ATLANTA - Two religious communities in the city of Atlanta are coming together to help evacuees coming to the area due to the Hurricane Irma.
A local Jewish community in Toco Hills is opening their homes to Orthodox Jews who are fleeing South Florida to seek refuge for the Sabbath until they are able to return to their homes.
The group consists of five local Toco Hills residents who are organizing efforts to find home hospitality for them and arrange all their Sabbath meals.
This group of spent last weekend helping the recovery efforts in Houston and on their flight back to Atlanta, they started mobilizing efforts to reach out to the Jewish community of South Florida to let them know that they were welcome to come to Atlanta to ride our Irma and would have all their Sabbath needs and Kosher food taken care of.
Within hours, they created a Google spreadsheet for Floridians to fill out so that they knew how many people needed to be housed and the form has gone viral.
More than 210 local Toco Hill families have signed up to host – some are hosting as many as three families in their home.
But they're not the only religious community stepping up to help. Starting Friday afternoon and continuing through the end of the storm, mosques as far north as Marietta, as far east as Savannah, and as far south as Macon are encouraging travelers, evacuees and others displaced by the Category 5 storm to check the listing of participating mosques, and seek refuge in the one closest to them.
"When Hurricane Harvey struck Texas, dozens of Houston mosques served as shelters for residents left stranded or homeless by the disaster," said Hamid Qureshi, executive director of the Atlanta chapter of the Islamic Circle of North America, one of the nation's largest Muslim charities. "Georgia mosques stand ready to provide the same service to our neighbors of all faiths and backgrounds."
"Because most Georgia mosques contain expansive, carpeted prayer halls, our houses of worship can easily shelter large numbers of people," said Dr. Khalid Siddiq, a member of Al-Farooq Masjid, the largest mosque in Georgia
Meanwhile, local Orthodox Synagogue, Beth Jacob, is planning to host approximately 400 people Friday night for the Sabbath dinner and Saturday for the Sabbath lunch. The rest will be eating in their host’s homes.
A truck full of food is heading down from New York to accommodate the food needed for the Sabbath meals and local Kosher food supermarkets reached out to their suppliers earlier in the week to get a larger order so that there will be enough food for both the local community and their guests.
For a regularly updated list of shelter locations open from Friday, September 8 for evacuees of Hurricane Irma, visit the website of Al-Farooq Masjid. So far, participating mosques are:
Atlanta (Metro Area):
Al-Farooq Masjid of Atlanta
442 14th Street NW
Atlanta, Georgia 30318
Masjid Al Furqan
1018 Powder Spring
Marietta, Georgia 30064
East Cobb Islamic Center
1111 Braswell Rd
Marietta, GA 30062
Darul Huda Masjid
2755 Centerville HWY
Snellville, GA 30078
3650 Savannah Place Dr.
Hamza Islamic Center
665 Tidwell Rd
Alpharetta, GA 30004
1235 Peachtree Parkway
Macon/Warner Robins (South of Atlanta):
Islamic Center of Macon
2131 Vineville Ave
Islamic Center of Warner Robins
2501 Elberta Road
Islamic Center of Savannah
1030 Dutchtown Road