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Hanukkah celebration provides opportunity to observe similarities

Source: MARGARET SMYKLA on December 26, 2019, Link to Source

Religious celebrations don’t have to focus on what sets us apart. They can also celebrate what we have in common.

That was the message at the kickoff of Hanukkah at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh in Squirrel Hill, as Jewish and Muslim members of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom shared similarities in their customs, beliefs and language. The similarities, they noted, far outnumber the differences.

For instance, traditional Judaism follows the intercalculated solar and lunar calendar, while Muslims follow the lunar calendar.

Salaam in Arabic and shalom in Hebrew both mean peace.

Tzedakah in Hebrew and sadaqah in Arabic both mean charity.

The Sisterhood was at the JCC on Dec. 22 — the beginning of Hanukkah — for Tzedakah/​Sadaqah Day, which they co-sponsored with the JCC’s Center for Loving Kindness, in which mostly new baby items, like blankets, winter clothing and toys, were collected.

The items will be donated to the Jewish Family and Community Service — Refugee Services, and the Somali Bantu Community Association.

“A month ago the Sisterhood expressed an interest in a joint Tzedakah/​Sadaqah Day in celebration of the shared values of giving in Judaism and Islam,” said Rabbi Ron Symons, the JCC’s senior director of Jewish Life and director of the Center for Loving Kindness. “The JCC is the town square of Squirrel Hill, so when people want to do good, we open up the doors.”