The Davis Academy/ Marist School Interfaith Dialogue Partnership

This week saw the second of four planned meetings between middle school students from The Davis Academy and The Marist School. Initiated last year, The Davis Academy and The Marist School have made a commitment to instilling the value of interfaith partnership and dialogue in students during their 7th and 8th grade years.

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Davis Academy students  arrived at The Marist School where we were greeted by the now familiar faces of Marist students, faculty, and administration. Given that this meeting took place during the intermediate days of the festival of Sukkot, we focused on the themes of hospitality and “sukkat shalom” or “shelters of peace and understanding.” Of particular interest to Davis students was the connection between hospitality and “The Marist Way.” Davis and Marist students symbolically made a “sukkat shalom” together on Marist’s football field, and then took a few moments to think about what it means to build something together. Afterwards we spent time in small group discussion, completed a scavenger hunt on the Marist campus, and participated in an interfaith worship service in the Marist chapel that included readings from the Torah as well as the New Testament and 12 petitions in honor of the 12 tribes of Israel and 12 apostles, as well as the joint singing of the song “Zeh HaYom” (a song based on Psalm 118 from The Davis Academy’s CD of original Jewish music: Be a Blessing). Members of both faculties helped students navigate the unfamiliar territory of interfaith dialogue and understanding.

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One of the core competencies that is lacking in the broader world and that is at the center of the Davis/Marist partnership is that of interfaith dialogue. Unlike casual conversation, interfaith dialogue requires a different set of skills and different expectations. The goal of interfaith dialogue is not only to find common ground but also to celebrate difference. Unlike casual conversation where awkward pauses and misunderstandings are to be avoided at all cost, interfaith dialogue both can and sometimes should be a bit uncomfortable or feel a bit forced. Middle school students (and the rest of us) need to be warned and reminded that interfaith dialogue is different from casual conversation. They need to be taught certain techniques such as rephrasing, checking for understanding, asking clarifying and probing questions, and deep listening. They also need ample opportunities to practice these skills in safe environments where they can get feedback and become comfortable.

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My personal belief that interfaith dialogue is critical toward creating a more peaceful and understanding world was 100% reinforced in this most recent meeting between Davis and Marist. I’m proud to work at a Jewish day school like Davis that sees this work as central to our mission, vision, and purpose. And I’m grateful to our friends and colleagues at Marist for partnering in this work with us.

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Revenge of the Sith= An Allegory for Sukkot

After noting the many High Holy Day themes running through Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi curiosity led me to review Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, to see whether the Jedi thing was a fluke or not. In reviewing my viewing notes a fascinating pattern emerged. I’ll leave it to you to determine whether it’s fate or coincidence, but I’m fairly certain that Revenge of the Sith is secretly all about the festival of Sukkot. In addition to approximately 150 quotes from the film to support my claim, I leave you with this data point: Revenge of the Sith is Episode III in the Star Wars saga. Sukkot is the 3rd holiday in the month of Tishrei. Pretty compelling evidence, eh?

 

If you’re still not convinced feel free to scroll through the litany of quotes that follows. In the meantime, Chag Sameach and happy Sukkah building!!!

 

Our Awesome Davis Academy Middle School 2012/5773 Sukkah: Just Built, Not Yet Decorated!!

 

Sukkot is known as “zman simchteinu” or the “Season of rejoicing”…

“This is where the fun begins.” – Anakin

Upon seeing a typical Sukkah one might comment…

“Nothing too fancy.” – Obi-Wan

In the event that Sukkah building goes awry…

“Standby. Reverse thrusters.” – Anakin

In the unfortunate event of a hammer (or God forbid power tool) mishap while Sukkah building…

“I’m hit.” – Obi-Wan

When duct tape won’t make your Sukkah viable…

“We’re running out of tricks here.” – Obi-Wan

Nail guns and Sukkahs—they shouldn’t mix…

“Hold you’re fire you’re not helping here.” – Obi-Wan

When the guy who can’t change a light bulb decides to build a temporary dwelling place…

“I agree, bad idea.” – Anakin

Overheard, stubborn husband to reasonable wife, when wife suggests consulting instructions that came with Sukkah kit…

“Get out of here, there’s nothing more you can do.” – Obi-Wan

Upon building an inadequate Sukkah…

“I’m sorry master.” – Anakin

“Oh I have a bad feeling about this.” – Obi-Wan

Upon considering an invitation to attend a Sukkah building party…

“I sense a trap. Next move? Spring the trap!” – Anakin and Obi-Wan

Upon helping a friend build his/her Sukkah…

“Wait for orders.” – Obi-Wan

Upon abandoning a Sukkah building project prematurely…

“Did you press the stop button?” – Obi-Wan

Upon seeing a Sukkah with multiple doors…

“There’s more than one way out of here.” Anakin

Upon spending a little too much time in the Sukkah…

“I don’t want to get out, I want to get moving.” – Obi-Wan

Upon  analyzing a Sukkah that isn’t structurally sound…

“Always on the move.” – Obi-Wan

Upon visiting a Sukkah that, for some inexplicable reason, has a mirror and then looking in said mirror only to be surprised to see oneself…

“Oh it’s you!” – Obi-Wan

Upon explaining Sukkot to an alien from Mars (spoken from the perspective of the alien)…

“What was that all about?” – Anakin

Upon incorporating notes from last year’s near perfect, albeit somewhat lonely, Sukkah building experience…

“This time we will do it together.” – Obi-Wan

Upon receiving the feedback, “Maybe we should’ve ordered the Sukkah kit rather than building our own…”

“I was about to say that.” – Anakin

Commonly heard excuses for avoding Sukkah building…

“I don’t want to make a mess of things… “ Count Dooku

Upon building one’s first Sukkah…

“I’ve been looking forward to this.” – Count Dooku

Upon completing P90X with the goal of becoming a more vigorous Sukkah builder…  

“My powers have doubled since the last time we met.” – Anakin

Advice to one who might think they’ve got the best Sukkah in the ‘chood….

“Twice the pride, double the fall. “ – Count Dooku

Upon encountering novice Sukkah builders…

“I sense great fear in you.” – Count Dooku

Upon doing whatever it takes to get this Sukkah finished…

“You have hate, you have anger but you don’t use them.” – Count Dooku

The wise Jew questions the wisdom of building a Sukkah the day after Yom Kippur…

“I shouldn’t.” – Anakin

The ultimate rationale for all mitzvot…

“Do it!” – Chancellor Palpatine

Self talk, upon completion only….

“You did well.” –  Chancellor Palpatine

Upon cheating in one’s completion of the Sukkah…

“I shouldn’t have done that, it’s not the Jedi way.” – Anakin

Upon rededicating oneself to Sukkah building after a particularly traumatic Sukkot the year prior…

“It is only natural. He cut off your arm, you wanted revenge. “ – Chancellor Palpatine

Freud’s Sukkah…

“Remember what you told me about your mother?” – Chancellor Palpatine

Upon recognizing that Tishrei has too many holidays…

“There’s no time.” – Chancellor Palpatine

Upon ascribing a gender to your Sukkah and then assessing it’s value…

“He seems to be alright.” – Anakin

Upon casting one’s lot with one’s Sukkah…

“His fate will be the same as ours.” – Anakin

Upon completely missing the point of Sukkot…

“The elevator’s not working.” – Anakin

Upon Sukkah building getting really out of hand…

“Fire the emergency booster engines.” – General Grievous

“Easy. We’re in a bit of a situation here.” – Anakin

Upon building a Sukkah with no roof…

“Did I miss something?” – Obi-Wan

Upon building a Sukkah only in time for Thanksgiving…

“Too late! Jump.” – Obi-Wan

Upon setting out to build a Sukkah and ending up with a tent…

“Wait a minute. How did this happen? We’re smarter than this!” – Obi-Wan

Life lesson, not Sukkot specific but definitely apropos…

“I say: patience.” – Anakin

Upon using improvisational support material to insure the structural integrity of one’s Sukkah…

“See: no problem.” – Anakin

Upon watching one’s Sukkah slowly lean to the left threatening imminent collapse…

 “Do you have a plan B?” – Obi-Wan

Upon inviting a mediator to supervise the Sukkah building…

“Ah yes, the negotiator!” – General Grievous

Upon inviting an Ancient Israelite to ensure that your Sukkah conforms with the Sukkot of Ancient Israelites…

“I was expecting someone with your reputation to be a little older!” – General Grievous

Upon inviting Henry Houdini or David Blaine to your Sukkah and then sealing all exits…

“This time you won’t escape.” – Obi-Wan

Upon contracting overly ambitious Sukkah building assistants…

“Stay at your stations. “ – General Grievous

Upon building a Sukkah while on a Carribean cruise…

“Time to abandon ship!” – General Grievous

Upon building a Sukkah with a cockpit…

“Under the circumstances I’d say the ability to pilot this thing is irrelevant.” – Anakin

Upon building a virtual Sukkah…

“We lost something.” – Anakin

Upon building a Sukkah with only one wall and no roof…

“Not to worry. We are still flying half a ship.” – Obi-Wan

Upon building a Sukkah that gradually rolls downhill…

“Keep us level. “- Anakin

Upon building a Sukkah in unseasonably warm weather…

“We’re coming in too hot.” – Anakin

Upon landing a helicopter on top of an unusually sturdy Sukkah…

“Another happy landing.” – Obi-Wan

Upon deciding to publish a calendar called, “Dudes in Sukkahs…”

“Someone needs to be the poster boy.” -Obi-Wan

Upon transforming one’s Sukkah building tribulations into a tall tale…

“It couldn’t possibly be as bad as all that.” – C-3PO

Upon skipping a year of Sukkot…

“It feels like we’ve been apart for a lifetime. “ – Anakin

Upon hiring professionals to build one’s Sukkah and then taking the credit…

“I’m tired of all this deception.” – Anakin

Upon dismissing Sukkot as “Not as important as the rest of the Holy Days…”

“Don’t say things like that.” – Padme

Upon approaching Sukkah building with appropriate humility and deference…

“Are you alright? You’re trembling! What’s going on?” – Anakin

Upon completing one’s Sukkah in the face of profound and legitimate skepticism…

“Something wonderful has happened.” – Padme

Upon wondering what one’s Sukkah will look like on Simchat Torah…

“We’re not gonna worry about anything right now. This is a happy moment. The happiest moment of my life.” – Anakin

Upon vowing to complete one’s Sukkah…

“It will be done, my lord.” – General Grievous

Upon thinking one’s Sukkah is the most beautiful Sukkah ever built…

“So love has blinded you?” – Padme

Upon scaling back one’s grandiose vision for the Sukkah…

“That’s not exactly what I meant.” – Anakin

Upon attributing emotions to one’s Sukkah and then “checking in” with it out of concern for its well being…

“What’s bothering you?” – Padme

Upon acknowledging that you’re not a general contractor…

“How long is it going take for us to be honest with each other?” – Padme

Upon waking up to find that one’s Sukkah still hasn’t been built…

“It was only a dream.” – Anakin

Upon rejecting the assistance of a capable yet opinionated builder…

“We don’t need his help.” – Anakin

Upon having vague notions about what this year’s Sukkot may entail…

“Premonitions. Premonitions.” – Yoda

Upon referring to someone who probably shouldn’t be messing around with power tools…

“Yourself, you speak of, or someone you know.” – Yoda

Upon getting ahead of oneself in terms of Sukkah integrity…

“Careful you must be when sensing the future.” – Yoda

A meditation for taking down one’s Sukkah…

“Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not, miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed that is.“ – Yoda

“Train youself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” – Yoda

Upon completing one’s Sukkah only in time for the first night of Chanukkah…

“I’m sorry, I was held up. I have no excuse.” –  Anakin

Upon reflecting on the building of a Sukkah in North America…

“All of this is unusual and it’s making me feel uneasy.” – Obi-Wan

Upon recruiting an able bodied child to help with Sukkah building…

“I need your help, son.” – Chancellor Palpatine

Upon being overly praised for one’s Sukkah building ability…

“Me? A master? I’m overwhelmed sir.” – Anakin

Upon assisting the average shul-yid in his/her Sukkah building…

“They need you more than you know.” – Chancellor Palpatine

Upon granting a friend provisional status as a Sukkah building colleague…

“You’re on this council but we do not grant you the rank of master.” – Mace Windu

Upon building a disgraceful Sukkah…

“Forgive me, master.” – Anakin

Upon receiving an invitation to a Sukkot party…

“Go, I will.” – Yoda

Upon receiving a Sukkah kit with building instructions in ancient Aramaic…

“What kind of nonsense is this?” – Anakin

Upon requesting that an evaluation one’s Sukkah building track record not be placed in one’s personnel file…

“This assignment is not to be on record.” – Obi-Wan

Upon viewing a Sukkah that seems inexplicably amiss…

“Something is out of place.” – Obi-Wan

Upon asking a klutz to oversee one’s Sukkah building…

“Why are you asking this of me?” – Anakin

Upon turning to a Jewish male who hasn’t yet reached the age of Bar Mitzvah to build one’s Sukkah for you…

“I don’t think the boy can handle it.” – Mace Windu

Upon leaving one’s Sukkah standing year round…

“He will not let me down. He never has.” – Obi-Wan

Sukkot/ relationship advice…

“Don’t shut me out. Let me help you.” – Padme

Upon agreeing to build a Sukkah when one can’t even walk and chew gum at the same time…

“They asked you to do something that makes you feel dishonest didn’t they?” – Chancellor Palpatine

Upon seeing a Sukkah that leaves one speechless (regardless of the reason)…

“I don’t know what to say.” – Anakin

Upon contemplating doing electrical work in one’s Sukkah…

“Remember back to your early teachings: all who gain power are afraid to lose it.” – Chancellor Palpatine

“Power! Unlimited power!” – Chancellor Palpatine

Upon giving critical feedback when viewing a neighbor’s Sukkah…

“Good is a point of view.” – Chancellor Palpatine

Upon wondering if one is up for the task of Sukkah building…

“Is it possible to learn this power?” – Anakin

Upon seeing a Sukkah in need of repair…

“Act on this we must.” – Yoda

Upon deciding to salvage a Sukkah from imminent destruction…

“Quickly and decisively we should proceed. “ – Yoda

“Ki va moed” in Yoda speak…

“Now the time is.” – Yoda

“Ki va moed” in Palpatine speak…

“The time has come.” – Chancellor Palpatine

Upon making the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of one’s Sukkahs structural integrity…

“Hold me.” – Padme

Sukkot and emotional intelligence…

“Search your feelings.” – Chancellor Palpatine

Upon entering a suspicious Sukkah…

“I know they don’t trust you.” – Anakin

Sukkot and moral relativism…

“The Sith and the Jedi are the same in almost every way. “ -Chancellor Palpatine

Upon commencing a Sukkah building process without a guarantee of success…

“It may turn out just to be a wild man’s chase.” – Obi-Wan

Upon failing to build a Sukkah that’s as good as one’s mentor’s Sukkah…

“Master, I’ve disappointed you. I haven’t been very appreciative of your training. I’ve been arrogant and I apologize.” – Anakin

Upon taking down one’s Sukkah (likely in November)….

“Goodbye old friend.” – Obi-Wan

Upon keeping one’s Sukkah standing well into winter…

“When have I ever let you down?” – Commander Cody

Upon entering a multi-floor, multi-room Sukkah complex…

“I feel lost.” – Anakin

Upon discovering an unanticipated solution to one’s seemingly insurmountable existential Sukkah building difficulty…

“I’ve found a way to save you.” – Anakin

Upon entering a Sukkah in Arkansas…

“What brings you to our remote sanctuary?” – Tion Medon

Upon making small talk with a Sukkah…

“Hello there!” – Obi-Wan

Upon playing chess while in the Sukkah…

“Your move.” – Obi-Wan

Upon assuming that one needn’t build one’s own Sukkah…

“To a dark place this line of thought will carry us. Great care we must take.” – Yoda

Upon wondering how long it will take to build one’s Sukkah…

“I wish I knew.” – Anakin

Upon questioning why we have so many holidays in such a short period of time…

“If one is to understand the great mystery, one must study all of its aspects.” – Chancellor Palpatine

Upon encountering one’s limits in Sukkah building…

“I will quickly discover the truth of all this.” – Anakin

Wise council to the person of unwavering certitude (aka advice to a chutzpadik Sukkah builder)…

“For your own good stay out of this affair.” – Mace Windu

When Sukkot and the Holy Days come early…

“I must say you’re here sooner than expected.” – Chancellor Palpatine

Upon seeing a Sukkah full of ushpizin…

“You’re fulfilling your destiny.” – Chancellor Palpatine

Upon inviting a good friend to build a Sukkah with you…

“If we work together I know we can discover the secret.” – Chancellor Palpatine

Upon attributing a Torah like status to the Sukkah building instruction manua…

“I pledge myself to your teachings.” – Anakin

Upon resorting to spoken word commands in building one’s Sukkah…

“Rise.” – Chancellor Palpatine

Upon building a Sukkah without delving into the existential truths of the matter…

“Do what must be done… Do not hesitate. Show no mercy. “ – Chancellor Palpatine

Upon pledging to do better next Sukkot…

“Wait for me until I return. Things will be different I promise. Please, wait for me. “ – Anakin

Upon putting one’s Sukkah in the garage until next year…

“Take care my little friend.” C-3PO

Upon encountering an unexpected technical difficulty in Sukkah construction…

“I feel so… helpless.” – C-3PO

Upon sending a Sukkot evite…

“Heard from no one, have we.” – Yoda

Upon expecting a call from one’s rabbi to see if one has successfully built one’s Sukkah…

“Have we had any contact from the temple?” – Obi-Wan

Upon entering Sukkot without doing one’s homework…

“A little more knowledge might light our way.” – Yoda

Upon encountering a beautifully built Sukkah in the middle of nowhere…

“Who could’ve done this?” Obi-Wan

Upon publically committing to building a Sukkah…

“I assure you, my resolve has never been stronger.” – Chancellor Palpatine

Upon asking for candid feedback regarding one’s Sukkah…

“I must know the truth, master.” – Obi-Wan

Upon witnessing a particularly unfortunate Sukkah build…

“I can’t watch any more.” – Obi-Wan

Upon being asked to view an invisible Sukkah…

“I don’t know where to look.” – Obi-Wan

Upon sitting in a structurally unsound Sukkah that one has built oneself as a point of pride…

“He is in grave danger… from himself.” – Obi-Wan

Upon misplacing one’s Sukkah either before, during, or after Sukkot…

“I must find him.” – Obi-Wan

Upon doing teshuvah in a Sukkah…

“I’m so sorry.” – Obi-Wan

Upon building a one-man Sukkah…

“This is personal.” – Padme

Upon building a really great Sukkah…

“You have restored peace and justice to the galaxy. “ – Chancellor Palpatine

Upon the role of affection in ensuring structural integrity…

“Love won’t save you.” – Anakin

Upon building a UV resistant Sukkah for a fair-skinned loved one…

“I’m doing it for you. To protect you.” – Anakin

Upon encountering one’s Sukkah as if a stranger…

“I don’t know you anymore.” -Padme

Upon arriving at an irresolvable disagreement with one’s Sukkah building partner…

“You’re going down a path I can’t follow.” – Padme

Upon building one’s own Sukkah…

“You have done that yourself.” – Obi-Wan

On guilting friends into helping with Sukkah building…

“If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy.” – Obi-Wan

On selecting a Sukkah from the many Sukkot one could’ve chosen…

“You were the chosen one.” -Obi-Wan

Upon bonding with one’s Sukkah…

“You were my brother… I loved you.” – Obi-Wan

Upon encountering a structurally sound, but soulless Sukkah…

“Medically she is completely healthy, for reasons we can’t explain we are losing her.”  -GH-7 Medical Droid

 

What did one Sukkah sasy to the other Sukkah?

“Until the time is right, disappear we will.” – Yoda

 

Believe me now???? Chag Sameach!!!!