Building bridges with the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Blumert
NCJW/Essex sponsored the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom at a recent Lunch and Learn event. From left are Rabbi Jesse Olitzky of Congregation Beth El; Sheryl Olitzky, co-founder and executive director of SOSS; SOSS members Nausheena Bhayat and Cyndy Wyatt; NCJW/Essex President Shari Harrison; and SOSS member Miniimah Bilal Shakir.

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — In a moving afternoon of solidarity and friendship, NCJW/Essex sponsored a Lunch and Learn with the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, 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 more than 150 people and was held at Congregation Beth El in South Orange.

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,” Jesse Olitzky said. “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 SOSS co-founder and Executive Director Sheryl Olitzky, 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,” Sheryl Olitzky said, “but we are about growing in friendship and seeing the world through someone else’s eyes.”