The Shmooze

Realtor Helps Toronto Muslims Buy Cemetery

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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Muslims and Jews may not always get along, but there are instances in which they manage to put aside differences in order to tend to the basic things in life. While political leaders continue to struggle to make peace in the Middle East, a story out of Toronto proves that coexistence and mutual support is possible in certain matters of life and death.

Toronto’s Muslim community has acquired its first cemetery in the city thanks to the help of a Jew — and an Israeli-born one, no less. The Canadian Jewish News reports that Yosi Behar, 68, arranged for an interest free loan for the Toronto Muslim Cemetery Corp., which enabled it to buy a $6.8 million property from the Beth Olam Cemetery Corporation.

Behar, who has been in the real estate business for 43 years said, “this is the most satisfying deal I have ever put together.” The local Sunni and Shiite communities came together on the project, and representatives of the two groups came to Behar’s home to hammer out the deal. They then proceeded to a Sunni mosque to sign the documents. Behar served as a witness and signed his name in Hebrew on the papers.

Behar told the CJN that the Muslim communities honored him and invited him to speak at the cemetery’s groundbreaking ceremony on September 18, which was attended by 1,000 people. “When I spoke…I told them that they are my instant family. The Sunni call me cousin, and the Shia call me brother. A Jewish guy from Israel managed to get [everyone] to hold hands and have a successful project,” the real estate broker recounted.

“There is adversity in the world, but we managed to bridge the gap and make peace,” he said. Perhaps those working on the other peace deal might be able to learn something from this one.


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