Sometimes attending summer school is required for those who have not done well during the school year; at other times, it is the only time that special studies can be pursued. I hope it is the latter for me, but I am not sure!
I am in New York City at JFK airport awaiting an evening flight to Tel Aviv. Tomorrow evening we will begin ten days of study at the Shalom Hartman Institute, considering how Jews and Christians engage the topic: "God and Genesis." Scholars from both traditions will be poring over ancient texts, seeking to learn new perspectives on our historic faiths. It promises to be a rigorous curriculum.
I felt a little like an fledgling doctoral student as I packed my briefcase with my big texts in Greek, Hebrew, and English. Two of those languages are more difficult for me, but I will be able to pick out some words, I trust. Most of the Hebrew I remember is that which was sung in worship among Christians in Israel, primarily drawn from the Psalter.
In addition to rabbinical scholars at the Institute and Jewish scholars from the States, there are professors and presidents from a wide variety of theological schools. From Greek Orthodox to Baptist, Roman Catholic to conservative evangelical, there will be a lively mix learning how to strengthen Jewish-Christian relations. It will be a process of listening and discerning how the Spirit of God is opening us to one another
In addition to our daily study, we will have opportunity to enjoy hospitality in local homes for Shabbat dinner as well as attend synagogue service. Next Sunday I will have opportunity to worship with a Christian congregation, also.
One of the more interesting opportunities will be to hear a presentation from "OneVoice: Israeli and Palestinian Youth Working for Two States." As one who has followed for over thirty years the challenge of negotiating peaceful relations amidst the protracted conflict between these two bodies, I will welcome this new vista.
I look forward to sharing my experiences through my blog--that is if I get my homework done first. I am grateful for the privilege of this opportunity, funded by the American Jewish Committee. Good Jewish friends in Kansas City have cheered me on as I have prepared for this time. My desire is that my own investment in interfaith relations will be more informed by this time in summer school. I am planning to pass!
Molly T. Marshall
Central believes that respect for the lived religion of others is a Christian grace and essential for constructive mission in our day.