Religious faith is something that many hold dear but oftentimes can lead to rifts between groups of people due to differences in faith. Because these rifts do exist, Interfaith Programs decided to show the documentary film “Of Many” on March 29 in Schwitzer Student Center Room 010 for Lecture/Performance credit to any University of Indianapolis students wishing to attend. The film highlights the friendship between Imam Khalif Latif and Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, both of whom work at New York University. Junior human biology and pre-physical therapy major Caryn Kiel organized the showing of the film, along with University Chaplain and Interfaith Director Lang Brownlee. There was a session after the film for questions.
“One of the biggest reasons for holding this event is how much the Israel/Palestine conflict is being talked about on campus right now,” Kiel said. “And even though that wasn’t the main point of the video, it was a central point on where a lot of the tension [between Muslims and Jews] comes from. So showing that, even in light of that [Israel/Palestine conflict], people [who are] very strong in their own faiths can come together and work together towards peace.”
“Of Many” focuses on the divide between Muslims and Jews and how Latif, Sarna and their students were able to overcome the differences in their faiths and build strong friendships. Sophomore international relations and political science major Bolanle Salau found this the most important aspect of the film.
“I loved how the rabbi and the imam were able to put their differences aside and form a strong bond and relationship. It was really inspiring,” Salau said. “Back home [in Nigeria], when I was in high school, I had a lot of Muslim and Christian friends. And there were times when my Muslim friends and I were praying, and our Christian friends would come and pray with us. So this film kind of speaks to me personally from some of the experience I’ve had.”
“Of Many” begins by showcasing the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and how it has caused a large division between Muslims and Jews. The film also mentions public opinion and the treatment of Muslims after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and how that also has affected the relationship between Muslims and Jews.
In “Of Many,” both Latif and Sarna bring Muslim and Jewish students, respectively, from New York University to help with the relief effort during Hurricane Katrina. They discuss how the Muslim students and the Jewish students were wary of one another at first, eating separately and not talking to each other. But after several days of working together, they quickly became friends. Both Sarna and Latif mention in the film that having friends from other faiths does not dilute their own faith, but in fact strengthens it. Brownlee found the film thought-provoking and important for people of any faith to watch.
“We found this resource [‘Of Many’] last fall and used it on a winter retreat for our Interfaith leadership team,” Brownlee said. “We thought it was so evocative and powerful that we wanted to show it to as many students … [as] who would want to come.”
When the film concluded, Kiel opened the floor to questions and asked the attending students for their thoughts on the film and the issues presented in it. Students discussed with Kiel and Brownlee what they thought were the best ways to forge friendship outside their own faith. They also talked about the divide between different religions and how they, as students, could work on a personal level to overcome those issues.
Interfaith Programs will hold a “Speedfaithing” event on April 18 on the topic of Judaism, and it also plans to host a traditional yoga class sometime within the month of April.