WellesleyWeston Magazine


Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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Page 123 of 211

prior gathering, the women listened to Farhana share themes from her novel — The Garden of My Imaan — about a fifth grade Muslim girl looking to fit in at her school in New England. The book reflects themes that are relevant to the group, such as assimilation, racism, tol- erance, and belonging. Many of the Muslim Neighbor to Neighbor members are first-generation Americans; many of the Jewish members are children of immigrants. In addition to sharing food and treasured items, the women partici- pate in service and cultural activities together, as well. For example, this fall they served dinner at Pearl Street Cupboard & Café in Framingham to guests who were hungry or in need of community. And they came together at the ICB to watch and discuss the award-winning film David about a Muslim boy in Brooklyn struggling to find his place in the world while concealing his identity and inadvertently befriending a group of Jewish boys. Alike and Diverse at the Same Time Muslims and Jews actually have much in common. The monotheistic belief of Islam —"God is One"— is consistent with Judaism's, expressed in Deuteronomy 6:4 – 9 and the central Shema prayer — "Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God, The Lord is One." Both religions are organized around laws and both share the values of prayer, pilgrimage, charity, family responsibility, fasting, tolerance, and more. A Muslim partici- pant in Neighbor to Neighbor points out a fundamental bond, stating, "Every day we pray five times to Abraham, the patriarch of Judaism and Islam, and his descendants." Mary Lahaj, a Muslim of Syrian/Lebanese descent, grew up know- ing little about her faith. During her youth there was no mosque to worship at in New England and no community of Muslims anywhere near her hometown of Weymouth. But as an adult, Mary was spiritu- ally driven to learn more. In the 1980s, Mary worked as a secretary at the first mosque in New England — located in Quincy, and founded in 1964 by her parents and grandparents while she lived out of state. Serendipitously, while employed at the mosque, Mary came across a brochure from the Hartford Seminary promoting interfaith education. At the seminary's Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, the country's oldest center of its kind, Mary earned a master's degree and became a chaplain and cultural and interfaith consultant. Neighbor to Neighbor 122 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | s u m m e r 2 0 1 6

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