The following is an excerpt from the article “Mourning and evening: Memories of Things Past, and reflections on the days to come.”
Immediately after the Moore, Oklahoma, tornadoes of May 2013, I learned that one of the homes devastated in the storms was that of Saad Mohammed, a member of the board of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Oklahoma City.
I checked in to see how Saad was doing. Fine, he said: but the home was a total loss.
A friend, Rabbi Ovadia Goldman, was organizing relief efforts with the help of members and supporters of the Chabad Community Center he runs.
Ovadia asked me about Saad. I discerned the Rabbi was concerned because, sometimes in this world, it takes as much or more grace to accept help as it does to offer it.
Putting on my reporter hat, I had noticed that standing next to the brick wall of Mohammed’s house was a damaged outdoor grill, and mentioned it to the rabbi. I checked in with Saad, who said Ovadia’s offer of financial assistance was appreciated and would certainly be accepted.
Days later, I traveled to the mosque to which Saad belongs, there to meet him along with Goldman and Michael Barlow, president of the Chabad Center.
It was a friendly and productive exchange. Assistance was tendered, and something else.
Saad loves to grill meats for his family. Goldman asked if the family might enjoy receiving some ultra-Kosher meats which were being donated to tornado victims by an Iowa packing company. The company’s processing standards meet not only Orthodox Jewish, but strict Islamic, dietary requirements.
Beaming, Saad answered, “Yes, of course!”
A circle of relationship bloomed in a soil of caring, after the storm. That memory will sustain me so long as I am on this earth.
Just a couple of guys from Brooklyn, Mohammed and Goldman, and a couple of “us guys” from Oklahoma. And now, we’re all Okies.