Holy Switch!

May 19, 2013 by Judy Singer
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Two young women, one a traditional Muslim, the other from an observant reform Jewish background,  have “traded places” for the ABC documentary series “Holy Switch”, and share glowing reports of the experience.

Mobinah Ahmad and Jordane Hyames

Mobinah Ahmad and Jordane Hyams

For two weeks, Jordane Hyams from Melbourne, and Mobinah Ahmad from Sydney switched lives.  While Mobinah stayed with Reform Rabbi Fred Morgan from Jordanes’s Netzer schul, Jordane lived with Mobinah’s large family in Sydney’s Western suburbs.

For Mobinah, “It was a life-changing experience.  I can’t say enough how beautiful it was!”

A year after the show was filmed, Mobinah is still in contact with the family of Rabbi Morgan who she considers to be “an amazing religious leader”. She feels very close to the Morgan family, both spiritually and personally. Even her parents have gotten together with the Morgans whom she calls “my family in Melbourne”, and “they got on really well. It was just lovely”.

For Jordane the experience was “fantastic, very interesting learning about Muslim practices, and a very nice process”.  Her host mother was “gorgeous”, the family was lovely and so sweet, the ceremonies that she participated in,like the morning call to prayer, the communal dinners with the large extended family were “beautiful”.

While Jordane comes from the liberal end of the religious spectrum and Mobinah from the traditional end, they had many shared values. Both joined the project with a sense of curiosity and open-mindedness, a commitment to multifaith values of respect and dialogue. But though both  considered themselves to be quite knowledgeable on other religions, there were still surprises in store.

For Mobinah, “a big learning point was that there is a big difference between Orthodox and Reform,  and that not everyone can be put in the same set of beliefs”.

Jordane was surprised to find that how closely related Islamic beliefs were to Judaism, that her host family accept that Moses was a prophet and that they see merit in all the holy texts.

Neither felt challenged in their own beliefs and cultures, but agreed that no matter how much theoretical knowledge you have, actually living the life is totally different, leading to greater mutual understanding and respect.

For Jordane however, there was one “full on” experience which was unpleasant and left her feeling “like a fish out of water”. As a liberal Jew with a commitment to peace-building, she was obviously keen to play down any negativity, always stressing that Islam was essentially a religion of peace.  She was invited and went  to a pro-Syrian rally  not knowing what to expect. She told J-Wire that, as the evening wore on  “inevitably, I guess the content became essentially, anti-Zionist”. Feeling uncomfortable she left early. Discussing the issue later with some of Mobinah’s friends later calmed her down, even though in the end they agreed to disagree.

The ABC wants the program to be a “surprise” for the participants so Jordane and Mobinah are yet to view the episode and are  looking forward to it with mixed feelings of excitement and trepidation. The ABC has assured them that the program will focus on the positive…an outcome that the two women would prefer. Tune in to see if the ABC will be able to resist the temptation to generate conflict and sensationalism or whether they will pull an Unholy Switcheroo.

The program will air on ABC-1 on Sunday May-26 at 6:30pm.



5 Responses to “Holy Switch!”
  1. Eleonora says:

    Taking the two last paragraphs into account, one could hardly consider this an honest take on the switch between the two faiths or that there is “Tolerance”. ABC will not show what happened in the 2nd last paragraph when Jordane attended a pro-Syrian Rally to resist the temptation to generate conflict. It seems the truth will be hidden again. Muslims are Not tolerant of any faith but their own.

  2. Zia says:

    I am Mobinah’s dad.
    Excellent Review. I hope this episode will develop understanding between our two communities and reduce animosity and demonisation of each other’s faith and practices leading hopefully to acceptance of our political stands, however different they may be. Shalom, Salam.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Mr Zia
      your generosity of thought is overwhelming and so is your hospitality.
      We seem to have, however, certain issue to clarify further.
      You see, if our “political stands” remain different , as you postulated, then, logically, the “animosity” you also acknowledge is bound to stay and affect quite seriously the social niceties we all appear to be quite good at showing.
      Please consider the reality that, part of the political practices deemed different is, indeed, the demonisation of Israel, you know the fascist, racist, Zionists and so on. .

  3. margot salom says:

    I am looking forward to viewing this next week. I am a secular Jew with many Muslim friends – we have not yet got into the religious aspect – our contact being based on a shared political view.

  4. Otto Waldmann says:

    Here is one for the debate on the subject(s):

    If “Society” would enjoy “multifaith values”, how could the Jew enjoy the same. I am NOT talking tolerance, but the simple proposition that a Jew would enjoy the experience of …not being a Jew.
    But then, this could only be consistent with the term seen above of an “observant liberal Jew “.
    A real LOL – and still going……….

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