Islamic and Friendship Studies at Oberlin College

Friendship Painting

My watercolor painting is a portrait of our class! I painted it outside after class on Tuesday with some of my friends in Wilder Bowl. I really enjoy bringing out my water colors on sunny afternoons. Although I’m not a great artist by any means, it really makes me happy and relaxed to paint.

I think one way we can institutionalize friendship in our society is by encouraging young people to share in each other’s religious experiences. I think religion is a very personal part of our individual identities, but I think this part of our lives can be shared more than we do now (while not compromising the personal spiritual part of course). If people are comfortable, I think it would be wonderful if they brought their friends into their own religious spaces (perhaps to mass, Shabbat services, morning prayer, etc.) Religion tends to connect people who share it, but I think it can also connect people when being shared, even if the two people come from different religions! I have seen Mosques that share spaces with Synagogues, and I’ve been to Friday night services at my temple where the Methodist Church from across the street comes and we do a joint service. Learning about my friends religions and traditions has generally made me feel closer to my friends. I had a close friend in high school who used to take me to church with her family every Christmas Eve. After we would go back to her house and bake cookies, play with her little cousins, give each other presents, etc., and it felt incredibly special to be included in such an important night. Since all religions promote peace, I tend to think learning about different religions would promote peace! I know that fully sharing in religion is a lot to ask of people, and I tend to think that some things should be reserved for just yourself or your family or even people who practice the religion, but I do believe that sharing religion and including friends in traditions is one very useful, specific and special practice that would help institutionalize friendship in our society.

City of Oberlin, Ohio

Resolution No. R18-04 CMS



WHEREAS, friendship is a concept promoted by all religious, ethical and cultural traditions in the world; and

WHEREAS, friendship transcends ethnicity, gender, sexuality, geographic boundaries, and religious and political affiliation; and

WHEREAS, friendship promotes internal, personal, social, and international relationships; and

WHEREAS, friendship is to be found not just between people but between economies and countries, and in philosophy, history, art, literature, music, cinema, etc.; and

WHEREAS, friendship leads to peace; and

WHEREAS, from this day henceforth, everyone in Oberlin will be encouraged to join Noa Lewis in water color painting and improv Friday’s from 4 to 6, where there will be free unlimited soup dumplings, mojitos, and rice pudding; and

WHEREAS, in addition to this event, there will be a music festival held during the last week of April featuring whoever Oberlin students want to be there and also a cool lady who makes giant bubbles, a petting zoo, plus a free ticket for every student to invite a family member or friend from home ; and

WHEREAS, winter shall only exist at Oberlin from December 1st to February 1st, so that everyone can enjoy being outside in the sunshine with on another.

The Chagall painting “In the Mountains” depicts Chagall and his wife Bella on a mountain in Nice, on top of a floating cow. The painting is quite dreamy and surreal in nature, and caught my eye immediately because of how beautiful and whimsical the painting is. I’m not quite sure what the cow might symbolize, but it makes me think of the children’s story about the cow that jumps over the moon (except this cow is jumping through a window and into the French Alps- a little more of an upgrade.)  This painting is wondrous and almost silly, but in a way I really appreciated. It did not seem to take itself too seriously. Bella and Chagall seem to be holding each other in a more friendly moment in their relationship- here they aren’t portrayed kissing or nude (like other Chagall paintings I’ve seen), but rather on top of a floating cow in each other’s arms. They seem to understand and be in tune with one another. I imagine in my head they just had a long conversation about their relationship and feel at peace with another. Although we haven’t talked a lot about friendship within romantic relationships, I think this painting is a great portrayal.

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