Annual Interfaith Harmony Week kicks off with Palm Walk Project

It is a tradition for the ASU community to come together to celebrate the annual Interfaith Harmony Week during the first week of February. First introduced by the The United Nations in 2010, the week celebrates and promotes the unity of all religions. Continuing the annual tradition of celebrating Interfaith Harmony Weekmembers of several ASU faith groups came together to kick off the festivities by participating in the Palm Walk Project Sunday.

This year, ASU Arboretum, Central change maker, Council of Religious Advisors and Hillel Jewish Student Center organized the Palm Walk project to pollinate palm flowers.

The Palm Walk project is a three-step process. First, students gathered at tables with palm blossoms full of seeds outside the WP Carey School of Business. For the seeds to be pollinated, volunteers must pull the flowers by hand and place the seeds in a bag of dried pollen.

“The goal was to find a creative way for students to volunteer together, but also learn the importance of palm trees in each other’s faith traditions,” said Rabbi Suzy Stone, senior Jewish educator of Hillel and campus rabbi. “There are many religious traditions where the palm plays a dominant role.”

According to Stone, they plan to throw the bags atop the palm trees within two to three weeks of making them. Then, when the fall semester arrives and the palm flowers bloom with dates, the students will harvest the fruits from the trees.

“I’m really happy to be here and to meet different people in person,” said Chana Schlossmacher, a recent painting graduate. “I think building a team is the best way to work. It’s so nice to grow things in Arizona with my own hands.”

Stone said this is the first time the Hillel organization has collaborated with Changemaker to work on a project celebrating Interfaith Harmony Week. Although the students had never worked on a project like this before, they were excited to get to work.

“I think it’s really cool to be able to contribute to the beauty of our campus,” said Zachary Bell, social impact manager for the Hillel Center for Jewish Students and a saxophone performance student. “I always loved walking Palm Walk when I lived on campus, and I love every chance I get to do it now. And in early fall, when all the dates are in the trees, and they practically hit you on the head as they pass.”

To ensure that any religious students who wished to participate in the activity would be able to attend, the organizers timed the event to accommodate religious commitments.

“Changemaker usually does things on Saturdays and Jews who participate in the Sabbath don’t do anything on Saturdays,” Bell said. “So they have the opportunity to participate in an event like this, it’s interfaith between all of us here.”

The event allowed students to meet others of different faiths and converse to learn more about the different faith communities represented within the ASU student body while working together on this project.

“I always love the community you can build just by attending these events where everyone feels like they’re making a little difference in the community,” Bell said.


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Andrea Ramirez

Andrea Ramirez is a reporter in the Community and Culture desk of The State Press.


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