Remember this crowdfunding campaign promoted by the Muslim community to raise money for victims of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh?

It was in the news quite a bit:

The campaign, which was run by the Celebrate Mercy, raised $238,634 from 5820 supporters:

The campaign went so well that on October 29, the fundraising was capped at $150,000 unless the Celebrate Mercy “assess — with our partners on the ground — if the families’ short-term expenses will exceed that amount”:

UPDATE 5 (Oct 29, 12.30 PM EST): We have just increased the goal to $150K and will not increase it again until we assess – with our partners on the ground – if the families’ short-term expenses will exceed that amount. We are overwhelmed with how viral the campaign has gone so far. Many of the donors, at least 25%, are not even Muslim; they are Jewish and friends of other faiths.

Well, money continued to pour in but another update on the same day says that rather than distribute the excess to the victims’ families, it will be used for “projects that help foster Muslim-Jewish collaboration, dialogue, and solidarity”:

UPDATE 6 (Oct 29, 6.00 PM EST): We are shocked to have hit yet another milestone of $150,000 within only 50 hours. We are currently assessing whether any more funds are needed for the victims’ families, but we are keeping the campaign open. Any leftover proceeds, after disbursing funds to victims’ families, will be spent on projects that help foster Muslim-Jewish collaboration, dialogue, and solidarity. Please consider donating to help other victims of a recent hate shooting in Kentucky at this link: Muslims United for Kentucky Hate Victims.

Projects that “help foster Muslim-Jewish collaboration, dialogue, and solidarity” might be a worthy goal, but do donors who put in that $83,000 want their money to go for the as-of-yet defines projects or to the victims’ families?

But don’t worry. Celebrate Mercy founding director Tarek El-Messidi says he’s going to brainstorm with Linda Sarsour to find out how to best use the extra funds. From The Forward:

He said he is still brainstorming what exactly to do with the remaining $83,000 promised for Muslim-Jewish partnerships. “I do have some ideas: If there’s a mosque that wants to host a fast-breaking dinners in Ramadan for the Jewish community….Muslim and Jewish communities breaking bread together, or maybe Jewish and Muslim youth groups doing service projects – feeding the homeless,” he said. But he doesn’t want the money to go to anything political or divisive: “My preference is the projects will focus on, where are there similarities? What are events and projects where there could be no disputes and controversies?”

He said he wanted to have a conversation soon with MPower Change, Sarsour’s organization, to brainstorm more ideas, as well as use their large mailing list to promote the availability of the grants to donors and community members. He also hopes to involve Jewish and Muslim leaders in Pittsburgh, though the funds would not be limited to that city.

What could go wrong?



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