In four days’ time, 4,500 donors raised over $186,000 to pay for Jewish funerals for the 11 killed in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. The organizers, Celebrate Mercy and MPower Change, two Muslim-led groups who welcomed donations no matter the faith.
LaunchGood, the host of the fundraising efforts is a Muslim-centered organization. Tarek El-Messidi, a Chicago-based activist and his friend came up with the idea as soon as they heard about the shooting.
“Putting our religious differences or even your political differences aside, the core of all of us is that we have a shared humanity,” Mr. El-Messidi said, in an interview. “We really wanted to reach out as human beings to help.”
The page reads in part: “Through this campaign, we hope to send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities that there is no place for this type of hate and violence in America,” the page reads, “We pray that this restores a sense of security and peace to the Jewish-American community who has undoubtedly been shaken by this event.”
Linda Sarsour of MPower Change said of the efforts: “We wanted to give more than just ‘thoughts and prayers’.
Money, in installments, is being transferred quickly to the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh that has a relationship with Tree of Life.
“Josh Sayles, director of community relations for the Jewish Federation, said, “the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh are true friends of the Jewish community here. They have stepped up for us in countless ways.”
At a Sunday night vigil, executive director of ICP, Wasi Mohammed, said, “We just want to know what you need. If it’s more money, let us know. If it’s people outside your next service protecting you, let us know we’ll be there.”
Any additional money over the funeral costs will be to increase collaboration between the two faiths.
El-Messidi previously raised $136,000 LaunchGood to repair hundreds of Jewish headstones vandalized in St. Louis and Philadelphia.
“In Islam, the idea of charity is something to strengthen your relationship with God.the right hand gives, the left hand doesn’t know,” Sarsour said.
Other supports for victims over the last few days: vigils across the city with people from all walks of faith, stores donating food and blood banks kept their doors open late. And the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team, which organized a blood drive, will collect money from fans before tonight’s game.
An Iranian immigrant in DC, Shay Khatiri, also started a fundraiser on GoFundMe, which has currently raised over $842,000 from over 14,000 donors.
He wrote on the page: “It is only fitting that Americans of all backgrounds immigrant, native-born, Jewish, atheist, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Muslim, etc. are uniting against this hateful act. America is beautiful!”