An interfaith initiative whereby imams erect a sukkah outside their local mosque has expanded this year to include three large Muslim communities in London and Birmingham.
The idea began in 2015 after the terrorist attack against a kosher supermarket in Paris, when leaders of the Al Khoei Mosque in Willesden approached local rabbis to create the first sukkah to celebrate the Jewish festival of Sukkot.
This year, Al Manaar Mosque near Grenfell and Idaara Maarif-e-Islam in Birmingham have both put up sukkah booths all week outside their mosques, and are inviting school children and people of all faiths and none to visit these “pop-ups of hope”.
The Al-Khoei Foundation in London created an entirely “kosher” Sukkah booth outside their front door in partnership with the local Jewish community from Brondesbury Park Synagogue for an interfaith breakfast open to everyone.
Likewise Al Manaar, the Muslim Heritage Centre, is constructing its own Sukkah to host an interfaith lunch, while in Birmingham, Idaara Maarif-e-Islam have built a Sukkah on their Mosque grounds to host members from Birmingham Progressive Synagogue and other faith communities for an interfaith lunch. This is the first year that the Mosque has hosted the Jewish community for the festival.
“To build a Sukkah, a little booth with no doors, is to celebrate hospitality and welcome in the stranger,” said Rabbi Natan Levy of Faiths Forum for London said.
“Until the mosque built this shelter of welcome, many members of my community were wary of mosques and steered cleared of them, but the Sukkah is a big embrace, a huge welcome sign. It has made us Jews sit up and take notice. How often can you eat a kosher bagel in a Sukkah at a Mosque and learn from wise rabbis and imams both?”
Mustafa Field, director of Faiths Forum for London, said: “With growing concern of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, it is important to remember that our communities, historically, have always supported each other and will always continue to do so.”
“Sukkot is one of three major festivals for the Jewish community and we are proud to support this initiative to build new relationships and deepen our understanding of religious traditions. We will continue to come closer and work together.”