Temple Israel, Temple Beth El and Kehilat rabbis with MUC Imam Almasmari from Friday's prayer service.

By Stacy Gittleman

Featured photo via The Muslim Unity Center Facebook

In gestures of reciprocal love and unity that they received from their Muslim brothers and sisters following the Tree of Life massacre, rabbis, leaders and others in the Jewish community attended area mosques to mourn the New Zealand terror attacks that took the lives of 50 innocent Muslims while they prayed Friday, March 15.

A vigil was held at the Muslim Unity Center Friday, March 15. (Credit: The Muslim Unity Center Facebook)

Hundreds gathered for Friday afternoon prayers at The Muslim Unity Center (MUC) in Bloomfield Hills. The parking lot and the men’s and women’s galleries filled to capacity as mourners of all faiths listened to the words of  Imam Mohamed Almasmari as he spoke of how evil killings like this occur all over the world when there is an absence of moral character and spirituality.

The MUC also held a vigil on Sunday, as did mosques in Dearborn and Detroit.

Almasmari, who attended and spoke at a vigil held at Congregation Beth Shalom after the Pittsburgh murders, said that the most difficult moments also bring out the best in people. He noted that within hours of the New Zealand attack, he and his community had received an outpouring of love and solidarity from other faith and civic groups.

“The most difficult moments bring out the best in us,” said Almasmari to a gathering of hundreds at last Friday’s afternoon prayers. “Even when there are disagreements among our religious leaders, we will always stand together in solidarity. As Muslims, we have to branch out to receive support. We have to not wait but to reach out to each other in troubled times.”

Rabbis from many congregations were in attendance that afternoon, including Adat Shalom of Farmington Hills, Temple Beth El, Temple Israel and Kehilat Eytz Chayim.

At a Sunday vigil held at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Rabbi Asher Lopatin of Kehilat Eytz Chaim of Detroit spoke as the representative of the larger Jewish community. He said that upon entering the MUC on Friday to give comfort and support, it was he himself who felt welcomed and comforted by those who gathered there to mourn. After he spoke, he delivered the El Rachamim prayer, which he said was very similar to the Islamic prayer one says when there is news that someone has been killed.

Photo via Islamic Center of America Facebook


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Stacy Gittleman is an award-winning journalist and has been a contributing writer for the Detroit Jewish News for the last five years. Prior to moving to Metro Detroit in 2013, she was a columnist and feature writer for Gannett's Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, NY. She also manages social media pages for other local non-profit organizations including the Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit. Contact her with breaking news and feature story ideas that impact Detroit's Jewish community at stacy.gittleman@yahoo.com