JEWISH AND MUSLIM CHRISTMAS DAY OF COMMUNITY SERVICE CELEBRATES SIXTH YEAR; ADDS LOCATION FOCUSED ON ASSISTING SYRIAN REFUGEES

On Christmas Day, the Islamic Foundation of Greater Saint Louis and the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis (JCRC) through its Milford and Lee Bohm Social Justice Center will host the sixth annual St. Louis area-wide “Jewish and Muslim Day of Community Service.”

The two faith communities are working together to organize and volunteer in a large scale coordinated effort, bringing together individuals of all faith backgrounds as well as those of no faith. Twenty five agencies– the largest number yet– have been identified as sites that will host needed volunteers. Organizers of the event feel this effort is especially needed this year, given a political campaign season marked by rhetoric hateful to Muslims and other immigrant communities.

“This has been a difficult year for the Muslim community, with hate crimes locally and nationally on the rise,” said Sophie Malik, event co-chair for the Islamic Foundation. “This project brings together people of the Jewish and Muslim faiths, as well as volunteers of all religious backgrounds, to showcase our shared commitment to helping others in a holy
way. “

“As Jews, we feel a special call this year to embrace our friends in the Muslim community through this event, “said Jerry Hochsztein, co-chair for JCRC. “Our goal is to make this year’s program the biggest and best yet to send a message of love, inclusion and interfaith understanding to the larger St. Louis community.”

As a reflection of this changing climate, this year’s event welcomes the International Institute as a new service site. Volunteers will be joining a welcome party for children of all ages who are recent immigrants to St. Louis, mainly from war-torn Syria. “We are so excited to have volunteers from the Jewish and Muslim Day of Community Service visit with children from newly-resettled families this Christmas,” said Anna Crosslin, Executive Director of the International Institute. “The first few months in a new country are difficult for refugees, especially refugee children. Visitors coming to welcome them with games, books and other fun activities will be so appreciated.”

The event will begin at 9:00 AM will a community breakfast at the Daar Ul Islam Mosque located at 517 Weidman Road 63011. The breakfast will include a blessing for social action and a celebration of coming together. Participants will leave from the breakfast to their community service sites.

For a list of service sites and activities, sponsoring individuals and organizations, and to sign up for the event, please visit http://www.jewishmuslimdayofservicestl.org or contact Gail Wechsler, Director of Domestic Issues/Social Justice for the Jewish Community Relations Council at 314-442-3894 or gwechsler@jcrcstl.org You can also find information on how to donate money or supplies to help support the event by visiting the event website. Those wishing to participate on Christmas Day are asked to sign up no later than December 15.

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