The Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian Relations sponsors a range of educational activities whose aim is to overcome ignorance and prejudice and to foster respect and understanding for the other. The Center’s programs include comprehensive courses, short-term seminars, and conferences and symposia on current issues in Jewish-Christian relations in the Holy Land. JCJCR also publishes educational materials in Hebrew and Arabic which are designed to facilitate better understanding between Jews and Christians.
Educating Educators for Change
Anti-Racism Teacher Training Program in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, the Jerusalem Municipality Education Office and the Jerusalem Foundation. Educating Educators for Change provides space and professional training for Jerusalem teachers to enable them to address issues of racism, in all its different aspects. The program relates to different population groups and to the many “Others” within each of us. The program is based on recognition of the fact that racism is an expression of emotions that all of us experience at one time or another living in a multi-cultural and often divided society such as that in Israel, at a time of intense conflict and events that often engender a storm of emotion and complicated feelings towards others. Most people experience some degree of anxiety or hostility towards those seen as different, particularly when they feel that their basic needs are threatened. The seeming threat can be the result of a real or imagined situation. Circumstances perceived as threatening stimulate feelings of fear, anxiety, anger and hatred which in turn set off defense mechanisms such as devaluing of the Other, divisions into “good” and “bad”, dehumanization, creation of a hierarchical social structure, and of course these can lead to hostile and aggressive behavior. In the absence of legitimacy for the feelings of fear and anger, and without awareness of the natural defense mechanisms to perceived threat, extreme and racist positions become entrenched, leading to offensive and often violent actions. Educating Educators for Change helps teachers recognize these phenomena in themselves, in order that they will be better able to help their students. In addition, the program trains teachers to develop the skills needed to engage their students in serious discussion of difficult topics, skills which will serve the teachers well in the context of discussions of racism and many other contemporary issues.
Courses and Lectures
JCJCR initiates and organizes courses around the country for a variety of different audiences. Most of the courses are aimed at Jewish Israelis and focus on the local Jewish communities, their history, heritage and traditions. The aim of the courses is to teach basic concepts and to encourage sensitivity, understanding and tolerance towards the Other and to promote respect for minority communities. All the courses are organized in cooperation with other educational institutions, such as teacher training colleges, universities, community centers or centers of informal education such as Yad Ben Zvi. Courses range from 12-60 hours and include classroom teaching and educational tours. Year-long teacher-training courses comprise 56 hours of instruction and focus on preparing teachers to teach Christianity in the classroom, focusing on the history, heritage and traditions of the local Christian communities in Israel. The first semester concentrates on a historical perspective, whereas the second semester takes a more thematic approach and considers relations between the state of Israel and the Churches, Jewish-Christian relations, the teaching of Christianity in the Israeli education system, Christian festivals, religious communities etc. During the course the participants visit different sites connected to the topics being taught. The courses have taken place at the Gordon and Wizo colleges in Haifa, and currently at David Yellin and Kerem colleges in Jerusalem. Short courses focusing on an introduction to the local communities, their sacred texts and traditions, including both tours and meetings with representatives of different communities, have also taken place as part of pre-army and post-army educational programs. A series of tours of the Christian communities in Jerusalem has become part of the Introduction to Christianity course in the Comparative Religions department at Hebrew University. The tours of the Christian quarter introduce students to the holy sites and the history and current reality of the Christian communities in Jerusalem. Likewise, JCJCR also arranges courses for Arab groups on Jewish history and traditions, which develop a more complex understanding of Jewish Israeli identity. Such courses have taken places in the Galilee in recent years, attracting significant interest and demand.
JCJCR organizes one-day and half-day seminars focusing on current events concerning the local Christian communities and Jewish-Christian relations in Israel. The seminars are adapted to the specific needs of the target audience, such as government ministries, the army, the police, journalists, students and other audiences. JCJCR runs seminars for education units in the army, the civil administration, pre-army programs, university and college faculties, and other private and public institutions. Two such seminars were organized for legal advisors from different government ministries who in the course of their work come into contact with the Christian communities and their court systems; another for employees and cadets of the Ministries of Trade and Employment, Tourism and Foreign Affairs. These one-day seminars provide
Symposia / Conferences
JCJCR sponsors conferences for select audiences or the general public which focus on both historical topics and current issues that impact on Jewish-Christian relations in the Holy Land today. JCJCR symposia and lectures aim to familiarize the broader public with core issues and challenges of the encounter of Jews and Christians in the Holy Land today.
JCJCR organizes and sponsors a wide range of educational activities, whose purpose is to overcome ignorance and stereotypes and promote understanding of and respect for the Other. JCJCR’s programs include courses, seminars and conferences, focusing on Jewish- Christian relations in the Holy Land. In addition, JCJCR publishes booklets in Hebrew and Arabic in order to enable Jews and Arabs in Israel to learn about each other.
JCJCR publishes educational guides that provide easily accessible information on the history, traditions and life of “the other.” Guides on the Christian communities and Christian life in the Holy Land are published in Hebrew, and those on Jewish life and traditions are published in Arabic. The booklets are intended for use in both formal and informal educational frameworks.
JCJCR initiates and organizes conferences intended for different groups or for the general public and which focus both on historic as well as current events which are relevant to Jewish-Christian relations in the Holy Land. JCJCR holds these conferences in cooperation with other academic and educational institutions. Past conferences were devoted to the different Christian communities and included lectures and visits to the communities as well as meetings with Heads of the Churches. Other conferences have looked at the changes in the Catholic Church following the 2nd Vatican Council, the religious world of the migrant communities in Israel, the contribution of Papal visits to Jewish-Christian relations in Israel, Church property in Israel, Israel government policy towards the Churches, and more.