On Saturday, the Victoria Islamic Centre burned down to the ground just days after being burglarized by an unidentified set of vandals. The small Texas city of Victoria houses no more than 100 Muslims and 30 Jews. It so happens that Robert Leob, the president of Temple Bnai Israel, knows several members of the mosque. When the news hit, he felt deeply for his friends and what they had lost. He knew something must be done.
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After hearing the news, the synagogue leaders of Temple Bnai Israel met to see what could be done to help their neighbors of another faith. The Jewish leaders didn’t hesitate at all to hand over the keys to their synagogue so their Muslim friends could have a place to worship.
That very day, one of the mosque’s founders, Shadid Hashmi, was cut to the heart when Jewish community members walked into his home and handed him the keys to the synagogue in person. After the momentary shock subsided, Hashmi knew he had made true friends that day.
Luckily, donations have already been pouring in to help rebuild Victoria’s Islamic Centre through an online crowdfunding campaign, and their efforts have raised over $1,000,000 in just a few days time.
St. Joseph High School students, teachers, and staff showed their care and support for their neighbors with a march to the Islamic Center from their school. They prayed for the members of the center and gifted them with a tree to be a constant reminder of the value of loving your neighbor.
One of the founders of the campaign said, “Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the tremendous support we’ve received. The outpouring of love, kind words, hugs, helping hands, and the financial contributions are examples of the true American spirit.”
May we all strive to love our neighbor as ourselves, especially in times of hardship.
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