The Second Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving
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The Second Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving

Editors Pick: "Bridging our Beliefs"

The Second Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving

Growing up, my family would always go to our friends' house for Thanksgiving and as we sat down for dinner those who wanted to share a prayer for thanks were welcome to. The host would say grace and my family would say HaMotzi (the Jewish prayer over bread).

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday for the fact that it doesn’t matter your religion or culture but that we can all sit down at one table and give thanks.

When I came to Colorado State University, fall of 2014, I had the chance to join the Hillel leadership team as the Cultural Coordinator. Hillel is a Jewish organization that welcomes all members of the community for Shabbat, events, and leadership opportunities.

The first big interfaith event Hillel started was Bedouin Hospitality Night, a night where the Muslim Student Alliance and the Jewish community came together for a night of falafel, hummus, and peace. Something very important to me is for people to recognize that we really aren’t all that different at the end of the day and that we should take the time to reflect on our similarities as well as learn to appreciate and respect our differences.

When thinking about what was next for Hillel we thought about thanksgiving and what our favorite parts about it were and that is when I mentioned my Thanksgiving and our interfaith tradition.

In a blink of an eye we were talking to the Geller Center, Lutheran Campus Ministry, and the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship about our idea for an Interfaith Thanksgiving dinner.

With expectations for only 30 to 50 people to show up for that evening’s dinner, the Hillel house was filled with almost a hundred students. There were people set up downstairs, upstairs, in the office, and if it weren’t snowing there would have been people outside. It was a truly magical night to see everyone gather around and talk about their beliefs and cultures.

This year we knew we needed a bigger space. Everyday Joe’s Coffee House allowed us to hold the dinner there Wednesday, November 11th. All the cooking was done at Hillel with respect for our belief in keeping the dinner kosher. Cooking was planned and delegated by the Interfaith Key Community with the help of the Geller Center, Lutheran Campus Ministry, Hillel and the Unitarian Universalist Campus Ministry.

The menu consisted of a kosher turkey, chicken, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, vegetarian stuffing, and vegan seitan and black bean dish with a side of vegan gravy. For desert, vegan pumpkin pie and apple pie.

Before the meal was served each group got up and said their prayer for thanks.

There was also an incorporation of service throughout the night where guests were invited if they believed to get swabbed and to be put on the bone marrow registry with the help of CSU students involved with the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation.

Throughout the night I walked through the room and asked our around 150 guests about their beliefs and why they came tonight. I had responses from, “I believe in humanities” to “I believe in Energy” or “ a soul” or “Jesus” or in the “Koran” or that they came because “my friend invited me” or “I heard it through my church.”

These people didn’t know who I was or why I was asking them to tell me why they came or who they are, they just told me. The atmosphere was so pure and welcoming that there was no fear in sharing who they are.

Hopefully one day this world will allow people to never be afraid to share who they are or to wear a cross or Jewish star or Hijab in public.

That is why we need events like Interfaith Thanksgiving, to bridge the gap and educate the community so we can respect and appreciate who we all are.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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