While many in the St. Louis region will be opening presents on Christmas Day, a group of volunteers will spend the day giving back to the community.
Jewish and Muslim Day of Community Service is an interfaith event that brings together the religious and nonreligious to participate in dozens of service activities across the region. The annual event involving the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis and the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis began in 2010 and has attracted more than 1,000 volunteers of all backgrounds.
Julia Williams, the Jewish co-chair for the event, said service is a key part of both Muslim and Jewish faiths.
“It is something we really agree on. Something we really feel strongly about,” Williams said.
She said coming together to provide service also lets their Christian friends and neighbors know they are thinking of them.
“We understand that this is a very sacred time for you,” she said. “We support you in that. And we want to help out and step up and do acts of service on this day, so that you can have that time with your family.”
This year, the event also is focused on building a stronger community. The day will start with a community breakfast at the Dar-ul-Islam Mosque in Ballwin at 8:30 a.m. Then volunteers will have the opportunity to participate in activities to further understand the Muslim and Jewish cultures.
That includes an Ask Me Anything discussion with Muslim and Jewish community leaders, an opportunity to observe afternoon prayer at Dar-ul-Islam Mosque, learn about Islamic art, henna traditions, Hanukkah and the significance behind religious clothing.
Sophie Malik, the Muslim co-chair for the annual interfaith event, said these activities were added because volunteers wanted it.
“It’s just another way for us to understand each other a little bit better,” Malik said. “This was a little bit of feedback we had gotten over the years. We started a little bit last year, but this year we’re doing a little bit of a bigger focus on cultural traditions and classes and getting to know each other better.”
Volunteers will be able to participate in various service activities throughout the day, including making no-sew blankets for the Crisis Nursery, putting together chemotherapy care bags for patients at Missouri Baptist Hospital and visiting teens at the St. Louis City Juvenile Detention Center.