow or even next year. However, the increasing awareness of the issue, as well as the rise of groups like the Sisterhood, show that this can happen.
All that’s needed for these crimes to become obsolete is people coming together and acknowledging their differences and respecting them. The more often this happens, the fewer people will seek to attack those different from them in some way. This means that you can make a difference. Everyone can.
There is no need to wait for some state reforms or join some national programs or societies. Simply opening up to another person and making a friend is enough. It’s something anyone can do, so if you want to make a contribution, you can start right away.
Building the global culture of inclusivity takes time and effort. That’s why it’s best to start as soon as possible. People have had millennia of hate, so isn’t it the time to change things for the better? Let us forget our differences and awake to a new beginning of tolerance and inclusivity.
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