In a Washington synagogue, Susan Katz Miller sat beside an atheist, a Muslim and a Christian on Sunday.
After listening to a Zoroastrian prayer, Miller – a Jew from an interfaith family – and two friends (an atheist and a Muslim), walked down leafy and elegant Embassy Row in Washington. They paid their respects at various churches, broke for an Indian lunch at the Sikh Gurdwara temple, and wound up at the Islamic Center of Washington, where they heard remarks by Imam Abdullah Khouj and listened to the famous Hindu “Gayatri Mantra.”
Close to a thousand people – members of different faiths, most of them residents of Maryland, Virginia or the nation’s capital – joined Miller and her friends at Unity Walk 2017, an annual celebration of diversity and culture held in Washington for the past 12 years. They carried a message of solidarity, caring and inclusiveness on this sunny Sunday afternoon.
“We want to model that people do care about each other and want to learn about each other,” said Rabbi Gerald Serotta, executive director of the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington.
“We believe God intends us to learn from each other,” he said.
According to Rasit Telbisoglu, program director at the Rumi Forum, a cosponsor of the DC Unity Walk, the event will help open eyes to the plight of others.
“These events are actually helping us build trust in each other,” Telbisoglu said. “You slowly build up a relationship. … When you do that, it’s hard to harbor prejudice against another community.”