Unique partnership for religious harmony

April 16, 2008 3:35:49 PM PDT
A unique partnership at two local schools helps foster religious harmony. Jewish students are teaching catholic students about a Seder.

The innovative program reaches out across the religious divide to focus on their commonalities.

Eyewitness News reporter Art McFarland has the story.

"Why is this night different from all other nights?" a rabbi asked to students.

The first of the "four questions" from the Passover Seder, a time-honored Jewish tradition, but 'this' Seder happened at the Immaculate Conception catholic school.

"At the Passover Seder, we recount the story of our people's slavery in the land of Egypt," the rabbi said.

For the third year of a special partnership, the Solomon Schecter Day school of Nassau County shared the Seder experience with the catholic students.

"It's different from being with your family, who knows everything and can sing all the Jewish and Hebrew songs, with other people who don't know it," student, Tamar Rogoszinski said. "It's nice explaining it to people."

Most of the catholic students have never been to a Seder. Most of the Jewish school students have never taken part in an interfaith Seder and their administrators call it a 'freedom' Seder.

There was ceremony which included a presentation on examples of slavery and oppression through the ages, consistent with the state social studies curriculum.

"(I learned) Peace is a very good thing in this world. We should keep it the same," student Robert Santos said. "And we need to try and improve."

There was matzo and the other symbolic foods, plus "twizzlers" candy to represent the whips of slavery, multi-colored sweets to symbolize diversity, and the kids symbolically threw away the chains of slavery.

"I made a lot of friends here and, like, no matter what religion you are, you can always make friends and join together," student, Marilyn Santos said.

"I actually thought it was a lot of fun," student, Matan Grossman said. "I got to meet a lot of new people and it was a different experience."

Educators plan for this Seder to become a tradition of its own.