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May 2023

Dear friend,

Stories of the Crusades, with images of knights in armor mounted on horseback on a holy quest, may seem harmless. But the ideas, attitudes and ideologies that drove the original Crusaders endure in some fashion to this day. What is this Crusader mentality and what is its effect?

ICJS scholars take on these questions in our new 12-minute video, The Crusades in Popular Culture, an educational resource for congregations, schools, and other venues for group discussion. It raises some tough issues, such as what does it mean when we call one group “civilized” and another “uncivilized”? Is violence justified to protect what we consider sacred? 

“When you start to assume people are uncivilized, you're starting to strip away a sense of humanity that allows the dignity that prevents you from acting violently towards them to fall away,” says ICJS Jewish Scholar Ben Sax. “They no longer become human in the same way that other people are human. And that allows for a sense of violence that is not just justified, but can be encouraged—because they're not human like us.”

We hope you’ll use this resource for a lively conversation in your learning community.

Highlights in this Issue:


Book Conversation with Ann Duncan

Join us for a discussion with author Ann Duncan on her multifaceted look at motherhood in her forthcoming book, which has been described as part discourse on motherhood, part sociological study of changing U.S. religious demographics, and part an exploration of spiritual movements rooted in women’s reproductive health—as well as new forms of religious community centered on all of these.

Wednesday, May 17
Online via Zoom
Noon–1:00 PM EDT

Summer Workshop for Religious Leaders

This summer, ICJS is hosting a three-day workshop on interreligious engagement for religious leaders. We invite religious leaders (clergy and lay leaders) of all kinds, including those who work in congregations, nonprofit organizations, and corporate settings.

June 13, 14, and 15, 2023
ICJS Library
9:00–10:30 AM EDT


Race, Trauma, and Healing: Insights from Jewish antiracism practitioners

Tracie Guy-Decker, senior partner of Joyous Justice, and Kohenet Dr. Harriette Wimms, founder and executive director of Jews of Color Mishpacha Project, will discuss their social justice work within the Jewish community and the ways in which they have addressed intergenerational trauma due to racism. The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Alisha Tatem, ICJS' program director for religious leaders.

Tuesday, June 27
Online via Zoom
Noon–1:00 PM EDT

Repairing the Breach: An interreligious call for racial justice
Feature by Evana Upshaw, ICJS Communications Assistant

The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and ICJS Trustee, reflects on his work around justice, non-violence, and reparations—and he makes a captivating argument for interreligious racial justice efforts.


Spiritual Care Capacity-Building Grant

ICJS announces a Spiritual Care Capacity-Building Grant, made possible by the generosity of the Bunting Family Foundation. We are offering five grants of up to $1,000 each to address the interreligious needs of chaplains in small organizations with limited access to other resources. Find out if your organization is qualified and apply below.

Join the 2023–2024 Teachers Fellowship

Do you know a teacher in the Greater Baltimore Area? We are looking for educators who want to bring an interreligious lens to their classrooms. ICJS offers a one-year cohort for Baltimore-area teachers to gain knowledge and confidence in religious literacy, to develop and share lesson plans for their own classroom, and to think deeply about pedagogy with a network of experienced educators and scholars.


Recap | The Silber-Obrecht Lecture

Harvard professor and Jesuit priest Francis X. Clooney, S. J. delivered the inaugural Silber-Obrecht Lecture, reflecting in the first lecture on the intersection of his own Catholic faith with his decades-long study of Hinduism. In the second lecture, he was joined by Shubha Pathak, Ph.D., Ph.D., of American University, who offered her response.


Recap | Interreligious Environmentalism Panel

Our panel on Interreligious Environmentalism: Confronting the climate crisis together, featured insights from four interreligious practitioners on how individuals and congregations can make care for the earth a priority. One of the panelists, the Rev. Dellyne Hinton, suggested that we start from our own personal commitments. “One of the things that we need to do is to individually consider our own private atmosphere, and what can we do? If it’s just simply making sure we do the recycling and that kind of thing so it becomes second nature,” she said.


Resources | Video: The Crusades in Popular Culture

A new resource for congregational adult education and discussion groups! Why, after nearly 1,000 years, do the Crusades continue to exert a powerful cultural hold on us? How are we affected by the Crusader mentality, which justifies domination and violence to protect concepts, identities, land and possessions we deem sacred? This new ICJS video, The Crusades in Popular Culture, examines the history and cultural influence of the Crusades and raises questions about we can interreligiously address the Crusader mentality.


Staff Pick | Including Muslim Holidays on School Calendars

It has long been common practice to close school on Christian holidays. Increasingly, schools are also taking account of Jewish holidays, including Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. Christine Krieger, ICJS program director for congregations, recommends this Religion News Service article on how Muslim families and advocates are pushing school districts and boards of education to close schools in observance of Islamic holidays such as Eid-al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan.


About Us 

The Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies (ICJS) works to dismantle religious bias and bigotry to foster an interreligious society in which dialogue replaces division, friendship overcomes fear, and education eradicates ignorance. Through courses, fellowships, online events, and scholarship initiatives, ICJS builds learning communities where religious difference becomes a powerful force for good. ICJS is an independent 501c3 nonprofit organization.


Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies
956 Dulaney Valley Rd  | Baltimore, Maryland 21204
410.494.7161 | info@icjs.org | icjs.org

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