A big part of my job is working on the interfaith program between my school, The Davis Academy, and a local Catholic school called Marist. It’s also one of the most interesting and energizing parts of my school responsibilities. Months of planning go into each meeting, which starts in 7th grade with an introductory program, continues with a second learning meeting the fall of 8th grade, and culminates in service learning together in the winter. In fact, this is not my first post about Interfaith learning. In fact, you can read about our volunteering (and snow) day from last January here.
Our most recent event was the 2nd in the cycle – the kids met in the spring at Davis, and we have a chance to do more learning together, this time at Marist in November. In the midst of a crazy fall, there were oases of awesome – meeting with the Marist partners to plan a really great program for our students. Last year’s Sukkot-based programming wasn’t going to work (but oh, how I wanted them to stand in a rectangle around a football field once more, arms around each other, building their own Interfaith sukkat shalom, shelter of peace…), but Thanksgiving was coming soon and that gave us plenty of material.
My partner at Marist, a teacher named Mrs. Justus, is one of those teachers who is just filled with ideas and excitement. I am forever toting a Diet Coke, and she’s like a Mentos candy – once we start talking about Interfaith, the ideas are overflowing. In one meeting, we discovered the commonalities between Birkat HaMazon (the grace after meals) and Eucharist, which is the Mass ceremony, where the host – the unleavened communion wafer – and wine are consumed by Catholic worshippers. We talked about the language used in worship, and looped in idea for a translation activity. I went home with Missalettes, which are like Catholic Siddurim, or prayer books. I loved them.
When we arrived at Marist, we had quite the day planned. Icebreakers were planned and enjoyed, and our students tentatively started to re-mingle, having only met for a single school day last April. They did a blessing activity based on MadLibs (which throws back to my first job out of college – in publishing!), finding similarities between Christian, Catholic, and Jewish blessings for before and after eating food. Students volunteered to open and close our shared lunch in their cafeteria, and then we continued with a translation activity.