Rabbi Sigma Faye Coran opened the doors of the Holy Ark, a tall, ornate closet in Rockdale Temple’s chapel containing six hand-written copies of the Torah, and chose one scroll.
She opened the holy text, written on parchment made from a kosher animal, and set it on the pulpit.
“Come on up here and take a look,” she beckoned her audience.
Her visitors, female Muslim members of the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati in West Chester and its masjid (mosque in Arabic), filled in around her as she read the page, right to left, in Hebrew.
For nearly two hours on Wednesday, the group of 40 women, half of them Muslim and half Jewish, toured the temple on Ridge Road. Two years ago the Jewish women – members of Women of Reform Judaism Rockdale Temple Sisterhood – took a similar trip to the masjid in West Chester.
The meeting had been arranged by Shakila Ahmad, co-founder of Muslim Mothers Against Violence, and Jan Muhlbaum from Rockdale. Ahmad and Muhlbaum met through the Mason School District’s Diversity Council.
“Here, we can disregard our differences and come together,” said Homa Yavar, a Muslim living in West Chester and a member of the anti-violence group, organized locally after the July 7, 2005, bombings in London when 52 people died, including four young Muslim men who blew themselves up in an attack on the city’s public transportation system.
These groups, and interfaith events like one held last October at the Islamic Center called “Islam and Christianity: A Dialogue,” encourage exploring other religions, Yavar said.