Editorial: United against hate

Published March 3, 2017

The worst in us can bring out the best. Adeel Karim saw that firsthand in the outpouring of financial support after an arson fire damaged the Daarus Salaam Mosque in Thonotosassa. Soon after the Feb. 24 fire, Karim set up a crowd-funding campaign, and thousands of dollars poured in from the Jewish community.

"It's awesome," he said. "They were not only donating, but donating with a clear message."

Jewish donors helped Karim smash his $40,000 fundraising goal, the latest expression of the interfaith support that Jews and Muslims have offered each other in the wake of suspected hate crimes in recent months. In the bitter climate since the election, scores of bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers and schools. Federal authorities have arrested a St. Louis man and accused him of making eight of the dozens of threats, a wave of intimidation that has included vandalism of Jewish cemeteries.

"These despicable acts are bringing us together in ways that are going to last much longer, which is really a wonderful silver lining," Rabbi Jason Rosenberg of Tampa's Congregation Beth Am told the Tampa Bay Times' Tony Marrero. Karim described it as a "tidal wave of solidarity, which honestly we haven't seen in a long time."

This show of brotherhood in the face of hate and violence is inspiring. The community is stronger for its commitment to diversity and for the shared sense that a threat to one is a threat to all. The rabbi and other members of the synagogue have visited the mosque and joined worshipers in prayer, and Karim is using the fundraising effort to build new bridges in the community. This is faith and character in action.