2017 has been such a trying year already for religious and ethnic minorities in America, especially given the spike in hate crimes against marginalized groups, JCC bomb threats, scary deportations of immigrants, and a Muslim-targeting “travel ban” that caused havoc at airports and is still affecting many. But one small bright spot is the way Jewish and Muslim communities in the United States, long assumed by popular narratives to be adversaries due to Middle Eastern geopolitics, have joined together in example after example of sister and brotherhood. Of course, Muslims and Jews have been neighbors and friends in America and abroad for decades—but with both groups facing unprecedented threats in recent months, the displays of fellowship have become more explicit, more public and more frequent.
And it’s no surprise that families and community groups with lots of families as members are a crucial part of this trend; as one of our Kveller writers, Rabbi Anne Lewis, put it so eloquently this week, people who are worried about their kids have a lot in common. Here are seven examples we found of inspiring solidarity just in the past few months alone.
1. The 19 rabbis who got arrested protesting the travel ban in New York. Protesters held signs reading “My People Were Refugees Too” and “Another Rabbi Standing For Justice'” before getting arrested in an act of civil disobedience.
2. The friendship between the Chicago Jewish and Muslim families that started with a viral photograph of two kids on their parents’ shoulders at a protest, and has evolved to include a series of festive meals.
— CNN International (@cnni) February 4, 2017
3. The Muslim marines who offered to guard synagogues and cemeteries. “I’m a #MuslimMarine in Chicagoland area,” one volunteer tweeted. “If your synagogue or Jewish cemetery needs someone to stand guard, count me in. Islam requires it.”
4. The Jewish soup kitchen owner and other Hasidim who stood up for their Yemeni neighbors participating in NYC’s Bodega Strike against the travel ban. Alexander Rapaport, who runs a Kosher food pantry, faced both boycotts and donations for his actions. But he showed up because, “I was looking to do something in solidarity with the people affected by the executive order.”
— Paula Vasan (@paulavasan) February 20, 2017
5. The time Israelis protested the American travel ban. Signs said “No ban, no walls” and “For you were strangers in the Land of Egypt.”
6. The Muslims who raised funds—well over $100,000—to repair a desecrated Jewish cemetery in St. Louis. “People are putting their politics aside and working to fight bigotry together,” one of the founders of the group said.
7. The Jews who raised funds to repair a torched Mosque in Tampa. The recipients kept noticing something strange… donations in $18 amounts. And that’s when they realized who was donating. “You learn something new every day. The Jewish faith has shown up in force to support our New Tampa Islamic community. I’m floored,” Adeel Karim, who had done the crowdfunding for the mosque, posted on Facebook.
8. The newspaper ad from Muslims in Minneapolis and St. Paul supporting their Jewish neighbors. “Please know that our prayers are with you and you have the support of our community,” the ad read, in part.
And these are just the publicized instances. Dark times bring out the light within some individuals. Let’s take all these examples of interfaith solidarity with us when we inevitably feel dragged down by despair at the news.