The Interfaith Seminary Students Sustainability Project brings together Muslim, Christian, and Jewish students from the Holy Land for a series of interactive seminars on human coexistence and environmental sustainability. The Project educates emerging clergy about sustainability challenges and religious teachings that can address them. The seminars also help Christian, Muslim, and Jewish participants find common cause through shared religious teachings on sustainability.
The seminars focus on how we live on the land (environmental sustainability) and how we live together (human sustainability). The sessions include experiential, on-the-ground explorations of contemporary ecological and social challenges led by experts from each of the three faiths. Some of the sessions also involve joint learning and presentations about Jewish, Muslim, and Christian teachings on these issues. The seminars are being implemented in partnership with Rabbis for Human Rights, based on the support of The Julia Burke Foundation, Anne Frank Fonds, and the British Shalom Salaam Trust.
The Need for the Project
In the Holy Land, an eight-year long drought underscores the region’s particular vulnerability to water scarcity and climate change. Environmental challenges transcend borders, creating a basis of joint concern that can act as a foundation upon which to build mutual understanding and cooperation. Interfaith environmental education and action has tremendous potential to spur goodwill and peace-building in this conflict-prone region.
Most Recent Seminar, in Spring 2013
To read a blog post about the most recent, which took place at the Yarkon National Park, click here.
Seminars in Spring 2012
The project was successfully piloted in the spring of 2012 through a series of three seminars, based on the support of the Julia Burke Foundation and Anne Frank Fonds. The first seminar took place in conjunction with the Interfaith Conference on Climate and Energy on March 19th, 2012. The seminar focused on climate change and renewable energy from an inter-religious perspective. Participants heard live and pre-recorded addresses from prominent religious leaders, and then discussed the issues in small groups.
The second seminar took place on April 16th, 2012 and was held at the Jerusalem Inter Cultural Center, next to Armenian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. It focused on Christian, Muslim, and Jewish perspectives on water, especially in regards to water in the Holy Land.
The third seminar took place on May 30th, 2012, and focused on the Jordan River Valley from a faith perspective and ecological lens. It was implemented in collaboration with Friends of the Earth Middle East (FOEME) and Rabbis for Human Rights.
- Cultivate a strong group of emerging Christian, Muslim, and Jewish clergy who are well informed about the sustainability challenges we confront;
- Enable these emerging religious leaders to find common cause through shared religious teachings on environmental sustainability and human coexistence;
- Help participants gain a deeper understanding of the religious teachings on sustainability within their own faiths, an appreciation of similar teachings from other faiths, and
- Promote greater awareness of the depth of wisdom available to address sustainability challenges from a faith perspective, and empower participants to teach it.
Cultivating a cohort of religious leaders with a shared understanding of the human and environmental challenges facing the region will help bring a voice of moderation and healing to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is an example of how the environment can play a key role in peacemaking. The likely influence of these clergy within their respective societies will also magnify the impact of this program beyond the immediate group of participants.
Participants will conclude the seminars having undergone training in cross-cultural dialogue and leadership and having examined environmental issues and religious teachings on them.
We anticipate significant media coverage of the closing session of the program, which will be open to the media and broader community.
Upon successful implementation of this Jerusalem pilot, the program could be replicated in the Galilee region of Israel as well as in New York, Boston, and Los Angeles—all locations in which Muslim, Christian, and Jewish seminary students study.
The continuation of this project is funding dependent.