Positive Facebook Story Reinforces Importance Of Tolerance
By Samantha Dubrinsky,
BJF Director of Community Impact
I deleted my Facebook account the other day. (Don’t worry, I’ve already re-activated my account.) My reason for doing this was because I was so overwhelmed by the mean-spirited, negative comments that I was seeing from my friends and family members of all generations. Every single one of these posts dealt with the politically-charged state that our country is in.
I enjoyed my 48-hour hiatus from Facebook and if it weren’t for managing the Birmingham Jewish Federation’s Facebook page, I may not have re-activated it. But, one of the first posts I saw upon logging back into my Facebook account was so positive that I wondered if Facebook knew exactly why I had deleted it.
The story, published by the UK’s Independent, was shared by a friend and entitled, “Jewish people give Muslims key to their synagogue after town’s mosque burns down.”
“Jewish people in a small Texas city handed Muslim worshippers the keys to their synagogue after the town’s only mosque was destroyed in a fire. The Victoria Islamic Centre burned down and had previously been burglarized. The cause is being investigated by federal officials,” the story explained.
“But the town’s Muslim population will not be without a place to worship while their building is reconstructed, thanks to their Jewish neighbors,” it went on.
Robert Loeb, the president of Temple Bnai Israel, said, “Everyone knows everybody, I know several members of the mosque, and we felt for them. When a calamity like this happens, we have to stand together. We have probably 25 to 30 Jewish people in Victoria, and they probably have 100 Muslims. We have a lot of building for a small amount of Jews.”
One of the mosque’s founders, Shahid Hashmi, said, “Jewish community members walked into my home and gave me a key to the synagogue.”
To me, this story was beautiful. The Jews of Victoria, Texas saw their Muslim counterparts as neighbors, friends and fellow human beings and offered them something they needed — a place to worship. As history (and, unfortunately, current times) tells us, Jews are all too familiar with places of worship being vandalized or destroyed. I imagine that it didn’t take much for this small Jewish community to place themselves in the shoes of their Muslim neighbors and extend a helping hand.
The story also reminded me of the relationship that the Birmingham Jewish Federation is starting to evolve with our local Muslim community. Most recently, we received a statement from the Birmingham Islamic Society President Ashfaq Tafique expressing his support and concern over the recent bomb threats that swept Jewish Community Centers across the US, including Birmingham’s own Levite Jewish Community Center.
These alliances and friendships are important. We are living in an era where peace and harmony seem out of reach. However, when we make an effort to understand those who are different from us, we take one step toward understanding and tolerance.
I wish I could say that the rest of the stories I saw on Facebook had the same positive undertone as the one mentioned above. However, logging back into the social media site was a great reminder that blocking out all the negative clutter can also eliminate the positive stuff too. And, in my opinion, we need all the positive stuff we can get.