As an educator with 30 years experience, a Jew and a parent I feel compelled to respond to Howard Brown’s letter dated May 13.
I am not sure in which direction the author intended to lead the reader. Is he upset that the JCDS has forged communal bonds? That Mohammad is a role model for his followers? That the Islamic School’s curriculum was not vetted? That the Quran (as does the Torah) promotes adulterers to be stoned?
There are three ways in which we as teachers can help bridge the divide among our youth. First is through education. Both our scriptures teach love, acceptance and peace. Think back to the “Golden Age” that saw Muslims, Jews and Christians build a civilization that laid the groundwork for the science we know today. Averroes, St. Thomas Aquinas and Maimonides helped to usher in a period of peace for the Holy Land all based on education and respect for ideas.
The second is through the building of relationships that emphasize listening, fight simplistic stereotypes and focus on similarities. The theater program between the JCDS and the Islamic School seems to be accomplishing this quite well.
Finally, adults should not look for excuses to divide young people, be they Muslims, Jews, Christians, atheists, brown, green or purple. We adults need to lead by example and show our youth that they can be empowered to change their future.
Yes, we need to remember the past, but keep in mind that reconciliation is a road paved with love, respect and forgiveness.
I applaud the teachers, parents, and students of both the JCDS and the Islamic School of RI. Keep up the good work as you strive for one of the great tenets of Judaism – tikkun olam.
Dennis Morrell, Principal
NA Ferri Middle School, Cranston