“I began wearing a kippah when I was in kindergarten, on my own accord. Having grown up in a Jewish community and at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Maryland, it was commonplace. And when I arrived to Emory University, I decided to keep the kippah on. I soon realized that my kippah sparked dialogue within the interreligious community, most notably with a monk on campus during my freshman year. I began to research Buddhism and stumbled upon the Emory-Tibet Partnership, a six-week program in India that allows students to learn about Buddhist culture, philosophy and ethics while teaching science and English to the Buddhist monastic community. So last summer, I boarded a plane with about 30 students to Dharamsala, India.
“While learning, I met Geshe Damchoe Dammy-La, a monk in charge of our program in Northern India. We became friends over conversations about religion and philosophy. I soon realized he was planning to travel to Israel and visit the Western Wall. As we transitioned to the Buddhist monastery in Southern India, I gave Geshe Damchoe a gift — my Jimmy Neutron embroidered kippah. After moving south, we kept in touch. Fast forward. Almost seven months later, Geshe Damchoe Dammy-La sent me a photo of him praying at the Western Wall, with my Jimmy Neutron kippah proudly on his head.
“That photo meant so much to me. My parents and my Jewish community have instilled in me the value of creating an open tent — welcoming in strangers and creating meaningful dialogue and relationships. Because of that, I now have an incredible friendship with a monk who lives halfway around the world. And I’m hopeful that somehow our engagement is changing the world one small friendship at a time.” — David Kulp, member of Hillel International Student Cabinet, Emory University