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Monday, September 21, 2015

Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia Travels to the Middle East

Trip participants gather for orientation with our tour leaders.
The Interfaith Center, founded in 2004 to help Philadelphia be a model for inter-religious cooperation, is sponsoring a trip to the Mideast for prominent leaders of our region from October 8 -18, 2015.  Co-led by Rabbi David Straus, Co-Convener of the Religious Leaders Council of Greater Philadelphia, S.A. Ibrahim, C.E.O. of Radian, Inc. and The Very Reverend Judith Sullivan, Interfaith Center Board Chair, this customized boutique trip will take us to Turkey, Israel and the West Bank.  While there, we will meet with Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders and other opinion molders.  We will visit the cultural and religious sites that ground critical sources of wisdom and heritage, roots of our common humanity.   A special feature of our trip will include “dialogue through music”, led by Philadelphia world class musicians, Udi Bar David and Hanna Khoury.

There is probably no region in the world where conflict based on real or perceived differences is as profound as in the Middle East.  Much of this conflict is a function of the nationalism that informs tensions and even violence throughout the world. But in the Middle East, the birthplace of Abrahamic faiths, religious difference is all too often the lens with which the world views the source of mistrust and fear. One cannot pick up our daily newspaper without reading headlines of violence that we hoped by now would be a thing of the past.

The urgency of our times is calling for new ways forward, compelling us to bring forth leadership from diverse sectors to prioritize this as an issue to be addressed here at home.  Here, in the birthplace of religious liberty we can make a new kind of investment in work to avert and remedy interreligious strife.  Participants in this Dare to Understand mission will become partners in the future of this work here in the Greater Philadelphia region.

Check back here throughout the autumn to hear more about this amazing trip as participants update the blog with their daily thoughts, news, and reflections!

Abby Stamelman Hocky

Executive Director, Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia