Reaching Out To Bham’s Muslim Community
Image is of the Birmingham Islamic Society’s logo.
By Samantha Dubrinsky,
BJF Director of Community Impact
Over the past year, representatives of the Birmingham Jewish Federation have begun a dialogue with members of the Muslim community in Birmingham. After meeting with several leaders in the Muslim community, the BJF has maintained a positive relationship with the group.
In the wake of a terror attack in Israel, Birmingham Islamic Society President Ashfaq Taufique wrote to the BJF to express his condolences. In the aftermath of a false bomb scare at our Levite Jewish Community Center recently, he also wrote a letter of support.
We, in turn, thought that it was appropriate to write Ashfaq and the other Muslim leaders we met with to express our support during this difficult time for them. Here is a slightly edited version of what I wrote:
Our Birmingham Jewish Federation Executive Director Richard Friedman and I, in my role as Director of Community Impact, want to let you know that we express our concern over the challenges and anxieties that the American Muslim community is facing currently.
We want you to know that, despite the differences in our faiths, we stand with you during these difficult times.
We are appreciative of your supportive outreach to us in the wake of the recent false bomb scare at the Levite Jewish Community Center and your willingness to publicly condemn terror including acts committed against Israelis.
We hope that you will recognize in us a friend that you can count on and that the relationship between our two communities will deepen in a positive way. Hate crimes against Muslims and Jews are increasing, attesting to the fact that we have shared challenges and we believe by standing strong, together as fellow Americans, we can sensitize the broader population to the challenges we face.
MET WITH GRATITUDE
Our email was met with gratitude. One of the Muslim leaders wrote back, “Thank you for your very thoughtful email. Means a lot to us. Very glad that our organizations and communities have made this connection and developed this supportive stance with one another. Looking forward to a long, mutually beneficial relationship. Let us know how we can help you and your community.”
Another wrote, “Thank you for your note and kind words. I look forward to working together in the community.”
While our two communities have very different feelings on issues that are critical to each of us, it is important that we forge a relationship that allows us to live in harmony here in Birmingham. We hope that our relationship continues in a meaningful way.