The twelfth Annual Interfaith Dinner was held last Wednesday in the Marvin Center to highlight the various faith organizations on campus. Students who attended were treated to live music, food, guest speakers, and more during the annual event.
Started after 9/11, the dinner strives to bring together students in solidarity against prejudice. Overall, the event was focused on examining faith’s common role in social justice and freedom.
Each campus faith organization was represented, and they also chose the speakers. The Voice Gospel Choir began the program with several hymns.
Tim Kane, associate director for inclusion initiatives, introduced the various performers and guests.
Speakers for the event included Muslim Student Association student Aabid Mohiuddin, Satyam representative Pavithra Chidambaram, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship choice Jon Yu, Allied in Pride representative Nicholas Gumas, GW Catholic student Olivia Bee, Jewish Student Association representative Joey Saban, and Kabir Gumer from the Sikh Student Association.
Each original speech was unique, yet they all taught lessons. Some were deeply rooted in the biblical tradition and quoted passages from the New Testament while others focused on a secular morality. Another defined the term “Tikkun Olam” as the Jewish faith’s “one common goal of a better place for those who follow”. A fellow speaker focused on the Sikh traditions of identity and scholastic petition. Each address, though different from the others, represented the night’s theme of the involvement of faith in freedom and social justice.
In closing, GW President Steven Knapp gave a brief history of the Interfaith Dinner and the university’s history of student led interfaith initiative.
He also shared an excerpt of a letter written by George Washington to a Rhode Island Synagogue’s congregation. The letter contained not just the theme quote of the evening, ” to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance,” but a larger statement about the power of diversity in bringing wisdom and prosperity to those who embrace it.
Interfaith Director for Satyam, the school’s Hindu awareness organization and planner of the event Priya Yadav said she was happy with the dinner’s turnout. She added that the school had been working to “re-excite interest in interfaith and multicultural events.”
“We have so many [students] dedicated to their faith who want to let others know,” she said.