Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – Noa Rose

“Round and round we dance, we hold each other’s hands and weave our lives in a circle, our love is strong; the dance goes on”

I had the great pleasure of honoring Dr. King’s legacy alongside the members of First Congregational UCC, Beth Israel Center, Madinah Academy of Madison, and Madison Christian Community for a day of learning and service. Sixty youth, representing each of these faith communities, immersed themselves in a profound interfaith experience, an opportunity many adults often shy away from. Children from grades 1-8 participated in service projects, cooperative games, and experiential learning through art and music that formed the basis for new friendships and bonds.

As a facilitator of one of these sessions, I was inspired by the enthusiasm and candor of the young people as they recognized the differences between their faiths, yet continued to find common ground. We challenged the youth to provide their own definitions of difference, empathy, and unity – three principles we Fellows deemed most important to interfaith dialogue. For the youngest students, we asked them to depict these words through art. Students were able to provide everyday examples of these principles and connected their experiences back to how they may be used to develop a more compassionate world.

Dr. King’s leadership extended beyond the Civil Rights Movement. He was an advocate for interfaith dialogue and a friend to all religions and all people of faith. Inspired by the teachings of the Mahatma Gandhi, and a friend to Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel, Dr. King recognized the power in forming bonds with those outside our own faiths for the sake of our communities, countries, and world.

After walking together in the famous march from Selma to Montgomery, Rabbi Heschel wrote, “…our march was worship. I felt my legs were praying.” In our concluding ceremony at First Congregational, we formed concentric circles, hand-in-hand, marching and dancing to our own song. “Round and round we dance, we hold each other’s hands and weave our lives in a circle, our love is strong the dance goes on”.

In this moment, Rabbi Heschel’s words resonated with me more deeply than ever before. Though our march was small and intimate, we were taking steps towards building a better future. Parents and their children, leaders and teachers of all faiths stood together, praying the lessons learned on that day would carry us forward and enable us to build the future Dr. King envisioned for all humankind.

In the coming semester as we Fellows gather for our weekly meetings, I hope to carry this inspiration with me to continue to work towards building religious tolerance on campus. I eagerly look forward to working alongside my peers in developing new programming and initiatives to foster a more tolerant and understanding community in which all faiths – all people – are valued and cherished.

– Noa Rose

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