Two faith groups that don’t typically celebrate Christmas are using the holiday season as an opportunity to give back.
The Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom (SOSS), a group of more than 100 Muslim and Jewish women formed earlier this year, say their inaugural event was inspired by both faiths’ shared values of giving to those in need.
“We share the idea of sadaqa or tzedakah,” said SOSS co-leader Cynthia Levine-Rasky. “It’s similar in Arabic and Hebrew. It means something like charity. It means giving and compassion.”
On Wednesday morning, about a dozen women donated winter clothes and toiletries during a holiday lunch at the neighbourhood drop-in centre Wychwood Open Door.
“I was approached and asked if Wychwood would like to be a recipient of support this year and jumped at it,” explained Bluma Teram, a community engagement coordinator at Wychwood Open Door and a member of the Sisterhood.
“We’re not here just for Muslims and Jews. All faiths share so much in common.”
The Sisterhood has several chapters across the U.S.; the GTA chapter is a first for Canada.
They say initiatives like theirs are more important than ever, especially when both groups are facing hate.
This week, anti-Semitic hate mail was sent to at least 12 synagogues across the country.
“It’s very sad and very scary for us,” says Tabinda Jotoi, a Muslim woman and member of the group.
“We are here to help our Jewish sisters to share the message of love and acceptance. From this platform we’re spreading the message we’re together — We’re united. “