Our week comes to a close today. It’s a packed day!
First, a visit to the Islamic Society of Greater Valley Forge for jumu-ah prayers.
This particular community is situated close to a Jewish synagogue next door and a Baptist church across the street. This intentional grouping of faith traditions has led to increased awareness, cooperation, and sends a powerful message to the community. Read more here and here.
Before prayers, we headed downstairs to their community hall. Other students from Villanova Univ. were visiting and joined us. After some brief introductions and an orientation, we all participated in the Friday prayers and listened to a message by one of the leaders of the community. It was right on point–he talked about seeking justice for those who have none, and of helping the marginalized and those who are different than you/not part of your particular community. Pretty much what this week was all about.
After prayers we went downstairs for Q&A and pizza. Fabulous conversation. I so appreciate this community!
We were pressed for time, so we piled into vehicles and immediately made our way back into Center City Philly for our visit to Congregation Rodeph Shalom.
We were greeted immediately by Rabbi Eli Freedman. The place was abuzz with activity in preparation for the Shabbat service. Rabbi Eli brought us into the sanctuary.
The architecture is uniquely beautiful. Here’s a closeup of where the Torah scroll resides.
The students had a quick Q&A with Rabbi Eli.
He talked about Rodeph Shalom being a “Reform” Jewish congregation and more progressive in its social stances and commitment to justice for marginalized communities. Rodeph Shalom is also extremely active in interfaith work and a leader in interfaith cooperative projects in Greater Philadelphia, including POWER and PICO.
Rabbi Eli shared a bit about what to expect in the Shabbat service and about the importance/significance of the Torah in the lives of Jewish people.
Afterwards, a few moments to munch on Challah bread and fruit and then it was time for the service to begin. We were greeted with “Shabbat Shalom” as more and more people started to arrive and make their way into the worship space.
After the service, we made our way just a few blocks over from Broad St. to the Mormon Meeting House for the production of Savior of the World, a musical depicting the birth and resurrection stories about Jesus of Nazareth, as told in the Christian Gospels.
Whew! What a day, what a week! All of us exhausted, we called it a night. The students return to Ohio on Saturday morning. Look for some guest bloggers soon, as some of the students will share their experiences. Thanks for joining me on this journey!
No matter what religion you practice [or if you don’t practice], we are better together. Meeting people who are different than you, honoring and learning about their sacred spaces and practices–will lead you to more understanding and opportunities for personal growth. I also think it enables us to work towards a more just and peaceful world.