Israel and the West Bank, January 13-25, 2013
Biblical Study and Travel
Open to participants from any faith or philosophical background, Abraham’s Children is a graduate theological seminar designed to introduce some of the basic elements of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faith traditions through the lens and dynamic of interreligious relations and understanding. Led by CTU faculty, the course may be audited or taken for credit.
Abraham’s Children is facilitated in cooperation with Temple Sholom and Elmhurst College.
TENTATIVE ITINERARY (subject to change):
|Sunday, Jan. 13||Travel to Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport|
|Monday, Jan. 14||Arrive in Jerusalem and check into Beit Shmuel. Designed by famous architect Moshe Safdie, the Mercaz Shimshon-Beit Shmuel complex overlooks the walls of the Old City in a prestigious location near the renowned King David Hotel. It is also one of Israel’s top ten modern architectural sites and the headquarters of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.|
|Tuesday, Jan. 15||According to the Talmud, Rabbi Eleazar once said: “Whenever there is knowledge in a human being, it is as if the Sanctuary had been built in that person’s days. For the word “knowledge” is set between two names—“For a God of knowledge is the Lord”—and the word “sanctuary” is set between two names—“Thou hast made, O Lord, the sanctuary, O Lord” (B. Berakhot 33a).|
Today our collaborative pursuit of knowledge begins in the morning with our first class session. Our topic will be Jerusalem in the three “Abrahamic” traditions. We will then head out in the afternoon for a panoramic tour of both the Old and New Jerusalem—our home for the next four days. In the evening we begin our series of introductions to the work of interreligious organizations in Israel and the West Bank with our visit to the Interfaith Coordinating Council of Israel under the leadership of Rabbi Ron Kronish.
|Wednesday, Jan. 16||According to a well-known hadith, the Prophet Muhammad once enjoined the faithful: “No saddle shall be fastened [for pilgrimage] save to three mosques: the Sacred Mosque [in Mecca], my mosque [in Medina], and the farthest mosque [in Jerusalem].” For Jews the Har HaBayit is the place where the Temple once stood, containing the Holy of Holies. Today the Western retaining wall of the Temple is the most sacred site in the world for most Jews. For Muslims, both the Dome of the Rock and the Aqsa Mosque, each of grand mythic importance, stand on al-Haram al-Sharif. For Christians, the most sacred sites in Jerusalem are found within the sacred precincts of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.|
Today we will make our own visits to these pilgrimage sites which have been the longing of countless Jewish, Christian, and Muslims for hundreds of years. We will ask what these places mean for us as both people of faith and as interreligious peacebuilders.
In the evening we will meet with Rabbi David Rosen, International Director of Interfaith Relations for the American Jewish Committee, who will help us process our experience as interfaith pilgrims and share with us some aspects of his own extraordinary interfaith journey.
|Thursday, Jan. 17||The New Testament recalls the story of Paul standing before the Athenians at the Areopagus, telling them that among all their ritual sites he found an altar dedicated “To an unknown god” (Acts 17:23). Paul proclaims this deity to be “The God who made the world and everything in it, the one who is Lord of heaven and earth.” This is the God, Paul says, who “does not live in shrines made by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things” (Acts 17:24-25).|
In our morning class we will look at the figure of the God from the similar and yet very different perspectives of the three “Abrahamic” traditions. In the afternoon we will come face to face with one of the paradigmatic manifestations of evil—face to face with what happens when we turn our backs on God by giving ourselves over to hatred. We will visit Yad Vashem, the living memorial of the Jewish people to the Shoah—a “memorial and a name… that shall not be cut off” (Isaiah 56:5). We will take time to process this experience together, especially in light of the perspectives on God we explored in the morning. In the evening we will spend time with Anat Hoffman, director of the Israel Religious Action Center, an organization founded in 1987 by the Reform Movement in Israel and dedicated to “advancing pluralism in Israeli society and defending the freedoms of conscience, faith, and religion.”
|Friday, Jan. 18||In anticipation of our observance of the Friday Muslim Jum`a or Congregational Sermon and Prayer, as well as the welcoming of Shabbat, our morning class will be devoted to an exploration of worship and ritual in the three traditions. We will then attend Friday prayer at a Jerusalem mosque, after which we will travel to a Jerusalem synagogue for our Shabbat experience.|
|Saturday, Jan. 19||This morning we receive gift of Sabbath, and spend the early hours in unstructured restful celebration of the gifts of life and relationship with God and our fellow human beings. We will then convene in the afternoon to explore, in study, the dimensions of sacred times and seasons that mark our days as “Abraham’s Children.” In the evening we will visit the Parents Circle—Families Forum, a grassroots organization of bereaved Palestinians and Israelis, dedicated to promoting reconciliation as an alternative to hatred and revenge.|
|Sunday, Jan. 20||In the morning we will “rise” to observe the weekly Christian memorial of the Resurrection of Christ with Christian worship at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, presided over by our own Fr. John Pawlikowski, O.S.M. We will then make our way to al-Quds University in Abu Dis (the West Bank) where we will meet Prof. Mustafa Abu Sway, director of the Islamic Studies Program and premier Palestinian Muslim interfaith scholar and leader. Later in the day we will visit Bethlehem University and witness the interreligious ta`ayush (convivencia) of learning that takes place between Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians on its campus. We will end our day by checking into our accommodations in Bethlehem, our home for the next three nights.|
|Monday, Jan. 21||Bethlehem is for Christians what Sinai is for Jews and the Cave of Hira’ for Muslims. Each is the locus of the most significant instance of divine revelation in human history: Jesus Christ, the Torah, and the Qur’an, respectively. In our first class session in Bethlehem, we will investigate the concepts of revealed truth and scripture in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In the afternoon, we will visit Prof. Geries Khoury, executive director of al-Liqa’, a center for Christian-Muslim dialogue which operates in the West Bank under the auspices of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Our discussion with Prof. Khoury and our introduction to the work of al-Liqa’ will serve as a foundation for our evening meeting Arab Christian and Muslim religious and academic leaders who will share elements of their stories as interfaith peacebuilders in the West Bank.|
|Tuesday, Jan. 22||In the morning our class will gather to discuss the concepts and realities of authority and community which have structured the corporate lives of Jews, Christians and Muslims, focusing especially on the phenomena of internal diversity and sectarianism which characterize the dynamic histories of each of the Abrahamic religions.|
When class is ended our small band of “Abraham’s Children” will then venture out to visit Hebron/al-Khalil and Machpelah, the “Tomb of Avraham/Abraham/Ibrahim” (and other biblical patriarchs). At this contested sacred space, which has been the site of much factional violence in recent years, we will have an opportunity to discuss the figure of Abraham, as much a symbol of mutual disenfranchisement and interreligious exclusivity as a symbol of unity and solidarity among Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
|Wednesday, Jan. 23||Tel Aviv-Yafo (Jaffa). Class topic: Religion and Politics. Afternoon and evening free time.|
|Thursday, Jan. 24||Tel Aviv-Yafo. Morning: concluding class. Afternoon open house and evening final banquet. Late night return home option or leave next morning, the 25th.|
|Friday, Jan. 25||Return home|
Prof. Rabbi David Sandmel | Temple Sholom, CTU
Prof. Scott C. Alexander | CTU
Prof. Inamul Haq | Elmhurst College, CTU
Prof. John Pawlikowski, O.S.M. | CTU
$2,650 double occupancy*, if taken for credit (airfare additional)
$2,250 double occupancy*, if taken for audit (airfare additional)
*Single occupancy available for an additional $850
Deadline to apply is December 1, 2012.
For additional information on fees and travel arrangements or to receive an application to apply for this travel course, please email or telephone:
Sr. Sallie Latkovich, C.S.J.
Director, Biblical Study and Travel
Catholic Theological Union