Today is Shavuot, not usually a day I’d spend on the computer. BUT the news today has been terrible: Last night someone shot a number of people in a LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida. So, I wanted to share my comforting news. This blog post won’t heal injuries. It can’t undo any murders. BUT I need something positive/productive to focus on, and I thought I might not be the only one.
Last night, I was honored to teach at Congregation Agudas Achim, the congregation who generously hosts a Community-Wide Shavuot Celebration every year. (Thanks for the cheesecake and the warm welcome, as always, y’all.)
I study Hebrew Bible at Brite Divinity School, at Texas Christian University. I’ve been working on my ThM Thesis since November 2015. I’m struggling with staying “focused & disciplined” as wisely instructed by my advisor. I’m working on my “scholarly voice.” I’m slow, BUT I’m grateful that this lengthy process has given me the opportunity to learn so much. Of course, I want to share what I’ve been learning. So, when my friend Dr. Harvey Raben asked me my topic, I quickly answered: “The Mother of Moses in the Quran and the Hebrew Bible.”
Last night at 10:30pm (!) I welcomed about 25 lovely people who came to learn more about Yocheved/Um Musa. During the course of our discussion, I had occasion to ask some questions.
Q: How many of you have read a little of the Quran before?
A: Many raised hands.
Q: How many of you want to study more Quran?
A: More raised hands.
Q: How many of you want to learn more about the Quran because you think it will make the world a little better?
A: Almost all the hands raised.
I want to say thank you to these folks. Thank you for studying with me. Thank you for choosing a class without a very sexy title or blurb. Thank you for staying up until 11:30pm discussing some challenging texts. Thank you for pushing yourself to try something new.
Today, I take comfort in having met a nice group of people who want to make the world better by breaking down walls and opening doors. Many of our neighbors don’t want to move out of their comfort zones to learn new things and meet new people. You and I both know people who paint Islam, the Quran, and Muslim people with one broad brush. Those folks are not going to be the ones who repair what is broken in our world.
So, here are a few closing words:
- If you want to learn more Quran, you should check these out –The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary AND/OR The Message of the Qur’an.
- If you want to meet some cool Muslims, look on line for Open Houses and various learning opportunities at Muslim Community Centers in your neighborhood. This year I attended the Pre-Ramadan Open House at the North Austin Muslim Community Center and it was uplifting, welcoming, interesting, and delicious.
- Dr. Raben and I talked briefly about experimenting with an interfaith text-study class next semester at Agudas Achim. If you are interested, please reach out to us. Even if we only study briefly, casually, I believe that we can learn more together and maybe even attract some Muslim friends to study with us.
- Check out the Interfaith Ramadan Blog curated by Sarah Ager. Reading this blog is a super easy way to enter into interfaith relationship. You can read it in the comfort of your own home, in your own time. Reading these authors/teachers is a fun way to learn more about being Muslim from the Muslim writers and about interfaith opportunities from the non-Muslim writers. (I’m not just saying this because Sarah invited me to write this year. I promise.)
- Please share your interfaith success stories. People around us need to hear about the positive, productive results of connecting with people who aren’t exactly like us. Thank you.