THONOTOSASSA (FOX 13) - It's been five days since someone intentionally set fire to the Islamic Society of New Tampa, and fundraising efforts have already exceeded expectations.
An overwhelming amount of that support is coming from outside of the mosque, and in an interesting pattern. In this case, the numbers tell the story.
When mosque member Adeel Karim started looking at the pledges coming in, he realized that the majority of the donations were in multiples of 18. Confused as to what this meant, he started to research.
After seeing hundreds of seemingly Jewish names like Cohen, Goldstein and Rubin he googled "Jews and the number 18."
He soon found the answer he was looking for.
According to local Rabbi Jason Rosenberg, "For centuries, the number 18 has been considered kind of a lucky or auspicious number because that's the number for the word chai which means life. If you're going to make a donation it's always been a way in Judaism to symbolize life and positivity."
That's when it really struck Karim. It wasn't just about the money. It was about different faiths supporting each other and coming together as a community.
Both Karim and Rosenberg acknowledged that Jews and Muslims have many differences, but they are also very much the same.
The recent anti-Semitic and Islamophobic threats and vandalism across the country have helped unite the two faiths.
Muslims played a large role in raising funds to clean up Jewish cemeteries vandalized in St. Louis and Philadelphia, and the donations coming to the bay area mosque from the Jewish community have helped the mosque blow past its fundraising goal.
"It just goes to show that there are a lot of good people. They're well intentioned. You know it goes a long way to uniting two really close faiths," said Karim.