by Fareeda Bader
On the afternoon of Sunday, the 8th of October, a group of ten Muslim women with their children were invited to visit Wimbledon Synagogue. For many, it was our first such experience and we were very warmly welcomed by Adele, co-chair of the Nisa-Nashim South West Group, and other Jewish ladies who helped to organise the day.
We were invited into the main hall where our guide, Caroline, showed us the key features of the synagogue: the raised platform, the ever-present light above and the presence of some Hebrew writing on the wall – in this case, the Ten Commandments. She also showed us the important Ark where the five holy scrolls are kept, and the children were keen to help out by showing these and trying on the skull caps.
Next, we were taken outside to a temporary shelter known as the Sukkah, where we learnt about the festival of Sukkot and its significance. We heard a Jewish prayer being recited and then tasted some special bread and grape juice.
At the end, we were invited to share some delicious refreshments kindly made by our Jewish friends and were able to chat and learn more over tea and coffee.
We were all struck by the similarity between the synagogue and mosque as a place of worship: its simplicity, the fact that it is devoid of any images or statues and the reverence shown toward the holy book.
It was a positive and enjoyable experience for both adults and children and we all learnt a lot from the trip. We now look forward to our next project early in the new year when we will be making bread together.