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By Robby McKittrick
Hometown Weekly Reporter
On Monday, November 19, Temple Beth David in Westwood hosted an interfaith gathering for residents of the Westwood and Medfield communities.
There were a variety of different church and temple members and clergy present for the event, and the theme was centered around compassion.
“There are a lot of differences in our faith, [but] on the holiday of Thanksgiving, it’s about gratitude and coming together,” explained Rabbi Karen Citrin of Temple Beth David. “Our theme is compassion tonight. [We want] more compassion, kindness, and love in the world.”
“[This event] is very important,” added Reverend Stephanie Salinas of First Baptist Church in Westwood. “There is so much division in our world [and] in our society right now that I think it is really important for us not only to experience it, but model being able to come together over what should be a common theme of giving thanks and helping those in need.”
With the recent political divisiveness and with the recent tragedy in Pittsburgh, all of the different clergy members thought that this was a fitting time to host an interfaith event.
“I think it’s really important to be here at Temple Beth David this year to be in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters,” said Father James Burke of St. Denis Parish in Westwood. “I have encouraged everybody in our congregation to be here and support the Jewish community.”
“It seems to me really important [to host an interfaith gathering] at a time when society is more fragmented,” added Reverend Dr. Jennifer Phillips of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Westwood. “Any chance to support one another with prayer and company is really important.”
The event has been going on for decades, and this year’s gathering was absolutely packed with at least over 200 people. In the past, only around 50 people came to the event. However, this year, there was a huge showing in a strong effort to support one another.
“I can’t think of anything better to do,” said Westwood resident and First Parish church member Andre Deininger. “We want to support our Jewish brothers and sisters and let them know that this is an inclusive, loving community.”
“I think it’s wonderful,” added longtime Medfield resident Peggy Gray. “I think it’s an appropriate time to think of other people.”
The event started with all of the residents in attendance creating a hygiene kit, which Temple Beth David was going to send to people in need. The kit consisted of soap, toothbrushes, cloth, a comb, and a napkin; the group produced around 50 bags.
Then, the people in attendance all came together for some music and prayers. Overall, it was a nice way for the community to come together and support each other in a difficult time.
“This is a very divisive and separated world that we live in, and the more we can have more positive interactions like this the better,” said Deininger. “[Being inclusive] is an important message for us not only to embody in our own hearts, but teach our children and embody in our community.”