Interfaith club holds dialogue with Al Noor School


“I come to the dialogue sessions because it’s a great, really informal way to be honest, to talk to people, and to get to know other people that follow different religions than me,” Michael Shaari (11) said. Members of the Interfaith Club engaged in a dialogue with students from the Al Noor school, which has a predominantly Muslim population, over Zoom on Sunday. The Interfaith Club holds two to three discussions each year, during which students learn about each others’ religions, upbringings, and communities, Maya Nornberg (11) said.

After students introduced themselves at the start of the dialogue, Co-president of the Interfaith Club Yana Gitelman (12) presented the group with a list of nine categories: friends and family, health, education, freedom, making a difference, security, happiness, wealth, and religion. Students indicated which category mattered the least to them through the chat and discussed their choices afterwards. 

An important part of the activity was the variety of categories presented, which helped lessen the emphasis on religion, Leyli Granmayeh (12) said. “That is one of the most apparent differences between our two schools and what the foundation of the relationship is built upon,” she said. “But I also think that it’s important to sometimes acknowledge the other similarities and differences that we have.”

After this activity, both the leaders of the Interfaith Club and a similar club at Al Noor posed a number of questions to the group relating to the intersection of religion and political beliefs, as well as how religion is portrayed in the media. 

The dialogue exposed Brett Karpf (11) to elements of Islam that he had never heard about. “Other than Christianity and Judaism, [I] have not gotten much exposure to other religions, so it was interesting to hear opinions from people that follow different faiths than me [and hear] stories of religious discrimination.” 

Mikail Akbar (10) wanted to serve as a mediator in these discussions because he is Muslim, he said. “I wanted to help my fellow classmates understand that we’re still people beyond the stereotypes,” Akbar said. 

The dialogue also allowed students to gain more insight into their own identities, Granmayeh said. “One of my favorite things about dialogues is my internal reflection on what’s important to me,” she said. “What do I value? And what do I consider major pillars of my identity?”