Jewish community members in Victoria, Texas have offered local Muslims the use of their synagogue after the Victoria Islamic Center — the only mosque in the area — burned down this past Saturday for unknown reasons.
While an online GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $900,000 to rebuild the mosque, thanks to the town’s Jewish population, the mosque-goers will have somewhere to worship in the meantime.
“Everyone knows everybody, I know several members of the mosque, and we felt for them. When a calamity like this happens, we have to stand together,” Robert Loeb, the president of Temple Bnai Israel, told Forward. “We have probably 25 to 30 Jewish people in Victoria, and they probably have 100 Muslims. We got a lot of building for a small amount of Jews.”
Shahid Hashmi, who helped found the mosque in 2000, told Forward: “Jewish community members walked into my home and gave me a key to the synagogue.”
The person behind the GoFundMe campaign, Omar Rachid, said: “Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the tremendous support we’ve received. The outpouring of love, kind words, hugs, helping hands and the financial contributions are examples of the true American spirit.”
Federal officials are investigating what caused the fire, noting that burglars have hit the mosque before.
This time, a convenience store clerk first discovered that the mosque was ablaze at around 2 a.m. this past Saturday morning. Although the clerk called the fire department and officials reported that there were no injuries, the fire took more than four hours to put out and did immense structural damage in the meantime.
The fire broke out the morning after President Trump’s declaration of his travel and immigration ban, which blocks people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
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