Diversity Dialogues discussion panel series continues with “Shalom Y’all: The Jewish American Experience in the High Country”

The Diversity Dialogues, a series of discussion panels organized by the Office of Inclusive Excellence, will continue Tuesday, Sept. 13 with “Shalom Y’all: The Jewish American Experience in the High Country.” The panel will be held in Evans Auditorium on the Lees-McRae College campus at 7 p.m. that evening and will be livestreamed for those who cannot attend in person.

Three individuals closely aligned with Lees-McRae will serve as discussion panelists for this event. All three panelists are deeply invested in community-building efforts both at Lees-McRae and within the greater Jewish community of the High Country.

Board of Trustees member Neil Ramo has also served as a board member for the Center of Judaic, Holocaust and Peace Studies at Appalachian State University and the Temple of the High Country in Boone. Director of Counseling Services Marla Gentile was involved with the Temple’s founding and has since served as president of the Temple’s board, and president of the Sisterhood at Temple of the High Country. Sophomore Exercise Science major Benjamin Gribbins is an athlete on the Lees-McRae cross country team and serves as a resident assistant.

While she said there is a flourishing Jewish community in the High Country, Gentile hopes this event will strengthen the part of that community that is connected to Lees-McRae.

“One thing that I think we need to understand at our college is that we don't know what everybody believes in here. I think being in the mountains and being in this area we assume that everybody is very similar in terms of their faith, but we don't really know that,” Gentile said. “I think that there probably are more Jewish students on campus, and I think having something like this will make them feel a little bit more accepted and understood.”

In addition to building a stronger community for Jewish Bobcats, Gentile said events like this are important educational opportunities for non-Jewish people to learn more about a different faith and culture.

“This is a different faith than you might have, but here's what we believe, and we're here and, we're very welcoming in terms of you asking questions and learning more about us. I think it's important for us all to learn about each other,” Gentile said. “I think these events are valuable for our school because we talk a lot about inclusivity, and these show that we want to know everybody, we want to accept everybody, we want everybody to feel included. That's what's really important. I think we should keep doing these events with all types of different people so we can become more educated and aware.”

Lees-McRae students, staff, and faculty, as well as community members from Banner Elk and the surrounding counties are encouraged to attend the latest installation of the Diversity Dialogues and learn more about the Jewish American experience in their community.

By Maya JarrellSeptember 02, 2022
CommunityCampus Life