Last month, the story of our 7th grade’s interfaith act of fellowship to Congregation Beth Elohim was featured in a few local news outlets, which discussed the gesture and the need for more interfaith solidarity in the wake of several attacks on faith groups in the past months.
From the Tablet:
Seventh graders at St. Saviour Catholic Academy in Park Slope recently donated a “Tree of Life” to a nearbysynagogue – in a heartwarming display of solidarity with the local Jewish community.
Organizer Sandra Rossier, who has three children at the Eighth Avenue school and one at the neighboring high school, came up with the idea following the October massacre at the Tree of Life Congregation in October that killed 11 congregants and wounded seven others.
“I thought to myself, let’s give these kids something to empower them, a weapon, sort of to fight the hate, to feel in charge, to be spiritual warriors, to go out there and to do something rather than just to watch and feel helpless,” Rossier said. “How about let’s inject the world with love, let’s love thy neighbor and do exactly what our faith is teaching us to do, to take down barriers, to take down walls between us and to realize that we really are one human race.”
From the Brooklyn Paper:
The students’ act of kindness couldn’t have come at a better time, according to a synagogue staffer, who said the tree will serve as a reminder of their friends in the Catholic church.
“Now, maybe more than ever, we need our Catholic, Muslim and friends of all faiths to come together and support one another,” said Director of Membership and Engagement Sam Sterling. “Every time we look at this incredible Tree of Life, we will remember this most important mitzvah that St. Saviour has done for us. They are true mensches!”
One student from St. Saviour’s who is Jewish told her she was happy to see the two faiths coming together and another called the experience “magical,” she said.
“They were so pleased to have some way of helping — it really gave them a feeling of, ‘I’m doing something good and that’s a way to heal,'” she said. “We are trying to build bridges and take down any walls that exist. There is strength in unity and acceptance.”
A special thank you to the Rossier family, and art teacher Ms. Mathis, for their hard work arranging this gift, and to our dear friends from Congregation Beth Elohim, who gifted us some delicious hamantaschen.