Rabat – A rabbi and a Moroccan Muslim teenaged girl published a joint book of their letters, which cover a variety of topics from personal experiences to religious and political differences, this month.
Lody van Kamp, an orthodox Jewish rabbi who is married with five children, and Oumaima Al Abdellaoui, a Moroccan Muslim high school student from Zaanstad in North Holland, make an unlikely pair.
According to Dutch newspaper Reformatorish Daghblad, the two met through a Moroccan colleague of van Kamp and began to exchange letters. As the letters grew in number and depth,
they decided to compile them into a book.
The book, “Across Walls,” which went on sale at the beginning of the month, looks specifically at Jewish and Muslim culture within Dutch society.
The letters, of which there are more than 20, cover a variety of topics, including personal successes and failures, the Palestine-Israel conflict, feminism, religion, and crime.
In their discussions of religion, they tried to convince each other of their personal beliefs while staying respectful and friendly. Both feel deeply connected to their respective religions but came to the conclusion that Islam and Judaism have more similarities than differences.
A main sticking point between the two is the issue of Palestine and Israel. While they each express their views on the issue, they refrain from engaging in serious debate or attempts to change the other’s mind. “We could already fill a book about that conflict alone,” said van Kamp. But they both suggested that they will explore the topic in more depth in a second book.
The subtitle of the book, “A hopeful correspondence,” illustrates the goals both van Kamp and Abdellaoui have for their letters They want to bridge differences and show that, despite being opposites in many respects, they have a great deal in common.
“We do not solve problems in the Middle East, but I hope that the respectful, decent way we treat each other inspires others,” said van Kamp.
“If we can do it, others can,” insisted Abdellaoui.