Passover has always been one of my favorite times of the year. It is a celebration of tradition, of family, of the Jewish cultural heritage that I am so proud to be a part of. This year, OU Hillel decided to host an Interfaith Passover Seder in addition to a traditional first night Seder. Interfaith took place this past Wednesday, and authorities from the three Abrahamic faiths were represented: a rabbi, a minister, and a Muslim from the OKC Dialogue Institute. What was incredible about this particular set of leaders of the various faiths was their diversity, as two women from different countries and a gay man.
Rabbi Vered began by talking about the story of Passover and the basic elements of the traditional Jewish celebration. We then discussed at our tables the concept of a “narrow space”, times when we have felt boxed in by prejudice. Reverend Welch shared his narrow space as being the intersection of his Christian faith and his sexuality, which many people refuse to accept as anything but mutually exclusive. Kuaybe talked about her narrow space being that she does not want her daughter to wear a hijab because she fears for her safety, despite the pride she feels in wearing her own hijab. Hearing these anecdotes was an important reminder that while religion can be a beautiful part of our lives, it can also lead to very hurtful situations.
All in all, it was an incredibly inspiring night, as people from different faiths and backgrounds came together to enjoy a meal and learn from one another. As Rabbi Vered enthusiastically proclaimed at one point, in talking among themselves the three religious leaders had discovered that there were far more similarities between them than differences. Society often likes to draw lines between religions and try and force the impression that they have nothing in common. But in just a few short conversations, these three people had found a great deal of overlap in their beliefs, ideologies, and lives in general. They approached one another with kindness and openness and shared a joyous meal together. It makes me wonder how much better off the world would be if we all took the time to sit down around the table together and acknowledge all that we share.