Jewish Club and MSA Have Interfaith Dialogue

Tech is known for its myriad of students from a variety of backgrounds, as well as the many clubs and organizations they create. The Jewish Club and the Muslim Student Association (MSA) took advantage of this diversity by hosting a presentation, for the second time in Tech’s history, on March 20th to discuss the similarities between the two religions they represent.

Malik Hassan '15 of MSA discussing aspects of Islam
Malik Hassan ’15 of MSA discussing aspects of Islam

Rebecca Rendsburg, the advisor for the Muslim Interscholastic Tournament, was approached by Nabilah Green ’14, president of MSA, to help her speak with the Jacob Mazor ’14, president of the Jewish Club. The two presidents coordinated the event, with some supervision from Rendsburg who has “a vast knowledge of Judaism, and some Islam.”

For the event she hoped that, “It would become clear to everyone the similarities.” She added that the two are sister religions and felt that it was especially important for Jews to understand that not all Arabic people are Muslims.

This was the first time Mazor ’14 has done the event and he also wanted to “close the gap” between the religions. Despite the amount of Jews and Muslims at Tech, he believes there are still a lot people do not know much about them.

“There were a board of executives between the clubs meeting that hammered out the details,” said Mazor ’14 about the process of planning the presentation.

Green ’14 noted the success of the first event last year and that for the second one they “wanted to recreate the feeling of unity not just between clubs, but a community of peoples.”  She also stated the importance of the parallels between the two sets of practices and that each had a lot to learn from the other.

The main portion of the event consisted of a PowerPoint presentation with each slide displaying key similarities, such as general traditions and beliefs, prayers, and laws for food and clothing. Each club had a few members discuss each point with some reciting prayers and discussing their own experiences.

The event also focused on how the conflict between these cultures is heavily exaggerated by the media and that there is a large problem of ignorance, even in New York City.

After that there was a question and answer section in which Green ’ 14 said, “people were able to get their dying questions answered regarding the other faith.” They concluded the presentation with the idea that it is imperative that everyone learns about and respects cultures that are not their own.

The presidents and advisor unanimously agreed the presentation was a huge success, though not without its faults.

Rendsburg said, “I wish more people had come and that we had better advertising. The students that showed up were mostly MSA.”

On the other hand, Mazor ’14 felt that they did not connect Muslim and Judaism enough, and instead talked about the different rituals side by side.

In the end, however, the members felt they accomplished the goals they set for themselves.

Rendsburg was impressed and said this type of discussion is something one would see in college and resembles the general acceptance of diversity at Tech. She feels many of the problems between cultures arise from a lack of knowledge and fear people have.

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