Group Structure

The Daughters of Abraham Model
We are book groups with a mission to dismantle stereotypes and build relationships. We read books that reflect the diverse expressions of our religious traditions. We are not interfaith dialogue groups nor do we read books where the focus of the content is political. The goal of our gatherings is the slow, thoughtful work of getting to know each other over a good book. Occasionally, groups may include activities that build community or explore one of the three religions through films, visiting a site, sharing music or attending a lecture. However, the focus always returns to increasing our capacity to read books together and thereby understand each other more deeply.

Anyone can start a casual book group. But to start a Daughters of Abraham book group based on this model, there are certain core elements or conditions that members follow:

  • Members speak from their own experiences (rather than about someone else who believes a certain way)
  • Members agree to the Daughters of Abraham ground rules
  • Balanced representation of the three faiths is essential
  • Groups don't start until all three traditions are present
  • Include at least one woman from each faith as co-founding members. Co-leadership is encouraged.
  • Groups commit to some communication with the Daughters of Abraham leadership team (at least once a year)
  • If anyone strongly objects to reading a particular book, we do not read it in the group.
  • In meetings the focus is on the books. This levels the playing field and creates safe space which allows each woman to decide how much to share on a personal level

Ground Rules
Over four years of meetings we have arrived at the following rules that enable us to provide a safe space for discussion:

Listen to each other.
Do not interrupt.
Do not monopolize the conversation; make sure that everyone who wishes to speak gets a chance to contribute.
Speak respectfully to each other.
Speak from personal experience, rather than making broad sweeping statements.
Do not criticize another member or a faith tradition (including a denomination or group within your own faith tradition).
If someone hits a sore point, speak up during the meeting, if you are able or, if not, talk directly to the person who offended you after the meeting. If you cannot work things out, speak to your leader and ask for help.
Since we are a book group with diverse membership, the Daughters of Abraham does not endorse any political or social causes. Any member of the group is of course free to support any cause in her own name.
Be mindful about scheduling book group meetings on any of our respective holidays.
We have also found it useful to follow a set of “Principles for Interreligous Dialogue” (PDF) to guide our discussions.
Can my group call itself “Daughters of Abraham”?
Your group is a “Daughters of Abraham” group if you:
Are these things:
An all-women’s book group
Welcome to women who identify as members of all three Abrahamic faiths: Jewish, Christian and Muslim. We include only these three faiths.
Do these things:
Meet to discuss books (and film and poetry and art) that explores lives lived in faith or the cultures of the lands where the Abrahamic faiths flourished.
Maintain an atmosphere of respect by adhering to discussion ground rules.
Stay in touch with The Daughters of Abraham in Cambridge to let us know what books you have found led to a good discussion. (We hope to continue to grow our book list as we increase the number of groups.)
Maintain an identity as a group focused on faith and the practice of the faith. The Daughters of Abraham do not advocate, take sides on or support any particular political causes or agendas.