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 124 of 211

"Just as I started understanding and embracing Islam, the world was being introduced to Muslims as terrorists — first through coverage of the 1979 Iranian Revolution and then, in the '80s, through reports of Muslim extremists hijacking airplanes. People did not see the difference between one Muslim and another. Sometimes I was afraid to leave my house because a Muslim fanatic murdered a person in Paris," explains Mary. "People near our mosque worried, 'Are you these people?'" "Just as after 9/11, we needed then to build bonds with other faiths," describes Mary as the motivation for her career and her current interest in Neighbor to Neighbor. Weston resident Melanie Kucherlapati, a researcher in cancer genetics and a member of Shir Tikva, joined the group in the spirit of tikkun olam — Hebrew for "healing the world." "The time a person receives from another and gives in return is a mutual gift," expresses Melanie. "People are people" is a simple observation made by a fellow Neighbor to Neighbor participant, Thoraya Benotmane. "Perhaps if we focused on this, the world would be a more peaceful place." Thoraya was raised and educated in Meknes, Morocco. After meeting her husband-to-be in Casablanca, a quick courtship, and a six-month wait for her visa, she moved to the United States to join him. Thoraya considers her journey a "triple immigration"…"I came to Boston not speaking English and soon after gave birth to a son who is deaf, so I learned English and American Sign Language at the same time. Also, while Jews have lived in Morocco throughout history, in school we were never taught anything about Judaism. It wasn't until I emigrated that I got this chance." Thoraya elaborates, "I wish the world would stop judging and people of all faiths would get to know one another before labeling and stereotyping. Groups like Neighbor to Neighbor help build a new culture of interfaith acceptance and bring amity to the world. We are all tired of messages of hate and political agendas." Another ICB member and Neighbor to Neighbor participant, Nazda Alam of Weston, was also drawn to Neighbor to Neighbor for an opportunity to pursue peace in the world. Nazda moved to the United States from Bangladesh with her husband and their one-and-a-half-year old daughter in 1982 to attend graduate school in Houston. Currently a social worker with 123 s u m m e r 2 0 1 6 | W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e Sheila explaining the traditional use of the etrog box

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