JAO partners with Christian and Muslim schools for multi-faith program


Jewish Academy of Orlando fifth graders participated with students from Leadership Preparatory School and Geneva School to plant "Trees for Peace" at Mead Garden.

Jewish Academy of Orlando fifth grade students partnered with Muslim peers from Leadership Preparatory School and Christian peers from Geneva School in "Trees for Peace,"  a multi-faith tree planting service held at Mead Gardens. The tree planting is part of the schools' Multi-faith Education Program that has been in place for almost 20 years. The students typically meet at each school to learn about each other's cultures and religions. Because of COVID-19 safety precautions, the students met only once. This year's tree planting took place at Mead Botanical Garden in Winter Park.

"Through MEP our students have, not only the opportunity to learn about other faiths, but also to build bridges of understanding among their peers," said Amy Polacek, director of Academics. The Multi-Faith Education Program began when its founder, Louise Franklin Sheehy, worked to foster a climate of peace among the children of the different Abrahamic faiths. 

As part of the tree planting ceremony, a proclamation was read by Winter Park Commissioner Todd Weaver. Each school then proceeded to read some texts about nature and the environment from the respective faith traditions. Finally, the students went with Urban Forestry from the city of Winter Park to plant trees throughout Mead Botanical Garden.  

When discussing interfaith dialogue, the Right Honorable Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of the United Kingdom, once said: "God has given us many faiths but only one world in which to co-exist. May [our interfaith] work help all of us cherish our commonalities and feel enlarged by our differences." 

In this spirit, Head of School Alan Rusonik continued, "We are proud that this program helps to promote understanding, peach, and unity and gives our students some tools to change the world."

Jewish Academy of Orlando serves Central Florida students of all faiths from kindergarten through fifth grade. The school delivers a whole-child education fostering academic excellence and character education rooted in Jewish values. Jewish Academy of Orlando is accredited by the Florida Council of Independent Schools.  

To learn more about Jewish Academy of Orlando, please visit: jewishacademyorlando.org or follow the school on Facebook https://facebook.com/JewishAcademyOrlando.


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