WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. - The local Islamic and Jewish communities came together Wednesday for an interfaith service to share a message of unity. Both groups have been the targets of religious hatred in recent years.

Najma Khanani and Alicia Zahn were happy to greet dozens of local Muslims and Jewish people at a "Unity Vigil" at the Muslim Association of the Lehigh Valley.

"It's about connecting our hearts and softening our hearts because I think that's the most vital organ we have," Khanani said.

Three years ago, the two women formed the local chapter of the "Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom," a group committed to combating anti-semitism and Islamophobia. 

"We weren't communicating. That things that were going on and you kept reading about other people but you're not really meeting them so it was really important that we just get together," Zahn said.

Because both religions have been going through similar horror.

In October 2018, 11 people were shot and killed and six wounded at a Pittsburgh synagogue-the deadliest attack ever on the Jewish community in the U.S.

Last March in Christchurch, New Zealand, 100 people were shot in a mosque. 51 died.

And those are just the ones that made the headlines.

"It stems from those who are misguided and the second thing is hey what else can I do to right that?" Khanani said.

State representative Mike Schlossberg, who's Jewish, says Khanani and Zahn are making a difference. 

"What we have in common is much greater than that which divides us," Schlossberg said.

People who attended the vigil prayed and sang, letting each group know they are not alone.

"We might not change what's going on in the outside world but we can still change ourselves and just keep the peace within us," Zahn said.

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