The Daughters of Abraham meet monthly at various houses of worship, including those for Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
A good friend took me to meet the Daughters of Abraham. Their meeting that evening was held at the MAS Islamic Center of Dallas. I followed those entering in front of us, leaving my shoes in a cubby in the hall, choosing a plateful of Muslim-inspired snacks, then sitting at a long table beside two strangers who fast became friends.
The Daughters, as we call ourselves, is a group of Jewish, Christian and Muslim women who get together monthly, rotating our meeting place between three houses of worship.
Our purpose is to gain personal awareness and individual growth; the group is neither political nor deliberately scholarly. Women of all ages and backgrounds invite friends to come and get to know others, then add their email contact to a growing list.
We enjoy no leadership hierarchy or subscription, just gather together on the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. Our meeting places are Temple Emanu-El, MAS Islamic Center and several different Christian churches in the Dallas area.
The organization was launched in 2001 when Janice Lord of Fort Worth, prompted by the tragedy of Sept. 11, explored a way for women to come together to freely express their feelings and thoughts about it and endeavor to find a path toward mutual understanding and ultimately a peaceful interfaith dialogue.
Now there are chapters all over the Dallas/Fort Worth/Arlington Metroplex, and the sense of welcome and friendship is tangible in each one. Daughters of Abraham meetings offer an opportunity for the development of personal relationships among women of differing backgrounds, both cultural and religious. No one denies the differences of their faiths, but the focus is on similarities, and as authentic friendships developed, the differences seemed to matter less and less.
Members of DofA are sometimes asked to visit with local organizations, civic organizations and religious school classes. An unofficial leadership team composed of a member of each of the Abrahamic faiths gives an informal explanation of the purpose of DofA, talks about her personal connection with the group and answers questions from her individual perspective. It is important to convey that everyone in DofA presents her opinions from her own life experiences and does not presume to speak for all who share her religion.
Every December, our group decides the topics for discussions that will take place throughout the coming year. Just last month, our Christian coordinator, the Rev. Dawn Anderson, shared a list of topics our chapter had discussed since the founding of the Dallas Chapter in 2012. The variety is amazing.
As well as the predictable subjects, directly related to our religious backgrounds, we include several that in another setting might have proved controversial. We have shared our views on the stereotypes and misconceptions of each other’s religion and medicine (which included ethics, euthanasia and organ donations), and we also talked about gender roles, though these differ less from each than they did a couple of generations ago.
For 2021, a few of the topics that have been chosen are “Social/Racial Justice,” “Our Purpose/Why Are We Here?” and “COVID, Faith and Grief.”
Some meetings are more lighthearted as we describe our festivals like Passover, Ramadan and Easter; our weddings (some brought their commemorative photo albums); and the traditions for naming our children.
Snacks have always had a special appeal, often related to our religion’s traditions. Many bring homemade snacks. Others grab a packet of chocolate chippers as they hasten in from the office. We don’t hesitate to ask for the recipes of any particularly delicious, previously untasted delicacy. It’s not competitive, but the homemade contributions are always favorites.
The atmosphere is always congenial, even when we tackle topics that may worry us personally or within our religious settling, for example sexual harassment, death, afterlife and burial rituals, divorce and singleness. For many of us talking about these topics is cathartic.
It is often difficult to avoid talking about politics, but we do our best to stay true to the purpose of Daughters of Abraham, finding a way through respectful and enriching dialogue to develop personal relationships.
Our lofty goal is to discover and understand that we are indeed more alike than we are different.
Follow DofA’s Facebook page.
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