Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Fostering Friendship Between Jewish and Muslim Children
If you’ve read Abby’s lovely blog about Ivy’s going away celebration, you know that it has already been a really emotional week at the Museum. Now it is my turn to make you even more verklempt.
For the past six years, the Museum has worked with Jewish and Muslim elementary school students on a life changing project called the Interfaith Living Museum. Designed and run by the Museum, and spearheaded by the always enthusiastic Dr. Paul Radensky, this year the program brought together students from the Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan, the Islamic Leadership School (Bronx), the Kinneret Day School (Bronx), and the Al-Ihsan Academy (Queens) who worked together over a period of four months sharing their culture and developing an appreciation for their differences.
After visits to the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the American Museum of Natural History’s Islamic artifacts display, the New York Public Library’s Three Faiths exhibit, a mosque, and each other’s schools, the students brought artifacts from home to show one another, and then organized their objects into galleries based on theme. An enthusiastic audience of family and friends attended the exhibition at the Museum on June 13.
What words cannot express is how moving it is to see the kids become friends and to see the parents and family members come out to meet each other and support their sons and daughters. This year was particularly special as it was the biggest group in the program’s history. Close to 80 students took part in the program. It was also especially moving for another reason. As many of you know, the Museum is just a few blocks from the World Trade Center site. As the tenth anniversary of September 11 approaches, it was poignant to witness the healing power of dialogue and the power of personal artifacts to help foster understanding.
Pictured here are (left from right): Shuayb Siddique of the Al-Ihsan Academy and Tal Lavi of the Kinneret Day School with a souvenir that Shuayb’s aunt gave him before he left Guyana for the United States.
Credit: Melanie Einzig