On a recent weekday evening in Santa Monica, seven Muslim and five Jewish women gathered around a dining room table laden with homemade foods prepared in accordance with the dietary laws of both faiths.

One by one, the women lighted candles, each saying a few words to mark the eighth anniversary of the West Los Angeles Cousins Club, a grassroots discussion group that explores spirituality and mutual understanding.

“Before we started the Cousins Club, I never even knew a Muslim person,” said Shayna Lester, who hosted the anniversary meeting. “I am so blessed that I have made such dear friends. It feels like sisters coming into my home.”


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