Two children, two faiths, one message

Meryem, 7, and Adin, 9, sit on their fathers'  shoulders during the protest on Monday.

Story highlights

  • The two families came to demonstrate solidarity with those affected by the travel ban
  • Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appel: We need to let refugees know that "we are here for them"

(CNN)A photo of two kids -- a Muslim girl and Jewish boy -- rallying for the same cause alongside their dads, warmed the hearts of audiences across social media.

Both children are pictured hoisted high above the crowd on their father's shoulders, holding handmade signs. Seven-year-old Meryem looks across at Adin, 9, who is smiling back at her. Her father, Fatih Yildirim, is holding a sign saying "empathy." Adin's father, Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell, has a sign with a message about the past -- "we've seen this before never again."
    The two families were among many gathered Monday night at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, where once again crowds came to protest President Donald Trump's travel ban.
    Yildirim told CNN that they were chatting about the similarities between halal and kosher diets when Chicago Tribune photographer Nuccio DiNuzzo approached them about taking a picture.
    The photo has been widely shared on social media. It caught the attention of California Lt. Gov. ,Gavin Newsom, who wrote, "This is the America that is worth every second of the fight ahead."

    Fathers showing solidarity

    Yildirim, a Chicago area resident, arrived at O'Hare with his wife Amy and their four children. The family went just after sunset prayers, bringing cookies they had baked earlier for lawyers working pro bono to help those affected by the travel ban.
    "This is the first time for me," said Yildirim. "I wanted to go out and show my support."
    Yildirim, who is from Turkey, has been living in the United States since 2002 and applied for citizenship a year ago when then-candidate Trump shared his views on immigration -- and floated the idea of a Muslim ban.
    "Meryem started crying, feeling like Trump was going to kick her father out," he said, adding he hadn't felt the urge to apply before then.

    'People want peace'

    Yildirim says the photo shows solidarity: "This is the picture that people are actually looking for. People want peace."
    Bendat-Appell described the protests that have erupted in opposition to the travel ban as an "ethical imperative." He arrived with his son, Adin.
    "We feel that as Jews it is our obligation to stand up for the oppressed. Our history of persecution comes to teach us that we must not be silent in the face of injustice," he said.
    The rabbi, who also lives in the Chicago area, said he and his wife have explained to their children the need to let refugees know "that we are here for them."
    Religious and cultural differences aside, Bendat-Appell said he and Yildirim are very similar, and that's what made the photo so powerful to him.
    The two families are now planning to meet next Friday for Shabbat dinner.