Xmas Unites US Muslims, Jews
MICHIGAN – Joining hands to ensure a merry Christmas for all Americans, hundreds of Muslims and Jews spent the Christmas day serving meals and offering gifts to residents in dozens of sites across the Unites States.
"There are lots of Muslims here. There are lots of Christians and Jews here. Nobody’s thinking, ‘Who’s Who?’ They’re all friends here,” Zubaida Ibrahim, co-chair of annual Muslim and Jewish Day of Service told Fox 2 on Wednesday, December 25.
“I made more friends doing this event than I have before.”
Marking the third annual Muslim and Jewish ‘Day of Service’, about 700 volunteers from both faiths have offered community service at 21 sites in Missouri during the Christmas.
“This year, we think we are going to have over 700 volunteers,” said Jewish event co-chair Roberta Gutwein.
Portraying the harmony between Muslims and Jews, volunteers started the day with a breakfast and listening to sermons from an Imam and a rabbi.
Wishing a pleasant Christmas for Missouri Christians, hot meals and gift bags were distributed, along with visits paid to senior living centers and juvenile detention centers, and deliver cookies to fire stations and more.
The annual event was co-organized by the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louise and the Jewish Community Relations Council.
Volunteers deemed the breakfast as an opportunity for both communities to get together.
“The feeling of connecting is palpable in the room,” Phyllis Markus, a three-time volunteer from Clayton, told ST. Louis Post.
Targeting a wider community in Missouri, a Bi-Lingual International Assistant Service has offered a list of warm welcome in different languages for foreign clients along with a gift bag.
“It’s a little bit of bridging the gap in a cultural sense,” said Julia Ostropolsky, Bi-Lingual president and chief executive, who believes it’s encouraging for foreigners to see Jews and Muslims working together.
“And the clients are grateful that somebody thought of them.”
Gathering kids from different faiths in the same room to contribute in the community service event has brought hope for a more inclusive harmony in the future.
“I am really hopeful,” Zubaida, the co-chair of the annual event, said.
“I see a bright future, because we see so many kids out here and they’re learning. They’re learning to help. They’re learning from their peers.”
Volunteers asserted that the event offers kids an opportunity to celebrate Christmas on their own way that maintains their identities.
“For the younger generation of minorities, Christmas has become such a huge thing that it has made them feel left out,” said Khalid Shah, a Muslim volunteer from Fenton.
“This way, they get to be a part of it and keep their identity.”
The interfaith volunteer event has resulted in close relationships between people from two faiths after the volunteering work.
“(We) get to know each other, learn about our values, our lives,” Gutwein said.
“It’s a real eye-opener because it turns out there are so many similarities.”
The United States is home to a Muslim minority of between six to eight million.
A recent survey found that American Muslims are the most moderate around the world.
It also showed that US Muslims generally express strong commitment to their faith and tend not to see an inherent conflict between being devout and living in a modern society.
Extending hands beyond Missouri, Muslims and Jews had distributed hundreds of delicious meals and gifts to Michigan needy during the Christmas.
"We don’t celebrate Christmas, so it’s better to give something back to those who do, rather than sit at home and eat Chinese food,” Berke, 40, a volunteer told Detroit News.
Organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and Michigan Muslim Community Council, about 1,000 volunteers have participated in Mitzvah Day, which means ‘good deeds’.
In Mitzvah Day, volunteers offered assets for social service agencies at about 40 sites across the state. The event included serving meals to military veterans.
“We might be of different religions, but humanity is what’s important,” Piquette Square Veteran Resource Facilitator Chery Allen told the assembly of veterans.
“It’s all about helping each other out, and picking someone up after they’ve fallen. And that should happen beyond today.”
The Jewish event, Mitzvah Day, has been sponsored by The Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit for twenty years.
Over the past five years, the Muslim community has been taking part in the volunteering event.
Christmas is the main festival on the Christian calendar. Its celebrations reach its peak at 12:00 PM on December 24 of every year.
Muslims believe in Jesus as one of the great Prophets of God and that he is the son of Mary but not the Son of God. He was conceived and born miraculously.
In the Noble Qur’an, Jesus is called “Isa”. He is also known as Al-Masih (the Christ) and Ibn Maryam (Son of Mary).