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Ecumenical Work is No Disgrace

Tuesday I had the honor to participate in a panel discussion at Five Towns College,  Their Performing Arts Center is showing Disgraced, a 2012 play by Ayad Akhtar.  The one-act play features a religiously and ethincally diverse cast of characters who come to learn just how complex their shared and conflicting identities really are.  
For the event today,  the actors performed excerpts from the show for the students and others in attendance, and then an array of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish clergy and professionals spoke about some of the themes in the play and common misperceptions, particularly regarding Islam, which plays a major role in the plot.
This was one of the times participating in ecumenical programs made me proud.  The students and others present seemed really moved by what was presented.  Some important points about the nature of Islam in particular and religion in general came out, and above all, the lesson that nothing can take the place of dialogue with those we don't understand and might even disagree with, was the message of the day.  
In times like ours, where people in our country are split over so many things, that FTC should be staging such a play (it's apparently all sold out - sorry) and that local religious leaders can come together to talk and share about challenging things should be a small source of hope, and certainly no disgrace.  
- Rabbi Aaron Benson


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