Building a Model for Peace

April 3, 2007

Author: Ron Grossman

Source: Chicago Tribune,1,5001380.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- This year as every year, the tiny Jewish community here will utter the age-old symbolic invitation for a needy stranger to share its dinner tables during Passover, which began at sundown Monday.

"For you know the heart of a stranger," as the Book of Exodus observes, "seeing you were strangers in the land of Egypt."

But this time, the 50 Jewish families will intone the formula with a special poignancy: For now, it is they who have been in need and an outsider who came to their aid.

"Fadil is helping us open the door to a synagogue," said Jeremy Hess.

Fadil Bayyari is a Palestinian-American building contractor who is donating his services so Hess and other members of Temple Shalom can fulfill their dream of having a sanctuary. After an earlier plan to convert a residential home fell through -- a victim of not-in-my-back-yard syndrome -- plans are being put in final form to construct a new building on another site.