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December 09, 2010 - Image 38

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2010-12-09

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" 4

, f i. ,

Pt 1014

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i I

1, 1i

Health Fair Spurs
Interfaith Ties

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llness sees
no religious
and the com-
mandment to
heal the sick is
shared by Jews
and Muslims.
That was the
thinking behind
the Interfaith
Health Fair held
on Nov. 7, at the
Muslim Center
Mosque and Community Center in
Organized by the Jewish Community
Relations Council of Metropolitan
Detroit and the Council of Islamic
Organizations of Michigan, it brought
together some 60 Jewish and Muslim
volunteers — doctors, nurses, medi-
cal students, social workers and others
— to provide a series of basic medical
screenings to Detroiters.
The majority of the clients served
were African-American Christians from
the area, which increased the interfaith
interactions at the event. DTE Energy
Foundation, Great Lakes Health Plan and
Henry Ford Health Systems provided
the monetary and in-kind support that
made the event possible.
The health fair was considered by the
organizers, participants and clients to be
a great success. Twenty-five volunteers
who filled out a post-event survey rated
their overall volunteer experience as
"excellent" or "good." One volunteer said,
"The health screenings, counseling and
medications provided a real service for
those who sought them out:" A physi-
cian commented that it was a "great
concept bringing together professionals
of different faiths to work together to
help others."
A concrete indicator of the impact of
the event was that 30 of the 120 clients
served were found during the screenings



Matt Migliore

with fairgoer


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December 9 • 2010



and Muslim



Ahmer Ali

to need immediate
treatment or further
intervention; and
the adjacent Huda
Clinic was opened
and used to provide
that additional care.
The sugges-
tion of an inter-
faith health fair
originated from
the Foundation
for Ethnic
Understanding, an
organization founded by the renowned
Rabbi Marc Schneier that promotes
bridge-building between Jews, Muslims,
blacks, Latinos and other groups. The
idea also was a natural outgrowth of last
year's first-time involvement by Muslims
in Mitzvah Day, when almost a thousand
Jewish volunteers replaced Christian
workers on Christmas Day.
This Jewish community initiative is
echoed by Prophet Mohammad's dic-
tum: "The best among the people are
those who benefit the people."
Both efforts used pragmatic social
justice work to deliver an important
message about interfaith relations:
Beyond learning about other faiths, we
need to learn about the people who
ascribe to those other faiths. Working
side-by-side with them to help repair
the world breaks down stereotypes and
opens the door to new friendships and
perhaps even challenging but productive
We are commanded to help those in
need. Jews call the obligation tzedakah;
Muslims call it sadaka. Doing so as
partners is especially rewarding, mean-
ingful and symbolic. CI

Robert Cohen is executive director of

the Jewish Community Relations Council

of Metropolitan Detroit. Victor Begg

is co-founder of the Council of Islamic

Organizations of Michigan.

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