On 13 and 14 November, our Co-Chairs from all around England gathered in London for their annual retreat.
This was part of Nisa-Nashim’s ongoing pioneering work to bring together the Jewish and Muslim communities through the women, a challenge particularly after the flare up of hostilities in Israel/Gaza earlier this year.
The weekend started with a visit to a Mosque – the Brick Lane Jamme Masjid – to hear the fascinating history of the building and give the Muslim women a chance to pray Isha, the evening prayer, before going for dinner.
This mosque, located in the heart of Tower Hamlets, has a rich history of serving its community since the mid eighteenth century; first as a church, then as a synagogue and now as a mosque, and so it was a meaningful place to start what was to be a weekend of sisterhood, robust discussion and introspection.
The next day saw our women engage in a session titled “Difficult Conversations and Nisa Nashim” with founder and President of BIMA (Belief in Mediation and Arbitration) Dr Zaza Elsheikh. Her ability to firmly but carefully dissect the issues that she labelled ‘the elephants in the room’ allowed the group the safe space to discuss issues that affect Muslim/Jewish relations, and what tools can be used to effectively work through these.
The group visited Sandy’s Row Synagogue for a tour and a history of London’s oldest surviving and still functioning Ashkenazi synagogue from the President, Harvey Rifkind.
The afternoon was spent building stronger community bonds, and participating in a social action activity for Mitzvah Day, a day of faith based social action. The women left late on Sunday, full of new ideas to take back to their home town and network.
Our Director and co-founder, Laura Marks OBE, said “it has never been more important to build bridges between communities than now and I was delighted by the determination of our women to tackle such challenging issues”
Our Chair of trustees, Hifsa Iqbal MBE said “I was so proud of our women and so delighted to be part of this uplifting, positive engagement which, we believe, will bring lasting change.”