Jews, Muslims build relationships after volunteer work

day-of-serviceBy Tara Kulash, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Some St. Louis Muslims and Jews are realizing that they share more in common than they may have thought.

"Good deed," for example, translates to very similar words in Judaic and Islamic texts.

So on Wednesday's third annual Day of Service, members of the Jewish community completed a tzedakah, and Muslims completed a sadaqah.

This year's Christmas Day event brought in more than 700 volunteers to do community service work at 21 sites, said Roberta Gutwein, co-chair for the Day of Service.

The idea was to help Christians rest on their holiday, but it also has resulted in an interfaith bond between Jews and Muslims.

Organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis, volunteers distribute hot meals and gift bags, visit senior living centers and juvenile detention centers, deliver cookies to fire stations and more.

Many of the volunteers start their day by sharing breakfast and hearing speeches from an imam and a rabbi.

Phyllis Markus, a three-time volunteer from Clayton, called the breakfast a chance for the two communities to break bread together.

"The feeling of connecting is palpable in the room," she said.

Afterward, groups that include both Jews and Muslims head to their sites. (Read more)


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