Bahia Abrams and her book, The Other Half of My Soul, launch the first Interfaith Dialogue program at Grateful Steps Bookshop, January 17 at 5:30 p.m.
At a time when intercultural awareness is at an all-time high, a book about a taboo love affair between a Jewish woman and a Muslim man comes on the scene. The author, a Syrian Jew, writes skillfully and from first-hand knowledge. Despite the ancient proscriptions regarding such a relationship, the surprise is in the commonalities, not the contrasts, unveiled as the couple explores each other’s faith and customs.
A brotherhood intent on terrorism engages the romantic couple in page-turning adventures traversing seas and continents.
The cover of the book is remarkable in itself. On the front, the Islamic iconic symbol wraps as though in an embrace around the Star of David, while a cross in the logo of the publisher, Grateful Steps, adorns the book spine—truly an invitation in itself for some dialogue.
The book currently tops Amazon's e-book charts (#2 Islamic literature, #5 Jewish literature).
Bahia Abrams was born in Brooklyn, New York, to parents of Syrian Jewish heritage. Growing up within the confines of the closed, tight-knit Sephardic Syrian community, she understood the consequences of leaving the group and marrying an outsider, an Ashkenazie Jew.
After breaking away and marrying, Abrams raised three children and received her degree in journalism from the University of Maryland, the school she portrays in the book.
Making her home in theWashington,D.C. area, she worked for many years across a broad spectrum of disciplines. Beginning with American defense, Abrams climbed the ladder in corporate America, eventually engaged in such fields as aerospace, geographic information and global positioning systems. Working with Congress and government agencies and departments, she learned, first hand, about the realities of our government.
When her son narrowly escaped the World Trade Center attacks both in 1993 and on 9/11, she re-evaluated her life. Abrams’s dream for writing was magnified. Quitting her job, she moved with her husband to the mountains of Western North Carolina and followed a vision. The Other Half of My Soul was born.
Today, she speaks around the country at universities, Jewish Community Centers, synagogues, temples, churches and book-group gatherings. She provides an in-depth look at some of the characters in her novel and offers a lively discussion about the Syrian Jewish community, the divisional roots of Sephardic and Ashkenazie Jews, the Sunnis and Shi’ites and which group poses the greater danger to Israel and America.
Make plans to attend this first of a monthly interfaith dialogue beginning January 17, 2013. The invitation is inclusive—extended to all faiths. The presenter each month is an author. Dr. Hal Littleton, co-moderator with Micki Cabaniss of the new program, is author of the book Jesus, A Would Be King.
January 17: Bahia Abrams, The Other Half of My Soul
February 21: Ken Sehested, co-author of Peace Primer II: Quotes from Jewish,
Christian, Islamic Scripture & Tradition
March 21: Mary Caldwell, Praying with Fishhooks
April 18: Mallory McDuff, Spirituality and the Environment
May 16: Judith Toy, author of Murder as a Call to Love. She will discuss
Thich Nhat Hanh's Transformation at the Base.
June 20: Deb Lloyd, Believe and it is True
Programs will be held at Grateful Steps Bookshop, 159 South Lexington Avenue, Asheville 28801. 828 277 0998. Format and agenda:
5:30-5:45 p.m. gather
5:45-6:30 p.m. speaker presentation
6:30-7:00 p.m. discussion
Attendees are encouraged to continue dialogue after the program is concluded. There will be light refreshments.
The goal of the dialogue is to hear each other and learn from each other—to explore what others believe and why, how those beliefs work for them and shape their lives.
We encourage the attendees to review the book in advance to get more from the discussion, and we ask all attendees to:
o enhance dialogue with questions and openness of conversation
o eagerly share their beliefs and why they are meaningful to them personally
o always be respectful of the beliefs shared by of others
o never impose their beliefs on others
o expect that they will not be disparaged in any way for their beliefs