Finding Common Ground

Some people go through a bad experience and shut down, while others foster change. This was the case for Luiz Gandelman, president of the Jewish Student Union Club.

“I was doing Shabbat prayers and a man began yelling at me and it breaks my heart to know that the reason someone was attacking me was my religion,” senior Luiz Gandelman said.

This encounter with hate led Gandelman to pioneer change through the student religious groups on campus.

“I reached out to the leadership of the Christian Club and we decided to do a joint event,” Gandelman said.

Through the biblical story of Noah’s Ark, the groups were able to find common ground while building their own replicas and sharing their individual perspectives.

“We can all appreciate that story of resilience and faith in God which we all have,” senior Sofia Andrade said.

What started as a simple idea, became a cross cultural event that united two separate religious groups with different ideals.

“We want to create a sense of belonging for all of our students, all of our faculty, and all of our staff members and an event such as this, it did just that,” Student Support Liaison Torey Chatman said. 

“As a Christian student it has really opened the opportunity for me to see their views and learn a lot about their religion. Being able to have this opportunity here is really important to me, and I really enjoy it,” junior Mateo Villegas said. 

Embrace Christian Culture Club sponsor Yolie McCarthy understands the importance of teaching these values.

“For both of them, the tenet is loving all people, so the more we know about others and the way that they believe things, the more love they can have for them and the more empathy they can have in understanding who they are,” Embrace Christian Culture Club sponsor Yoly McCarthy said.

Gandelman was able to turn a negative personal event into one which crossed both religious and cultural differences bringing a community together. 

“Help make the world a better place with each other and learn how to love each other more,” Gandelman said.