Monday, January 23, 2012

Interfaith Living Museum Begins












Deputy Director Anita Kassof describes her first encounter with our Interfaith Living Museum.

Education Director Liz Edelstein stuck her head into my office this morning to remind me that today is the day that the students participating in our Interfaith Living Museum program are here for their first session. She suggested I head downstairs to see things in action.

I knew that the program, which brings together Jewish and Muslim children to study and present family artifacts from their respective traditions, is one of our most successful. I also knew that today’s session was the first in a semester-long series that includes visits to several other museums and cultural sites and culminates in a student-curated exhibition. What I didn’t anticipate is that after only an hour or so together, these Jewish and Muslim children would be interacting comfortably, enthusiastically trading information, sharing materials, and smoothly cooperating to complete worksheets.

I had the privilege of touring the first floor of the Museum’s Core Exhibition with a group of boys led by veteran Gallery Educator Ann Barandes, who has a wonderful way with the students. Under her guidance, the boys eagerly learned what an artifact is, became familiar with terms like “gallery” and “text panel,” and talked about how an object can tell a story.

Seeing these earnest, friendly, and polite kids in action—together—reminded me, once again, why we do what we do here at the Museum.

Photo: ILM 2010 alums Tanima Rahman of the Al-Ihsan Academy and Alex Shinder of the Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan with the prayer books that have been treasured by their families for years. Photo by Elena Olivo.

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