Associated Press reports that a Jewish synagogue is rising in the hills of Arkansas, in large part because of the generosity of the project contractor: a Muslim immigrant from the West Bank.
Since 1981, members of Temple Shalom have practiced their faith where they could. The congregation bought a home to convert into a temple, but members abandoned their plans after residents complained that the synagogue would bring traffic to their neighborhood.
The Reform congregation then bought new land — and Fadil Bayyari got involved. The Springdale, Ark., general contractor agreed to waive his regular fee, saving Temple Shalom at least $250,000.
"Abraham is our forefather," Bayyari said. "We're first cousins. How we got to hate each other is beyond me."
Bayyari, who built the mosque in Fayetteville, said his kinship with the Jewish congregation also stems from the fact that his faith community, too, lacked its own building until the mosque was completed.
Jeremy Hess, a founding member of Temple Shalom and the building project coordinator, said the synagogue will be open to all. He said working with Bayyari taught him that "you can't judge anyone except by the character of who they are."