Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louis Jews, Muslims Join for Day of Service (Copy)

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louis Jews, Muslims Join for Day of Service (Copy)

Article excerpt

WEST ST. LOUIS COUNTY * For Ansar Hyder and his family, this year's Jewish and Muslim community service day on Christmas Day was personal.

Hyder and his son, Rizwan, 16, spent part of their Christmas morning cutting fringes in two large pieces of fleece, then tying them together to make a "no sew" blanket. Their blanket, and others like it made Friday as part of the fifth annual Jewish and Muslim Day of Community Service, will be delivered to the St. Louis Crisis Nursery.

With Hyder and Rizwan was the teenager's younger brother, Rayyan, who received one of the blankets four years ago while at St. Louis Children's Hospital for treatment of a rare lung cancer.

Hyder, a Treasury Department bank examiner in St. Louis, said that at the time he was unaware of the blanket's origin. After Rayyan, now 12, endured two double-lung transplants, the day had come Friday for his family to join the effort that had helped comfort his younger son.

Rayyan, who assisted in making the blanket, said he feels fine.

Blankets were among items made at the service day's Little Projects, Little Hands program at which Jewish and Muslim children and parents made dog collars to support the PAWS project of St. Louis Effort for AIDS; decorated bags for Operation Food Search's Meals in a Bag program; and wrote cards for Girls Love Mail, an organization to help women with breast cancer.

Little Project, Little Hands work was done at the St. Louis Jewish Community Center, where the service day activities are based.

Jerry Hochsztein, co-chair of the community service event, told the large breakfast crowd at the start of the day that their efforts improved lives. "We have demonstrated that people of all faiths can work together for the betterment of the entire community," he said.

Afterward, he said in an interview that the service day focused on what unites people of different faiths and backgrounds.

Hochsztein, a lawyer in Clayton, said he tried to keep politics out of the event but added that in this time of resistance to immigration and fears of terrorism, the community service day in St. Louis provided some understanding.

"I realize it's on a small scale, but you've got to start somewhere," he said. …

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