HADLEY – People of all religious backgrounds came together on Sunday to raise funds to help their Muslim neighbors open the long-awaited Hampshire mosque.
“I’m really happy, very impressed, and very touched that all these people came tonight,” Lucy Frasier, a junior at Mount Holyoke College who was raised Christian and is a convert to Islam, told The Recorder.
“It’s a great opportunity for people to come together and appreciate different beliefs and backgrounds, and to come to a greater understanding of each other.”
Hundreds of Muslims, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Buddhists, Unitarian Universalists, and people of no faith gathered in an interfaith fundraising event on Sunday, November 19.
Held at Wesley United Methodist Church in Hadley, the fundraising event, “Neighbors Together,” was held to help Muslim open their mosque.
The Hampshire Mosque has already raised and spent 1.5 million to acquire and renovate their new home on Russell Street in Hadley, but needs an additional $45,000 to resurface the parking lot in order to get an occupancy permit from the town.
Peter Blood, a Quaker Christian, and his wife Annie Patterson, had a leading role in organizing the event, which included a silent auction, a feast with many international cuisines, a presentation called “Faces of Islam,” and a detailing of the new mosque’s architecture and features.
Representatives of 42 businesses, artists and nonprofits helped sponsor the event.
“We have brought in a lot of support financially. We put the word out through Interfaith Opportunities Network, and people volunteered their time and went to different businesses to let people know about (the event),” Patterson said.
“This is about the community coming together, because we know we’re stronger together.”
Blood contacted many religious figures to attend the event, including Rabbi Justin David of the Congregation B’Nai Israel in Northampton.
Agreeing instantly, Rabbi David believes the evening symbolized the best in the American community.
“I really believe that, at its best, our society allows different faiths to plant roots and flourish. If a mosque can grow and thrive, we all can grow and thrive,” David said.
“Our differences are to be celebrated, not exploited.”