Published January 23, 2014
Fifty-five middle school students, 29 from St. Jude the Apostle School, Sandy Springs, and 26 from Greenfield Hebrew Academy, gathered on the Atlanta campus of the Jewish school for the first Acceptance Summit Jan. 16. It provided an opportunity for a dialogue of religious understanding and tolerance.
The summit was facilitated by the Anti-Defamation League and is part of the No Place for Hate program, which both schools have participated in for over five years.
Rabbi Adam Starr of the Young Israel of Toco Hills in Atlanta, and Father Bill Hao, parochial vicar at St. Jude Church, shared brief presentations about each faith, which were followed by questions and answers.
On two different occasions the students broke into groups, first by gender and second by grades (fifth/sixth and seventh/eighth). One exercise involved selecting three different colored pipe cleaners in order to create an identity sculpture. Each pipe cleaner represented the most essential characteristics of one’s identity. In the end the students came to their own conclusion that there cannot be one without the other, because they’re all a relevant part of one’s makeup.
“Acceptance Summit 2014 was a great learning opportunity for our student council members. Students not only had a unique chance to learn about a different religion and culture from their peers at Greenfield Hebrew Academy, but I think they learned a lot about themselves and their own Catholic identity,” said Eleonora Straub, St. Jude the Apostle School media specialist. Straub and Sylvia Miller, a guidance counselor at Greenfield Hebrew Academy, served as coordinators for the 2014 Acceptance Summit with the ADL. “We are looking forward to developing this program further and continuing to work with Greenfield Hebrew Academy and ADL,” added Straub.
The schools are planning another gathering in the spring at St. Jude’s.