ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The local Jewish community is hosting an Iftar dinner for the Muslim community – as a sign of their friendship and growing solidarity.
The Iftar dinner comes at the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan — when Muslims fast during the daylight hours. Rori Picker Neiss with the Jewish Community Relations Council says they wanted to host the meal as a thank you for all the local Islamic community has done to help them over the past year — in the wake of Jewish Community Center bomb threats and the University City Jewish cemetery desecration.
“We have a strong friendship, we really want to say thank you,” Picker Neiss says. “We knew that Ramadan was coming up and we felt like what better sign of friendship, when you know that your friends are fasting, to then serve them food.”
Picker Neiss says all 200 slots for this Wednesday’s Iftar dinner were quickly filled. She says it’s the first time in St. Louis, that she knows of, where the Jewish community is inviting the Muslim community into their space. For the past six years, these two communities have been getting together on Christmas to take part in the Jewish and Muslim Day of Community Service.
Since Jan. 9, there have been more than 150 bomb threats against Jewish community centers and day schools in 37 states and two Canadian provinces, according to a report last week by the Anti-Defamation League. Most recently in St. Louis, the FBI was assisting St. Louis County police in an investigation of bomb threat at a local Jewish Community Center, in March.
Juan Thompson, who was transferred from St. Louis, has appeared in federal court in New York and was accused of making threats against at least eight Jewish community centers.
In February, vandals knocked over about 200 gravestones in a Jewish cemetery in University City. The Anti-Defamation League is offering a $10,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the cemetery vandal.
Picker Neiss says the local Muslim community helped in the clean up of that cemetery, and raise money for repairs.