Temple Beth-El and Islamic Center stand together

A Temple Beth-El and Islamic Center of Long Island member shake hands. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

Temple Beth-El members visited the Islamic Center of Long Island to learn about Islamic tradition and openly support the Muslim community last Wednesday.

The event came after many bomb threats against Jewish community centers, as well as consistent pressure on the Muslim community. It is the first of two events meant to show that these communities will be there for each other.

“Because of the sense of vulnerability in both of our communities, there’s kind of an added vigor to our raising high the standard of mutual support,” said Rabbi Tara Feldman of Temple Beth-El in Great Neck.

Isma Chaudhry, president of the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury, explained that Islam preaches the value of equality, justice, modesty and fellowship. There is also no true social hierarchy, as all Muslims – Sunni or Shiite – pray the same way.

“Saying Allahu akbar does not make you Muslim,” Chaudhry said, referring to terrorists as “idiots” and “criminals.” Rather, she said, it is about how one lives his or her life.

The Islamic Center then invited the Temple Beth-El members to participate in a prayer ceremony in the mosque. Everyone removed their shoes and women received head scarves.

Afterward, the congregation stood near the entrance with small signs. They said, “We stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters. Peace be with you.” Both sides wished blessings upon each other.

Jon Yedvab, a Temple Beth-El member for about 40 years, said events like these have “been a wonderful experience.”

“They’ve been inclusive,” Yedvab said of the Islamic Center. “They’ve really wanted the communities to come in, both from the Christian community, the Jewish community, the Muslim community, and for us to have a dialogue, understanding, get along and come together as human beings.”

Chaudhry, who has worked on improving interfaith solidarity for 20 years, said that the communities have come a long way. She recalled times where events like these would only draw a handful of people.

“We were stopping at tolerance. We were tolerating each other just because we were sharing the space,” she said. “Now we are living together in fellowship with the sentiment of being each other’s keepers — and that’s what the human race should aspire to be.”

The next event will take place Friday, April 28, at Temple Beth-El of Great Neck at 6:30 p.m. Members of the Islamic Center will learn about Jewish traditions, join Beth-El members for Shabbat services and  stand outside the temple in a show of solidarity.

About the author

Janelle Clausen

Janelle Clausen is a reporter with Blank Slate Media covering the Great Neck peninsula and Town of North Hempstead. She previously freelanced for the Amityville Record, Massapequa Post and the Babylon Beacon. When not reporting, the south shore native can...
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