Historic Black church in Oakland devastated by fire finds temporary home in Jewish temple
OAKLAND, Calif. - Two religious organizations have come together in Oakland.
A Jewish temple offered up its space to a Methodist congregation after their historic church burned down Sunday night. It's the latest show of support in a long history between the two groups.
Gospel music rang from Temple Beth Abraham Thursday. It's a new sound for the synagogue, coming from a member of First AME, also known as FAME, the East Bay's oldest Black church.
Church leaders did a mic check with the sound system in their new temporary home.
"It lifts a burden not having to figure where we're going to be," said Jeffrey Williams, FAME's minister of music.
On Sunday night, a huge fire caused extensive damage to the church and the building is now deemed unsafe.
Church leaders said it could take years to rebuild.
So Rabbi Mark Bloom invited the church to use his temple for Sunday services.
"Honestly, immediately, you need a place to worship, we got you," said Bloom.
The rabbi said the temple and the church have a longstanding relationship.
Bloom said he met First AME's then pastor Harold Mayberry 20 years ago. And they have both spoken at each other's houses of worship.
Bloom described it as a brotherhood strengthened by challenges such as the mass shootings at a Black church in 2015 in South Carolina and at a synagogue in Pittsburg in 2018.
"We've both been the other in lots of communities. We have some understanding of one another's pain and the way people view the black community and the Jewish community," said Bloom.
Church leaders said they're grateful, but not surprised by the Rabbi's generosity.
"Relieved, but that's what friends do," said Reverend Rodney D. Smith. "We're brothers and when we met, we felt that kindred spirit immediately."
It's a display of faith in humanity and strength in unity.
"It matters not what our denomination is. Our faith is the common denominator. It brings us together,"said Williams.
First AME Church plans to hold services at the synagogue for the first time this Sunday.
Rabbi Bloom said the temple will be available for them in the coming months.
Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU. Email Amber at Amber.Lee@Fox.com or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU, Instagram @AmberKTVU or Twitter @AmberKTVU