PLYMOUTH, Minn. - This story will sound more like a parable once it's finished, but to get to the end we have to begin with Andrea Potashnick.
"I wanted to reach out to the Muslim community because at the time a lot of the hate crimes that were happening were to them," Potashnick said. "And I thought, 'I'll just call my Muslim friends.' But I didn't have any.”
That was last fall. Potashnick realized that needed to change, because of her neighbors.
She had about 200 Muslim neighbors she had never met.
So Potashnick bought some flowers, rounded up her family, and drove to the mosque just a few doors down from her conservative Jewish home.
That’s where she met Mateen Ali.
"It was toward the end of Sunday school and one of the teachers came to me and said there is someone to see you,” Ali recalled of that day.
There she was.
A very out-of-place Jewish stranger standing in a mosque.
And Ali, a Muslim, couldn't have been happier to see her.
“That just meant a lot to us," Ali said. "Not just to me, but to our community."
On that Sunday Potashnick and her family stayed at the mosque for prayers and fellowship.
That kindness from Potashnick broke down the invisible wall between them - as people and faiths - that society too often puts up when it separates us from each other.
It destroyed that space and replaced it with something real, called "love your neighbor."
Over the last few months, more than 200 people from Ali's mosque in Plymouth have gone to Potashnick's synagogue to learn about the Jewish faith. Just as many have come from the synagogue to the mosque to learn about Islam.
And it’s something that continues to grow, against all odds.
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