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Discussion with Sabeeha Rehman & Walter Ruby, Authors of We Refuse to Be Enemies: How Muslims and Jews Can Make Peace, One Friendship at a Time

Monday, May 17, 2021 6 Sivan 5781

12:00 PM - 1:30 PMZoom link emailed upon registration

On Pesach, we celebrate our liberation from slavery; 49 days later, on Shavuot, we celebrate receiving the Torah’s wisdom at Mt Sinai. 

This year, to celebrate Shavuot, we’ll be welcoming Sabeeha Rehman together with Walter Ruby to discuss their new book, We Refuse to Be Enemies. You might remember Sabeeha who spoke at Open to the Sky a few years ago about her book Threading my Prayer Rug, about her experiences as a Pakistani Muslim in America. 

We Refuse to Be Enemies is a manifesto by two American citizens concerned with the rise of intolerance and bigotry in our country. Together Rehman and Ruby have spent decades doing interfaith work and nurturing cooperation among communities. They have learned that, through face-to-face encounters, people of all backgrounds can come to know each other as fellow human beings. In this book, they share their experience and guidance. 

This on-line event, led by Cantor Ellen Gersh will include singing, silence and learning.


Sabeeha Rehman is the blogger, public speaker and author of the memoir, “Threading My Prayer Rug. One Woman’s Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim”.  The book was Short-Listed for the 2018 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, received Honorable Mention in Spirituality, by the San Francisco Book Festival Awards 2017, and was listed as Top 10 Religion and Spirituality Books 2016; Top 10 Diverse Nonfiction Books 2017, by Booklist. She was selected by Wiki Ezvid as 5 Non-Fiction Writers Telling Captivating Stories. She is an op-ed contributor to the Houses of Worship column of the Wall Street Journal. Her pieces have been published in the New York Daily News, Forward,, Tiferet and 

Sabeeha migrated from Pakistan to the United States in 1971, after her marriage to a Pakistani doctor in New York.  She holds a Masters in Healthcare Administration, and has had a 25-year career as a hospital executive.  Her career spanned hospitals in New York, New Jersey, and Saudi Arabia.

When her grandson Omar was diagnosed with autism, she left her career as a healthcare executive, and devoted herself to serving families affected by autism.  In 2008, she co-founded the National Autism Association New York Metro chapter and served as its President from 2008-2011. 

As a public speaker, Ms. Rehman has spent several decades engaging in interfaith dialogue, including keynote speaker. Since the publication of her book, she has given over 250 talks in nearly a hundred cities at houses of worship, academic institutions, libraries, and community organizations, including Chautauqua Institution. She has lectured on the art of memoir writing at academic institutions including Hunter College, New York; and is a moderator for the Yorkville Writing Circle of the New York Public Library. 

Sabeeha serves as a board member of the Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee, and the National Autism Assoc. New York Metro chapter. She has served as a judge in the non-fiction writing contest for Tiferet. She blogs on topics related to American Muslim experience and current events on her website at

Ms. Sabeeha Rehman lives in New York City with her husband Khalid, a retired Hematologist/Oncologist. They have two sons and four grandchildren.

Walter Ruby had a life-changing experience as a reporter covering the World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace in Seville, Spain in 2006, and decided to dedicate himself going forward to the mission of nurturing ties of communication, reconciliation and cooperation between Jews and Muslims. 

 From 2008-2017, as Muslim-Jewish Relations Director at the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, Ruby acted as a new kind of shadchan (Yiddish for matchmaker); bringing together grass roots Muslims and Jews across the United States and around the world for dialogue, friendship building and joint community service actions. He also worked to build lasting bonds between synagogues and mosques and Muslim and Jewish organizations. Walter presently serves as executive director of Jews, Muslims and Allies Acting Together (JAMAAT), an eclectic community of Muslim, Jewish and Interfaith activists in Greater Washington, and as coordinator of the Washington Area Chapter of Project Rozana, which works to strengthen ties between Israelis and Palestinians through health care. 

Ruby worked as a journalist for more than 30 years; writing for the Jerusalem Post, Ma’ariv, The Forward, New York Jewish Week, London Jewish Chronicle, Washington Jewish Week, Long Island Jewish World and other publications. During his career, he had postings in Haifa, Israel, New York and Moscow, and covered stories of Jewish interest or related to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in varied locales including Algiers, Geneva, Berlin, Cairo, Mumbai, Reykjavik, Bogota and Asuncion. Walter is a co-author, together with his brother Dan Ruby, of the recently published memoir of Holocaust survivor Michael Edelstein entitled “Live Another Day: How I Survived the Holocaust and Realized the American Dream”. Ruby presently writes a blog focused primarily on politics entitled Walter Ruby: Keeping Hope Alive.

A passionate traveler with a penchant for long distance rambles on foot. Walter lives with his wife Tanya in Frederick, Maryland.

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Tue, June 22 2021 12 Tammuz 5781