Finding Tangible Hope in Keeping Tradition Alive

“What gives you #TangibleHope in the world today? How do your values and/or belief systems come into conversation with this #TangibleHope?

Leah Schwartz, young adult interfaith activist responds:

Last year when I was studying abroad in Barcelona my host family asked how I could put my body through the process of fasting for Yom Kippur. I began to question what meaning it had, especially when I wasn’t performing the rite with my family and friends at home. However, I was soon reminded of my grandfather and his commitment to Judaism despite the anti-Semitism that he faced in his lifetime.

Although sometimes it seems foreign to practice Jewish rituals in a secular(ish) environment, whether it be at college or abroad, I like the idea that that these holidays and traditions somehow connect me to my grandfather and my ancestors.

My grandfather was a holocaust survivor and a venerated member of the Jewish community within Caracas, Venezuela.

When I was ten years old, on Mother’s Day, my mother received a call that her father had been hit by a bus in Caracas that ran a red light. The family festivities were interrupted and she quickly made arrangements to get to Venezuela. Later that week he passed away.

I never got the chance to ask him what it was like to be in a labor camp or how he stayed devoted to the idea of Hashem, G-d, in such a bleak circumstance. It felt wrong that, after all he had been through, he was robbed of his life in this way.

The Jewish High Holidays give me time to to not only reflect on this life event and how it affects me, but also its larger societal context. In this time of reflection, I feel Tangible Hope wash over me.

I have the power and the agency to keep a tradition alive that was once under the threat of being wiped out.

I have hope that I can continue to pass on these customs one day when I have children of my own — that I have the power and the agency to keep a tradition alive that was once under the threat of being wiped out. I have hope that, through interfaith work, I can contribute to creating a more inclusive atmosphere where no one feels threatened due to their origins or practice.


Leah Schwartz Tangible Hope Diary


Leah Schwartz is a senior at the University of Rochester. She is an intern at the university’s Interfaith Chapel and President of the Students’ Association for Interfaith Cooperation.


Every Tuesday, the #TangibleHope Diaries series features responses from North American grassroots peacebuilders on what gives them tangible hope in the world today. See you next week! Learn more here.

Teen Interfaith Leadership Council Goes to Santa Fe

Diane Fisher (Jewish) and Deacon Steve Herrera (Catholic) from the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council CC (SiVIC) took eight teenagers on an interfaith immersion experience in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The teens explored various religious traditions in Santa Fe, engaged in interfaith dialogue, and shared prayer practices and information about their religious traditions with each other.

Seeret, one of our Sikh participants said about the trip that “the in-depth experience of talking to an elder of a particular faith, and hearing words of wisdom and sage advice about life as well as the faith was exceptional and unexpected. I just thought it would be an introduction to faiths and then we’d look around and leave, but the fact that we were able to ask so many questions and have them answered with so much respect— that in and of itself made the trip wonderful.”

Understanding other religions can be more difficult than it sounds, so having an intentional space for that express purpose allowed for a more enriching experience. Carly, a Jewish participant observed that “on a trip like this you make friends and learn about new religions, and it’s a really cool experience. You learn so much and go to places you would never go otherwise, and are encouraged to appreciate your own faith more as you learn to embrace differences.”

Karen, a member of the Shinnyo-En Buddhist Order, remarked that it was nice “being able to share with other faith-minded teenagers, because often people think of religion as just some superstition that you believe in because your parents do. So sharing with people who also have faith, especially from different religions, understand that it’s something very much a part of us. Being able to have an understanding of other religions helps people to peaceably talk things through, as well as see things from others perspectives.”

Diane Fisher (Jewish) and Deacon Steve Herrera (Catholic) were the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council Cooperation Circle‘s board members who facilitated the teen interfaith immersion trip. They are Co-directors of the Teen Interfaith Leadership Council of Santa Clara County, affiliated with the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council Cooperation Circle. Deacon Steve Herrera produced the video.

Arizona Cooperation Circle on Spanish Language Television

Sun Devils Are Better Together Featured on Spanish Language Television

Sun Devils Are Better Together Featured on Spanish Language Television

Sun Devils Are Better Together was recently featured on the Spanish-language television station, Telemundo Arizona.

The reporter joined the group on their monthly canvassing at the First Friday art walk in Phoenix.

“It would be hard to identify a single highlight of SunDABT’s fall semester, but a strong candidate would be our canvassing efforts on campus, at First Friday, and at the Tempe Festival of the Arts,” the group said in their newsletter. “We were honored to be joined by award-winning reporter, Ruben Pereida, as he interviewed members for a special report on SunDABT for the Telemundo Arizona weekend broadcast.”

“In addition to First Friday, he also came to film and interview us at Spontaneous Service Saturday, a general membership meeting, and several members’ places of worship, including the Islamic Community Center of Tempe with President Johnny Martin (bottom photo) and mass at the Catholic Newman Center cathedral. We were overjoyed and incredibly grateful to reach a brand new audience of Spanish-speaking Arizonans through Ruben’s excellent work.”

The video broadcast can be viewed on Telemundo’s website by clicking here.