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Jews, Muslims join to help Sandy victims

Ronkonkoma house destroyed by a tree after Hurricane

Ronkonkoma house destroyed by a tree after Hurricane Sandy rolled through the area. (Oct. 31, 2012) Credit: Ed Betz

Jewish and Muslim community leaders came together Tuesday to donate clothing, blankets and nonperishable food to help victims of superstorm Sandy in Hempstead.

A coalition of eight temples, mosques, schools and nonprofits from both communities joined with The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, a Manhattan-based nonprofit marking its fifth year pairing up temples and mosques throughout the world.

“When the hurricane struck, it didn’t make a distinction between Muslims and Jews, between believers and nonbelievers,” said Marc Schneier, the foundation’s president and rabbi at The Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach. “It’s important to send a message of unity ... not only to reflect our common faith, but our single destiny.”

Leaders from both communities also chose to continue their joint initiative despite tensions over ongoing clashes in Gaza.

“We thought it’s very important to stay together,” said Habeeb Ahmed, spokesman of the Islamic Center of Long Island. “These wars and conflicts will happen ... but the larger Muslim and Jewish communities shouldn’t stop working on projects that benefit the whole community.”

A Town of Hempstead spokesman said donated goods will be distributed door-to-door and through charitable groups in hard-hit communities.

Jay Rosenbaum, rabbi of Temple Israel of Lawrence, said the relief effort was a way for members of both faiths to follow religious precepts instructing them to help those in need and to fulfill their duties “as Americans, as citizens, in the spirit of Thanksgiving.”

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