The country seems more divided than ever along racial, political and religious lines. These two organizations are working to fight against this narrative by promoting true solidarity and understanding among women on Long Island.
The member-based nonprofit Moxxie Network partnered with the grassroots organization Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom Western Nassau for a panel discussion to talk about how the sisterhood “engages in interfaith understanding” between the Jewish and Muslim community.
Questions such as what the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom is about and if they’ve ever faced discrimination while encourage unity between the two faiths were asked.
“It [the panel discussion] was terrific!” said Beth Meixner, who founded the Moxxie Network in 2012. She thought that this kind of discussion was necessary and wished that more conversations like it would happen within the community, especially during these times. The room consisted of women of different ages, backgrounds, races and religions.
“I want everyone to understand the origin of cultures, so there is less discrimination and fear,” said Meixner. “We believe all women should support and mentor each other in order to create happy, self-confident and fulfilled women who can become our future leaders.”
Shireen Baqir Quaizar, who co-founded the Western Nassau chapter over three years ago, was more than pleased with the conversation she had.
“The panel discussion was amazing, and those girls had a great conversation with us,” said Quaizar. “We spoke about how we generally stand up for biases and discrimination of all kind, not just Islamophobia and antisemitism. And one question we got was if anyone has approached us in a negative way when spotted together. The answer was no, but we have received quite a lot of stares from people around us. Many are just curious.”
One way the sisterhood combats bias and discrimination is through having a huge presence at school board meetings to educate people and make sure that their perspectives are heard. They also invite each other to different religious events.
“Jewish sisters have attended Iftaar and community workshops in Mosques and Muslim sisters have attended cedars [in Synagogue] and Shabbath dinners,” said Quaizar. “We even observed Sukkah at one of the member’s house.”
The national Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom chapter was founded 10 years ago by Sheryl Olitzky and Atiya Aftab with the goal of building religious understanding.
“We talk about feelings instead of historical facts or media or political opinions,” said Quaizar. “We talk about what makes us similar rather than different. When we visited Berlin and Poland as a group last year, we learned that suffering is not a competition. One group’s suffering does not diminish suffering of others.”