Once upon a time, in the Land of Milk and Honey, there lived two neighbors named Yaffa and Fatima. Although they came from different religious backgrounds, in many ways their lives were similar. They both prayed, although Yaffa prays in the synagogue and Fatima prays in the mosque. They both harvested dates and sold them at the same market.
Even the words they used to greet each other sounded similar. Yaffa says shalom and Fatima says salaam. The words mean the same thing in both Hebrew and Arabic: peace.
You may be familiar with the Jewish folktale of the two brothers and the Temple Mount. As the story goes, two brothers lived on opposite sides of their family’s land. They were good friends and worked the land together. One night, each had the same idea to help his brother by secretly supplementing his grain supply. Three nights later the brothers collided in the fields, each delivering bundles of grain to the other. They laughed and embraced when they realize what they’d done. When King Solomon heard about the brothers’ generosity to one another he was inspired to build a temple on the spot where the two brothers met.
Yaffa and Fatima: Shalom, Salaam is a modern retelling of the old tale. The two neighbors’ love for one another transcends the cultural differences between them. They both have a deep desire to share the fruits of their labor with each other. The moral of the story—human kindness is universal – is an important one, especially in today’s world.
Yaffa and Fatima, while not siblings as in the original story, are children of the same land, tending the earth side by side, eating from the same trees, and feeling the same sun and the same rain.
Shalom and salaam come from the same (linguistic) roots.