Moving to honor both Jewish and Muslim heritage

by State Rep. Tarik Khan, 194th District
Posted 3/21/24

Growing up as a Muslim kid in a Jewish neighborhood with a Catholic mom, I saw every day how religious diversity can make a family happier.

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Moving to honor both Jewish and Muslim heritage


Growing up as a Muslim kid in a Jewish neighborhood with a Catholic mom, I saw every day how religious diversity can make a family happier, stronger and more empathetic.

My brother Joe and I got gifts on major holidays, like Christmas, Eid-al-Fitr, Easter and Eid-al-Adha.

We gained a rich perspective on how faith communities came together and navigated challenges. We gained a more refined set of values and principles, and even a better sense of humor.

We got to enjoy and appreciate a delicious array of cuisines.

We also got to experience beautiful religious services for different faiths, like weddings and celebrations (including over two dozen bar and bat mitzvahs for me while a student at Greenberg), and somber remembrances like viewings and funerals.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, different religions are beautiful flowers from the same garden and are equally true and majestic.

As the Gaza-Israeli conflict has continued to worsen, I believe one important thing we can do is look to find opportunities to bring different faiths together in shared humanity.

It’s the work I’ve done since 2017 with my interfaith Muslim-Jewish group Circle of Friends, to come together to enjoy each other’s company and to learn and advocate for solutions to issues like rising Islamophobia and anti-Semitism

Recently, I had the pleasure of joining together with my friend Representative Dan Frankel, the Co-Chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Jewish Caucus, to introduce legislation honoring the heritage and contributions of Jewish and Muslim Pennsylvanians.

My “July as Muslim American Heritage Month in Pennsylvania” resolution was jointly introduced alongside a resolution by Representative Frankel to designate “May 2024 as Jewish American Heritage Month in Pennsylvania.”

We were joined by a dozen colleagues in the introduction of these two pieces of legislation. We introduced these resolutions during the first week of Ramadan, while myself and many Muslims around the commonwealth are fasting and celebrating community together. This resolution was also introduced as Jewish Pennsylvanians prepare to celebrate Purim, a joyful celebration of survival.

As Representative Frankel said, “These two great faiths and cultures helped shape the world, and they also help shape almost every community in this Commonwealth. At a time when conflict abroad has Jewish and Muslim Pennsylvanians feeling vulnerable, it’s more important than ever to create space for cultural education and appreciation.”

It is in the same spirit of interfaith appreciation that myself and Representative Mike Schlossberg (D- Allentown), a coprime sponsor on these resolutions, will offer a joint prayer before the Pennsylvania House on March 26th.

I am honored to join a diverse group of colleagues in the PA House to introduce these resolutions. And, as I continue to serve my first term, I look forward to finding more ways to strengthen our interfaith and intercultural bonds as we work towards peace in the commonwealth and across the world.