(JNi.media) The Beth Israel synagogue in Peterborough, Central Ontario, Canada, invited Muslim worshipers at the Masjid al-Salaam mosque to pray in their building, after it had been firebombed on Nov. 14 by arsonists, Canadian media reported. The damage to the mosque was estimated at $80 thousand.
On Saturday night, the synagogue’s website published an announcement stating, “Yesterday, Friday November 27, Beth Israel became a house of worship for the local Muslim community.” On Friday, Beth Israel hosted two prayer sessions for local Muslims and a potluck dinner.
Beth Israel Synagogue president Larry Gillman told CBC, “As Canadians we have to stick together. It’s not about religion, it’s not about race. Canadians do this.” According to CBC, as soon as Gillman heard about the fire at the mosque, he reached out to his synagogue’s board of directors to find out about sharing space with the Muslim congregation. They voted unanimously in favor. “I hope this can be some kind of small example to others,” Gillman said.
Kenzu Abdella, the president of the Kawartha Muslim Religious Association, told CBC, “In the beginning, it was a shock. Within 24 hours, that changed. They walked to the mosque and told us that whatever we need, they will support us. Even though it came out of a tragedy, we are working together.”
The invitation to the synagogue was the first meeting between Abdella and Gillman. Since then, Gillman has given a speech at the Muslim Institute of Toronto and his synagogue has become part of an interfaith group working to sponsor Syrian refugees to come to Canada.
“We have more similarities than differences,” Abdella told CBC. “We have so much in common — the details of worship and the ceremonies. Even the stories we hear are similar. At the end of the day, it’s a house of God.”