Change-maker Story: Soraya Ahyaudin

I was at the post office with a package that I was going to mail to Malaysia. When I placed it on the counter, the person assisting me said,

“Is it gonna go boom?” 


“Is it gonna go boom?”

“No, it’s not gonna go boom.”

“Well, you never know who’s a terrorist these days.”

In that moment, I felt completely alone despite there being many people around me. I felt small and I wanted to run and hide. I picked up my package and walked out feeling fragile, hyper-sensitive, and in shock.

That night, I attended NewGround’s Women’s Text Study Salon at Temple Israel of Hollywood. I had decided not to tell the group what had happened, but during the closing I found myself doing so anyway. The women… acknowledged my pain and listened as I tried to make sense of what had happened. Their embrace helped me feel a connection I had been missing that day. The cold anxiety and despair started to evaporate.  

NewGround gave me exactly what I needed that night: the opportunity to be fully seen and listened to; relationships that give me strength; women who are there for me and inspire me to be there for others. 

We have so much work to do as Muslims and Jews… NewGround has taught me that fear and isolation does not need to be the only way to respond to differences. The better choice is to work through the challenges, stand up for one another, and build stronger relationships.