Property damage to the Daarus Salaam Mosque was caused by arson last week, according to the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue office.
To help pay for the damage, a member of the mosque started a crowd-funding campaign. But he soon noticed what he considered to be a peculiar trend.
"I couldn't understand why people were donating in what seemed like weird amounts to the cause," admitted Adeel Karim who created the online crowd-funding page and is a member of the Daarus Salaam Mosque, which is run by the Islamic Society of Tampa.
"There are sums of 18, 36, 72.00 dollars etc.," wrote Karim in a Facebook post.
"Then I figured out after clicking on the names Avi, Cohen, Gold-stein, Rubin, Fisher.... Jews donate in multiples of 18 as a form of what is called "Chai." It wishes the recipient a long life."
For Karim, whose place of worship had just been attacked, the realization was a heartwarming moment.
"You learn something new every day. The Jewish faith has shown up in force to support our New Tampa Islamic community. I'm floored. #chaidelivered" Karim wrote. "Chai" means "life" in Hebrew.
With donation sizes of all kinds, the crowd-funding campaign has already far-exceeded the $40,000 goal.
Karim sees the donations as a great moment of unity between two religions often pitted against each other in politics.
"Anyone who is a doubter on how good the relationship between Muslims and Jews has the potential to be should take note. I hope this is the start of a great movement of solidarity between our communities. We will stand strong and defend the rights to practice each other's faith in peace and tolerance," adds Karim.
He also points to donation campaigns by Muslims for the Jewish cemeteries recently desecrated near in Missouri where over 170 gravestones were overturned.
Gravestones of Jewish people were also vandalized in Philadelphia, P.A., and Rochester, N.Y.
Over the past couple months, nearly 90 bomb threats have been called into 72 Jewish institutions across the country, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency tracking these reports, including threats made to the new Bryan Glazer Family JCC on North Howard Avenue in Tampa.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations in Florida is offering $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest in the arson case in New Tampa.
So far no surveillance video, if any exists, has been made public, and no suspects have been identified.
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