“Our home is your home”
In April 1941, Sarajevo was bombed from the air when the Germans invaded Yuogoslavia. The Kavilio family, Josef, Rivka, and their children, fled to the hills during the heavy bombardments. When they returned to their home, they discovered it had been destroyed by the bombing. Finding themselves homeless, they began walking to the family factory. On the way, they met Mustafa Hardaga, a Muslim friend who owned the warehouse in which their factory was located. When he heard their situation, he immediately offered them his home for their shelter.
The Hardagas were observant Muslims. Their household included Mustafa and his wife, Zejneba, and his brother, Izet, with his wife, Bachriya. It was tradition for Muslim women to wear a veil and cover their faces in front of strangers, including when strangers were in their home. Thus, it was a strange and unusual step for these Muslim women to have a Jewish man sleeping in their home. Many years later, Zejneba told how her husband, Mustafa, and his brother, Izet, had welcomed the Kavilios as part of the Hardaga family, declaring: “Our home is your home.” To demonstrate this point, the women were not obliged to cover their faces in the presence of Josef Kavilio, because he was now a member of their family. As a result, the Hardaga women were comfortable with a Jewish man, Josef Kavilio, present in their home and did not cover their faces in his presence.
For more about these two families and how the Kavilios were able, years later to honor and repay the Hardagas, please see their more detailed story at Yad Vashem, The Righteous Among The Nations. The article is entitled, From the testimony of Josef Kavilio, June 1983.
Today, if we truly want Peace in the Middle East, we need this same kind of brotherhood and friendship between Jews and Muslims. It can be achieved, if both peoples are willing.