On Thanksgiving, Jews and Muslims volunteer together despite Middle East violence

WASHINGTON — It’s an idea that feels particularly poignant this Thanksgiving: American Jews and Muslims banding together to help the … Continued

WASHINGTON — It’s an idea that feels particularly poignant this Thanksgiving: American Jews and Muslims banding together to help the homeless and other needy people.

The interfaith collaboration has been going on for five years, but the recent exchange of rockets between Gaza and Israel is weighing especially hard on both communities this week. That’s why a joint session of sandwich making or a group visit to a nursing home has taken on added significance.

“In this time of warfare it was a beautiful experience to see the two come together,” said Haider Dost, a Muslim student at Virginia’s George Mason University who worked with Jewish students to feed the homeless Sunday (Nov. 18) in Franklin Park, just blocks from the White House.

The Franklin Park event is one of more than 17 Jewish-Muslim “twinning” volunteer projects across the nation in the days surrounding Thanksgiving fostered by the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.

One of those projects forged a new partnership in Northern Virginia between the McLean Islamic Center and Temple Rodef Shalom that saw, on the weekend before Thanksgiving, children from both the mosque and synagogue together cleaning up a Maryland park. That night, members of the two congregations dined together, with the Muslim host and the temple’s rabbi both offering up prayers for peace in the Middle East.

Both the Muslims and Jews in the room tacitly understood that the dinner conversation should not veer into the violence between Jews and Muslims now dominating the news from the Middle East.

“If we were fast friends who had known each other for years already, maybe we could get together in the midst of the conflict and share our feelings,” said Rabbi Jeffrey Saxe of Rodef Shalom. “While there are bombs falling, maybe it’s not the time to start that discussion. But the political situation made it all the more crucial that we get together.”

Other upcoming “twinning” projects include:

— On Nov. 28-29, FFEU founder Rabbi Marc Schneier will preside over the first ever Muslim-Jewish twinning event in Baku, Azerbaijan, a majority-Muslim nation that, the foundation notes, has maintained good relations with both Muslim nations and Israel.

— On Dec. 1, in New Orleans, members of Temple Sinai and Masjid Rahim will together visit people in local nursing homes and hospitals.

— On Christmas Day in St. Louis, Muslim and Jewish volunteers will hold an International Muslim-Christian Day of Service, to deliver meals and other essential services so that Christian caregivers can spend the holiday with their families.

Five years ago, the fighting between Palestinians and Israelis might have forced the cancellation of the twinning projects, Schneier said. But trust has built up over the years, he said, so there was no question that the collaborations would go forward this year.

“That’s a testament to both Jews and Muslims,” Schneier said. “As the children of Abraham, not only do we share a common faith, we share a common fate.”

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Religion News Service LLC.

  • Kingofkings1

    Hey, if this is what it takes to stop them from killing each other….I say it’s time for seconds

Read More Articles

Screenshot 2014-04-23 11.40.54
Atheists Bad, Christians Good: A Review of “God’s Not Dead”

A smug Christian movie about smug atheists leads to an inevitable happy ending.

shutterstock_134310734
Ten Ways to Make Your Church Autism-Friendly

The author of the Church of England’s autism guidelines shares advice any church can follow.

Valle Header Art
My Life Depended on the Very Act of Writing

How I was saved by writing about God and cancer.

shutterstock_188545496
Sociologist: Religion Can Predict Sexual Behavior

“Religion and sex are tracking each other like never before,” says sociologist Mark Regnerus.

5783999789_9d06e5d7df_b
The Internet Is Not Killing Religion. So What Is?

Why is religion in decline in the modern world? And what can save it?

concert
Why I Want to Be Culturally Evangelical

I’ve lost my faith. Do I have to lose my heritage, too?

shutterstock_37148347
What Is a Saint?

How the diversity of saintly lives reveals multiple paths toward God.

987_00
An Ayatollah’s Gift to Baha’is, Iran’s Largest Religious Minority

An ayatollah offers a beautiful symbolic gesture against a backdrop of violent persecution.

river dusk
Cleaner, Lighter, Closer

What’s a fella got to do to be baptized?

shutterstock_188022491
Magical Thinking and the Canonization of Two Popes

Why Pope Francis is canonizing two popes for all of the world wide web to see.

Pile_of_trash_2
Pope Francis: Stop the Culture of Waste

What is the human cost of our tendency to throw away?

chapel door
“Sometimes You Find Something Quiet and Holy”: A New York Story

In a hidden, underground sanctuary, we were all together for a few minutes in this sweet and holy mystery.

shutterstock_178468880
Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

sunset-hair
From Passover to Easter: Why I’m Grateful to be Jewish, Christian, and Alive

Passover with friends. Easter with family. It’s almost enough to make you believe in God.

colbert
Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

emptytomb
God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

shutterstock_186795503
The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.