Earlier this week I led Tefilah for 2nd graders. I asked them to answer the question, "If you could ask God one question what would it be?" There was a wide variety of answers! One student asked, "When was the Viking era?" Another asked, "When God created the world in 7 days approximately how long was each day? For example, a year, a month, an hour?" And finally, a child asked, "Why do Jews have so many holidays and Christians don't?"
In response to the last question I pointed out to the child that Jews are indeed blessed to have many holidays, like Sukkot, which we are currently celebrating by hosting wonderful Sukkah lunches here at school:
I added that Christians have many holidays as well, but that she may not know so much about them just yet since she's still learning about the Jewish holidays. To reassure her that she will one day learn about Christian holidays I briefly mentioned the sacred work that took place at The Davis Academy today.
In a new partnership, The Davis Academy 5th grade students and teachers welcomed their peers from Mt. Vernon Presbyterian School, a wonderful Christian school that resides only a few miles from Davis. After some icebreakers, Davis students taught their peers some of the basics of Judaism as well as of the holiday, Sukkot. Then we all had lunch in and around the Sukkah (our Sukkah is big, but not big enough for 150+ people) and played on the playground. This was the first time that Davis Lower School students have had the chance to participate in interfaith dialogue and community building and initial feedback indicates that they are eager to do more of this. Hopefully these pictures convey their enthusiastic participation:
While the 5th graders were fulfilling the special mitzvah of "welcoming guests" (one of the key mitzvot of Sukkot), Davis 8th grade students had their first of two meetings with their peers from The Marist School. Today's program included a visit to Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church as well at The Temple-- houses of prayer for both faiths and pillars of Atlanta's religious community. Interfaith study, brainstorming about how to make the world a better place, and greater appreciation for one another's similarities and differences were the goals of the day.
To read more about the Davis/Marist partnership feel free to click here, here, or here.
In our crazy world the jury is still out on the question of whether religion will ultimately be a force for good in the world. Here at The Davis Academy we don't struggle with this question at all. We know that if organized religion is going to help build bridges of peace, tolerance, respect, understanding, and justice, it will be because of schools like Davis and days like today. Watching the 5th grade students from Davis and Mt. Vernon enjoying lunch in the Sukkah and then frolicking on the playground was truly "holy." If only more people started each day as strangers and ended each day as friends...
The traditional greeting on Sukkot is, "Moadim L'simcha" ("May your festivals bring you joy"). So I'll simply say, "Moadim L'simcha" to our partners at MVP and Marist for a great day.