Two Israeli Arab timber suppliers have offered to donate wood paneling to a Conservative synagogue in the northern city of Haifa that suffered extensive damage by last week’s brush fires.
Walid Abu-Ahmed and Ziad Yunis decided to supply the wood free of charge and cover the labor costs after the congregation’s rabbi, Dov Hiyon, sought estimates for synagogue repair work, the Ynet news site reported Thursday.
“I had tears in my eyes when I heard what was happening,” Hiyon said. “It was so emotional to hear that Muslims were asking to donate to a Jewish synagogue. I’ve invited them to evening prayers to personally thank them.”
“Jews and Arabs live together in Haifa, and there is no discrimination,” said Abu-Ahmed. “We must continue with this co-existence and promote peace.”
Abu-Ahmed added that Islam was a religion of forgiveness.
“We are all people,” he said. “I call on all citizens — Arabs and Jews everywhere — to continue to live in co-existence. We all want to live happy lives.”
Gadi Gvaryahu, chairman of Tag Meir, an anti-racist organization, said, “We need to extend our outreach to the majority of the Israeli-Arab population which is interested in co-existence. The wood supplier and the carpenter are a better representation of the Israeli-Arab population than the extremists.”
On Wednesday, the synagogue hosted Muslim and Christian leaders to issue a joint call for the “fires of hatred” to be extinguished.