After recent sinister developments in New York CIty—a wave of vandal attacks on both Jewish and Muslim targets, and a police scandal concerning use of Islamophobic propaganda within the NYPD—it's nice to get some good news. Writes the New York Post Feb. 5, in a story entitled with a typically flat attempt at witticism, "'Shul' days at mosque"...
Middle East peace has broken out — in The Bronx.
Jews and Muslims are bosom buddies inside the Islamic Cultural Center of North America — home to both the Al-Iman Mosque and Beis Menachem of Parkchester, an ultra-Orthodox synagogue.
“Right now we are a family. The rabbis are our brothers,” said Sheik Moussa Drammeh, 50, who opened to them the doors of his 25,000-square-foot, two-story center on Westchester Avenue.
Rabbi Meir Kabakow, 26, said: “Even though they are Muslims and we are Jews, there is no hate between the two. That’s the way God made things happen — he sent us a place in a mosque.”
The unique arrangement began around 2009, when the synagogue’s organizers couldn’t pay $2,000 a month rent for their White Plains Road storefront and found themselves on the street.
The wandering congregation petitioned community leaders and officials for help, and found it — when a Catholic stepped in.
“Everyone has a right to worship somewhere,” said community activist Patricia Tomasulo, who helped broker the deal between the center and the synagogue. “If they have this big building, I figured, ‘Why can’t we share?’ ”
But not everyone thought the arrangement, under which the temple stays rent-free, was kosher.
The Islamic center’s school lost about 20 percent of its students, and dozens of mosque worshippers fled — cutting down the flock by a whopping 90 percent.
Some of the Jews left as well, although the rabbi said Jewish law permits the unusual partnership. “They believe in one God, and we believe in one God,” he said.
In capitulation to the intolerant, the synagogue was moved from a room with a window to one not visible from the street. That is a shame, but this is still a good start. Maybe the meshuggah types on both sides will get over it...