Rabbi Judy Schindler and others are encouraging non-Muslim women to show their solidarity with Muslim women on Wednesday by donning hijabs, or head scarves, for World Hijab Day.
Schindler, who now directs the Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice at Queens University of Charlotte, said she wanted to do something as a sign of her support for Muslims in Charlotte and for Muslim refugees banned from entering the United States because of President Trump’s executive order on refugees over the weekend, which was targeted at seven Muslim-majority countries.
“As a Jew, I feel it is my obligation to speak out in support of other minorities,” she said. “My father was a refugee (from Germany), fleeing the Holocaust. Jews were clearly turned away (from the United States) in the 1940s. They heard much of the same rhetoric then that we are hearing now.”
Schindler, rabbi emerita at Charlotte’s Temple Beth El, has posted a photo of herself wearing a hijab on her website and on Facebook and has urged others to wear the head scarf on World Hijab Day.
Among the responses from her Facebook friends: Two Jewish friends who are traveling Wednesday “reflecting on what it would mean to travel (wearing a hijab),” Schindler said. “That could be more fearful.”
According to the website Arabs in America (sponsored by the University of North Carolina Center for Global Initiatives), the hijab most commonly worn in the West “is a square scarf that covers the head and neck, but leaves the face clear.” The hijab is worn for several reasons, including modesty and reflecting “one’s personal devotion to God,” the website says.
“While most Muslim women wear the hijab for religious reasons, there are other Arab or Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab as an expression of their cultural identity,” the website says.
On Monday, Rose Hamid, president of Muslim Women of the Carolinas, posted the photo of Schindler wearing a hijab on her Facebook page.
“Yes, there are awful things happening in the world,” Hamid wrote. “But these are the things that bring me joy. ... My dear friend Rabbi Judy Schindler supporting World Hijab Day.”
Last Saturday, Hamid’s group sponsored a “Muslim Connection” get-together that drew many more non-Muslim women than expected.
The event at Amelie’s French Baker and Cafe in NoDa was designed to forge “a heart-to-heart connection” between Muslim women and non-Muslim women, Hamid said on Facebook. “I thought maybe 30 people would show up. We had over 100.”
One non-Muslim woman passed out yard signs that read: “We Support Our Muslim Sisters & Brothers.”
Atif Chaudry, the imam, or prayer leader, at the Islamic Society of Greater Charlotte, said he’d gotten supportive calls in recent days from Rabbi Schindler and Presbyterian clergy.
“Regardless of all the negativity (in the news),” he said, “we’re still very hopeful because of all the positive feedback from faith-based organizations that stand for equality and inclusiveness.”
At 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, another Charlotte mosque will have a “World Hijab Day Debriefing.” Along with Muslim Women of the Carolinas, the mosque, the Muslim American Society at 4301 Shamrock Drive, is inviting those who experienced the day wearing a hijab to come and share their experiences.