YES Programs



An American Perspective on an Interfaith Exchange

Dc Cluster Interfaith Temple Beth El And Mosque 2012 Web Small

This article was originally published in The Scroll, Temple Beth El's newsletter.

Over the past few years, Temple Beth El's Upper School Eighth grade course on Comparative Religions, has partnered with the DC-area AFS cluster of YES students, who visit Beth El, teach a class about their religious identities and guide students through a tour of their mosques and temples.  -- Elisha Frumkin

Eighth grade student Benjamin Katz offers his reflections:

"As part of our comparative religions course in the Upper School at Beth El, the eighth graders went to the Islamic Center mosque in Washington, D.C.

When entering the mosque, the girls covered their heads with scarves as a sign of respect. All boys and girls had to wear long sleeves and long pants. Boys and girls split into separate groups led by Muslim exchange students. We were taught how to cleanse ourselves, “wudu,” before praying.

Upon entering the sanctuary, we removed our shoes. I was then blinded by the colorful and intricate architecture and design. Next, Muslim students recited prayers and read English translations.

Overall, I felt it was very powerful to learn about another religion. Unlike the common misconceptions, Judaism and Islam have similarities. We both believe in one God, both religions promote modesty when entering the house of worship, and both follow one book of teachings (Torah and Koran).

I look forward to reciprocating the hospitality and teaching the exchange students about Judaism when they visit Beth El later this year."

The interfaith exchange was also featured in The Washington Post, please click here for the article.

Photo courtesy Jody Axinn. Temple Beth El students with YES students from Indonesia, Lebanon, Egypt, India and Yemen at Islamic Center of DC.