LOS GATOS, CA
A Weekend of Twinning event at Congregation Shir Hadash (Los Gatos, CA), with the participation of members of the Bay Area Chapter of the Muslim-American Society (MAS), Islamic Networks Group (ING) and Shir Hadash (text submitted by Rabbi Melanie Aron, Congregation Shir Hadash).
We had a good experience Friday night despite all the hiccups in getting organized.
We filled 9 tables of 8, each with at least one, and sometimes two Muslim guests, and the rest members of the congregation. 12 were teachers and the rest interested Muslims and Jews of a variety of ages from 10th grade to senior citizens. The Muslim guests came from MAS and from ING. Our Muslim guests were from Egyptian, Indian, Pakistani, Somali and Finnish backgrounds.
Bhawana Kamil, president of the Bay Area Chapter of MAS gave a great talk on the subject of “The Muslim American Immigrant Experience”. Her talk was really well received and touched on the distinction between the terms ‘Muslim’ and ‘Arab’, which are sometimes mistakenly used interchangeably by non-Arabs and non-Muslims, on the waves of Muslim immigration to the United States, on her own experience and on the issues of Muslims post 9-11 wanting to be both American and Muslim and feeling that is sometimes closed off to them.
We had discussions at each of the tables, with each person—Jew and Muslim alike– being asked to address three questions: How is it that your family came to the United States? When have you felt excluded from American society? When have you felt most proud to be an American? We found that everyone had something to say on these themes, and since these discussions were held at the dinner from 6-8pm, which preceded the service at which Bhawana spoke, the discussion provided a great foundation for hearing her remarks.
I’ll be interested to hear how it went in other congregations.