Past Community Evening Highlights

SAMSUNG At the end of the Poetry Pals program, we host an Interfaith Community Evening to give the students a chance to share their work and facilitate dialogue among parents and other adults from different faith communities. We invite students, teachers, and members of the community into one location to celebrate the Poetry Pals mission, which is to build bridges and relationships among young people and their communities to foster understanding, cooperation and peace in a multicultural and multi-faith society. 

2015 Interfaith Community Evening

hands up9169 On March 11th, 2015, more than 150 people came together for Poetry Pals' Interfaith Community Evening, featuring poetry and performances by Muslim, Jewish and Catholic 4th grade students and an interfaith community dialogue. Attendess included staff, parents and students from three participating schools MCC Academy, our host in Skokie, Sacred Heart Catholic School and Chicago Jewish Day School, as well as dozens of other community members interested in sharing and celebrating religious diversity. Leaders from each school expressed the importance of children's interfaith experiences and thanked Poetry Pals for the opportunity to learn from each other, and the crowd got a chance to experience some Poetry Pals activities and watch a video of the year's highlights. Discussing Faith_0377 While the students left the gym to rehearse their end-of-the-evening performances, parents, families and community members got a chance to share more about traditions and practices most meaningful to Muslims, Jews, Catholics and others.  They formed small groups to share more about holidays and interfaith issues in their community. Parent cross talk_9236 "This was a great way to conclude our year's program, throughout which students got a chance to host, visit, write poetry with, and learn from others from different religious backgrounds," said Poetry Pals Director Adam Shames. "Tonight was a wonderful opportunity for parents and community members to not only see the kids perform poems they wrote together, but to talk with others of different faiths who have more in common than they may have realized.” Here is a sample poem from the evening, written by students: At the Holy Place At the mosque, I see the Imam reciting the prayer And the women are wearing hijabs to cover their hair At the synagogue I hear the cantor reading from the Torah At the wedding, we dance the hora I smell the candles burning in the chapel While learning about Jesus preaching to his disciples This is what happens at the holy place! Students Sing_9277  Iris and group_9282 Poetry Pals appreciates the ongoing commitment from the three schools involved with this Community Evening and notes the years they have each been involved:  MCC Academy--6 years, Sacred Heart--4 years, Chicago Jewish Day School--3 years.  Thank you and congratulations on another fantastic year of creativity and sharing of faiths!

2014 Interfaith Community Evening

poetry-pals-article-comeve14       On March 12th, 2014, more than 200 people came together for our special Interfaith Community Evening, featuring poetry and performances by Muslim, Jewish and Catholic 4th grade students and an interfaith community dialogue. Participating Schools included: Sacred Heart Catholic School (host), Solomon Schechter Jewish Day School, MCC Full Time Muslim School, and Chicago Jewish Day School. “It was a wonderful opportunity for community members, parents and friends to not only see the kids perform poems they wrote together, but to talk with others of different faiths who have more in common than they may have realized,” said Poetry Pals Director Adam Shames. The event combined two different programs–the Chicago Hub and the Northern Suburbs Hub–to celebrate the collaboration among 250  students from four schools throughout the school year.

Holidays Connect us in Joy

On Eid al-Fitr, we smell sweet cherry blossom perfume. We see beautiful colors that make us flutter. We hear an early call to prayer and after we go to the beautiful mosque to pray, we have a big feast in a restaurant out east.

On Hanukah, we see the dancing lights and the tall candles. We smell frying delicious golden latkes on the sizzling stove, and taste the chocolatey gelt and gooey jelly doughnuts.

On Christmas, I hear the fat jiggly belly of santa plop in my warm fireplace. My best friend giggles, happily and loudly. I can see the glowing lights on the bright green tree with heavy presents underneath.

Our holidays connect us in joy, our senses alive, our differences aside, we are one family. (PP13-14)

Snapshots from the Holy Place

In the church the rainbow-colored stained glass windows glow behind the maple brown tabernacle. There are flickering yellow flames of snow-white candles. In the mosque the ceilings are high and the soft fluffy carpet is clean. In the synagogue I feel the bright sun’s warmth on my siddur’s buttons and when it is dark I see a spark of light. (PP 13-14)

2013 Interfaith Community Evening

This year, we held two community evenings to celebrate completion of Poetry Pals programs in three hubs that included six Chicago-area schools.

Chicago and Northern Suburbs Hub

article 8article 3 The first of our 2013 Community Evenings, hosted by MCC on March 10, 2013, featured a large crowd of families and community members who enjoyed poetry and performances by Muslim, Jewish and Catholic 4th/5th grade students from four schools. We also held an interfaith community dialogue among adults and families in attendance. Participating schools included: MCC Full Tme Muslim Day School (host), Solomon Schechter Jewish Day School, Sacred Heart Catholic SchoolChicago JewishDay School Image 15 Admin1Admin4Admin2Admin3 Here is one of several poems written and performed by a tri-faith group of students:

We Are…

small buncha boys We are mint green, seafoam green, glow-in-the-dark green and lime green We are enchanted castles, Marco Island beaches, my secret hideout, and in the pool We are guinea pigs, golden retrievers, bottlenose dolphins, and tiny furry baby monkeys We are corndogs, BBQ shrimp in Alfredo sauce, spicy biryani and mashed potatoes article 9We are wavy rivers, flowering pink cherry trees, the cool breeze of a fall day, and sleeping on crunchy leaves We are Italy, Morocco, Poland and India We are Catholic and Muslim, Islam and Christian We are friends!  

Western Suburbs/Lombard Hub

Lombard 6

And on April 10th, our Western Suburbs hub celebrated their program completion with their own second Interfaith Community Evening, bringing together family and friends from St. Pius X Catholic School and Islamic Foundation School (IFS) from the Lombard area. The evening featured dialogue, discussion and poetry and performances from 4th and 5th graders from both schools--as well as a special visit to the mosque for evening prayer. Participating schools included: IFS: Islamic Foundation School (host) , St. Pius X Catholic School Lombard 1       IMG_0177


Lombard 4 Spinter is the time of year when winter is combined with spring When suddenly the white snow disappears and the birds start chirping Winter is ending, spring begins The pink sweet smelling flowers are blossoming The frozen water flows and rainbows appear in the skyLombard 3 Longer days and shorter nights Let's have fun and play in the sun's bright light Suddenly it's warm with a rainstorm There are many flowers with color powers      

2012 Interfaith Community Evening

On Tuesday, February 21, 2012, Poetry Pals hosted our City/Northern Hub Interfaith Community Evening, featuring dialogue among adults and poetry and performances by Muslim, Jewish and Catholic 4th grade students. It was Chicago neighbors coming together for an interfaith evening celebrating our cultures … with approximately 200 family and community members in attendance! Article and more pictures here. Participating Schools included: MCCFTS: MCC Full Time Muslim Day School, Solomon Schechter Jewish Day School and Sacred Heart Catholic School. textembed_communityevening05          textembed_communityevening06

2011 Interfaith Community Evening

At the conclusion of their Poetry Pals program, 4th and 5th grade students from St. Pius X and Islamic Foundation School met for an interfaith community celebration. Students presented their poetry while families and friends gathered to listen, socialize, and have a community dialogue with people of other faiths. Below are some pictures from the event, as well as a few poetry samples.

"Recipe for Friendship"

Take 2 peopleSAMSUNG Put in 4 tablespoons of laughter and lots of fun Add 2 ounces of trust and honesty Mix in no more than a pinch of anger and jealousy And modesty with acceptance Along with 2 cups of not-annoying Then stir lightly and add loving conversation, lots of kindness And 3 cups of awesome energy and positive attitude Let sit overnight Put in the oven Remove when it is different, but the same Out comes 8 gallons of fun And you have a new friend!

"Friends are Always There for You"

Friends are always there for youtextembed_communityevening02 That will make you want more than two. Your friends will always put a smile on your face even if you lose the race. If you are ever stuck in a quarry they will tell you a funny story. Friends will make you laugh as you share snacks. They will have your back when a bully attacks And when you have a bad day they will put it in a good way. When you tell a friend a secret they will always keep it There is no such thing as too many friends. And a friend is a friend to the very end! SAMSUNG    SAMSUNG