Continuing an interfaith tradition that began in 2003 under the auspices of the Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta, the Weber School welcomed 15 students each from the Catholic Marist School and Muslim W.D. Mohammed School for a day of sharing traditions and building bonds through the Peace by Piece program.
For the first time, Weber students hosted their peers during Sukkot on Thursday, Oct. 1, providing the opportunity to spread knowledge about the holiday, decorate the school sukkah, and get some shaking going with the lulav and etrog.
Students have to apply to participate in the program, advised at Weber by Barbara Rosenblit and Drew Cohen. After a get-to-know-you program on neutral ground, the students take turns visiting one another’s schools.
Engaging in interfaith dialogue with their Catholic and Muslim peers helps the Weber students strengthen their Jewish identity, Rosenblit said, because they have to know how to answer questions about why Judaism involves certain rituals.
Breakout sessions included discussions about religion, symbols and culture before the group came together for one of the things sure to unify the students: lunch.
Although the program began long before he arrived as head of school last year, Peace by Piece fits Rabbi Ed Harwitz’s vision of the school as a place that redefines what it means to practice and learn diversity in the 21st century and defies expectations for a Jewish high school.
“We are committed to building powerful and lasting relationships with students from different religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds,” he said.