Last week, in the wake of the Manchester attack, an elderly Jewish woman named Renee Black, 93, and her Muslim friend, Sadiq Patel, 46, mourned the senseless violence. That moment went viral on social media, and soon became a symbol for interfaith friendship, tolerance and hope.
The two say they have been friends for ten years, having met through the The Interfaith Forum, a voluntary group dedicated to promoting harmony between different faiths and ethnic communities in England. Mr. Patel says that he often checks in on Ms. Black and drives her to her kosher market.
The friends said they had intended to stop at Albert Square in Manchester to pay their respects and leave a bouquet of flowers, but first Ms. Black and then Mr. Patel became emotional, thinking about the young lives lost. “As a Muslim, I felt quite nervous about going to Albert Square. You are never sure how people might react to you, because these radicalized terrorists have tarnished the Islam faith,” says Mr. Patel. “I was worried we might attract attention, but I was surprised by how much. The atmosphere was so somber and quiet and we both felt very emotional. Renee was really upset thinking about the poor children who died. For both us it felt incomprehensible that someone could take all those innocent lives in the name of faith. It’s certainly not a faith either of us recognizes.”
Ms. Black says that when she looks at her friend, “I don’t see a Muslim and when he looks at me he doesn’t see a Jew. He is one of my dearest and most caring friends. I don’t know what I’d do without him.”