Turkish faith ambassadors attend Scriptual Reasoning workshop in Jerusalem.
In light of recent tensions between Turkey and Israel, few would expect to see two emissaries sent by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and several Israelis earnestly discussing the Quran, New Testament and Torah’s common references to peace and goodwill.
Yet that’s exactly what happened in Jerusalem when two Turkish representatives took part in 3FF Middle East’s Scriptural Reasoning workshop, together with Israeli Christians and Jews. 3FF M.E’s Director, Miriam Feldmann Kaye, facilitated the workshop at the Jerusalem Centre for Ethics’ annual interfaith conference held on September 14.
The Scriptural Reasoning method, which uses religious texts as a foundation for discussing ethical, social and political questions, was developed by 3FF and Cambridge University’s Inter-faith Programme (CIP). It is now used in Israeli hospitals and universities to encourage engagement and understanding between different communities.
Miriam said: “Members of the Knesset from the Israeli Ministry of Interior and prominent Orthodox Rabbi Yuval Cherlow invited the Turkish faith ambassadors to our conference. They brought messages of goodwill from President Erdogan, and wanted to speak about a commentary on the Qur’an, highlighting how it preaches peace. We then engaged in a discussion - in which communal leaders from the three faiths were included – on the benefits of Scriptural Reasoning taking place between Israelis and Turks.”
Prince El Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan sent his encouragement via video link. The conference was attended by several prominent religious and communal leaders, including Baha’i, Druze, Muslim, Christian and Jewish representatives.
Representatives of numerous interfaith organisations and charities worked to ensure the conference was a success, and facilitated discussions in small groups. It was the third annual interfaith tolerance conference made possible by Polish philanthropist Alexander Gudzovaty, the Jerusalem Foundation and Mishkenot Shaananim.
The event was widely covered in the Israeli press.
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Notes for editors
3FF’s main branch is based in the UK, and works to build understanding and lasting relationships between people of all faiths and beliefs. 3FF creates and runs programmes based on education, engagement and action to improve relations between communities and works with teachers and students, artists and professionals, political leaders in Parliament and upcoming leaders still at university.
The Cambridge Inter-faith Programme (CIP) is part of Cambridge University’s Faculty of Divinity. CIP’s Director, Professor David Ford, was one of a group of scholars who developed Scriptural Reasoning in the late 1980’s and CIP has been dedicated to its growth since its creation in 2002. For more information, see www.interfaith.cam.ac.uk and www.scripturalreasoning.org
Scriptural Reasoning is also widely used in 3FF’s work in UK schools through its Tools 4 Trialogue programme, in which students read and discuss Jewish, Christian and Muslim texts on various social and ethical topics.
Other religious leaders present at the conference included:
Representatives from the Ahmadia Muslim community, Anglican Church, Karaite communities, and Imams and community leaders were sent from Kafr Kana, Jaffa, Umm el Kataf, Kfar Bara and Nazareth. Community rabbis were sent from Raanana, Jerusalem, Petach Tikva, Tel Aviv and Be’er Sheva, whose district council member also attended. In addition, those who participated included government officials and representatives from other working spheres such as from the Israel Lands Administration, lawyers, teachers and academics.
Turkey-Israel relations are also being developed by 3FF’s Middle East branch via a Van Leer Institute (Jerusalem) working seminar on religion and society in the two countries.