6th Grade Heads to New York City for World Religions Exploration
On an unusually spring-like February day, the 6th grade took a field trip to New York City, as part of their social studies curriculum of studying world religions. They visited four places of worship representing four different major religions. The students were accompanied by social studies teachers, Pat Crowley and Kristen Sanchez and Music teacher, Katie Murphy.
Their visit began at the Mahayana Buddhist Temple, located in Chinatown, where they saw a 20-foot tall Buddha. The second stop was St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which is an immense Catholic church built in the neo-Gothic style, located in midtown. Their third stop was on the upper-east side close to Central Park, at the Jewish Temple Emanu-El, where the museum curator described the construction and history of the temple and the major precepts of Judaism.
After a tasty lunch break sampling NYC style pizza at Famous Original Ray’s Pizza, the group walked to the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, also known as the New York mosque. Here, they were met by an Imam, originally from Sierra Leone in West Africa, who talked with them about his own Hajj experience (Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca). He also shared about how the Islamic Cultural Center plans interfaith programs with a nearby synagogue and Catholic church. With both of the guides at the Jewish Temple and at the Islamic Center, our 6th grade students asked a range of thoughtful questions, that they were happy to have answered.
The value of spending a day learning about and visiting the houses of worship of four of the world’s major religions cannot be overstated. The differences in the worship spaces between a Buddhist temple, a Catholic church, a Jewish synagogue, and a Muslim mosque were distinct and yet the group saw similarity in the way that individuals in these different religions seek to be a part of something larger than themselves. The long day presented a meaningful introduction to the way people from around the world approach their spiritual lives. This field trip is a benchmark experience of the 6th Grade at NFS.