In Allentown, Pa., Jewish students at Muhlenberg College’s Hillel began the school year with “Havdalah and S’mores,” ritually marking the end of Shabbat with a Havdalah ceremony and then hosting a bonfire with snacks.

foot of this rabbi and hear her explain the Torah in ways that I never would have imagined, and in ways I didn’t learn in seminary,” he said. “To hear what thousands of years of rabbinical commentators say about a story gives me much more insight into the Bible.” This year threats against Jewish communities in

Northern California escalated again. Congregation Beth Israel invited Faith members back, not only to protect their synagogue during Passover but to join them in their seder. “Learning to embrace each other and not fear

each other is really important,” Abrams said. “You’re not just tolerating each other; we’re understanding how we can uplift and elevate one another.”

Interreligious education Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa., is known for its pre-med, pre-law and theater programs, and one other thing—it has more Jewish students than Duke, Princeton, Georgetown or Johns Hopkins. Nearly 30 percent of Muhlenberg’s 2,300 students identify as Jewish. “In the 1930s when a lot of colleges in the

U.S. were limiting Jewish students using quotas, Muhlenberg never had a quota,” said Darrell Jodock, founder of the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding at Muhlenberg and a member of the ELCA Interreligious Task Force. The campus became known as a haven for Jewish students. “In a very real sense, that’s an expression of our

Lutheran heritage. We’re educating more broadly than just educating Lutherans,” Jodock said. “It’s because of our Lutheran heritage, rather than despite it.” Today the campus serves as a sort of

interreligious laboratory. The chaplain’s office coordinates a student group called Interfaith Leadership Council, which meets regularly for interreligious dialogue. They also plan programs for the greater college community, such as “Speed Faithing,” which is like speed dating but for questions to learn more about someone’s religion. During two weeks in April, the campus celebrated

Holi (the Hindu festival of colors and love), Passover, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter, and held a panel discussion on women in religion. “Interreligious dialogue can be the kind of

training program for the kinds of skills that we need to hold our nation together,” Jodock said. “To maintain coherence and maintain pluralism, we start with interreligious dialogue as a school for democracy.”

Download a study guide by clicking on the “Spiritual practices & resources” tab at

K.T. Sancken is a social worker, mother and writer based in Charlottesville, Va.


Photo: Courtesy of Muhlenberg College

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