The war in Syria is now in it’s sixth year, and it is one of the great crises of our times – half a million people have been killed, and half the country have been forced from their homes. Many people around the world feel helpless, with no way of helping those suffering. But last month, in a beautiful event at Brandeis University, Jewish and Muslim students came together, united by the common cause of helping those suffering – a ray of light in a very dark storm.
CAMERA-supported group Judges For Israel joined the Muslim Student Association and other campus groups at Brandeis to bake goods, which were sold to raise money for the refugees. Specifically, the money went towards two of the Israeli hospitals that are helping the Syrian refugees (which are just some of the Israeli initiatives to help Syrian refugees). The Ziv Medical Center has given medical help to thousands of Syrian refugees during the past few years. Amaliah is another Israeli hospital, right on the border of Syria and Israel, which works with civilians to try to create a safe space whilst treating those who need medical assistance. More than one thousand dollars was raised at the event, for these Israeli hospitals working for the Syrian refugees.
But the event itself was special, because of the unique atmosphere that was created. The words of one of the participants speak for themselves. “Before the event we had a dinner (for Judges for Israel and Muslim Student Association) to get to know each other and plan the fundraiser,” said Aviya Zarur, CAMERA fellow at Brandeis. “It was supposed to be a business meeting but we all got along so well and couldn’t stop talking it was hard for the presidents to get us to focus!”
“When we got together with them again to bake the cookies it felt like we were meeting up with friends. While the dough was being made or when there was no work that needed to be done the guys on both boards started playing video games and hanging out as friends. I think the best part about all of this was that when people noticed us getting along so well at the actual sale they weren’t taken aback. Why wouldn’t JFI and MSA be having a fundraiser together? It wasn’t questioned or apposed. Nobody came up to us to ask about political, or religious differences or whether there was tension at all.”
The Middle East often looks like it is stuck in an endless cycle of war and fighting. But in a small corner of Massachusetts, a model for interfaith and co-operation was created for an evening. Let us hope this can spread to the Middle East itself as well.
Contributed by Aron White, CAMERA intern