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Reform Jewish Movement Expands Popular Interreligious Dialogue Program

Open Doors, Open Minds II: Synagogues and Churches Studying Together Offers Dialogue Sessions on Controversial Issues

Contact: Sean Thibault or Naomi Greenspan
202.387.2800 or news@rac.org

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 22, 2007: As our society becomes increasingly polarized along religious lines, the Reform Jewish Movement is offering a new interreligious dialogue program ­– Open Doors, Open Minds II: Synagogues and Churches Studying Together – that provides an exciting opportunity for Jews and Christians to dialogue about social justice issues of mutual concern. 

Judith Hertz, co-Chair of the Commission on Interreligious Affairs of Reform Judaism, noted that “By coming together in a forum where religion and religious values can be openly discussed, participants in the Open Doors program have the opportunity to gain a new understanding of both their own and one another’s religious traditions.”  Rabbi Michael Signer, who is also a co-Chair of the Commission on Interreligious Affairs, added that “While many of the issues covered in the dialogue guide are concerns that many think about in a secular context, by formulating these ideas within a religious framework based on religious texts, participants gain a broader understanding of the subject matter and how their political views may be informed by their religious beliefs.”

Open Doors, Open Minds II is a follow-up dialogue guide to Open Doors, Open Minds, a program of the Union for Reform Judaism  that came out of conversations between Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union, and Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant leaders.  Rabbi Yoffie’s call to “reach out to our neighbors and listen for God’s presence in their voices” was highly successful with more than 100 congregations participating in the dialogue program and subsequent cooperative projects.  Using the Open Doors, Open Minds dialogue curricula, Jews and Christians are able to build relationships based on mutual respect and understanding.

Open Doors, Open Minds II is organized around four thematic sessions: poverty, the environment, war and peace, and the death penalty.  Commission on Interreligious Affairs Director Mark J. Pelavin noted, “As people of faith, Christians and Jews are able to find common points of connection and ways to work together.  In this respect, the curriculum also challenges the participants to go beyond dialogue and act on their social justice values by engaging in an ongoing social action project. Jointly shared initiatives thus benefit the larger community as well as the dialogue participants.“

Open Doors, Open Minds II is supported by David B. and Hermine R. Heller; the Charles and M.R. Shapiro Foundation, Inc.; North American Federation of Temple Brotherhoods; and the Jewish Chautauqa Society.  

For more information, go to www.urj.org/opendoorsor contact, interreligious@urj.org

Note to editors: Open Doors, Open Mind II is available as a downloadable PDF at www.urj.org/opendoorsincluding the cover art.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more  than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and theCentral Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.



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