Blessed are the Muslim peacemakers – repairing a synagogue in Haifa

The burnt remains of Moriah synagogue in Haifa (Photo: Facebook/Rabbi Dubi Haiyun)

Arab Muslim wood suppliers consoled a tearful rabbi in Northern Haifa by offering free help ad supplies in repairing a conservative synagogue.

“I had tears in my eyes when I heard what was happening. It was so emotional to hear that Muslims were asking to donate to a Jewish synagogue,” Rabbi Dubi Haiyun told Ynet News. “I’ve invited them to evening prayers to personally thank them.”

Moriah Synagogue in the Ahuza neighborhood was damaged after recent fires spread out of control at numerous locations around Israel. Haifa was hit hard with some 500 properties completely destroyed and 1,300 others damaged. Timing was crucial in fighting the fires – two minutes earlier “and we would have lost everything,” Haiyun estimated.

Burnt books at Moriah synagogue in Haifa. (Photo: Facebook/Rabbi Dubi Haiyun)
Burnt books at Moriah synagogue in Haifa. (Photo: Facebook/Rabbi Dubi Haiyun)

Wood supplier Walid abu-Ahmed confounded expectations with his generous response to the congregation’s loss: When asked by the synagogue for a quote for repairs, he and his colleague Ziad Yunis offered the wood for free. Carpenter Shachar Sela also provided labor without charge.

“Jews and Arabs live together in Haifa, and there is no discrimination,” abu-Ahmed said. “We must continue with this co-existence and promote peace.”

Haifa remains a bastion of peaceful co-existence between the mixed Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Druze population. Unlike Jerusalem, Haifa’s communities are mostly integrated throughout the city, rather than residents living in separate pockets.

A key symbol of this Haifa unity is the current December food festival with 25 chefs representing each community, expecting to attract upwards of 40,000 visitors. The 2015 festival took place in the midst of a national spree of stabbings, terrorism that barely touched the northern city.

While a portion of Israel’s fires were believed to have been started with Islamic terrorist motivation, the police are still investigating.

In the face of evil, there remain those who live out the words of a Jewish carpenter who said some 2,000 years ago, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” (Matthew 5:9)

“We are all people. I call on all citizens – Arabs and Jews everywhere – to continue to live in co-existence. We all want to live happy lives.” abu-Ahmed insisted.