Interfaith Dialoue Exploration

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Posted by Adam L

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Program HostRegional
Host RegionOhio Northern
Program TypeEducation
Social Action
Time Required2-5 hours
Target Population(s)Boys (AZA)
People Participating60-100

Program Summary:

A Meaningful Shabbat Program on Interfaith Dialogue

Full Description:


A Meaningful Shabbat Program on Interfaith Dialogue

Created by
25th Regional Board
of the Ohio Northern Region
of the Aleph Zadik Aleph

Jacob:  To start out our Friday night Shabbat program, we are going to do a little exercise for AZA Shabbat. This year’s theme for AZA Shabbat is “One Day,” the Matisyahu song.  “One Day,” sort of a modern “Imagine,” is about peace through acceptance, where everyone learns to live together.  To stop judging each other based on the color of our skin or our religious preferences.  Even in America, a country that was founded on religious and cultural freedom and acceptance, there are movements based on bigotry.  
In order to illustrate this, we have created a simulated panel of a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim, and the Atheist, all of whom will answer questions about themselves and each other based on stereotypes.  We have Adam as a Jew, Dan as a Catholic, Garret as a Muslim, and Sam as an Atheist.
So, first question goes to Shmulley.  What would you say it’s like being a Jew in America?

Adam:  Being a Jew in America usually constitutes being a productive and, for the most part, accepted member of society.  Jews hold many powerful positions throughout America, and are very influential, especially in the business world.  However, there still exists anti-Semitism in America, which now often manifests as Anti-Israel sentiment.  This is especially common on college campuses.  However, for the most part, Jews live better in America then we ever have before.  Now our greatest threat is assimilation.

Jacob:  What’s so bad about that?

Adam:  As many Jews find it easy to fit in with the American culture, they lose their connection with their Jewish background.  Many stop following traditions and don’t pass them on to their children.

Jacob:  Wow, that does sound like a problem.  Well thanks Shmulley.  Now to Paul.  What is it like being a Catholic in the good ol’ US of A?

Dan:  Being a Catholic in America is like pretty much like being Catholic anywhere.  Vast portions of Americans (and the rest of the world) are Catholics, with about 25% of US citizens identifying themselves as Catholic.  Thus it is usually easy to find people of my same faith.  We also hold many strong social, political, and economic positions.  Yet some times it feels to us that our views, and the views of our Christian brethren, are under represented.

Jacob:  In what way?

Dan:  Christians make up a vast majority of Americans.  Yet Jews and other Religions have a political representation disproportionate to their population size.  It’s unfair that these minorities have so much more power then they should.

Jacob:  I can see how that would bother you.  Thank you Paul.  Mohamed, your turn.  How is it being Muslim?

Garret:  Muslim’s try to work hard and do our part for America.  But being a Muslim anywhere in the Western world is hard.  We are constantly accused to being terrorists or are linked to terrorist organizations.  Our entire religion is blamed for the actions of a few.  Just the act of building a mosque in certain areas, a right guaranteed by the United States Constitution, still lead to protests and anger.  My culture has been unfairly demonized.

Jacob:  It has got to be tough to constantly face that.  Thank you Mohamed.  Now, for our Atheist representative, we are going to ask Sam Friedman to talk a bit about what it is like being Atheist in America, and why he is Atheist.

Sam Friedman:  (Gives His Speech)

Jacob:  (Say something about what he just said).  Now we’re going to go the opposite direction and address some of the major stereotypes of each religion.  Now panel, what is your general opinion of Shmulley as a Jew?

Dan:  Cheap

Garret:  A heathen

Sam:  Trying to take over the world

Dan:  Killed Jesus

Garret:  Awful at Sports

Sam:  Destined to be a Doctor or a Lawyer

Jacob:  ALRIGHT!! We get it!  Wow!  That was harsh.  Let’s move on to Catholic Paul.  Can we get a consensus?

Adam:  Pro-lifer

Garret:  A heathen

Sam:  Stupid creationist

Jacob:  I’m gunna stop you there, and prevent this from getting out of hand.  Now what do the members of this panel have to say about Mohamed as a Muslim?

Adam:  Terrorist

Dan:  Terrorist

Sam:  Terrorist

Garret:  See!  I told you!

Jacob: …well we seem to agree on one thing.  Finally we turn to Rob portraying the Atheist.  Any thoughts?

Adam:  Communist

Dan:  Hate God

Garret:  Also a heathen

Jacob:  Alright, we’re done.  I’m sick of hearing you guys rip on each other.  (Turn towards the crowd) As you can all see, each representative thinks of himself as a productive and peaceful member of society.  Yet each is quick to demonize others.  Everything that was said here tonight is based on real beliefs and stereotypes.  

Mac:  There are many people who believe that the Jews are trying to control the world through the economy, including past President Jimmy Carter.  There are many who think that all Catholics, and even Christians, are religious nuts who want no scientific progression.  Many Americans believe, or act as though they believe, that all Muslims are terrorists.  And Atheists are often thought of as being different and cynical who refuse to consider the existence of God and belittle people who do.

Adam:  While there is some basis of fact to every stereotype, the fact is that they are, for the most part, not true!  Jews aren’t trying to control the world!  Christians aren’t opposed to scientific expansion! All Muslims are not terrorists!  And not all Atheists look down on people who do believe in god.  

Dan:  These views of these religions are almost completely incorrect, and until we can recognize the truth about other cultures, we can never truly have peace.

Garret:  “One Day” speaks about a time when we do finally achieve real peace between different cultures and religions.

Sam:  However, that peace will only come when we can truly accept one another not for our similarities, but for what makes us different.


1. As a Jewish teen, have you ever been told that you are “going to hell?”  How did you react?  What do you think is an appropriate response?  

2. What has been your experiences talking with your non‐Jewish peers about being Jewish?  

3. How do you and your friends see Muslim Americans today?  Where do you think that comes from?  

4. How do you think the Muslim American and Jewish American experience is similar?  How do you think it is different?

5. What are some things that you could do in your community or at your school to increase understanding amongst people of different faiths?

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