Over the last week, Colgate’s religious organizations have held a series of events to present the first ever Faith Week at Colgate. From Wednesday, March 26, to Wednesday, April 2, students participated in events ranging from the Newman Catholic Mass with Pizza and Wings to the Purim Carnival put on by the Colgate Jewish Union (CJU).
Colgate has nine religious communities and three centers of religious activity on campus. According to University Chaplain Mark Shiner, the Interfaith Council – made up of students from all the religious communities and the school chaplains – decided to hold Faith Week to “highlight the unity, diversity, and vibrancy of religious life at Colgate.” All of the events were open to anyone who wished to participate and many did.
“Attendance at all the [events] I was present for met or exceeded my most optimistic expectations,” Shiner said.
Faith Week was not only meant to foster interaction between the different religious groups on campus, but also to expose Colgate’s religious community to those students who have not previously participated in it. Two of the main events of the week, the Keynote Speaker Al Jacobs and CJU’s Purim Carnival, were a major pull for religious and non-religious students alike.
“I had never participated in any religious events on campus before, but I’m so glad I decided to go see Al Jacobs,” first-year Dana Bohan said. “He was hilarious and his perspective on the bible and religion was really interesting to hear.”
On the first day of Faith Week, Jacobs presented his book A Year of Living Biblically to a packed Love Auditorium. He spoke about the most “intense and profound” year of his life, in which he attempted to follow every rule, law, and piece of advice in the Old Testament, from “stoning” – throwing pebbles at – adulterers to being fruitful and multiplying, which he evidenced with a picture of his infant sons. Jacobs said that he was able to follow some of the 700 laws in the Bible by just living his daily life, but others were “incredibly challenging” and led to huge changes in his lifestyle.
While literally living the word of God, Jacobs also wanted to study religion in America, so he spent time with all different types of religious groups around the country. He related anecdotes that neither he nor his audience could help from laughing at, but was able to convey the genuine lesson he learned from his year.
“The Bible is filled with a lot of beautiful wisdom, but if you take every word literally, you miss out on it and distort the lessons,” Jacobs said.
The week neared its end with the CJU’s Second Annual Purim Carnival. The carnival was a celebration of the holiday and was meant to channel the “childish” aspects of celebrating Purim.
“[That meant] dressing up like characters from the story of Purim and going to a big carnival,” CJU president sophomore Carly Ackerman said.
Students could come and have their faces painted, play games in order to win candy and/or goldfish, eat snow-cones and popcorn, or “get married” in the fake marriage booth, all for only a dollar. All the proceeds went to the Hamilton Food Cupboard as well as canned foods that were purchased by the CJU. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a mishap when 2/3 of the goldfish that were going to be used as prizes died, but the show still went on.
“We had a great turnout last year and a really successful carnival, so I’m definitely excited to see how this year goes,” Ackerman said.