Muslims and Jews Come together to Deplore Vandalism at Synagogue

Posted on December 6, 2010

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(Herald Times)

By Dann Denny 331-4350 | ddenny@heraldt.com

It was a tiny gathering – 11 people huddled around a table in a small room at the Beth Shalom synagogue – eating cookies, sipping hot tea and talking.

But the five Muslims who had come to express their support and solidarity Thursday afternoon to a Jewish community that’s been shaken by a half-dozen anti-Semitic acts of vandalism in recent days – and six members from the Beth Shalom congregation who agreed to meet with them – spoke with palpable passion.

“We are very moved and grateful to all of you for making this visit, but we’re not at all surprised,” said Beth Shalom member Madi Hirschland. “We know the Muslim community is one of great compassion.”

The visit was prompted by recent acts of vandalism targeting the Jewish community – including the tossing of eight Hebrew texts into toilets and several rock-throwing incidents at the Chabad House Jewish Student Center, Helene G. Simon Hillel Center and other Jewish facilities.

For many Muslims, the acts conjured up memories of similar incidents aimed at Bloomington’s Muslim community. After someone threw a firebomb through a window of the Bloomington Islamic Center and set fire to a copy of the Quran in 2005 – and after local Muslims received death threats following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 – Beth Shalom was one of several local faith congregations that reached out with supportive letters, visits, meals and vigils.

“We learned compassion from you,” said Muslim Abdul Sinno. “We think of you as wonderful neighbors. What happens to you happens to us.”

Yusuf Nur, one of the Muslims at the gathering, said it was unfortunate that it took a series of hateful incidents to prompt the meeting between members of the two faith traditions.

“We need to be more proactive and work together as people of faith to educate people,” he said. “These acts of hatred come from ignorance.” [more]

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