"Images of Israel" is a six-part adult study program that empowers groups of Christians to have a robust experience in learning about Israel in its complexity, while bringing Christian theology and values into the conversation.
Images of Israel sets forth a fresh basis on which Christians can engage with the Jewish community and the State of Israel. Building on values that Christians share with Jews by virtue of being God’s people, the project offers new language and approaches for issues that have been contentious within churches and between Christians and Jews.
The heart of the project is engagement. Participants work with texts, ideas, images, fellow learners, and leaders to explore Israel - as a state, as a people, as a nation, and as a land - and to clarify the commitment of Christians to work for justice and peace among Palestinians and Jews.
Images of Israel: The Need for Christians to Understand Israel Today
Despite progress in Christian-Jewish relations in recent decades, crisis continues to focus our thinking about Israel. The crisis may be the vulnerability of the Jewish people targeted in the Holocaust, scattered as minorities around the world, or living in a besieged state. It may be the suffering of Palestinians under the administration of territories occupied by Israel since 1967. It may be the expectation of an end-times scenario in which Jewish return to the homeland plays a crucial role in Christian hope.
Important as these topics are, when we place any of them at the center of our engagement with Israel they too frequently set up a stark choice: support or opposition, friend or foe, endorsement or delegitimization. The pressures of the crisis limit the space for nuance, for the exploration of complexity, for mature mutual critique, and for the discovery of shared values. Crisis is rarely the basis for an enduring and constructive relationship.
In "Images of Israel" we envision a different basis on which Christians can engage with fellow Christians, the Jewish community, and Israel. In place of crisis, this course identiﬁes and articulates principles of national and communal identity that are applicable to all peoples, as well as values drawn from the wellsprings of our respective religious traditions. On that basis, participants can build a clearer and more thorough image with which to engage with Israel and its complexity.
Directors of Images of Israel
Shalom Hartman Institute and iEngage Fellow Dr. Marcie Lenk and the Reverend Dr. Peter A. Pettit, Director of the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Associate Professor of Religion Studies at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, are the program's co-directors.