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In 2017, a Muslim child enjoyed an unforgettable experience alongside Jewish and Christian volunteers preparing and serving a hot meal to the homeless. Today, Musa* still remembers almost every minute of that amazing day when his mosque, West Valley Muslim Association, collaborated with Saratoga Federated Church and Congregation Beth David to feed the hungry in San Jose, Calif. 

This event made a lasting impact on Musa’s understanding of how humanity can work together to alleviate poverty. It was no naive dream. He witnessed it firsthand and had a marvelous time. It gave him hope that despite a growing climate of anti-Muslim hostilities, many were happy to work with him and his community. So after his family moved to New Jersey, he contacted AAi in search of a remote volunteer opportunity. Now a high school freshman, Musa began curating AAi event photos with excellence.

Months later he remarked, “Wouldn’t it be great to have a branch of AAi in New Jersey?” 

“Yes indeed!” I replied. “Would you like to help start one?”

“Definitely!” he responded without hesitation.

“I’d be happy to coach you through the process. All you need to get started is a Jewish and a Christian friend to co-lead events with you. Once you find them, we can begin planning your first event.”

So Musa approached local churches and synagogues in New Jersey in search of co-leaders. Meanwhile, AAi received an email from a Jewish high school student, Shmuel*, also interested to launch a branch of our alliance in … New Jersey! Apparently, one of his school advisors suggested he contact AAi. Naturally, I was delighted to introduce Shmuel to Musa, and they have since met and are looking forward to collaboration! 

While these are the first two high schoolers who have ever contacted AAi with a desire to launch AAi compassion events, we don’t believe this is a coincidence. Instead, we praise God  ברוך השם  الحَمْد لله for moving both Musa and Shmuel to contact us. 

When in-person school resumed for Musa, he continued his search for a Christian co-leader on campus. However, after one student learned Musa was Muslim, he began bullying him and even threatened him with violence. He also warned Musa not to tell authorities, “I know where you live.” The seriousness of Musa’s situation led his parents to pull him out of school and resume home-schooling. 

We rightly lament the injustice and wickedness of such bullying and are so thankful that YOU are among our amazing partners who have taken action to support our work so we can build bridges of understanding and respect between our communities.

AAi compassion must spread to New Jersey, even as it spread to Monterey County. God willing إنشاء الله and אִם יִרְצֶה הַשֵּׁם  with your support and the courage of Musa and Shmuel, it will. 

* Name has been changed to protect privacy

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