Pluralism—the ability to encounter those who are different from us with respect and curiosity—is a cornerstone of our JCDS mission. Each day, we practice and teach pluralism within the walls of this school. Since this is a Jewish school, a natural and necessary extension of pluralism is to meet and get to know people of other religions.
This idea started three years ago with a three-month elective on comparative religion that I began to teach. This elective had some experiential components: a visit from the Hindu Society of Massachusetts to teach us about mandala (ritual sand art), a panel discussion of different denominations of Christian clergy and a visit to a mosque.
However, this was not enough for the students, as everyone they interacted with was an adult. They needed to meet and get to know children their own age from other religions. In the fall of 2018, we met with the students from Malik Academy, the Muslim day school in Roxbury, for the first time. In spring 2019, they came to JCDS, and last month, we went back to visit our peers at Malik Academy again. Together we learned about Judaism and Islam’s perspectives on caring for the elderly and made cards for the residents of Hebrew SeniorLife in Roslindale.
It is a joy to see students from both schools reaching out and getting to know one another. In this difficult and stressful world, these children are a beacon of light and hope for us all. As JCDS alum Yoni Grossman said after our first visit to the mosque, “I don’t understand the problem. We are so much more alike than different. There is so much more that connects us than separates us.”
Andrea Silton is a middle school teacher and advisor at JCDS.
The School Sparks blog appears periodically by various writers among the JCDS educational team. Learn more about JCDS, Boston’s Jewish Community Day School.
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