Jews and Muslims combine for inter-faith mitzvah

Merle Haltrecht-Matte (left) and Dara Lithwick (rear), of Temple Israel's Social Action Committee with Imam Mohamad Jebara and Rabbi Steve Garten after serving a lunch, November 30, to about 25 women staying at Shepherds of Good Hope Shelter.

Merle Haltrecht-Matte (left) and Dara Lithwick (rear), of Temple Israel’s Social Action Committee with Imam Mohamad Jebara and Rabbi Steve Garten after serving a lunch, November 30, to about 25 women staying at Shepherds of Good Hope Shelter.

By Micah Garten for Temple Israel

Is it still a mitzvah if you have an amazing time performing it?

Eight Temple Israel congregants joined together with eight members of Cordova Islamic Academy, November 30, to perform a mitzvah for the woman staying at the Shepherds of Good Hope shelter.

The two groups gathered together in a small kitchen on the third floor of the shelter where roughly 65 women sleep each night. The volunteers brought the ingredients needed to make a delicious lunch and as they prepared the food they made introductions and shared laughter. As the residents of the shelter peaked in to see what all the commotion was about, they were invited to come in for some coffee and conversation. Pretty soon everyone was mingling and it became difficult to tell who was a client and who was a volunteer.

When the food was ready, everyone moved to the conference room where the shelter residents were served the meal. Some remarked that it was the best meal they had ever had and that they were so grateful for the whole experience.

And the smiles on the faces of the Jewish and Muslim volunteers shined equally as large with the knowledge that the event, which was beneficial and fun, made a real impact on the lives of some Ottawa’s most vulnerable women.

“To serve is the best way to move faith from words into action,” said Imam Mohamad Jebara of the Cordova Islamic Academy.

‘‘It was a pleasure to share a mitzvah with all. I look forward to many more moments of blessings,’’ added Rabbi Steven Garten, Temple Israel’s rabbi emeritus.

For more information on how you can help make a difference for the men and women living at Shepherds of Good Hope, contact Anna Silverman at 613-789-8210.

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