This year the Interfaith Union will be hosting their second Thanksgiving dinner. Interfaith Union is a relatively new group at Sarah Lawrence College, coming together only last year. Since then, the organization has been putting together gatherings and holding dinners in celebration of different holidays. The group is currently made up of Hillel, The Muslim Student Association, UUreka, The Christian Student Union, Dhammah Club, and Spiritual Space.
Katrina Walker (’17), the co-chair of UUreka, discussed how this is the first time an organization like the Interfaith Union has existed at Sarah Lawrence. “We realized it would be a lot easier to organize if we all worked together,” she said. Walker spoke about how joining together has allowed the different clubs to put on larger events that reach a wider array of students. She said it’s part of the reason she feels that events like these are so important.
Walker also talked about how she wants to engage the campus in more dialogue about religion. She said often times religion can be a taboo subject on Sarah Lawrence’s campus. Though she acknowledged that many people have valid reasons for not wanting to talk about religion or have had bad experiences around religion, she feels that talking about faith “is especially important, because of what is going on in our country right now.”
Walker said events like the Interfaith Union’s Thanksgiving dinner could be a way for the group to not only be more visible on campus, but to also start that dialogue about faith, spirituality, and religion. She added that being a visible presence at Sarah Lawrence is important because, “We need to show this campus and everyone that religion isn’t something to hate someone over.”
Walker attended the Interfaith Thanksgiving last year, and said that it was a positive experience. She said it was well attended, and she felt that people were there for a purpose greater than just getting a free meal. She added, “If people don’t feel religious or spiritual but just want a place to be heard and accepted, then we are here for that too.”
Molly Stricker (’17), one of the co-chairs of the Christian Student Union, is also involved in the Interfaith Union. One reason why the group first formed, she said, “We started having these dinners and dialogues to find a way to ban together and do things on campus that would show that we are united and that we are united in love.”
Along with the Thanksgiving dinner, the group will be holding a can food drive. Students who attend the Interfaith Thanksgiving are encouraged to bring nonperishable food to the event to be donated. Stricker said that the canned food drive at the last Thanksgiving dinner was a big success, and she hopes it will be this year as well.
Stricker said that the goal of the Interfaith Thanksgiving and other events like it “is to bring people from a variety of different faith backgrounds into the same space to give thanks to whatever god or idea they have, and to just express gratitude.”
At the dinner, people come and get a free catered meal. After introductions, there will be a facilitated dialogue surrounding the theme of the dinner. For the Interfaith Thanksgiving the theme will be giving thanks. Stricker said that people will most likely talk about what they are thankful for and what being grateful means to them. Stricker feels this event is especially important because giving thanks is something that everyone can do, regardless of religion. She feels that Thanksgiving is a great holiday for the group to celebrate, because it is one of the few events they hold that is not associated with any one particular religion.
Stricker said, “We want to create a space were people can say what they believe and be accepted. We can share beliefs and talk about the differences and the similarities in what we believe.” Stricker added that, personally, the Interfaith Union has provided her with support. She said that it has been refreshing to find other people who have faith and spirituality as part of the their identity.
The event will be on Sunday November 20th at 6:00 pm in the faculty dinning room. Come for free food and open discussion, and a celebration of different faiths and beliefs, and to celebrate being thankful.
“I guess to be cliché -- lets break bread together,” Walker said. “Let’s have a meal and enjoy each other’s company, without judgment and without expectation.”
Nora Tomas '19