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Presented by Rabbi Mark Shapiro at the Islamic Center of Western Massachusetts on January 14, 2016

I'd like to begin by stating the obvious: We are different.

When we pray...

Muslims prostrate, Christians kneel, while Jews sit or stand.

When we pray...

Muslims use Arabic, Christians primarily English, and Jews use Hebrew.

When we speak of the Sabbath...

Muslims observe Friday, Jews - Saturday and Christians - Sunday

And at least some of us eat differently...some of us dress differently.

We are so many ways...although we do share a literary tradition.

Each of us begins to tell our story with the Book of Genesis where the rabbis of Jewish tradition found occasion to offer this insight.

Why, they asked, does Scripture tell us humanity began with only one human being?

Their answer -

So that no one can say my ancestor is better than yours.

Another question: Do you remember how the Book of Genesis tells us God took the dust of the earth to form the first human being?

Well, just how did that happen?

Again...according to Jewish tradition...God took the dust from the four corners of the earth. Some was dark brown; some was paler than that; some of the dust was red; some was yellow.

Why did God act in that way?

To teach us that human beings whatever their color, their language, their customs all come from a common beginning.

Yes, we are different.

But different is simply that.

Pita, challah, croissant, spaghetti, naan, crepes...

Different is simply different.

And delicious and exciting and colorful and educational and human.

Different is actually good. It is not frightening. It is meant to be.

So, yes, we are different. Christian, Muslim, Jew, Unitarian, Bahai, Buddhist, Hindu, and more.

Different is how we are meant to be human.

Different is a blessing OR as Jewish tradition affirms...Baruch atta Adonai..

Blessed are You, God, Spirit of the Universe,

She ka-cha lo ba-olamo

Blessed are You...Who has made us and our world with its unique and different components exactly as they are meant to be.

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