In Detroit, for the past seven years, both the Muslim and Jewish communities have worked together to break down stereotypes and barriers by doing just that – by working together. A good example of this occurred last week when more than 150 volunteers met at Nolan Elementary-Middle School to give the school a much- needed freshening up. Volunteers painted murals, cleaned and organized classrooms, and reorganized the school’s library.
“We heard there was a school in need of brightening up,” said Ellie Slovis, who is Jewish. “Principal Ricky Fountain got me very excited about being a part of it and making us feel that what we were doing was really important to the kids and their attitude coming to school, and to their self image of seeing bright walls and pretty pictures. We’re also using this as a way to bring the Jewish community and Muslim community together.”
Mariam Fahs, who is Muslim, helped orchestrate the event which was sponsored by the Michigan Muslim Community Council and Jewish Community Relations Council. “As a kindergarten teacher, I get children that come with blank canvasses,” said Ms. Fahs. “For a lot of my kids, this is their first experience ever in school, so for them, I want to make sure that this is the space for them to feel that not only is this space my school, but it’s my home. And with what we did last year, with beautifying the school, that was our first step. Next, it needed the color, it needed that inspirational feel, that warmth that students needed when they walked in.”