sidebar_176Three Faiths Forum Middle East (3FFME) recently held a day-long seminar at the Kaplan Hospital, south Tel Aviv, Israel, for trainee doctors and nurses. The objective: to actively promote closer interfaith interaction in hospitals.

The students came from around the country, as far as the Galilee and the Negev, to take part in the sessions. What better place to start building inter-cultural relationships than with the medical professionals of the future: the doctors and nurses, who will lead the Israeli medical profession one day.

The purpose of 3FF’s hospitals programme is twofold: Firstly, at a professional level, to improve the ways in which participants relate to patients and co-staff members of different faiths. Secondly, at an interpersonal level, to create understanding through informal sessions studying religious texts.

sidebar_177Participants studied, in small groups, the Tanakh (Jewish), Bible (Christian) and Qur’an (Muslim), read in Hebrew and Arabic, on the themes of healing and suffering. Reflection on the texts set the tone for group discussions of the themes, from both scientific and religious points of view.

They explored various possible controversial situations: How a Muslim nurse might respond to a Jewish woman wishing to light Shabbat candles on ward in which this was forbidden, or how Jews and Christians organising a staff party can accommodate their Muslim colleagues for whom drinking is prohibited. These scenarios were enacted using drama therapy: role-plays, miming and acting, encouraging the students to address the issues freely, honestly, and with humour.