On a recent Friday, members of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST) arrived at the Islamic Center at New York University in ponchos and rain boots. They dried their laminated signs that read, “Jewish New Yorkers support our Muslim neighbors,” and greeted worshippers attending the weekly Jummah Prayer.
Since the first Friday after the election of Donald Trump, when CBST’s Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum and her clergy team bought 150 red roses and stood outside the Islamic Center in solidarity, members of the synagogue have regularly visited the Islamic Center to fight intolerance and foster interfaith dialogue.
“The most important thing to somebody who’s being bullied is to know that there are people who are going to step forward,” Kleinbaum said. “And most bullies step down when other people step forward.”
CBST’s response to the election turned into House of Peace, an interfaith initiative. The informal group holds joint religious services and shared Seder and Iftar meals and classes on contemporary challenges facing Muslims and Jews in America. The portraits on these pages pair members of the synagogue and the Islamic Center.
“We want this to be a formal project that other synagogues can [copy],” Kleinbaum said. “It makes such a difference.”
Kathryn Ryan is a photographer in New York.