sidebar_162A groundbreaking collaboration between the Cambridge Inter-faith Programme (CIP) and the Three Faiths Forum (3FF) is delivering new models for inter-faith engagement in Israel, bringing text-based dialogue to students and young professionals.

Through its flagship Hospitals Programme, Scriptural Reasoning workshops give trainee doctors and nurses of Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths at five Israeli hospitals the practical tools needed to improve relations with their colleagues. It is now a compulsory component of studies in three hospitals after a statement by the Israeli Ministry of Health that “cultural competency” must be taught to all healthcare professionals.

In the workshops joint readings from the Qur’an (Muslim), New Testament (Christian) and Tanakh (Jewish) serve as springboards for deeper discussions. The sessions enable students to communicate effectively with each other – sidebar_163without feeling that they have to leave their culture and identity at the door of their universities or workplaces. They also help them treat patients and relate to other healthcare professionals with greater understanding of their religious sensibilities. The same method is also used successfully with teenagers and university students.

3FF has been working to forge connections between people of different faiths in the region for the past three years. Cambridge has now come on board in supporting this unprecedented form of dialogue – both in its academic development and practical application. CIP will also support 3FF’s research into the effects of its programmes and guide the implementation of workshops in educational institutions. Miriam Feldmann Kaye, the Founder/Director of 3FF Middle East, said:

“We are educating the next generation of a culturally diverse Israel towards constructive and cooperative models of interaction. These models do not collapse when there are disagreements. They are sustained by differences. Working with professionals, academics, and students – and hopefully with businesses and government offices in the future – we hope these models will inform the conversations of the future.”

Professor David Ford, Director of the Cambridge Inter-faith Programme, said:

“The global inter-faith challenge we face requires creativity, conversation, collaboration, thorough theological work and education. As a catalyst for this, Scriptural Reasoning has been a very fruitful practice in a variety of contexts – schools, local groups, in prison chaplaincy and among scholars to name just a few. I am delighted that the Cambridge Inter-faith Programme is supporting this work in the Middle East, where greater understanding between the different religions is desperately needed.”