Top Menu

Synagogue Donates to Burned California Mosque

‘Brothers in faith’

by Roger Phillips

Oldest synagogue in East Bay reaches out to Stockton mosque

STOCKTON – Worshippers at the Masjid al Emaan mosque congregate in a nondescript office park on Pershing Avenue in north Stockton. The mosque has been around for only a few years, and its small membership has diminished in the aftermath of an unsolved arson fire seven months ago.

Temple Sinai in Oakland is the oldest synagogue in the East Bay, dating back more than 130 years, with nearly 1,000 member families. In terms of its history and size, it would seem to be much farther from Masjid al Emaan than a mere 75-minute drive.

And yet, when members of Temple Sinai learned of the fire that damaged Masjid al Emaan, they were moved. Recently, the temple donated $100 to Masjid al Emaan. Mosque officials say it is the only contribution they have received from outside the Muslim community.

“That’s wonderful,” said Basel Karabala, the mosque’s vice president and treasurer. “It’s a beautiful gesture. Unfortunately, people don’t know the history behind that. You had Jews and Muslims and Christians living side by side for thousands of years. The flare-ups have only been in the last 60 or 70 years. Before that, for eons, we had been living in peace.”

The temple’s rabbi, Andrew Straus, also noted the relationship between Jews and Muslims. Straus said that in making the contribution, his congregation was saying, “Yes, there have been strains and challenges, but like us, you were created in God’s image, and when one suffers tragedy, one forgets the strains in a relationship and says, ‘You are our brothers.’ ”

Masjid al Emaan’s 60 members worship in office space in the same office park that housed their previous facility, which was destroyed by the fire. Mosque officials are looking for a more permanent rental site with the long-range goal of purchasing a facility.

They do not plan to apply the temple’s donation to rent and also said there are no plans to put the $100 into a fund to be applied later toward purchase of a facility because Muslim religious law forbids investing money for interest. Instead, the mosque plans to make a donation of its own.

“Maybe we can use that money and feed the poor, maybe in the Bay Area or in Stockton,” Karabala said.

Straus said, “I was not aware of that. That’s a decision for them to make. We’re saying, ‘Losing a building in a fire, with the emotional and physical harm that causes, we want to help you.’

“We wanted to reach out to the Muslim community and say, ‘We are brothers in faith. We’ve been there. We remember and we want to reach out to you.’ ”

Contact reporter Roger Phillips at (209) 546-8299 Visit his blog at


, , , , , , ,

  • Just Stopping By

    @Hamza: Well said. I agree with you: we should not let violent acts by a few be taken as representative of the broader community. The burning of a Tunisian synagogue earlier this year was tragic, but does not mean that that action was supported by Tunisia or by most Tunisians. Only a bigot would attempt to blame the entire country or Muslims generally for the bad acts of a few people. Salaam!

  • Hamza

    @ skeptic
    get informed would you ! in tunisia which happens to be my country the synagogues were burned by those loyal to Ben ali in order to cause interfaith violence thus turning people’s attention away but i guess it would’ve worked only on gullible people like u and no jews were harmed moreover mentioning Tunisia as back up for your statements is ironic seeing how of all the arab countries its the only one in which violence on minority is scarce if there at all and all u have to do is ask any of them and hear their response.

  • Skeptic

    @Just Stopping By,

    That’s what I was trying to say, You think those muslims care if those jews were zionist or not? When the Sh*t hits the fan, all of the jews(zionist or not) will suffer greatly like the arab spring in Tunisia where the synagogues are destroyed.

  • Just Stopping By

    @Skeptic: You say that “Don’t lie to yourself because when truth comes to shove, their synagogues …” I think I have a pretty good stake in this that should give me an interest in not lying to myself, because your comment to me could (or should) have said “your synagogues.”

    And, based on my experience with Muslims in America, I’m quite confident that our synagogues are not under any serious “homegrown terrorism” threat.

    At worst, we have to deal with the rants of those who should, well, eat crow, after condemning “the zionists and their evangical christian supporters,” for spreading hate between Muslims and Jews, apparently not realizing that (1) the synagogue that made the donation is Zionist and (2) you shouldn’t blindly replace the word “jews” with “zionists” because sometimes that’s not appropriate, even if you were told that that’s the way to express yourself in public.

  • Skeptic

    @Just Stopping By,

    Don’t lie to yourself because when push comes to shove, their synagogues will be destroyed like the “Israeli/Mossad Secret Agents”.

    Israel is just an excuse for them to discriminate, who knows what the other american muslims are really thinking?

  • quote:
    Pascal Says:
    I wonder if Muslims ever donate when Islamists burn Christian churches and schools.
    –end quote.

    You’re not suggesting the mosque was burned down by a …

  • Just Stopping By

    @Skeptic: Perhaps not Israeli agents, but the website of the synagogue that made the donation to the mosque shows that it is clearly pro-Zionist/pro-Israel. But, so what? People of different political positions can certainly behave in a positive way to others.

  • Skeptic

    How many of you wanna bet when push comes to shove, the ordinary jews will accused of being Israeli agents yet again?

  • bilal

    this hatred between muslims and jews has always struck me as strange given the fact that our religions are simmilar in so many ways, there are so many oppurtunities to find common ground and build bridges, all we have to do is try.

  • Pascal

    I wonder if Muslims ever donate when Islamists burn Christian churches and schools.

  • SKhan


  • UK Muslim

    Salam & shalom. This heart-warming gesture by a Jewish community is an example of what the future can be & the choices we make.

    The amount is not important but the fraternal standing together of families in a common civil society, seeing one another as members. The history is beautiful, earlier Semitic faith immigrants to the latest.

    After the emotive tribal politics of Zionism & reactions to it is settled, we can look forward to the longer history of general mutual respect, maybe more, inshaAllah.

  • Young & Free

    Awww that is so sweet of them! <3

  • Nav

    I can remember how my grandparents used to tell me how the Jews looked after them when they first arrived in Scotland from Pakistan. They ate Kosher as back then there where no Halal meat shops and the Jews even performed the Khatna on Muslim baby boys.

    It’s a shame how things are now between Muslims and Jews.

  • Al

    Wow what a nice gesture

  • Crow

    Again Muslims and Jews are natural friends and allies. It’s the zionists and their evangical christian supporters that brought hate and evil and want to acp as if Muslims and Jews were always enemies.

  • mindy1

    😀 😀 Shalom. Salaam and peace to all. Stories like this make me smile. It’s true, Jews and Muslims used to get along-what happend 🙁

Powered by Loon Watchers