A Shared Earth, A Shared Cleveland

Tags: Federation, CRC, Interfaith

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More than 100 friends and neighbors from across Greater Cleveland joined together on February 12 to celebrate our shared earth at the Interfaith Tu B’Shevat Seder. This annual event, hosted by the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and Holden Forests & Gardens, was a chance to integrate all of our traditions, connect with friends old and new, and enjoy a delicious feast of the fruits of the land.

William Rodriguez
Esperanza Alumni Association
“When the Latino community and Jewish community work together, we are able to share best practices. We have a strong partnership, where we understand one another’s successes and struggles. For example, when disasters happen, many people come to Cleveland not knowing any English – we are their family. We can talk to the Federation about how to combat these types of challenges and create successes.”

Zeki Saritoprak
Professor of Islamic Studies, John Carroll University

“We are all a part of the environment, and the trees are looked at as ‘divine gifts’ in the Islamic culture. By all of us coming together this evening, we are showing that being different does not mean fighting each other; instead, we come together to know each other and experience each other. This starts the conversation and friendship.”

Rabbi Noah Bickart
Visiting Assistant Professor of Jewish and Interreligious Studies, John Carroll University
“Tu B’Shevat is a perfect holiday to bring people together because environmentalism is something that affects everyone. It’s a wonderful thing to take a piece of the religion – which cares so deeply about the world and regeneration – to look forward to the end of winter and the beginning of spring. So this Seder is a perfect way to bring lots of different people together to join in that universal experience.”

Masroor Malik/Simee Malik
Chagrin Valley Islamic Center

Masroor - “We love doing interfaith activities together with our brothers and sisters in faith because we are all bonded together by humanity. We are able to find that commonality and find that bond and build upon that in our relationships.”
Simee – “Opportunities like this are very hopeful, and it shows we have more in common than we have in differences. It’s a learning opportunity for building bridges and friendships.”

Keymah Durden
Rid-all Green Partnership

“This event was beautiful, spiritually uplifting, and touching to the soul. We all come from the same place – the Earth – and it’s our responsibility to be caretakers of the planet. Our organization is able to transform lives through agriculture and it’s very rewarding. Through our partnership with the Cleveland Jewish community, we have been able to share ideas when it comes to our urban farm and what the Federation is doing to help farmers living in Cleveland’s sister city of Beit Shean, Israel. Just to have that connection with Israel is great.”

Cathi Lehn
Sustainable Cleveland Manager, City of Cleveland, Mayor’s Office of Sustainability

“This year marks the 50th anniversary since the last time the Cuyahoga River burned. It also marks the 10-year culmination of Mayor Frank Jackson’s initiative to build a ‘thriving green city on a blue lake.’ Since then, many initiatives have been put in place, which led to the first Earth Day, the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, introducing the Clean Water Act, and the Clean Air Act. Because this is a Celebration of Trees, we’re promoting the Cleveland Tree Plan and encouraging our partners to plant trees and to care for the trees around Cleveland.”

Learn More: Federation, CRC, Interfaith