In an effort to bring various faiths together, Hillel at Binghamton, Newman House and the Muslim Student Association (MSA) came together on Sunday for a day trip to visit multiple houses of worship for the fifth annual Interfaith Trip.
In the past, the trip has only included stops at a synagogue and a mosque, but this year, in addition to stopping at the Islamic Organization of the Southern Tier and Temple Israel, students also stopped at Newman House, a Catholic church located on campus.
Nadiya Al-Noor, the interfaith chair for the MSA and a second-year graduate student studying student affairs administration and public administration, said she believes this event is important because people can learn about the similarities and differences between the religions.
“I think the purpose is to expose people to different beliefs and things they haven’t seen before,” Al-Noor said. “They can get to know the things we have in common. There’s a lot more similarities than there are differences which we need to recognize before we can go off on our own and help humanity.”
At each place of worship, students were met by a religious leader who welcomed them and spoke with them about their religion. In addition, the group was given tours, shown what types of practices happen in which rooms and taught about the respective religious texts. On the bus ride between stops, the attendees took part in discussions about their own personal experiences with religion and what they had learned.
Marley Weiner, a rabbi for Hillel, said she wanted one of the takeaways to be about how people experience religion as opposed to just knowing facts about it.
“We don’t want people just saying, ‘This is what I know about Judaism,’ but rather, ‘This is my experience as a Jew,’” Weiner said. “It’s one thing to learn the facts and history of a religion, but another to see how people integrate themselves into it.”
Ariel Cohen, the Interfaith Trip co-chair for Hillel and a junior majoring in human development, said she believed the trip allows the different organizations to strengthen a sense of community.
“I think this trip will be good to strengthen the interfaith community and relations on campus,” Cohen said. “All three of us have really strong organizations individually, but there isn’t a lot of interaction between us. It’s a great way to learn about other faiths, practices, cultures and ways of life.”
Around 20 students attended from each of the three organizations and were given matching shirts for attending the trip.
Paty Acipreste, the president of Newman House at BU and a senior triple-majoring in Spanish, economics and Latin American and Caribbean area studies, said the event was an effort to create a tolerant environment.
“I feel like there has been a lot of division in the world, especially between religions, so we’re really making an effort to collaborate and build tolerance so we can have better relations,” Acipreste said.