When plans were announced earlier this year to open a mosque in the heavily Jewish London neighborhood of Golders Green, local residents were up at arms, with more than 5,000 people signing a petition calling on the local council to deny the planned construction.
And yet, when the local Jewish community observed Mitzvah Day last month, dedicated to good deeds and communal values, members of the new Golders Green Islamic Centre arrived at a local synagogue to say hello and donate blood.
Imam Ibrahim Mogra, assistant secretary general of Britain’s Muslim Council, joined the activity. “It gives us an excellent opportunity to get to know our Jewish brothers and sisters, as well as people of other faiths,” he told the Independent.
Laura Marks OBE, Mitzvah Day’s founder, said the interaction was just what she had in mind when she came up with the idea. “The conversations people of different faiths and none are having, often for the first time—whether while chopping onions or entertaining the elderly or giving blood side by side—are the key to making a better society. These conversations start to break down any mistrust, show how much we have in common, and often lead to genuine and lifelong friendships.” Amen to that.