In August of 2009, I went on a retreat for emerging Jewish and Muslim religious leaders organized by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. In June of 2014, I returned to that retreat as an alumna facilitator. This week I'll be spending a few days at a retreat center a few hours from here, once again serving as alumna facilitator for an extraordinary group of Muslim and Jewish religious leaders. I'm really excited about getting the opportunity to do this work again, and about further building and strengthening connections between our two religious communities.
This year's retreat is co-presented by RRC and ISNA. I remember that there was conversation, at the 2014 retreat, about the challenges for Muslim religious leaders of signing up for a program presented solely by a Jewish institution. I can imagine feeling the same way were our positions reversed -- how would people in my community react if I signed up for a leadership program offered by a Muslim seminary? -- and I'm happy that this time the retreat is co-presented by institutions from both of our communities. I give kavod (honor) to RRC and ISNA for their joint willingness to make this retreat happen -- and also to the Henry Luce Foundation and the Legacy Fund for their fiscal support of this holy work.
As on previous retreats, we'll spend some time engaging in text study as a spiritual practice, exploring the texts that are sacred to each of our traditions. We'll do some learning and sharing about each of our traditions. We'll break down some of the stereotypes each group can't help unconsciously holding about the other. (In my experience part of what's interesting is always discovering the unthinking stereotypes we carry within our own communities, too -- there's a lot of diversity, and also a lot of misunderstanding, among and between different branches of Judaism as well.) We'll build trust and we'll tackle tough questions.
You can find the blog posts that have arisen out of these several retreats in my Jewish-Muslim Dialogue posts category. In addition to those, here are two published essays and a high holiday sermon that came directly out of these retreats: