Strengthening Ties: Services for the Muslim Community in St. Louis, Missouri

The Muslim community in St. Louis, Missouri is blessed to have access to a range of services and organizations that are devoted to helping its members. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) chapter in Saint Louis was established in 1976 by five local churches and has since become an independent, non-sectarian nonprofit organization. It provides transportation, meal delivery, referral services, and a community meeting place for members of the Muslim community.

The Jewish and Muslim Community Service Day is an annual event that has been taking place for eight years now. It is a Christmas tradition for many of its hundreds of volunteers, who come together to prepare meals for patients' families and staff, as well as offer to play with them. This day of service has been an important way for members of the Jewish and Muslim communities to strengthen their ties and build relationships. In addition, the Bosnian Islamic Center purchased a large plot of land in a local cemetery last August, making it the first Muslim cemetery in St.

Louis. This provides Muslims with a place to bury their loved ones according to their religious customs and rituals. The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and its Social Justice Center in Milford and Lee Bohm coordinated the first annual edition of the Jewish and Muslim Community Service Day. During this event, volunteers created unstitched blankets for Baptist chemotherapy bags in Missouri.

They also prepared meals for families and patient staff at Evelyn's House, a BJC palliative care center on the West County campus of Barnes-Jewish Hospital. The Muslim communities of Kansas City, Columbia, and Jefferson City maintain small funeral facilities, often inside mosques, to wash the bodies of the deceased. This allows Muslims to perform their religious rituals without relying heavily on non-Muslims to guide them through the death process. The event is held at Christmas to give returning volunteers the opportunity to celebrate the holiday with their families while also strengthening the relationship between the Jewish and Muslim communities. The number of volunteers has increased during this Day of Service in recent years due to an apparent rise in Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and political rhetoric that targets minority groups.

Raúl Mathiasen
Raúl Mathiasen

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