Every time I find myself in a room with the Nisa-Nashim (N-N) ladies, I always feel so energised, inspired, loved, welcome and just absolutely positively wonderful! The positive energy and love in the room is (I’m 100% sure!) felt by every single one of the inspiring ladies in this movement. And inspirational is really only a drop in the ocean when describing the work being done by Nisa-Nashim both locally and nationally.
As the biggest (and possibly only!) organisation of its kind in Europe – second only to the fabulous Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom based across the pond in the USA – Nisa-Nashim is leading the way. Nisa-Nashim is breaking down barriers, dismantling misconceptions and negative stereotypes and building friendships amongst Jewish and Muslim women across the UK. It’s bringing together a diverse group of women within the different faith communities themselves in a climate of growing Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. This is crucial as these diverse yet two incredibly similar faith communities sadly do not always come together as much as they should. And this is what makes the work of Nisa-Nashim work so crucial and innovative!
As Co-Chair of the Marylebone group based at West London Synagogue, I was blessed to be able to join lots of wonderful fellow Co-Chairs, trustees, staff and members of Nisa-Nashim at last weekend’s retreat in Derby. And what a wonderful weekend it was!
Being an overnight retreat, it was the first of its kind and no doubt, many of us were feeling anywhere from tired to shattered by the end of the two days with the busy schedule, end of a long working week and journey to Derby (and in my case late night staying up chatting!) but nonetheless, we all left Derby feeling truly energised, inspired and truly invigorated. And that’s the power of Nisa-Nashim!
From Sunday to Monday, I laughed, I cried, I smiled and of course I would at a jump at the chance to do it all over again any day of the week! From welcoming the lovely Pearls of Islam for a bonding drumming session singing “salaam, shalom” (peace in both Arabic and Hebrew) and hearing about the horrors of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism from the wonderful Deputy Director of Hope Not Hate (and member of N-N herself) Jemma Levene to come together to provide insight, feedback and solutions to the work we’re doing, the weekend offered a productive, informative yet fun opportunity to regroup, refresh, reconnect and reenergise for the year ahead. I for one am super excited about making 2019 bigger and better than ever and that’s definitely the feeling that came out all round by the end of the retreat.
You see, women really do have a knack of building bonds, friendship and communicating in such deep ways and this is what makes us able to build great, profound change. It’s a wonder why there aren’t more movements like this out there to be honest. So, to whoever said that Muslims and Jews don’t “get on” or that “men do it better” – well I think quite frankly: we’ve proved you all wrong! The power, strength, energy and love of the all of the amazing women in the room is something I don’t think I’ve ever really experienced before in any other space. That to me is personal incredibly special. As an individual, it makes me feel truly welcomed, accepted and blessed. On a collective level and wider scale: it is what keeps us going, what inspires us and what is positively changing our local, national and even global landscape one (very big!) step at a time!
So thank you Julie, Laura, Clare and everyone at Nisa-Nashim for the amazing work, the tireless preparation and the inspirational energy you put in help make events such as the retreat and everything else at N-N possible. And of course, thank you fellow N-N ladies for being quite frankly so darn awesome! Together we can – and are – making a difference. We are changemakers ladies – and don’t forget it!
Credits and acknowledgements:
Written by: Elizabeth Arif-Fear, Co-Chair Nisa-Nashim Marylebone
Article first published by Nisa-Nahim (23/10/2018)