Contributors: Ana (8th grade, VT), Seth (7th grade, NH), and Sylvia (8th grade, VT)
While Fridays in the United States typically give young and old alike a reason to celebrate in itself, Kids4Peace Vermont and New Hampshire campers learned about the religious significance of this day to both Islam and Judaism. During the early evening before dinner, the campers learned about and witnessed Juma prayer, the Friday mid-day prayer held each week for Muslims. In addition to learning about the physical and social nature of Muslim prayer, campers also learned about the significance of Friday in both the religion and the structure of a week, for Fridays mark the end of the weekend.
After dinner, the campers learned about and witnessed a Shabbat service, marking the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath while at camp (Shabbat Shalom by the way!). In addition to seeing the nature of Jewish prayer, the youth also learned how Shabbat affects people’s lifestyles and the structure of a week, for Fridays mark the first full day of the weekend. The staggered days of rest among the three Abrahamic faiths was a new concept to many. But Sylvia, a rising eighth grader from South Burlington, VT, embraced the knowledge, noting that “each religion has their own day of rest, [and hers] is just on Sunday”.
Ana, also a rising eighth grader from South Burlington, VT, also related this lesson to her own faith tradition as a Christian. She found that it was her belief in the Episcopal Church that “helps [her], [and] leads [her]” by “teach[ing] [her] to welcome and accept other cultures [and religions] even though they are different”. She uses her own faith as a vessel of acceptance and appreciation, even to other faith traditions.
While Ana feels incredibly connected to her own faith, this sensation of connection embedded in the Juma Prayer was significant to Seth, a rising seventh grade from Henniker, NH. While he noted the physical state of connection between shoulders and knees in the different postures used during Muslim prayer, he continued to see beyond the traditions to the universal commonality of being human, for “we are all connected”.
And it is that connection that has inspired Seth to advocate for peace and understanding in his school, standing up for Jewish and Muslim students who “are just like [the Christian students], they just do things a little bit differently”. Although now, Seth feels more hope to “not give up right away”, for even a young peacemaker knows that “it’s easy to get overwhelmed” in the face of injustice and prejudice. But he intends to move forward anyway, for, as Sylvia puts it, “everyone deserves peace and rest”.