Paying It Forward

Pittsburgh Jews Among Those Fundraising for New Zealand Mosque Massacre Victims

'Our Muslim family must know that they are not alone,’ say the Jewish solidarity for New Zealand Mosques drive organizers

Mourners lay flowers on a wall at the Botanical Gardens in Christchurch, New Zealand, Saturday, March 16, 2019.
Vincent Thian/AP

fundraising drive launched on Facebook called “Jewish Solidarity for New Zealand Mosques” has raised almost $100,000 to support the Muslim community in Christchurch, two days after a gunman murdered 50 people praying in two mosques there.

And in Pittsburgh, the Jewish community — still recovering from the massacre that claimed 11 lives at a synagogue during Shabbat services in October — the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh created a “New Zealand Attack Emergency Relief Fund” to support the Muslim community of the small country on the other side of the globe as it deals with the aftermath of one of the worst hate crimes in its history.

A joint relief fund is being planned by the city’s Tree of Life, New Light Congregation and Dor Hadash, the congregations targeted in October’s shooting, community leaders say.

>>Read more: After Christchurch and Pittsburgh, U.S. Jews and Muslims need each other more than ever | Opinion 

“In the wake of the Tree of Life shooting, the Muslim community banded together and raised over $240,000 for us. Anyone who is familiar with the Jewish and Muslim communities in Pittsburgh knows how closely we work together, not just because we are Jews and Muslims, but because we are Pittsburghers," Josh Sayles, director of the Community Relations Council of the Pittsburgh Federation, told Haaretz.

"And I hoped against hope that, four and a half months after October 27, we would never have to step up in the same way for the Muslim community or any community, anywhere, as a result of a mass shooting. But given what they did for us, we did not have to think twice,” Sayles added.

He also noted that within the first six hours of the fund opening on Friday, over $20,000 was raised from 300 donors. As of Sunday morning there were 2,000 donors, but it is not yet clear how much money has been raised.

On Friday, a white supremacist gunman killed 50 people and wounded 50 others during Friday prayers at two Christchurch mosques. It was the normally tranquil country's worst ever mass shooting.

The “Jewish Solidarity for New Zealand Mosques” fund is raising money for medical help for survivors and burial costs for the dead. It described its mission this way: “We are here to support and show up with strength against this violent display of racism and white nationalism. We are sending all our love and healing in this heavy time.” By press time, over 31,000 donors had given money to the fund.

On Sunday, noting the flood of support, its organizer posted: “Wow. Look at the kindness and generosity of our people. This is what active solidarity looks like. I want to thank everyone, so far, for making contributions and leading with compassion.”