Cardinal Gibbons High School students visit Temple Beth Or in Raleigh, NC
Summer seminar participant Mark DeLaRosa reflects, “one of my favorite Jewish sayings is, ‘an enemy is a friend you haven’t met yet,’” and his teaching practice reflects this philosophy through outreach to other communities. On a cool Sunday evening in October, sophomores from his class at Cardinal Gibbons (Catholic) High School in North Carolina and their parents were welcomed by Temple Beth Or (Reform Jewish Community) in Raleigh by their Rabbis and Youth Group for an evening of friendship and worship in celebration of the Simchat Torah (Rejoicing of the Torah) service. This joyous celebration combined a liturgy of thanksgiving for the Torah with a festive party for the participants. For the students, the evening offered a wonderful opportunity to join a Jewish community in prayer. For the first quarter of this school year, they had studied the Torah and the Hebrew language. With this invitation, they could witness a Jewish community embody what they had been studying and join the congregation in deepening their understanding and faith.
As DeLaRosa wrote in a letter to his fellow faculty: “in a world increasingly polarized and confrontational, the creation of understanding and tolerance, as well as the pursuit of common interest and dialogue are tools all of us need and should employ. It is my hope that our students carry their fond memories of last evening with them for all the days of their lives. I also hope that they share the experiences we had at Temple Beth Or and cherish our Jewish sisters and brothers as friends.”