(JNS.org) Eighteen American Christian leaders this week began the Christian Leadership Initiative (CLI), a year-long intensive study of Judaism in Israel with the goal of further bolstering interreligious dialogue and understanding between the two Abrahamic faiths.
“CLI provides open space for Christian leaders and scholars to experience and study Judaism and Israel from a Jewish perspective,” said Rabbi Noam Marans, the American Jewish Committee’s director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations, which is co-sponsoring the program with the Shalom Hartman Institute.
“Interreligious understanding is deepened when Christian influentials engage in Jewish learning in ways that enable them to better understand Jewish texts and traditions,” he said.
The 18 leaders participating in the program include scholars from leading seminaries and theological schools across the American Christian spectrum such as the Baptist Church, Catholic Church, and Lutheran Church, and the Presbyterian Church, which has garnered headlines for its recent to decision to divest from Israel.
According to the Shalom Hartman Institute, the theme of the opening seminar will be “God and Judaism,” which introduces the multifaceted approach of Jewish doctrine, spirituality, and theology.
More than 40 American Christian leaders have participated in the program since its introduction in 2008, and they have maintained close ties with their Israeli and Jewish counterparts.