Three eminent religious leaders – Christian, Jewish, and Muslim- will explore the potential of interfaith dialogue in the service of reconciliation, peace, and human security in the Holy Land. They are Fr. Drew Christiansen, SJ of America Magazine, Rabbi Gerald Serotta of the Shirat HaNefesh Congregation and member of Clergy Beyond Borders, and Imam Yahya Hendi of Georgetown University. Br. Jack Curran, FSC of Bethlehem University will moderate the panel in which these religious leaders will discuss how the common roots of their monotheistic traditions can serve as a path toward finding understanding where purely secular-based past initiatives have failed.

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As Rabbi David Rosen, Director of the American Jewish Committee’s Department for Inter-religious Affairs and the Heilbrunn Institute for International Inter-religious Understanding, eloquently stated, “working together, we become partners in the principal biblical imperative itself to sanctify God’s Name in the world.” In a similar vein, King Abdullah of Saudia Arabia declared, “There is no solution for us other than to agree on a united approach through dialogue among religions and civilizations.”


It is highly fitting and historic that this important dialogue of these three eminent religious leaders at the Conference will be held at The Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, DC. The late Pope considered inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue the essential keys for resolving conflicts among peoples and nations.


Fr. Drew Christiansen, S.J. is Editor-in-Chief of America, a Catholic weekly magazine, as well as HCEF Co-founder and Advisory Board member. He was Director of the Office of International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) from 1991-1998. He served as counselor to the USCCB on Middle East Affairs until 2005. He has been a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center and is on the faculty of Georgetown University. Author of more than 150 articles on ethics, Catholic social teaching, and public policy, Father Drew also co-authored Forgiveness in International Politics: An Alternative Road to Peace.


Rabbi Gerald Serotta is the Executive Director of Clergy Beyond Borders and serves as Rabbi of the Shirat HaNefesh Congregation (Song of the Soul). He has a decade long record of activism in seeking solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, beginning in 1973 when he co-founded Breira. He has been involved in interfaith work through the Fellowship of Reconciliation (beginning with a reconciliation mission in 1975 to Cairo, Beirut, Damascus, Amman, Palestine, and Israel) and the Interfaith Committee for Peace in the Middle East. In 1980 he was the Founding Co-Chair of New Jewish Agenda, and has served as the Founding Chair of Rabbis for Human Rights, North America. He has served on numerous boards including Aleph: Alliance for Jewish Renewal and the Tikkun Magazine, and as a university chaplain for 27 years. He is a past chair of the Board of Chaplains at George Washington University and a Past-President of the Association of Jewish Campus Professionals.

Imam Yahya Hendi is the Muslim chaplain at Georgetown University. He is the Imam of the Islamic Society of Frederick, MD and the Muslim Chaplain at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. He is the founder/secretary general of Clergy Beyond Borders,  founder/president of the Imams for Universe, Dignity, Human Rights and Dialogue and a member of the Islamic Jurisprudence Council of North America. In 2002 he received the James Gettemy Significant Ministry Award from Hartford Seminary for his dedication to his ministry and promotion of understanding between faiths.


Br. Jack Curran, FSC is Vice President of Bethlehem University, the first university established in the West Bank and the only Catholic university in the Holy Land. Previously he was Vice President at Saint Mary’s College in California and served in various administrative and teaching positions at Manhattan College in the Bronx.


They will speak on Friday, November 5, 2010 at the plenary session of the 12th HCEF International Conference on the Holy Land co-sponsored with the Pope John Paul II Cultural Foundation in Washington, DC.


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