Jabaran Akram, 22, lives in Brighton Beach where he is the community liaison for Councilmember Chaim Deutsch as well as an auxiliary officer for the NYPD. Akram, whose parents hail from Pakistan, says that hate crimes have risen in his community, up
64%, with most of the crimes targeting Jewish people. Akram states that this is why it’s so important to stand with the Jewish community. “It’s important that we have interfaith dialogue and develop a basic understanding of each other’s cultures and values.”
As a Muslim, Akram says he was determined to learn more about his Jewish neighbors by spending Shabbos with them (which occurs from Friday sunset until Saturday sunset). During Shabbos, Jewish people cannot work or use electronics as they believe it is a time to detach themselves from material things and focus on their faith. During one of these times, Akram learned that the neighboring synagogue was flooded due to a pipe that had burst. To add more complications, there was a bar mitzvah scheduled for that weekend but none of his Jewish friends could use the phone to call and coordinate a plumber. That is when Akram sprang into action — he not only called the plumber but cleaned everything up in the synagogue so the bar mitzvah could proceed without a hitch.
“That situation was a real indication of how he is in a crisis,” says friend Tova Chatzinoff-Rosenfeld. “He jumped into action right away. He understood immediately what we were allowed to do and what we weren’t allowed to do.” Akram’s boss, who also serves as the chair of the NYC Jewish Caucus, concurs. “He does so much work in the community and does so much work building bridges between all communities. So Jabaran, thank you.”