Detroit Interfaith Health Fair 311.
(photo credit: Rachel Malerman)
An interfaith group of Muslims, Jews and Chaldeans teamed up on Tuesday to
provide health-care services to the working poor and those without medical
insurance at the Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center in
“We’re helping the people who show up to this clinic and
fulfilling a need within the community,” said Robert Cohen, the executive
director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Detroit.
also trying to build trust and build relations between the Jewish and Muslim
communities in the city.”
The Interfaith Health Fair was organized by the
Jewish Community Relations Council of Detroit and the Council of Islamic
Organizations of Michigan and ran for four hours on Tuesday
Around 100 doctors, nurses, social workers and medical
students performed standard medical screenings, took blood samples, recorded
patients’ medical histories, and provided them with guidance on any necessary
follow-up, through a one-onone consultation with a physician.
approximately 68,000 Jews living in the Detroit metropolitan area and anywhere
between 150,000-200,000 Muslims.
Victor Ghalib Begg, chairman emeritus of
the Council of Islamic Organization for Michigan, said that it was crucial for
the Muslim and Jewish communities to have good relationships.
with the Jewish community as neighbors, our doctors work together in hospitals
and our kids go to school together. This initiative is helping provide an
important service to people who have no medical insurance but it’s also bringing
our communities closer together – Muslim, Jewish, suburban and inner-city,” said
Begg Tuesday’s health-care fair was the second such event, the first having
taken place in November last year.
The two community organizations have worked
together on previous projects such as a Christmas Day initiative dubbed “Mitzvah
Day,” in which Jewish volunteers – joined in recent years by members of the
Muslim community – have stood in for Christian communityservice workers on
Christmas Day to allow them to take a break on the holiday.
fair is part of an ongoing effort to make our community more inclusive,” Begg
said. “Our communities appreciate the work we do to bring the communities
together and we need more good news like this.”
“We’re hoping this kind
of message will be delivered in Palestine and Israel because we want to be an
example to others further afield,” he said.
The volunteers also included
a number of medical professionals from Detroit’s 125,000-strong Chaldean
community, an eastern Christian denomination of the Catholic Church.
with all Muslim-Jewish ties, Cohen explains, relations are strained because of
the conflict in the Middle East and the general support of each community for
“So we’re not trying to solve the conflict or even
engage in difficult conversations.
We are so far apart in the way we look
at the conflict there’s almost no common ground, but yet we live together
side-by-side in this city and it’s a good idea to get to know your neighbors.