If they build it ... | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

If they build it ...

Posted By on Tue, Oct 2, 2007 at 5:40 PM

From the good news category, an ecumenically rich news release about the building of the first synagogue for a 26-year-old Jewish congregation in Fayetteville. A nice story, on the jump. A Palestinian Muslim steps up to help a Jewish congregation build a temple. Feel good story.


Temple Breaks Ground On First Synagogue

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Temple Shalom will break ground on its first synagogue Sunday, Oct. 14. The facility is a long-held dream of the 26-year-old congregation, but the real story is the interfaith collaboration that is helping construct this house of worship and religious center. A Muslim contractor is helping the Jewish community build a home of its own and will be honored at the 2 p.m. ceremony.

The event is being called a groundblessing ceremony because leaders of Christian, Jewish and Muslim congregations will offer a blessing for the temple. State and city leaders will also offer words of encouragement, including Sen. Sue Madison, Rep. Lindsley Smith, Fayetteville Mayor Dan Coody and City Council members Shirley Lucas and Lioneld Jordan.

Temple Shalom’s roots date to the late 1960s when a handful of Jews gathered in the small college town for prayer and companionship. Despite small numbers (Jews make up only 0.1 percent of the population of Arkansas), Temple Shalom was established in 1981.

As the congregation grew, the idea of having a dedicated building for services and celebrations was always a dream. Financial restraints, however, meant temple members met in rented or borrowed facilities.

Two events have transpired that have allowed this dream to become a reality:

         First, seed funds from the estate of longtime congregant Miriam Alford became the foundation of the congregation’s Building A Dream capital campaign, allowing the group to kick-start fund-raising efforts.

         Second, the tremendous act of generosity by Fadil Bayyari, a Palestinian Muslim and Springdale developer: He has agreed to waive any contractor fees and build the synagogue at cost. This unique partnership between Muslim and Jew has allowed the onset of construction.

Land was purchased at 699 Sang Avenue in Fayetteville, at its intersection with Cleveland Street, in close proximity to the University of Arkansas, to provide a home for Temple Shalom and a convenient and modern meeting place for Jewish students in the university Hillel organization.

As Temple Shalom builds the new walls of its synagogue, it hopes the partnership of Muslim and Jew will build other bridges as well. “The symbolism of Fadil’s donation is worth far more than bricks and mortar,” said Temple Shalom president Bill Feldman.

Both Feldman and Bayyari agree that demonstrating the positive side of Muslim-Jewish relations is important locally and internationally.

“We are all children of God when you look at it,” said Bayyari, who calls himself a student of the similarities among Islam, Judaism and Christianity. “We grew up in the same house, except his father was Jewish and my father was a Muslim.”

Even though Northwest Arkansas is thousands of miles from the Middle East conflict, those involved with building this dream want it to set an example of interfaith collaboration. A portion of the money from the capital campaign will help fund an ongoing program dedicated to interreligious understanding and relationships. The new synagogue will be open to people of all faiths and will feature a library accessible by the public.

The October groundblessing ceremony is open to everyone, and music and refreshments will be part of the festivities.

More information on the Building A Dream campaign and the floorplan of the synagogue can be viewed at


From the ArkTimes store


Comments (7)

Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Charter school accountability: Non-existent in Arkansas

    A state audit finds charter school spending violated state law, but the state Education Department says it has no responsibility for ensuring proper management of charter schools. Say what?
    • Mar 5, 2016
  • Donald Trump declares war on Hillary Clinton's marriage

    Donald Trump gave a remarkable interview to the New York Times yesterday in which he declared open season on the marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton's past infidelity. Seems like a loser, but I've been wrong before.
    • Oct 1, 2016
  • Policy group urges opposition to new charter seats in Little Rock

    The Arkansas Public Policy Panel is urging supporters of the Little Rock School District to tell state Board of Education members they oppose applications to be heard this week to dramatically expand the number of charter school seats in the Little Rock School District.
    • Mar 9, 2016

Most Shared

  • ASU to reap $3.69 million from estate of Jim and Wanda Lee Vaughn

    Arkansas State University announced today plans for spending an expected $3.69 million gift in the final distribution of the estate of Jim and Wanda Lee Vaughn, who died in 2013 and 2015 respectively.
  • Bad health care bill, again

    Wait! Postpone tax reform and everything else for a while longer because the Senate is going to try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act one more time before September ends and while it can do it with the votes of only 50 senators.
  • Sex on campus

    Look, the Great Campus Rape Crisis was mainly hype all along. What Vice President Joe Biden described as an epidemic of sexual violence sweeping American college campuses in 2011 was vastly overstated.
  • The inadequate legacy of Brown

    LRSD continues to abdicate its responsibility to educate poor black students.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation