While the different faith traditions have taken great strides over the last decades to increase religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue, there remains a critical lacuna of knowledge among members of the different religions, limiting the extent of understanding and acceptance. Christians and Muslims rarely have the chance to learn about Judaism or experience Israel firsthand, and are largely unaware of the underlying ideologies, nuances and diversities of the Jewish world today.
Shalom Hartman Institute and American Jewish Committee have pioneered a new program that began in 2008 called Christian Leadership Initiative to provide Christian leaders with an opportunity to gain a more profound understanding of Judaism and the Jewish people. Christian Leadership Initiative is a comprehensive program that grounds its participants in the central ideas of Jewish ethics and faith, the diverse ideologies and practices of contemporary world Jewry, and the intellectual foundations of religious pluralism and interreligious studies.
Click here to read an account of the 2010 Summer retreat written by one of the participants, Dr. Robert Cathey of McCormick Theological Seminary.
Christian Leadership Initiative provides a rare opportunity to learn about Judaism from renowned Jewish studies scholars. The curriculum, uniquely shaped for Christian leaders, includes:
Central ideas of Judaism in the areas of ethics, faith and politics;
The challenges of modernity and the State of Israel;
Diverse ideologies and religious practices of contemporary world Jewry;
Intellectual foundations of religious pluralism and interreligious studies;
Practical methods for Christian engagement with Jews.
The program, conducted over 13 months, comprises year-round long-distance learning and two 10-day seminars held in Jerusalem in consecutive summers. The Jerusalem seminars enable fellows to encounter Jewish life in Israel and facilitates encounters with Israelis of different backgrounds who represent diversity and challenges inherent in modern Judaism.
The long-distance component consists of weekly interactive study sessions facilitated by Shalom Hartman Institute scholars via videoconference, which allows participants to continue their learning about Judaism and Israel in a sustained manner while pursuing their ministries and studies in their home communities.
Participants selected for Christian Leadership Initiative receive a full fellowship that covers travel, lodging and instructional costs related to participation.
Christian Leadership Initiative fellows have come from an ecumenical cross-section of Christian denominational and institutional leadership in North America and Europe. Fellows include clergy and laity; they come from academic institutions and religious organizations, parishes, dioceses and national offices. Fellows need not have a strong background in Jewish thought, but must be committed to the rigorous educational goals of the program.
Christian Leadership Initiative fellows study with Shalom Hartman Institute’s world class faculty of Jewish studies scholars, including SHI President Emeritus Rabbi Prof. David Hartman, Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman, Prof. Israel Knohl and Dr. Melila Hellner-Eshed. In addition, fellows enjoy guidance from premier experts in Jewish-Christian relations including Rabbi David Rosen and Rabbi Gary Greenebaum. The faculty also includes distinguished guest lecturers from the ranks of Israel’s finest writers, thinkers and artists.