Interfaith Passover

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.

Having a (Salsa) Ball!

It was a lovely Friday night, and I was sitting eating dinner with friends when I happened to make an errant comment about there being a salsa ball in the union later that evening. I had considered going, but hadn’t been able to find someone interested in tagging along with me. Much to my surprise, my friend Emily’s face lit up: “Let’s go!”
I was taken aback. I love trying new things, especially if they involve exploring elements of other cultures, and here was someone who shared my adventurous spirit! Emily and I were relatively new friends, but together we set out for the dance floor.
When we arrived, we found the room packed with people! The night began with a bachata lesson, and we learned the basic pattern of the feet and how to do a simple turn. Later on there was a brief salsa lesson. I am a lifelong dancer, and although I’ve conquered styles ranging from ballet to flamenco to swing, I had never tried any type of Latin dance. The rhythm was very different from anything I was used to, and my body had to really adjust in order to get in the groove of the movement! Emily and I danced together and smiled through it all as the live band filled the room with vivacious music. Despite our fumbling footwork, we had a (hip) swinging night!