Interfaith Walk informs Davis community

KAILA MATTERA / AGGIE

Over 200 participants walked together to places of worship of Abrahamic religions in Davis

On Sunday, Oct. 22, the Celebration of Abraham hosted an Interfaith Walk in Davis. Participants had the opportunity to learn about the three Abrahamic religions — Judaism, Islam and Christianity — as they walked to each place of worship. Participants enjoyed refreshments and snacks while learning about the common interests of the different religions.

The idea of the walk sprouted from members of the Congregation Bet Haverim, who recently visited Oxford, England and participated in a peace walk. They brought the idea to Rabbi Greg Wolfe, who then presented it to the Celebration of Abraham, and within a short couple of months, the idea became a reality.

“When some of the stuff happened this summer, I thought it would be a great idea to build solidarity and a nice opportunity to help people get to know each other in our community,” Wolfe said. “Each clergyman talked about their traditions, but the theme was what [do] our traditions say about living together with others who aren’t us, and how do we live in a society with lots of different religions.”

The day started at Bet Haverim, where everyone listened to Rabbi Wolfe speak about Judaism and the elements of the religion that promote a sense of community among all people of different faiths and backgrounds. People then made their way over to the Islamic Center of Davis, where Imam Amar Shahin echoed this theme of community in his talk. Finally, they ended the day at the Davis United Methodist Church as Reverend Brandon Austin concluded the event.

“I think people were very pleased with the experience of the walk and really having an opportunity with people that they don’t run into in their day-to-day experience,” Wolfe said. “It was really interesting to be able to break down some of the walls and even misperceptions.”

This generally positive feedback came from people of all backgrounds. Helen Roland, the president of the Celebration of Abraham, explained that approximately 250 participants took part in the event and helped make the event a success by bringing such a diverse array of backgrounds.

“There were people who were not from a particular religious tradition who came,” Roland said. “There were people who don’t identify as religious but came. So it was broader than just the three Abraham religions.”

Roland also noted that what was most interesting were the interactions between people as they walked together to each place of worship. People had the opportunity to interact with each other and learn from each other, which was a unique experience for everyone involved.

“I think when people don’t interact with each other and don’t see each other as people, it becomes easy for them to start thinking in stereotypes and start to presume things about people they don’t know, and it then makes it easy for people to build on fears,” Roland said. “And it leads to a degradation of the whole community.”

The day concluded with event-organizers giving participants the opportunity to donate to fire victims. As a result, they were able to raise $515, demonstrating the positive effects of efforts in community building.

“Especially nowadays, it seems that people have retreated into their various tribes,” said Mairaj Syed, a professor of religious studies at UC Davis. “People think, ‘I’m going to live by my tribe, and I’m going to die by my tribe.’ And there isn’t much communication between people who have found their tribe, so any kind of dialogue that crosses those boundaries is good in my opinion.”

The Celebration of Abraham is currently preparing for its annual January event, which it hopes will be particularly successful this year, due to the positive feedback from the community. The event, “Embodying Hope: A Call to Action,” will be held on Jan. 29 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at the Saint James Catholic Church, located at 1275 B Street.

 

Written By: Hadya Amin — city@theaggie.org