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US Christian Leaders Begin Yearlong Study of Judaism in Israel
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The intensive educational program is co-sponsored by AJC and the Shalom Hartman Institute

Eighteen American Christian leaders from across the United States, representing diverse religious institutions, have begun studying Judaism in the 13-month Christian Leadership Initiative (CLI) in Israel this week. The intensive educational program, co-sponsored by AJC and the Shalom Hartman Institute (SHI) is taught by world-class SHI faculty.

“CLI provides open space for Christian leaders and scholars to experience and study Judaism and Israel from a Jewish perspective,” said Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC’s director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations. “Interreligious understanding is deepened when Christian influentials engage in Jewish learning in ways that enable them to better understand Jewish texts and traditions.”

“The experience of Christian and Jewish scholars studying texts together is transformational. SHI faculty look forward to welcoming the CLI group every year, because as we teach them, we are pushed to consider deeper questions and different perspectives,” said Dr. Marcie Lenk , Shalom Hartman Institute Co-Director of New Paths: Christians Engaging Israel .

The theme of the opening seminar (July 15 -24), “God and Judaism,” introduces the multifaceted approaches of Jewish doctrine, spirituality, and theology. After returning to the U.S at the end of July, CLI fellows will engage in monthly distance-learning sessions. They will return to Jerusalem in July 2015 for the concluding seminar on Jewish community. With generous support from the Allen H. and Selma W. Berkman Charitable Trust, CLI has been advancing professional development for top leadership of Christian seminaries, denominations, and theological schools since 2008. To date, 41 leaders, representing the full spectrum of Christian denominations in the U.S., have participated in CLI and maintain the connection with peers, faculty, and the institutions through alumni programming.

Fellows in the 2014-2015 CLI cohort are:

  • Dr. Bogdan G. Bucur, Associate Professor, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Rev. Dr. Gay L. Byron, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of New Testament, Howard University School of Divinity, Washington, DC
  • Dr. Michael J. Chan, Assistant Professor of Old Testament, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN
  • Dr. Andrew R. Davis, Assistant Professor of Old Testament, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, Chestnut Hill, MA
  • Rev. Dr. Katie Day, The Charles A. Scheiren Professor, Church and Society, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, PA
  • The Rev. Laura Everett, Executive Director, Massachusetts Council of Churches
  • Rev. Dr. David Garber, Associate Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, McAfee School of Theology, Atlanta, GA
  • Dr. Tommy Givens, Assistant Professor of New Testament Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA
  • Rev. Dr. Wallace S. Hartsfield, II, Professor, Fred. E. Young Chair of Hebrew Bible, Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, MO
  • Dr. Sally Holt, Professor of Religion, Belmont University, Nashville, TN
  • The Rev. Dr. Christine Hong, Associate for Theology/Interfaith, Presbyterian Mission Agency, PCUSA, Louisville, KY
  • The Rev. Dr. Debora Jackson, Executive Director, The Ministers Council – American Baptist Church USA, Valley Forge, PA
  • Rev. Belva Brown Jordan, Associate Dean of Curriculum and Assessment/Associate Professor Practice of Ministry, Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, CA
  • Dr. Daniel Joslyn-Siemiatkoski, Associate Professor of Church History, Seminary of the Southwest, Austin, TX
  • Dr. F. Javier Orozco, Executive Director of Intercultural and Interreligious Affairs, Archdiocese of St. Louis, MO
  • Dr. Brian Rainey, Assistant Professor of Old Testament, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ
  • The Rev. Dr. Javier A. Viera, Dean and Professor of Ecumenical and Pastoral Theology, Drew University Theological School, Madison, NJ
  • The Rev. Dr. Frank M. Yamada, President and Cyrus McCormick Professor of Bible and Culture, McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, IL
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