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Reflection: Role of Solidarity in Interfaith Engagement

Updated: Aug 10, 2020

From Old City Jerusalem to the storied Jordan river, Nazareth and beyond, the Russell Berrie Fellows experienced an immersion experience of unity where interreligious dialogue reframed their outlook. This trip will likely continue to shape the fellow's academic and personal journey. Solidarity flourished as we witnessed the wonders of the Holy Land together by sharing common goals such as a deep commitment to interreligious dialogue. While attending mass, whether at the sea of Galilee or the Garden of Gethsemane, we worshiped in awe--imagining and contextualizing a land known from reading biblical scripture, but better envisioned in actuality.

Fellow's Leading Mass, The Gethsemane Cave

Throughout the study-tour seminar in Israel, the fellows encouraged one another to pose difficult questions (particularly on topics of interreligious dialogue). We’ve learned, imagined, dreamed, questioned, collaborated, laughed, studied, and prayed together. At the Shalom Hartman Institute, for instance, we discovered new tools (such as the Midrash); resources to advance a robust theological study and understanding of interfaith dialogue.

Shalom Hartman Institute

The fellows exchanged “food for thought” while breaking bread with passionate interfaith advocates. We ate immaculate amounts of exquisite food sprawled-out on massive plates with some of Israel’s leading human rights activists, NGO leaders, professionals, and politicians. In laughing and sharing insights together, we were honored with the opportunity to learn from firsthand accounts about the journey of interreligious dialogue. In collaboration, we learned that interfaith is paved by diverging paths of shared experiences, positive interactions, as well as constructive conversations. And while witnessing the wonders of a legendary land, we learned to see the world anew .

Somewhere near the Mount of Beatitudes

During the seminar, we applied a practical application of interfaith dialogue by collaborating about various avenues for transforming relations between communities for the better. We conceptualized newfound ways to promote peace and interreligious dialogue in our hometown regions. In Israel, for example, the fellows uncovered and examined an extraordinary interreligious mosaic of vision. In incorporating valuable insights into our individual knowledge-base, we collectively built bridges to a common ground. This experience further lays the platform for fellows to better understand and engage in interfaith dialogue. The Russell Berrie Fellows learn to embark on future peacebuilding operations, as we return to our resident communities better prepared to strengthen and foster religious tiesempowered to listen, lead, and serve.


Article by McKenzie Flowers Fergus

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