In today’s divided and polarized world, many view religious difference as something that is inherently violent or combustible—something we need to fear. At ICJS, we see another way. We need to build opportunities that create room for what biblical scholar Krister Stendahl termed “holy envy”—the recognition of elements to be admired in other religious traditions or faiths.
But opportunities for “holy envy” do not simply exist in either religious or secular institutions. Space must be built in which we can engage religious diversity and affirm religious pluralism as a value. (See upcoming ICJS lecture, author and dialogue events below.) It is why ICJS creates initiatives such as Imagining Justice in Baltimore. We are grateful for the 100+ participants who courageously entered this online program at last week’s launch session. Together, we shared sacred stories in intentionally interreligious small groups. Over the coming month, we’re looking forward to each small-group delving deeper into how Jewish, Christian and Muslim perspectives can better inform and enliven our civic conversations and community work.
Our religious differences should be engaged, for our religious traditions can inspire us to create a better world. In this moment, we need to build opportunities for interreligious engagement that builds interreligious literacy as well as fosters friendships that cross divides.
How can you make room for “holy envy” in your life? Come join us!
All the best,
Heather Miller Rubens, Ph.D. Executive Director
IN MEMORIAM: AMBASSADOR RICHARD SCHIFTER
ICJS Emeritus Trustee Ambassador Richard Schifter passed away on October 4. Born in Vienna, Austria, Schifter was the only member of his family able to obtain a U.S. visa, and came to the United States alone at the age of 15. His parents perished in the Shoah (Holocaust). Schifter had a distinguished career of public service under several U.S. presidents and served on the inaugural United States Holocaust Memorial Council.
Schifter valued the importance of resisting divisive religious hatred and worked to build strong interreligious friendships throughout his life. ICJS is a better organization because of his leadership. Our sympathies are with his family, friends, and loved ones during this difficult time. May his memory be a blessing.
PARTNER EVENT ICJS Executive Director Heather Miller Rubens will be a respondent for the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations' (CCJR) 2020 Conference Webinar: American Antisemitism in Historical Perspective
“When an event has as much impact as the coronavirus outbreak...it’s natural for people to ponder big questions. Is this just a random occurrence, or is there something more at play? Is it all part of God’s plan? Or, at a more worldly level, can this experience teach us any truths about humanity?
"[A] recent Pew Research Center survey [sought to explore these questions, asking] people: Do you believe there is a lesson or a set of lessons for humankind to learn from the coronavirus outbreak? And if so, do you think these lessons were sent by God, or not?
"Many factors go into how religious groups have reacted to the pandemic, but part of the story is that not all groups have been impacted in the same way. In the U.S., particular religious groups are clustered in specific regions of the country; some are more likely to serve rural communities while others are rooted in larger cities.... However, little attention has been paid to the ways these disparities translate to the American religious landscape. The purpose of this report is to fill this gap by estimating exposure rates to COVID-19 for religious subgroups in the U.S."
Contagion, Religion, and Cities (CRC) is a research project from our friends at the Center for the Study of Religion and the City at Morgan State University's Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies. CRC explores how cities have been imagined as contagious and the racial and gendered norms that inform those imaginations. The project is co-directed by ICJS Justice Leader Fellow Sher Afgan Tareen, PhD, and Amanda Furiasse, PhD, and produced with Sierra Lynn Lawson, PhD student at UNC Chapel Hill, and the Director of the Center for the Study of Religion and the City, Harold Morales, PhD.