The conference, scheduled for June 24-27, 2012 at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in the Connecticut Berkshires, is the result of a unique partnership between the Retreat Center and the Manhattan College Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center.
Dr. Mehnaz Afridi, the new Director of the Manhattan College center, is the first Muslim to serve as the director of a Holocaust center in North America and stresses the value of teaching the next generation lessons in interreligious respect and understanding. “This will be a unique opportunity to engage future religious leaders in a multi-day setting,” says Dr. Afridi, “not only to listen to and learn from one another but to begin to engage in real hands-on collaborative work in creating new models for religious education.”
According to Dr. Afridi, the conference’s goals include fostering relationships among future religious educators; exploring existing practices in religious education that help to shape narratives that lead to suspicion, misunderstanding, mistrust; and exploring potential practices, both within communities and through interreligious partnership, that would foster a new narrative promoting respect, understanding, and cooperation.
The conference is set to include a combination of plenaries, facilitated group conversations, and collaborative work between diverse groups of participants, all under the guidance of experienced conference leaders with histories in interreligious dialogue and education. Leaders for the conference are set to include Michel Andraos of the Catholic Theological Union; Haifa Bint Kadi, a New York-based Arts Educator; Nancy Fuchs Kreimer of Reconstructionist Rabbinical College; Hussein Rashid of Center for Spiritual Inquiry; Rabbi Or Rose of Hebrew College; and Dr. Afridi.
With the support of generous partners including the Common Sense Fund, Ken Orce, Michael Somoroff, American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, and the New Light Foundation, all selected participants will be able to attend the conference free-of-charge, including lodging and meals.
“We are excited not only to be able to offer such a ground-breaking event,” says Isabella Freedman Executive Director David Weisberg, “but to be able to offer it in a way that removes the financial obstacle that could prevent some young emerging religious educators from attending.” According to Weisberg, potential participants range from those engaged in university studies leading to a career in religious education to those actively working as religious educators, whether in religious, secular private, public schools, or other venues. While the conference aims to engage aspiring and emerging educators, there is no age restriction for applicants.
Those interested in applying for conference participation should visit www.isabellafreedman.org/