Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom Boston Chapter #3

This data was last updated on 29 October, 2020.

Address: Boston, MA

Mission: Our mission is to build trust, respect, and relationships between American and Canadian Muslim and Jewish women and teenage girls.  Together the women commit to end acts of anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim sentiment, stand up for one another when hate is aimed at our communities and engage in social action work. 

History: The Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom began in New Jersey in 2010 with Atiya Aftab and Sheryl Olitzky. The original group was founded on the notion that “women navigate the world through relationships” and aimed to build bridges between Muslim and Jewish women in order to fight against hate, prejudice, and negative stereotyping. Seven years later, Janet Penn started the third Boston chapter of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom. Despite some initial difficulty finding Muslim co-leaders, The Boston Chapter #3 held its inaugural meeting on May 7, 2017. Although Penn was originally drawn to creating the chapter as a platform for social activism, the chapter has most benefited from the dialogue and relationship building taking place at chapter meetings and events. Since the inaugural meeting in May 2017, Boston Chapter #3 has participated in bystander training, organized vigils, and attended various community events such as the Cambridge Women’s March.

Demographics: Each chapter of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom is headed by Muslim and Jewish co-leaders. Boston Chapter #3 is unique in that is headed by four co-leaders, two from each faith. It situates itself among over 150 chapters nationwide - four being in Boston-  each with unique membership situations. Boston Chapter #3 consists of about twenty members with an average of about twelve women attending each meeting. Jewish women make up a slight majority of the group’s membership. The Jewish members tend to be older empty nesters with more free time than the younger Muslim women in the group, who tend to be young professionals with demanding careers and children at home.  In lieu of strict geographic restrictions, membership is organized organically through personal networks of interest.

Activities and Schedule: While meeting times differ from chapter to chapter, Boston Chapter #3 tends to meet every four to six weeks. Meetings take place in chapter members’ homes, which helps form relationships and build community. During meetings, chapter members choose topics to guide their discussions. Each chapter participates in different activities outside of regular meetings, based on their interests and focus. Boston Chapter #3 has been actively involved in not only attending, but also organizing events in their communities. In May 2017, the chapter organized a solidarity vigil on Boston Common in response to the bombing at a concert venue in Manchester, England. The chapter also attended a vigil for Nabra Hassanen in June 2017, the Mother’s March for Peace in May 2018, and various other community events.  

Partnerships: Although the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom in Boston holds no formal partnerships, Boston Chapter #3 regularly participates in community activities. Each chapter also has access to National programming, including Building Bridges trips and the annual Muslim Jewish Women’s Conference. As the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom in Boston grows, it hopes to communicate more between local and national chapters, and leverage its network to more completely fulfill the organization's goals of bridge building and fighting against hate, prejudice, and negative stereotyping. Members also hope to see the creation of teen chapters in the near future.