Prior to the NewGround Fellowship, we would not have expected Jews and Muslims to be natural allies or resources for mutual support. However, after the tragedies of The Tree of Life Synagogue, the Christchurch Mosque shootings, the Mosque Fire in Escondido and the Passover Poway attack, we realized that this expectation was deeply misguided. Granted, we were already building bridges as participants in a fellowship whose stated goal is to bring our religious groups together; but our bonds grew as our respective communities were rocked by bigotry, violence, and hate.
When the Jews in our group woke up to texts from our Muslims cohort reaching out to condemn the attacks and to ensure our families were safe and to know that we are loved; we were changing and growing. When the Muslims were held by the Jews when the horror was unleashed in New Zealand, we were appalled to be providing comfort after another terror attack. We stood with each other at vigils. We hugged each other to give and receive a moment of human relief. We shared the same pain, fear, disbelief, confusion, and exhaustion. We know what it is to be hated because of our religion. We know that there is some form of violence directed at our communities every day.
With these events as a backdrop, our cohort wanted to address mental health issues in our communities as we were trying to make sense of our emotions. This grappling yielded the creation of a mental health podcast for Muslims and Jews. The podcast was generated to be a tool for others as a resource and a guide. In it, we discuss mental health, stigma, marginalization, and Islamophobia/anti-Semitism. We share personal stories and experiences, feelings, fears, and pain. We talk with experts in our communities to give us guidance and grounding. We scratched the surface of these topics, but this is a starting point. Our goal is to provide resources to our audience and communities who might want help to sort out their questions and feelings, as we all strive to move to greater mental wellness.
Releasing a podcast about mental health in the Muslim and Jewish communities feels like an incredibly relevant resource given today’s political and cultural climate. “Shalom, Salaam, Peace of Mind” is something we all deserve and is the title of our podcast. As members of minority religions in this country, this peace can feel elusive. It has been a blessing to create something that might be of use to others to ease their pain. Our fellowship cohort, which has been bookended by tragedies, has found a way to bring us together and more resilient than before.
We know we are less alone. We know that our Jewish friends will be there to hold our hands and our Muslims friends will give us ample hugs. We will stand up for and with each other through the tears and the hate and the blood. We know this because it has already happened. We pray that it will not happen again, like we do after every tragedy, and perhaps the stronger our communities become the less likely these acts will be. It will continue to be a blessing to nurture the relationships we have built among ourselves to help us through the dark days and into the light that lies ahead.
Half of your donation would go to support local mental health organizations.
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