school desk

Treasures teach tolerance


Four schools in an interfaith program funded by the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park took a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA) on Feb 6.

Students from Kinneret Day School (KDS) in Riverdale, the Solomon Schecter School, the Islamic Leadership School and Al-Ishan Academy listened as Islamic Cultural Center of North America Chairman Sheikh Drammeh gave the opening presentation.

“How do you define a cousin?” Sheikh Moussa Drammeh asked students.

They responded with the definition commonly accepted today — the child of one’s aunts and uncles.

But Sheikh Drammeh had a different definition.

“The Torah and Quran define cousins as anyone who descends from Adam and Eve,” he said. “So how many of you are cousins? All of you.”

His response constitutes the essence of the interfaith program— a collaboration between two Jewish schools and two Muslim schools.

Students from the four schools participate in activities that teach tolerance and allow them to learn more about their fellow students’ faiths and cultures.

Thursday’s trip to the MMA was the second field trip this year for the program, which has run for the past seven years.

Last month, students from Leslie Wachtel’s fifth grade class at KDS teamed up with the other schools at the Museum of Jewish Heritage to view an exhibit of works by the artist Marc Chagall.

Last week, KDS students explored the museum’s extensive Islamic gallery while working in small groups to answer questions about the artifacts exhibited.

“September 11 was such an eye opener that a person with any type of wisdom would never do things in the same way, say things in the same way, take things for granted again,” said Sheikh Drammeh, who gave a presentation before students began their museum excursion

With that in mind, he said, religious leaders in New York City have had to work diligently toward unity and tolerance between religious communities in the area.

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