Interfaith Inspiration

Bread Breakers Group Builds Interfaith Community through Food, Music, and Conversations

Founder Matt Segil (far left) hosting a Bread Breakers gatherings in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Courtesy photo

Founder Matt Segil (far left) hosting a Bread Breakers gatherings in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Courtesy photo

In a bustling corner of Cambridge, Massachusetts, amidst the diverse tapestry of beliefs and worldviews, a special community is quietly flourishing. Known as the Bread Breakers, this intentional spiritual gathering is the brainchild of Matt Segil, an educator with a passion for fostering dialogue and connection among people of different worldviews.  

In December 2014, Segil hosted a Shabbat dinner in his dormitory at the University of Vermont, with the goal of uniting friends for conversation over food. This setting provided an informal platform for discussing interesting topics related to spirituality, identity, and worldview. “I was missing that idea of coming together, eating food, and learning about different people’s beliefs and life experiences. I wasn’t aware of any young adult community centers that offered this, so I thought, I’ll create it myself,” Segil shares. Following this initial dinner, Segil organized many interfaith-based initiatives and dialogues, marking the inception of the Bread Breakers.   

The Bread Breakers’ vision is to celebrate differences and reduce prejudice through creating a thoughtful and reflective community. Central to their gatherings are interactive activities designed to spark introspection and dialogue. From artifact shares, where participants discuss meaningful objects from their lives, to informative sessions on different faith traditions like Judaism, the group provides a platform for interfaith dialogue. “I plan conversation-based activities, where people get a chance to connect with each other, build up a sense of community, and talk about topics that might not be coming up in their day-to-day conversations,” shares Segil. The gatherings often culminate in music and singing, fostering a sense of comradery among the attendees.  

Through its monthly dinners and special events, the Bread Breakers have left a profound impact on the local community. Participants attest to its life-changing impact. “Being part of the Bread Breakers community helps me deepen my knowledge on religion, philosophy, and various perspectives. With each event, I have found multicultural and interfaith conversations easier to navigate. I continue to learn ways to navigate conversations with a greater level of understanding, while also holding space for our differences in beliefs,” Jackie Kasinskas, a member of the Bread Breakers community, shares. Moreover, these gatherings provide individuals who have left their religious communities due to stringent affiliation requirements with a space to continue delving into their beliefs and spirituality. “A big aim of the Bread Breakers is providing the positive elements of a religious community without [imposing] heavy dogmatic elements,” shares Segil.  

Founder Matt Segil (far left) hosting a Bread Breakers gatherings in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Courtesy photo

While navigating diverse perspectives and ensuring inclusivity, the Bread Breakers have faced challenges. Segil acknowledges occasional difficulties in maintaining focus during discussions, as the topics can sometimes be more introspective than attendees are willing to engage in. However, Segil recognizes that bringing people together to connect is ultimately a win. “If somebody doesn’t want to talk about the question in the prescribed way that I’ve asked them to, that is their choice. The whole point [of the Bread Breakers] is creating a sense of community,” Segil shares.  

Looking ahead, Segil aims to expand the group’s outreach and incorporate service events into its programming, furthering its commitment to community engagement and social impact.  

As the Bread Breakers continues to evolve, their mission remains steadfast: to create an inclusive community centered around education, celebration, and service. Through their inclusive approach and commitment to dialogue, they embody the transformative power of interfaith cooperation. “When people come to a Bread Breakers event and learn [about another tradition or worldview], that is valuable. As you build appreciative knowledge, your biases are reduced,” reflects Segil. In a society fraught with division, the Bread Breakers offer a beacon of hope, reminding us of the humanity that unites us all.  

Suraj Arshanapally

Suraj Arshanapally, MPH, is an Indian American peace-builder, public health advocate, and storyteller. He started The Multicultural Man to celebrate cultural diversity and healthy masculinity through storytelling. He is also the Managing Editor for the CDC Yellow Book, an international travel medicine publication at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suraj received his MPH in Social and Behavioral Sciences from Yale University. He believes multiculturalism and interfaith cooperation are crucial to building a healthy and peaceful society.   

Suraj Arshanapally wrote this article in his personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services, Interfaith America, or the United States government.