The best books that bring Muslims and Jews together

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a rabbi and educator who lives in the midst of a large Jewish community and a large Muslim community. But up until about 10 or so years ago, I had no Muslim friends. My wife and I set out to change that. (She formed the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom and I benefited as a plus one.) I am also the author of nearly 100 books, a growing number of which are for children and some focus on the relationship between Muslims and Jews. 


I wrote...

Book cover of Strangers in Jerusalem

What is my book about?

After many years, Leila is back in her birthplace, Jerusalem, and she’s on a mission. Before she left for the Holy Land, Leila promised that she’d say a healing prayer for her best friend back home, even though Leila is Muslim and has never prayed in a Christian church. While making her way through the crooked streets in the Old City of Jerusalem, Leila meets Asma and Rachel, two girls also trying to find holy sites of religions that are different from their own. Together, they’ll discover that Jerusalem is perhaps the most special and welcoming place in the world.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Yaffa and Fatima: Shalom, Salaam

Kerry M. Olitzky Why did I love this book?

This is a retelling of an important folk tale whose origins are both in Muslim and Jewish folklore.

Two good friends, living as neighbors fall onto hard times. The book shows how kindness can help overcome any hardship. Because this is a picture book for little ones, it is a simple retelling with a profound message. 

By Fawzia Gilani-Williams, Chiara Fedele (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Yaffa and Fatima as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Two neighbors―one Jewish, one Muslim―have always been best friends. When they both fall on hard times, can they find a way to help each other? In Fawzia Gilani's retelling of this folktale―which has both Jewish and Arab origins―differences are not always causes for conflict and friendship can overcome any obstacle.


Book cover of Hope Valley

Kerry M. Olitzky Why did I love this book?

This is a debut novel from someone who constantly lives the stories that she tells—how love can overcome hate, even in the most challenging of locations. Two women, living in neighboring villages in Israel, find a way to bridge that hate with love and provide hope for all who live there and beyond.

By Haviva Ner-David,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hope Valley as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hope Valley is the story of two women, one Jewish-Israeli and one Palestinian-Israeli, who come together to form the unlikeliest of friendships. Tikvah and Ruby meet one summer day right before the outbreak of the 2nd intifada, in the Galilean valley that separates the segregated villages in which they live. The valley Ruby's father had called Hope came to symbolize the political enmity that has defined the history of two nations in this troubled land and which has led to parallel cultures with little meaningful interaction between them.

Tikvah, a fifty-two-year old artist from Long Island, is the daughter of…


Book cover of The Button Box

Kerry M. Olitzky Why did I love this book?

A young adult novel that has all the ingredients for a good book: mystery, intrigue, humor, and a powerful ending. And this one has fantasy built into it too.

Two young girls—one Muslim, one Jewish—are called hateful names at school. The Jewish girl’s grandmother gives the kids a box full of buttons, one of which gives them the ability to travel back in time and save one of the Muslim girl’s ancestors.

As a result, the Golden Age of Spain is born where Jews and Muslims lived together peacefully and productively. 

By Bridget Hodder, Fawzia Gilani-Williams, Harshad Marathe (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Button Box as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After Jewish fifth-grader Ava and her Muslim best friend Nadeem are called hateful names at school, Ava's Granny Buena rummages in her closet and pulls out a glittering crystal button box. It's packed with buttons that generations of Ava's Sephardic ancestors have cherished. With the help of Granny's mysterious cat Sheba, Ava and Nadeem discover that a button from the button box will take them back in time. Suddenly, they are in ancient Morocco, where Nadeem's ancestor, Prince Abdur Rahman, is running for his life. Can Ava and Nadeem help the prince escape to Spain and fulfill his destiny, creating…


Book cover of We Refuse to Be Enemies: How Muslims and Jews Can Make Peace, One Friendship at a Time

Kerry M. Olitzky Why did I love this book?

The title of this book reflects the entire book—and the lives and work of the authors.

A Muslim woman and a Jewish man demonstrate why they refuse to be enemies, even when large segments of their respective communities are them to be so. They use their own life stories and transform them into a dialogue of mutual respect, demonstrating to the reader that Muslims and Jews have more in common than they have differences.

The book is both manifesto and instruction as to how we can create communities that share rather than conflict with one another. 

By Sabeeha Rehman, Walter Ruby,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Refuse to Be Enemies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For readers of The Faith Club, Sons of Abraham, and The Anatomy of Peace, a call for mutual understanding and lessons for getting there
We Refuse to Be Enemies is a manifesto by two American citizens, a Muslim woman and Jewish man, concerned with the rise of intolerance and bigotry in our country along with resurgent white nationalism. Neither author is an imam, rabbi, scholar, or community leader, but together they have spent decades doing interfaith work and nurturing cooperation among communities. They have learned that, through face-to-face encounters, people of all backgrounds can come to know the Other as…


Book cover of A Place at the Table

Kerry M. Olitzky Why did I love this book?

There are so few young adult novels that demonstrate positive relationships between Muslim kids and Jewish kids. This one succeeds masterfully.

The main characters in the story come from very different backgrounds and seem to share little in common. Their friendship grows slowly, and eventually they learn to trust one another. This story shows both the risks and rewards of such a friendship. With taking risks, there can be no reward.  

By Saadia Faruqi, Laura Shovan,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked A Place at the Table as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

A timely, accessible, and beautifully written story exploring themes of food, friendship, family and what it means to belong, featuring sixth graders Sara, a Pakistani American, and Elizabeth, a white, Jewish girl taking a South Asian cooking class taught by Sara’s mom.

Sixth graders Sara and Elizabeth could not be more different. Sara is at a new school that is completely unlike the small Islamic school she used to attend. Elizabeth has her own problems: her British mum has been struggling with depression.

The girls meet in an after-school South Asian cooking class, which Elizabeth takes because her mom has…


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Brigitta of the White Forest

By Danika Dinsmore,

Book cover of Brigitta of the White Forest

Danika Dinsmore Author Of Brigitta of the White Forest

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Teacher Poet Tree whisperer Bird lover World builder

Danika's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

For those who enjoy fantasy adventure, the Faerie Tales from the White Forest series offers a new twist on the traditional faerie tales so loved by young readers.

From devastating curses to death-defying quests, Brigitta and her growing collective of misfit friends face greater and greater challenges when destiny calls upon them to “make the balance right again” after the Great World Cry has left their world in elemental chaos.

Brigitta of the White Forest

By Danika Dinsmore,

What is this book about?

Briggy, what happens when the Hourglass runs out?

Brigitta wished she had paid more attention to her Auntie Ferna's lessons. Being able to string a thunder-bug symphony wasn't going to help them now. She didn't know exactly what would happen when the Hourglass ran out, since no living faerie knew a time when the Hourglass didn't protect the forest . . . But even though she couldn't remember the details, she did know that without the Hourglass there would be no White Forest . . . A charming middle-grade fantasy series, "Faerie Tales from the White Forest" watches the journey…


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Interested in Muslims, Jewish history, and Jewish-Arab relations?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Muslims, Jewish history, and Jewish-Arab relations.

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