On  November 16th the Oldham ‘CHAI women project, led by Najma Khalid with a group of Pakistani Muslim women, visited a Synagogue in Gatley in Cheshire. They were hosted by Marilyn Berg and other Jewish women from Cheadle and Gatley. They were splendid hosts. The guests thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Over tea, the women spent a delightful morning, with a heart warming sharing of their similar traditions regarding preparation of food, talking about their families, a recipe book produced by the CHAI group and children books written by one member, Sue Stern. Marilyn, Vice-Chair of the Jewish women and a trained comedian entertained the ladies with lots of jokes. The Muslim women guests were taken on a tour of the synagogue.The event ended with the holding of a banner, ‘WeStandForOneAnother’ and lots of warm hugs.

This event was organized by Qaisra Shahraz, Co-Chair of Faith Network 4 Manchester (FN4M), an international author & educationist  and an executive member of the Muslim Jewish Forum, as part of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding ‘Season of Twinning’. The women will meet again on January 13th and chat over tea and samosas in Oldham, celebrating their unity and togetherness again, in an event hosted by the CHAI group this time. As well as some taking part in the Synagogue Mitzvah day.

Participants of the twinning event enjoyed the experience to meet together:

‘We really enjoyed ourselves and it was great to meet the Muslim women from Oldham. It was as though we had always known each other and were, indeed, old friends.’Marilyn Berg (Jewish Host) 

“It was a fabulous event for all the women that attended.  We were greeted with warmth, love & understanding.  Great hospitality, sharing of stories,  faith and culture was valuable knowledge. The Jewish women are so lovely.  We have so much in common, great to be part of such a cohesion event, which breaks barriers and brings us together so we are all united, can’t wait to meet again”.  Najma Khalid (Muslim Host)

” It was an excellent event promoting cohesion.  It is very much needed in this current time.  It broke a lot of barriers and was a pleasant experience” – Shabana Parven

June who was in attendance expressed, “I felt our meeting with the ladies from Oldham was very memorable. It was as though we met as strangers and parted as family!”

Safina Yousaf  “Enjoyed this wonderful experience with some wonderful ladies.  definitely would love to do this again”

Ambreen Raja “It was a fab day with wonderful and beautiful ladies.  I learned so much about Judaism and women.  Thank you so much”

Shazia Iqbal  “It was a great day, very much needed, I really enjoyed my time with them.  Learned a lot.  Looking forward to meeting them again”

‘We had an amazing experience.  The warmth, hospitality, love, friendliness, understanding is a treasure and will always be remembered.  The time went too quickly and we wish we could hear more and share more.  A lot of barriers were broken and we gained so much knowledge.  All women are so lovely and interesting, each person that attended was amazing and we are so looking forward to meeting again.  This sort of unity is so important and we are all so passionate about standing together. (Muslim participant)

Two other twinning events are planned by FN4M. An event with Jewish pupils from Kind David High School visiting Manchester Islamic Girls High School in Manchester on 23rd November. The third Twinning event is an exciting university Multi-Faith event, ‘We Stand For One Another’ celebrating unity, diversity and community cohesion with students of different faiths and community members, with food from different countries.

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