Serving across religious nets

Interfaith tournament pulls together different religions

Developing the future peace ambassadors begins by playing a friendly game of volleyball. At least that's what Kati Brisebois, who helped organize Richmond's first Interfaith Games, hopes.

Last week, the Richmond Jewish Day School hosted a volleyball tournament for Grades 5 to 7 students from RJDS as well as Cornerstone Christian Academy, Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy and the Unification Church.

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While some of the schools have played each other in intramural sports before, it was the first strictly interfaith event with a focus on getting kids from different cultural and religious backgrounds together.

Brisebois, a volunteer at the Unification Church that has members from various ethnicities, said she hopes this can be a first step for the kids to have a better understanding of each other.

"We have to look at our humanity and really connect. Not just say 'oh yeah, we kind of respect one another even though we never even saw each other.'"

Abba Brodt, principal at the Richmond Jewish Day School, said Richmond - particularly No. 5 Rd. where the school is located - was a fitting place to host the games since it is such a multicultural area. The problem is that while they are close in proximity, there is still segregation.

"It's not like back in Montreal or Toronto where people walk everywhere and you have a mosque next to a synagogue next to a church," said Brodt.

"You don't see people in person here, you see them from your car. When was the last time a Muslim kid talked to a Jewish kid or a Christian kid?"

He said the idea is simply to give the children some exposure to each other in a friendly environment with an activity everyone could participate in and see that while there are differences, there are similarities as well.

"We're not having theological dialogue over here. There's no proselytizing, there's no attempt to try to show the supremacy of one over the other. That's not what it's about, it's about finding commonalities."

Both Brisebois and Brodt hope that this will be the first of many more interfaith outings to come. A basketball retreat or a sports day at Garry Point is in the planning stages.

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