Faiths Join to Give Thanks

Hillel hosts Thanksgiving dinner for students of various religions

Around 40 students gathered for an early interfaith Thanksgiving dinner at Hillel last night.

The meal, a joint effort by Hillel and the Catholic Student Association, also drew members from Harvard Baha’i Association, the Latter-day Saints Student Association, the Harvard College Buddhist Community, and the Harvard Islamic Society.

Chef Brian’s kosher vegetable stuffing was a favorite among diners, who also chose from an array of holiday staples like butternut squash, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. One student, Kamille C. Washington ’10, said that she especially appreciated that kosher foods tend to be more organic.

Abby E. Schiff ’11, Matthew P. Cavedon ’11, and Sarah J. Hallett ’11 coordinated the event.

Planning for the dinner started at the beginning of the year as students sought to unite various religious groups.

“We thought Thanksgiving would be a perfect time because the ultimate principles are the same across religions,” Hallett said.

The emphasis of the night was on giving thanks in different forms as each group shared a prayer before the meal’s start.

“Everyone celebrates Thanksgiving,” said CSA’s Vice President for Spirituality Marisol Boc ’09. “It supersedes religion—even if it’s just the people around us we thank, not some higher being.”

Rebecca D. Gillette ’10, vice president for community relations for Hillel, emphasized the universality of Thanksgiving.

“Being thankful is a universal thing for people of faith,” she said.

Kendra Boothe ’09, a member of the Baha’i Association, said that while she appreciates the efforts of “dedicated individuals” from student religious groups, the college as a whole could do more to promote interfaith relations.

“Liberal academia hasn’t found ways of having intelligent religious conversations,” she said.

But she added that events like last night’s Thanksgiving dinner are a good way to encourage interfaith relationships.

“When you sit people down in a room and ask them to share their deepest thoughts about religion that’s asking for trouble,” said Boothe.

Boothe, who attended a previous event devoted to interfaith relationships, said that a themed day on the topic should be extended to a week.