Thorn­hill syn­a­gogue part­ners with mosque

The two neigh­bour­hood con­gre­ga­tions wel­come Syr­ian refugee fam­ily to Canada

Richmond Hill Post - - NEWS - by Mal­lory Chate

Tem­ple Har Zion (THZ) syn­a­gogue wanted to spon­sor a Syr­ian refugee fam­ily. The Imam Mahdi Is­lamic Cen­tre (IMIC) did too.

The syn­a­gogue and mosque share a park­ing lot on Bayview Av­enue on the Markham side of Thorn­hill.

In team­ing up and wel­com­ing the Elen­dari fam­ily into Canada, the two cen­tres be­came a fam­ily of their own.

“We wanted to show peo­ple that these com­mu­ni­ties, al­though they look dif­fer­ent in the po­lit­i­cal world, there are lots of com­mon grounds,” said Alireza Tora­bian, co-chair from the IMIC.

Tora­bian, along with fel­low co-chairs Af­saneh Beigi, An­drew Hazen and Martin Gin­sh­er­man, broached the idea in Novem­ber 2015 to THZ to spon­sor a refugee fam­ily and cre­ated the Refugee Project. It was the start of a new re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two con­gre­ga­tions.

Prior to the Refugee Project, de­spite re­sid­ing be­side each other in Thorn­hill for years, the two con­gre­ga­tions’ main in­ter­ac­tions con­sisted of shar­ing meet­ing sched­ules and a park­ing lot. This was the first big team en­deav­our.

When the project of­fi­cially lauched in March 2016, each con­gre­ga­tion held fundrais­ers, rais­ing ap­prox­i­mately $25,000.

Over the past three months, the two con­gre­ga­tions have been col­lect­ing fur­ni­ture, ar­rang­ing liv­ing ac­com­da­tions and work­ing to get the fam­ily proper health care and jobs. Then they waited to see which fam­ily they would be spon­sor­ing.

On Jan 11, the Elen­dari fam­ily, a fam­ily of eight, ar­rived at Toronto Pear­son In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

Hazen, co-chair from THZ, said this project has been a good op­por­tu­nity to “pay it for­ward.” He said the mo­tives for this project were to help a fam­ily, demon­strate “tikkun olam” — a phrase in Hebrew that means “heal and re­pair” — and fi­nally, to col­lab­o­rate with the mosque. He said he wants this project to show peo­ple that Canada is a place where these sorts of re­li­gious and com­mu­nal al­liances can hap­pen.

“We, as Mus­lim Ira­nian im­mi­grants, salute this col­lab­o­ra­tion, for a bet­ter re­la­tion­ship and friend­ship be­tween two cen­tres,” said Beigi.

Cur­rently the com­mit­tee doesn’t have any other spe­cific pro­jects lined up, but Beigi hopes that to­gether they can col­lab­o­rate on other as­pects in the fu­ture.

We, as Mus­lim Ira­nian im­mi­grants, salute this col­lab­o­ra­tion.”

Mem­bers from Tem­ple Har Zion and the Imam Mahdi Is­lamic Cen­tre

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