A Synagogue in Fayetteville - Mazel Tov, Mabruk!

Sheila Musaji

Posted Dec 20, 2009      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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A Synagogue in Fayetteville - Mazel Tov, Mabruk!

by Sheila Musaji

TAM has a resource collection of articles on Religious Heroism and this story certainly needs to be added to that collection.  It is particularly important in the current climate of mistrust between the Muslim and Jewish communities.

Fadil Bayyari is a contractor in Fayetteville, Arkansas who immigrated from Tulkarem in the West Bank and had built the first Mosque in Fayetteville.  So far nothing very unusual.  Then, he heard about the difficulties the local Jewish community was having in building a Synagogue, and that is where this becomes a story of real interfaith cooperation.  Mr. Bayyari stepped in and offered to help the Jewish community by offering his contracting services free of charge, thus saving them about $250,000 in expenses and allowing the project to go forward.

According to an article in Morning News: “Calling himself a “student of the similarities” between Islam, Judaism and Christianity, Bayyari said he approached Hess through a friend in the local Rotary Club about lending his services. He said he thought it would be an important way to show his support. ...  “We are all children of God when you look at it,” Bayyari said.  He noted that, if you trace Islam and Judaism to their roots, both begin with Abraham. He said meeting with Hess he saw how the two faiths shared common themes, and so did the people.  “We grew up in the same house, except his father was Jewish and my father was a Muslim,” Bayyari said.”

The Jewish Journal reports“I was born and raised in the West Bank,” said Bayyari. “I’ve been in the U.S. for 36 years and northwest Arkansas for 27…. I respect other peoples’ ways of life, other peoples’ religion.”  “We’re children of God, every one of us,” he added. “I’ve been brought up that way and ... I raise my kids that way—to respect other peoples’ cultures and religion. And in my heart I decided I’m going to help them. ...  “I’m hoping that what we’re doing here will be an example for others to follow around the U.S., and maybe this will be taken back to ... Palestine and Israel,” Bayyari said. “If we get along with each other here, respect each other, and have wonderful relationships, then maybe they want to do the same. They’ve had wars for centuries. Maybe it’s about time to build up some good will and respect for each other’s way of life.”

Temple Shalom is now complete and has just opened and you can see the local TV report on the dedication here, and visit the Temple Shalom website to see the building here

UPDATE 1/23/2012

Tablet Magazine reports Near the corner of Westchester Avenue and Pugsley Street in Parkchester, just off the elevated tracks of the No. 6 train, Yaakov Wayne Baumann stood outside a graffiti-covered storefront on a chilly Saturday morning. Suited up in a black overcoat with a matching wide-brimmed black fedora, the thickly bearded 42-year-old chatted with elderly congregants as they entered the building for Shabbat service.

The only unusual detail: This synagogue is a mosque.

Or rather, it’s housed inside a mosque. That’s right: Members of the Chabad of East Bronx, an ultra-Orthodox synagogue, worship in the Islamic Cultural Center of North America, which is home to the Al-Iman mosque.

After the congregants of this Orthodox synagogue could no longer afford their rent, they found help in the local mosque in the Bronx, New York



A shul grows in Dixie—Insha’Allah, James Freedman http://www.jewishjournal.com/up_front/article/a_shul_grows_in_dixie_inshaallah_20070914/
A temple of peace http://atempleofpeace.com/news.html
Boston Jew and West Bank Muslim Build a Temple, and Bridges, in Arkansas http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/06/us/06religion.html?_r=1 
Jews and Muslims help build Fayetteville’s first Synagogue http://www.kfsm.com/news/northwestarkansas/kfsm-news-temple-shalom-grand-opening-fayetteville,0,4730290.story

originally published 12/20/2009