Muslim and Jewish Health Workers Unite to Help Working Poor at Interfaith Health Clinic

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From , WDET Detroit Public Radio and

Sheila Crutchfield hadn’t been feeling well in late 2010. So on a winter Sunday the Detroit native went on-line and looked for a local free health clinic to attend. She found one and headed in for a check-up. 

“They told me about my cholesterol and they took a history of me and now, I’m going to go see the doctor,” she said.

But it was more than just a routine check-up, Crutchfield didn’t know, but she was taking part in a first time event for both the Muslim and Jewish communities in Detroit’s metropolitan area.


“This is an interfaith health fair where primarily Jewish and Muslim doctors, nurses, health students, social workers are providing free screenings to people who come in” said Robert Cohen, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council. “And most of them are working poor who have no health insurance.”

Cohen says the idea of bringing health professionals from both communities together for the good of those in need came out of a charity event the Jewish community took part in last Christmas.

“Last year’s Mitzvah Day we had for the first time Muslim participation,” said Cohen, “and it was so successful and so well received that our colleagues who we had worked with before said ‘what can we do next, together?’”  

To help make it happen, about 20 doctors and more than 80 other health professionals and volunteers came together at the Muslim Center on Davison. For most of the day, Detroiters from nearby neighborhoods came out to receive medical attention.

Dr. Zahid Sheikh, who works in the Henry Ford Health System, says the event serves two purposes.

 “I think it’s a great thing” he said, “because what it is doing again is serving the people and also bringing both communities together to show the bigger picture is that everyone can work together for the benefit of mankind.”

He adds that despite the difference between the communities, be it in worship or political issues in the Middle East, there is a larger idea where both Jews and Muslims can come together.

“There are a lot of common things between everybody and that’s really what we need to focus on to enhance a united entity because we are in the United States of America and that’s what we stand for… a united entity,” Sheik said.

Regardless of the reasons, Crutchfield says she appreciates what the health professionals are doing for her and for others.

“That’s a good idea… get all the doctors together and then everybody work together and make everybody better… that’s a good idea,” she said.

The organizers of the interfaith health clinic say they hope to see more like it in the future. The next free health clinic featuring a partnership between the Jewish and Muslim community is expected sometime in 2011.