People at Passion City Church in Washington, DC, in front of a "There's a Place For You Here" sign.

Washington, DC


Washington, DC, has a significant Christian history, serving as home to Georgetown University, the oldest Catholic and Jesuit-affiliated institution of higher education in the United States. Scores of U.S. presidents have attended houses of worship in the area, particularly St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, which has seen every sitting president attend at least once since James Madison. Today, some 65% of Washington’s population still identifies as Christian, but the district has come to reflect more of the religious diversity of America, particularly through its immigrant communities. One segment of 16th Street Northwest is even known as the “Highway to Heaven” on account of its high proportion of churches, synagogues, and mosques—about one house of worship every two blocks.

In June 2018 the American Pilgrimage Project traveled to DC. Two days of conversations drew together DC natives and immigrants from a broad range of faiths to share stories that explain how religion shaped critical moments in their lives. Many thanks to our hosts and all those who took part in the conversations.

The interview below was recorded by StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world. 

Faith, Fate, and Friendship: Sofi Hersher and Aesha Mehta

April 21, 2017

More stories about: Judaism Hinduism

Sofi Hersher and Aesha Mehta—a Reform Jew and a Hindu, respectively—grew up with different experiences of religious ritual. Whereas Sofi found solace in Jewish rites as a child, Aesha learned Hindu values from habits passed down by her parents. In this conversation, the friends discuss the role of religion in their futures and note the importance of openly discussing faith.

This story was produced by StoryCorps.

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