Interfaith Dialogue Relates and Unifies Students

Chevall Pryce, Staff Writer

Judaism and Christianity began relating to one another after conversation and explanation during an interfaith dialogue hosted by the Serving Engaged Empowered and Diverse Students (SEEDS) suite on Nov. 11.

SEEDS invited Rabbi Neal Katz and Priest Anwar Khalifa to have an open discussion and sharing of ideas with students and faculty of different beliefs and religions. Within the suite, students listened to the speakers, who led the conversation, explain their respective religious denomination and discuss why religions should be able to relate and accept each other.

Jennifer Tran is a student worker in the SEEDS suite and oversaw the planning of the event.

“These events contribute to student life by allowing students to feel interconnected in a global world and feel that even though we all have major differences, that we are still accepting and open,” Tran said. “It’s important to have events like these that promote diversity and inclusion because they allow students to feel connected and have a sense of belonging to their college campus. It makes for an overall better experience and provides students with more opportunities to network.”

Students were very responsive to the event and had comments, concerns, and questions to add to the open forum. Many students were absent from the event due to conflicting events on-campus, but the attendance was moderately high. Prophets, practices, literature, and the split between Judaism and Christianity were discussed openly, and many unanswered questions about differences were answered.

This event is a part of a series SEEDS calls “Courageous Conversations.” Previous “Courageous Conversations” include an open forum over marriage equality for the LGBT community as well as a candlelight vigil and open discussion about black America and police brutality against black individuals. SEEDS hosts these events to advocate social justice and acceptance.

“Our society has moved forward. In a away, we are more accepting and open to other races and religions, but stereotypes and discrimination do still exist and it’s important that we acknowledge these things,” Tran said. “Not to ‘complain’ but to show that we are aware and that we are making an effort to move forward.”

Students received the event positively and were eager to come to another one. Some students even defended their faith and explained to others what it means to them. Recent events and terrorist groups, including ISIS, were discussed during the session and the speakers gave calm answers to stop rumors that Islam is a naturally violent religion and is akin to any other religion.

SEEDS is planning to another event akin to this interfaith dialogue, possibly involving Islam.

“When things calm down, we may do an event over Islam. There is no guarantee but there is a strong possibility, and we will plan to include other races as well. It’s important that we don’t target one religion or race,” Tran said. “Sometimes doing an event solely for the reason that they face most intolerance can make them feel targeted. Right now we are working on a Christmas event that includes all religious Christmas holidays such as Christmas, Hanukkah, and more.”

SEEDS hopes to carve its place on campus by adapting the ways students think and providing a more positive and accepting attitude. Events and resources such as this one are to come in the future

“It’s important that we learn from history’s mistakes so that we are not set back by giving in to hatred,” Tran said.