Nearly 600 Muslims prayed inside New York’s Central Synagogue last Friday, after being displaced from their own worship space.
When a New York mosque discovered that a fire had rendered their worship space unusable for Friday prayers, a neighboring Reform Jewish congregation jumped into action ― inviting the Muslims to pray inside their synagogue.
The spontaneous, last-minute invitation resulted in a profound moment of interfaith solidarity at New York City’s historic Central Synagogue, senior cantor Daniel Mutlu told HuffPost.
“We talk a lot about the unity of people and the unity of love and that was so apparent on that day,” Mutlu said.
Mutlu said he and other clergy and members of Central Synagogue gathered outside the Islamic Society of Mid-Manhattan last Friday afternoon to show support for local Muslims in light of New Zealand’s mosque massacres.
The March 15 shootings at two Christchurch mosques killed 50 people and injured dozens of others. The attacks, which occurred during weekly congregational prayer services, left many American Muslims anxious about security at their own mosques and Islamic institutions.
Congregants arrived at the Islamic Society of Mid-Manhattan on Friday afternoon to participate in the weekly prayer service and grieve together on the one-week anniversary of the attacks. But a fire in a restaurant located underneath the mosque on Wednesday damaged the worship space, NBC 4 New York reported.
The congregation’s imam was hoping inspectors would determine it was safe enough for people to enter on Friday, Mutlu said. It soon became clear that they would not be able to worship in their usual building.
After realizing the swelling crowd of worshippers could be turned away, a rabbi from Central Synagogue told the imam that the Muslims were welcome to worship inside its building, about a block away, Mutlu said. The imam accepted the offer and the rabbis led the Muslim congregation down the street to doors of the synagogue.