Members of two synagogues visited their Muslim neighbours at a Cricklewood mosque on Yom Kippur after the driver of a car earlier reported for anti-social behaviour rammed into worshippers, seriously injuring two.
The incident at the Al-Majlis Al-Hussaini centre, at the junction of Oxgate Lane and Edgware Road in Brent, occurred in the early hours of Wednesday morning, prompting a response of “solidarity” from the Reform shuls.
A delegation from Shir Hayim, based in West Hampstead, as well as the Willesden minyan, brought flowers and comfort on the High Holy Day, and said they stand side-by-side with the Muslim community, which had been marking Ashura.
Police said they were searching for the vehicle and its occupants, adding that they were treating the incident as an Islamophobic hate crime.
Shul member Daniel Mackintosh tweeted that they “went to visit our Muslim neighbours, to tell them we stand in solidarity with them against hatred”.
He added: “It was a really important moment to be together. Now some leaders from the Association are coming for a Sukkot meal. So awful to hear stories of shock and fear. Solidarity is the only way to confront racism.”
Trainee rabbi Deborah Blausten, said it was a scene of “two communities, intermingled congregants, praying side-by-side, a glimpse of the world as it might be”.
In response, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said it was “a lovely gesture”.
Detective Chief Superindentent Simon Rose of Barnet and Harrow police said the attack was “being dealt with as a critical incident, as an Islamophobic hate crime, and as a racist hate crime,” although not a terrorist incident.
Board of Deputies Vice President Edwin Shuker condemned responded to the incident, saying: “We denounce the attack on worshippers outside an Islamic Centre in Cricklewood. The rise in anti-Muslim hostility should alarm all of us. According to Tell MAMA, 2017 saw a rise of 16.3% in reports of anti-Muslim incidents, making that the highest number ever recorded. Similarly, Jewish communities have also suffered record levels of antisemitic attacks in 2017 and 2018, according to CST. An attack on one community is an attack on all of us, and the Jewish community stands in solidarity with Muslims as we challenge hate together.”
2 nights ago, the Al Husseini centre in Cricklewood was attacked when 3 Islamaphobes drove a car into worshippers leaving a late night study session. On Yom Kippur, our shul went to visit our Muslim neighbours, to tell them we stand in solidarity with them against hatred. pic.twitter.com/W9Y4d6zzkP
— (((Daniel Mackintosh))) (@mckdnl) September 20, 2018
Mustafa Al-Balaghi, a member of the Al-Hussaini Association said: “Brothers and sisters, thank you – it is very much appreciated. I want you to know – we would have done the same for you. If you were attacked, we would come to stand alongside you.”
Rabbi Daniel Lichman added that his “community was shocked by the news of this devastating hate crime, committed against a community who had gathered, like us, for religious practice on a sacred day. It was clear that we should reach out in solidarity, offering comfort in any way we could to our neighbours. There at the association’s centre I listened to the experiences of one man who had jumped out of the way; I heard another speak of being the first to tend to the injured. I heard their shock and fear. We offered a traditional Jewish prayer for healing and prayer for peace.’
Debbie Danon, co-chair of the Willesden Minyan said:”When we heard about the hate attack, it wasn’t even a question for us. We knew we had to do something to show our support as Jews and as neighbours – not in spite of it being Yom Kippur, but because of it.
“Our friends at Shir Hayim also invited Al Husseini leaders to share a meal in the Sukkah next week. We hope this will be a defining moment for the Willesden Minyan and Shir Hayim, starting us on a path to building strong relationships with our Muslim neighbours based on trust, hospitality and a shared vision for a peaceful city.’
Anne Kinderlerer and Martin Dives, chair and vice-chair of Shir Hayim said: “When, in the Yom Kippur service we remember our own history of oppression with many of our members who lived through it, it is vital that we stand against hate, different communities supporting each other to bring peace, dialogue, understanding and mutual respect.”
LISTEN to this week’s episode of the Jewish Views podcast: