Detroit: Many Jews consider Christmas Day
an opportunity to serve their community while Christian
neighbours celebrate their holiday. This year, what`s also
known as Mitzvah Day in southeast Michigan is getting an added
boost from Muslims.
For the first time, about 40 Muslims are expected to
join 900 Jews for what they call their largest annual day of
Leaders say it`s a small but significant step in
defusing tensions and promoting good will between the
religions - particularly on a day that is sacred to
Christianity, the third Abrahamic faith.
Mitzvah Day, a nearly 20-year tradition in the Detroit
area also practised in other communities, is so named because
Mitzvah means "commandment" in Hebrew and is generally
translated as a good deed.
The new partnership stemmed from a recent meeting
between members of the Council of Islamic Organisations of
Michigan, the Jewish Community Relations Council and the
Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit - which said it was
unaware of any similar Mitzvah Day alliances.
The Jewish groups organise Mitzvah Day, which consists
of volunteers helping 48 local social service agencies with
tasks such as feeding the hungry and delivering toys to
children in need.