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Mitzvah Day reflections…

24th November 2011
written by Sibt Ali

Wow, what an amazing couple of days I’ve had! On Sunday I went with my husband and all four children to Maidenhead Synagogue as part of Mitzvah Day…

It was a brilliant day and I am so glad we were able to go, other Muslims joining in too.  We were warmly welcomed by members of the local Jewish community including Rabbi Jonathan Romain.   The thing that struck me as we walked in was the wonderful family atmosphere. Children of all ages excitedly there on a cold, foggy November Sunday morning all wondering what would happen next!

We were split into groups of mixed ages with some going out to clear the local park, remove a dead tree, plant a new one and plant some bulbs ready for Spring.  Others went to Sainsbury’s where they collected two full trolleys of food and toiletries for local homeless people and for the women’s refuge.  And some stayed behind making cakes, sandwiches and soup for a lovely lunch when we all got together again a couple of hours later.

It was such a fantastic event, well organised and we were shown such good hospitality throughout.   A model that worked so well that I would love to see duplicated in mosques up and down the country.   Surely, this is ‘interfaith’ at it’s very best isn’t it?   Actually out, rolling our sleeves up together or making food together or yes, for some, knitting squares together for blankets to give to people less fortunate.   No deep discussions about the religions and certainly no discussions about politics or the Middle East.   Just families coming together and doing what is so needed in the country and what the British have always been good at, helping other people.   In the evening my son Musa, aged 8 said “that synagogue stuff was awesome” that was a great endorsement I thought!

I was then invited to another event the next day, this time just women and in the evening.  Female Rabbi Sybil Sheridan gave a thought provoking, spiritually uplifting speech that really touched me.   The similarities in the Jewish debates around ‘women’ and those I hear and take part in amongst Muslims are so similar and yet have their own unique qualities too.  I left feeling so glad to have met Sybil and plan to keep in touch and do more work in the future.

There is no doubt in my mind, general interfaith work is excellent and so much needed.  But there is something special in ‘doing’ together and not just in talking.

And I, as a Muslim woman, am really excited about the idea of working with some of the amazing Jewish women I have met over the past couple of weeks.   We have a lot to learn from them and together I think we can do so much.

Thanks to Mitzvah Day for giving me the motivation to be involved in what I think will be some great and much needed work going forward.


Leave a Reply

  • as
    30th November 2011 at 9:42 am

    Johnathan Romain is an amazing community leader; I’m glad our community benefits from having people like him in charge…this initiative bares testament to the fact that he and his congregation has their priorities right, may God bless their positive efforts; I really hope we can learn from the immense good they’re doing in our community. It saddens me how much we at our events only seem to sit and talk; how amazing would it be physically doing something constructive for our community, like even cleaning Baylis park up a little across the road from stoke poges lane mosque- every time we meet in congregations? Maybe then we wouldn’t have daft arguments over who should change the toilet paper in the bathrooms-

  • Name*
    18th March 2012 at 9:52 pm

    It is a beautiful event. People gathered to help, gathered to promote peace. I would love to go such a place where people with different faiths are concerned just about helping and nothing else.

  • Rob Deeks
    1st November 2012 at 5:58 pm

    Great post Julie – the young people from Aik Saath certainly enjoyed being a part of it and I’m hoping we can participate again this year – a great way of doing interfaith work.