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Students Of Multiple Faiths Restore Bronx Synagogue Housed Inside Mosque

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Christian, Jewish and Muslim volunteers came together Sunday to refurbish the "Shul in the Mosque," a synagogue that happens to be situated inside of a mosque in the Bronx.

The Shul in the Mosque is located inside the Islamic Cultural Center of North America, which also houses the Masjid Al-Iman, at 2006-8 Westchester Ave. in the Parkchester section of the Bronx. Members of the Bais Menachem of Parckchester worship in the space.

The partnership began when the Young Israel Congregation was holding a drive for needy families years back, and received a donation from Masjid Al-Iman founder Sheikh Moussa Drammeh, according to a Tablet Magazine report.

The Parkchester neighborhood was once largely Jewish, but is now home to a largely African immigrant population that practices Islam, the Riverdale Y explained. Sheikh Moussa Drammeh is a native of Gambia.

Young Israel had to sell its building in the Bronx in 2003 and closed four years later, leaving the remaining congregants with nowhere to go, the magazine reported. Chabad Lubavitch took over the reins of the congregation, and Drammeh volunteered to set a space aside in the mosque for worship services, the magazine reported.

The refurbishment project is funded in part by a Unity Grant from the City of New York.

Rabbi Bob Kaplan, founder director of the New York Center for Community and Coalition Building of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, is friends with Drammeh. Kaplan said he was surprised when he visited the mosque for the first time.

"I visited my friend, the imam, during Ramadan, and he said, 'Here's our place, and here's this, here's that, and here's the synagogue?'" Kaplan told 1010 WINS. "And I said, 'The synagogue?'"

The leaders of the mosque and the synagogue decided to make the refurbishment a true interfaith effort, Kaplan said.

"We decided to bring together students from the Riverdale Y, from the synagogue, from the mosque here, and from Manhattan College to come together – Christians, Jews and Muslims coming together to make a more beautiful place for folks to pray in," Kaplan said.

Both the synagogue space and the façade for the mosque were in sever need of repair, the Riverdale Y explained.

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