One Soul

Learning to love our Muslim neighbors

I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others

—Thomas Jefferson

We live in difficult times. Bigotry and discrimination have become part of our everyday language. Civil discourse would seem practically impossible. People are looking for someone they can blame for just about anything.

In recent months, we have all seen an upsurge in public hostility toward the Muslim community in America. Presidential candidates have gone as far as calling for the deportation of Muslim citizens from this free country, and too many Americans have cheered at those words.

As a Jew, I know that we have centuries of awareness of what it is like to be a vulnerable minority, whose safety and freedom have often been at risk, and often been violated.

For five years, Congregation Shomrei Torah’s Social Action Committee was part of a Muslim-Jewish dialogue group. We learned that people, regardless of ethnicity, national origin or religion, basically want the same things out of life: a loving family, a chance to raise their children in a decent neighborhood, a good job, a home and to live in peace.

Muslims and Jews have a very long history of friendship, creative collaboration and mutual respect. In our pain over the political situation in Israel and Palestine, we sometimes forget this fact. Now is the time for us to remember.

It has been disturbing and frightening to read how the Muslim community is being scapegoated. On Sunday, March 13, from 3pm to 5pm, at Congregation Ner Shalom in Cotati, the Interfaith Council of Sonoma County will provide the citizens of Sonoma County—those of all faiths, or no faith at all—an opportunity to gather in friendship and support of our Muslim neighbors. There will be education, music and food offered. People will have an opportunity to lend their distinctive voice to the harmony to what it is to be “Of One Soul.” We hope you can join us.

Larry Carlin serves on Congregation Shomrei Torah’s Social Action Committee, and is a member of the Interfaith Council of Sonoma County.

Open Mic is a weekly feature in the ‘Bohemian.’ We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write [email protected].