Just last Friday, I attended Shabbat dinner here on campus alongside five Holy Cross faculty members, and seven Holy Cross students. Rabbi Norman Cohen ’72 , led the service, and two students prepared a traditional Jewish meal, including a fantastic matzah ball soup, and a beautiful loaf of Challah. It was a wonderful night of reflecting on our respective Holy Cross experiences, and getting to know each other. The night further solidified my love for Holy Cross, and its open-minded appreciation for diversity.
Growing up in Worcester’s Jewish community, I never thought that I could feel comfortable at Holy Cross. Now, having worked here for a little over two years, I can tell you that at no point have I ever been made to feel excluded, judged, or like an “other,” for not being Catholic. On the contrary, working here has helped me to more fully recognize how much we all have in common. The Jesuit sentiment of being “men and women for others” is very similar to the Jewish tradition of giving Tzedakah, or charitable donations. The words Tzedakah comes from the Hebrew root Tzadei-Dalet-Qof, meaning righteousness, justice or fairness, (all words we rely on heavily at Holy Cross).
Though the majority of students at Holy Cross are Catholic, our community is enriched by Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Protestant, Orthodox, Coptic, Hindu and non-practicing faculty and students. While we do have a religion requirement among our common area requirements, it can be fulfilled with classes like Comparative World Religions, Ancient and Medieval Hinduism, and Zen Buddhism.
Shabbat dinner is just one example of the opportunities Holy Cross provides its non-Catholic students. Earlier this year, our Center for Religion, Ethics, and Culture hosted a Zen Meditation and Social Justice Forum, and every Sunday, an interdenominational Christian service is held on campus. Finally, the Chaplain’s office will drive any student to any of the wide array of worshipping communities in the city of Worcester.
Come for a visit, and hopefully you’ll find that Holy Cross is a comfortable place for you to explore your own faith, and the faiths of others.