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Interfaith Gardening Initiative Empowers Youth

Interfaith Gardening Initiative Empowers Youth

PosterBy Muaz Nasir

(April 21, 2013) – Although it may not feel like we are entering the final stretch of April, Spring is definitely in the air and gardeners across the country are eager to get the planting season underway.

Faith communities are also making preparations for their community gardens and are busy incorporating religious and spiritual teachings into the design and cultivation of their plots.

In keeping with the spirit of faith-based community engagement, Seeds, Sprouts & Scriptures: The Jewish-Muslim Youth Planting Project is set to take place on April 28, 2013.

This unique workshop will provide an opportunity for youth in both communities to connect with their spiritual roots and explore the ecological framework that are common in both the Muslims and Jewish traditions.

The goal of the event is meant to facilitate a discussion between both communities – to help Muslims and Jewish youth connect with their roots by planting seeds and learning more about what their traditions have to say about environmental repair.

The hope is that this initiative will help spark a commitment to meaningful dialogue, cooperation and sustainability among Jewish and Muslim youth.

“Exploring the natural world helps us see how deeply connected we all are, both to other humans and to all forms of life, big and small,” explains Shari Golberg, facilitator of the workshop. “I think that for many people, the intricacies of nature are signs of the divine imprint in the world, which is an idea repeated throughout the Quran.”

Sabrina Malach, Director of Community Outreach at Shoresh adds, “If a person believes in a Creator, then they likely acknowledge that nature is part of the Creator’s creation. Nature is G-d’s work and humans manipulate it for better or worse. When we are in contact with nature, we are arguably, closer to the Divine Creator.”

The workshop is divided into several portions, including a textual background of the religious scriptures, small group discussions about the teachings, and a creative planting component meant to apply the lessons learned.

The interactive format is meant to bring together the two communities around their shared beliefs and strengthen their connection to nature.

“The Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him, emphasized that human beings are stewards of the earth; our responsibility is to care for her well-being and all of the creatures that live here,” says Asma Ali, Outreach Director at the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) which is collaborating on the event. “We want to follow his example and adhere to his teachings, which is why we participate in these important initiatives.”

MAC has been a pioneer in implementing green initiatives at their centres and schools and has performed green audits and implemented recycling and waste reduction programs in a number of their buildings.

In 2010-2011, Olive Grove School was selected by EcoSource to be a “Green School” and the Rose City Islamic Centre has planned and budgeted for the installation of solar panels on its roof.

“Our plan is to foster environmental conscientiousness in our youth who will become leaders of our centres and activities in the future. We would like them to implement stewardship projects throughout our activities in the future, God-willing,” Asma added.

Those interested in participating in the workshop are encouraged to sign up online at: http://multifaith.utoronto.ca/Events-And-Programs/Seeds,-Scriptures.htm

The Seeds, Sprouts & Scriptures: The Jewish-Muslim Youth Planting Project workshop is a collaborative effort between Shema and Iqra’: The Jewish-Muslim Text-Study Project, Shoresh: Jewish Environmental Programs and The Muslim Association of Canada, with the support of the University of Toronto, Multi-faith Centre. Khaleafa.com is a proud sponsor of this initiative.

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