PLAINFIELD, NJ — Members from the Union County chapter of the Sisterhood of the Salaam Shalom spent a Saturday afternoon serving a meal at the Muslim Community Soup Kitchen in Plainfield.

Sixty people, on average, show up for a hot meal each week. Costco donates the breads, and Pepsico donates the juices. The team of volunteers from Plainfield, Westfield and Summit brought a chicken meal on this day.

The Sisterhood of the Salaam Shalom grows “relationships between Muslim and Jewish women to build bridges and fight hate, negative stereotyping and prejudice.” Members meet monthly to learn about the teachings of the Qur'an and the Torah. 

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Mallary Saltzman of Westfield said that the group aims to foster a community of Jews and Muslims, and noted that there is so much commonality in the two religions. 

“These are my sisters now,” Saltzman said. 

Phyllis Bernstein, also of Westfield, said that they have exchanged stories about their marriage ceremonies, and added, “we have a chance to have each other's holidays.” She has also learned much more about her own religion, she said.

Saltzman said the Arabic Sadaqah and the Hebrew Tzedakah, or act of giving back to the community, is important to both religions.

The non-profit soup kitchen was incorporated in 1997. The mission is “to help feed humanities poor and hungry; collect and donate seasonal clothing; collect canned and non-perishable foods for distribution; and to work closely with other benevolent organizations doing the same.” It is located at 325 Grant Avenue in Plainfield.