Muslim and Jewish women have united to raise funds to repair a Montreal mosque that was vandalized less than a month after the murder of six worshippers at a Quebec City mosque.
The Toronto-based Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom has joined with Montreal-area resident Mona Abdullah to raise $7,000 for the repair of the Tawuba Mosque on Ontario Street East. Early on the morning of Feb. 21, the mosque’s glass front door and windows were smashed.
The funds will also go toward installing security cameras.
The crowdfunding campaign was initiated by Abdullah, who had tremendous success through a similar effort after the Quebec shooting, collecting over $240,000.
The 28-year-old, who is not a member of Tawuba and, in fact, lives in Laval, didn’t hesitate to help this targeted mosque as well. Abdullah was in despair that anyone could attack a mosque so soon after the tragic killings.
At the same time, members of the Salaam Shalom were outraged, specifically Devon Spier, a rabbinical student living in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., and Rabbi Emma Gottlieb of Toronto.
They contacted the mosque to offer to help in any way they could and were directed to Abdullah, who had started the campaign on her own. Abdullah welcomed their collaboration.
Spier, who is a student at the pluralistic Academy for Jewish Religion in New York, said there was no question in her mind that she should reach out to Imam Youssef Sofana of the vandalized mosque.
“It’s important for us to take a stand as Jewish leaders,” she said. “Jews and Muslims are the children of Abraham; we are all made in the image of God.”
She and Rabbi Gottlieb spread the word about the campaign through their social media platforms and “within hours” the response was widespread.
Abdullah is touched by how many Jewish people have contributed, as well as sent messages of solidarity.
“I think it is because Jews have lived with, and are still living with, discrimination. They know what it is to be ostracized. They feel for us.”
By March 21, the campaign had raised more than $2,800 from 107 donors from across Canada, the United Sates and elsewhere. It closes on March 31.
Salaam Shalom was founded in the United States in 2008 to build relationships between Muslim and Jewish women, combat prejudice against their communities, and work on social action projects. There are now 50 chapters, and Toronto’s is the first in Canada.
The LaunchGood page recognizes that since the shooting there has been a spike in “hate crimes and discriminatory slurs towards the Muslim community” and that mosques are at risk.
Abdullah is a graduate of Concordia University, where she was involved in the Muslim Students Association, and she is now a member of the Muslim Association of Canada.
She is deeply grateful to Spier and Rabbi Gottlieb, whom she has never met, for their support “amidst all the hate and violence directed against the Muslim community and minorities in general. Their support has been invaluable and a true testimony to fighting hate with love.”
Abdullah said she’s found Spier’s and Rabbi Gottlieb’s emails and phone calls to be filled with love and compassion, and she looks forward to meeting them one day.
“I believe this partnership sends a positive message, how we, Muslims and Jews, often portrayed as enemies can come together to stand in solidarity in the face of immense injustice and hate,” she said.
“I hope this solidarity and dialogue will only bring Muslims and Jews closer. We are stronger if we stand together.”
The campaign can be found here.