Let them eat (halal/kosher) cake!


The San Francisco Chronicle writes about a group of Jewish and Muslim women bonding over pastries:

As Israel rained bombs on Gaza and anti-Semitic attacks hop-scotched across Europe this month, Hakima Milati worked the phones, inviting Jewish and Muslim women to visit the main mosque and synagogue in the eastern central city of Lyon.

It didn’t take long to book the 60 places available for the event, which included a Kosher meal, said Milati, a Muslim. "I’ve had to turn people away." …

The violence represents perhaps the biggest challenge to date for Milati’s Jewish-Muslim women’s group, Peace Builders. The organization of some 500 women was founded in 2002 by French Jewish journalist Annie-Paule Derczansky after she covered a story on Israeli-Palestinian women’s associations.

"What I realized was that women could still construct something together when it came to artistic and cultural things," said Derczansky. "It was on that basis that I told myself that I had to disconnect women in France from their differences over the Middle East and connect them with things that brought the two sides together."

Derczansky, who believes it’s a mother’s duty to instill a sense of tolerance in her children, began organizing debates over common heritage – many Jews and Muslims in France hail from North Africa. She organized movie nights featuring the 1991 film "Children Are Like Our Own Children, A Forgotten Resistance: The Mosque of Paris" that tells the story of how the mosque sheltered French resistance fighters and French Jews during World War II.

The women in the group also visit mosques and synagogues, learning about each others’ faiths. More recently, they began meeting once a month in a suburban Paris restaurant to bake baklava and other pastries.

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