Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Interfaith Women's Group

I am so lucky to be a part of an interfaith women's group.  I am especially lucky this group exists because people of other faiths are often viewed with suspicion in my neck of the woods.  We are a group of women - Jews, Catholics, and Protestants (of different denominations) - who come together at least once a month for what we call bible study.  In the past, we've studied parts of the Old Testament.  This year, we're reading and discussing a book called The Faith Club.  The authors are a Jew, a Muslim, and a Christian who came together after 9/11 with the goal of trying to understand one another's faith.  

Our last group meeting we had a guest speaker - a lovely lady who happens to be a Muslim.  Even as someone who knows quite a bit about the history and practice of Islam, I found the talk fascinating and informative.  She gave us a historical overview and then explained the differences and similarities of our faiths.  She also answered questions about many of the misconceptions held by many Americans.  After our speaker had left and our group was having lunch, I commented how I wish more people could have been there as it was a very valuable learning experience.  Over the years I have heard so many comments about Islam that I knew in my heart to be false.  However, often I don't feel that I know enough specifics in order to set the record straight.  Now I feel I'm better equipped to share what I know about Islam.  Of course, I'm also learning more about Judaism and even the beliefs of other Christians.  I'm glad to be a part of this group, to be able to learn what and why other beliefs are held.  Nothing gets my dander up more than someone demonizing the faith of another.

Our interfaith group does more than bible study.  We also get together to do service projects in our community.  Several local charitable organizations are underfunded and short staffed, especially during this rough economic time.  So we often get calls to help out for one day events and for long term projects.  Charity is a basic tenant of both Judaism and Christianity, so we ladies find this common ground.  As it is also essential to Islam, I'm hoping that some day some Muslim women will join us.

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