Beginning my Operation Understanding Experience I did not think my religion would prevent me from participating in other religious practices. However, when our group visited Park 51 Community Center (also dubbed “the ground zero mosque”) in New York I found myself conflicted about saying the Arabic words required for the washing ritual in preparation for prayer. As I kept thinking to myself and the washing ritual came to a close, I was fighting my feelings of guilt as the prayer began. Once the prayer was finished and I had time to digest my thoughts and my experience I was very happy that I participated in the ritual and the prayer.

Participating allowed me to realize that my relationship with my God is not weakened because I am open to experiencing other religions. I also realized that my relationship with God felt stronger because I know he created thus earth with so many types of  cultures and religions so that I can learn from them. Participating in other religions allows me to become a more well-rounded individual and that is something that I believe everyone wants for themselves.

Going to Park 51 helped prove to me that knowledge is power and that it is acceptable to experience new things and not feel that you are straying away from your core morals and beliefs.

Brielle Brown, OU ’13, The Baldwin School ’14