Interfaith Connections

Peace and dialogue between religions. Christian symbols, jew and Islamic

The Torah commands us no fewer than 36 times to welcome the stranger. It teaches us to heed the stranger’s feelings because “you know the feelings of a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 23:9.) At Weizmann Day School, we take this commandment very seriously.
We are a community Jewish day school. While we teach Jewish Studies and Hebrew language classes, we also want our students to know about and accept other faiths and cultures. With today’s headlines about Jews and Muslims, we are especially interested in creating connections with people of the Islamic tradition. For that reason, Weizmann partners with New Horizon Islamic School in many ways.
Each October, Weizmann students join together with students from New Horizon and St. Mark’s Christian School for a special interfaith concert. As part of Daniel Pearl Music Days, the students sing songs of peace and hope. Following the concert, students from Weizmann and New Horizon eat lunch together and share activities designed to help them get to know one another.
In 2016 and again in 2018, Weizmann’s 7th and 8th grade students travelled with New Horizon’s 8th grade students to Washington, D.C., and we hope to make this a regular, biennial event. From the time the students from the two schools meet at the airport and make the flight to D.C. together, they begin to learn more about one another and form strong bonds. After five days of sightseeing, learning, and living together, students bring home an appreciation for how similar we are to one another.
We also go on field trips together, including trips this year to the Museum of Printing and the Skirball Cultural Center. This year we added a new interfaith experience. Weizmann and New Horizon worked with The Guibord Center to create a special event for 5th and 6th grade students. The Guibord Center is a nonprofit organization that “invites people to find the knowledge, inspiration, warmth and community-building that every religion – at its core – truly represents.” The Guibord Center helped us provide a morning of learning for 5th and 6th grade students from Weizmann, New Horizon, and the Harambee School, a Christian school serving low-income families in Northwest Pasadena. The morning’s activities focused on the similarities among the three Abrahamic traditions. Through guided meditation, a scavenger hunt, and carefully chosen stories, students learned that each tradition’s spiritual leader – Moses, Jesus, and Abraham – was a person of compassion, contemplation, and commitment. In addition, students learned that each of the three traditions continues to emphasize compassion (by focusing on those in need and on being compassionate to one another), contemplation (through prayer), and commitment.
Weizmann believes that learning with and about our Muslim neighbors is a key part of what makes a Weizmann education special. We believe that we must support other religious minorities who, like us, strive for acceptance and equality. We will continue to come together to help each other and to learn how much we have in common with one another.

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