[NOTE: Zeinab Schwen is a member of CAIR-Ohio's statewide board and is chair of the CAIR-Cincinnati board.]
After reading a news account of local Muslims' concerns over growing Middle East violence, Bloomfield, a Jew, called one of the women quoted in the story. She invited Zeinab Schwen to come to her home and begin to sort through issues that threatened to divide the region, the world, and Jewish and Muslim women like themselves.
Schwen accepted on the spot.
There is much to commend in these women's actions, and much to learn from them.
Today's world is so small that a shot fired in Lebanon can ricochet all the way to Hamilton County. It can separate people here as fiercely as people there, halt communication, lead people to live in suspicion and fear, and feed bigotry. It can compromise the culture of a classroom, where Jewish and Muslim students sit side by side. It can steal goodwill from a diverse neighborhood. It can make for workplace tensions, social isolation and religious intolerance.
Americans can work for peace in the Middle East - staying informed on the issues, sending humanitarian aid - but they cannot wait for it to resolve differences of opinion with their compatriots.
"Pick up the phone or ring your neighbor's doorbell," Ellen Bloomfield recommends. Be brave enough and bold enough to let people of other faiths or ethnic backgrounds know you are interested in their perspective and care about the difficulties they or their families face.