Hartford Seminary Faculty Members Attend National Conference on Jewish-Muslim Relations

This week in Washington, D.C., President Heidi Hadsell and Professors Yehezkel Landau and Yahya Michot participated in ?Judaism and Islam in America,? a national conference sponsored by Hartford Seminary, the Islamic Society of North America and the Jewish Theological Seminary.

The conference was the third in a series started in 2010. The first program was held at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and the second program in 2011 was held at Hartford Seminary. The Carnegie Corporation has generously provided funding for the three gatherings.

The three-part series of workshops and public forums on ?Judaism and Islam in America? has provided religious scholars and high-level practitioners with an opportunity for a unique interreligious exchange.

The 2010 workshop, titled, ?Assimilation and Authenticity,? was the first official encounter of the series. Jewish and Muslim leaders took the opportunity to work to build trust and establish common ground.

In the 2011 workshop, the conference focused on the common interests that serve as identity markers in each religious community: Scriptural interpretation and law.

Both workshops offered an opportunity for Jewish, Muslim, and Christian religious leaders to come together and foster constructive dialogue among Jews and Muslims about their experiences as members of minority religions in the United States.

The third and final workshop of the series, ?Judaism and Islam in America 3,? focused on applying the previous years? findings by moving ?From Classroom to Congregation.?

This year, the participants sought to extend and sustain the impact of the workshop to congregations across the country by launching a new pilot program to implement the findings.

The scholars and leaders will be joined by the rabbis and imams to work together to implement interfaith programming in their communities. These congregations will put the learning and insights of the ?Judaism and Islam in America? conferences into practice and further interreligious cooperation and dialogue.

Participants hope to broaden the impact of the conferences? scholarly study and interaction and open the door to new advances in Jewish-Muslim relations.

Landau said, “In different working groups, the participants brainstormed concrete proposals that addressed the following tasks: (1) developing joint educational programs in local communities, with mosques and synagogues paired; (2) producing a study guide to help educators in both communities forge new Muslim-Jewish relationships; and (3) developing online resources, including an e-journal for emerging Jewish and Muslim leaders to share ideas; a directory of interested Muslim and Jewish clergy, lay leaders, and institutions throughout North America; and a platform for networking (perhaps linked to Facebook and other social media).”

Conference participants also toured the White House together, met with staff members of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Relationships, and heard a briefing from the staff of Karamah: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights.

President Hadsell is Professor of Social Ethics at the Seminary. Yehezkel Landau is Faculty Associate in Interfaith Relations and Director of the Building Abrahamic Partnerships program. Yahya Michot is Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations and editor of The Muslim World journal. They are pictured here with other conference participants.

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