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Bridging the Great Divide: the Jewish-Muslim Encounter



Bridging the Great Divide: the Jewish-Muslim Encounter is a unique educational opportunity brought to life by the collaborative efforts of Dr Edward Kessler and Professor Akbar Ahmed. The Woolf Institute and the School of International Service at the American University in Washington jointly run this course.

Despite their closeness in belief and practice, today, Jewish-Muslim interactions are often the source of intense religious conflict. This course will explore the history, culture and theology of Muslims and Jews, reflecting both on similarities and differences as well as discussing the major challenges.

Assisted by leading experts and early career scholars in Europe and the US, the course will also offer strategies for building bridges between the communities. While there has been notable interfaith activity in Europe and the United States in recent decades, the Jewish-Muslim dialogue and understanding are far from satisfactorily developed.

Too often, there is neither space, nor indeed the necessary trust, which are prerequisites to the proper understanding of the two faiths. Experience has shown that when subjects like the Israeli-Palestinian relationship or Antisemitism and Islamophobia are discussed, the dialogue too often becomes embittered or breaks down.

Because this course is committed to the highest levels of scholarly integrity, it will provide a space for the discussion of the entire range, in the broadest sense, of the Jewish-Muslim encounter which does not preclude even the most controversial issues between them.

The course is accessed via Hedwig (Moodle) which is hosted by the Cambridge Theological Federation.

Course structure

Each week, you will watch a 20-minute pre-recorded lecture, receive set readings and prepare various assignments online. Woolf Institute and American University tutors will support you and provide feedback throughout the course. Alongside fellow participants, you will be able to discuss ideas on the online discussion forum. You will also be expected to write two essays and a book review.

Following an online Induction Week, the course is divided into three modules:

Module 1. Judaism and Jewish Perceptions of the 'Other'

Week 1: Biblical and Rabbinic Texts
Week 2: Israel and Zionism
Week 3: Dialogue and the 'Other'
Week 4: Judaism in America - The History and Organisational Structure of Judaism in America
Module 2. Islam and Muslim Perceptions of the 'Other'

Week 1: Qur'anic Teaching and Muslim Perceptions of the People of the Book
Week 2: Religious Others in Modern Islamic Thought
Week 3: Palestine in Muslim Consciousness
Week 4: Islam in America: The History and Organisational Structure of Islam in America
Module 3. Muslim-Jewish Encounters

Week 1: Historical Dimensions of the Muslim-Jewish Encounter
Week 2: The World of Commerce and Trade
Week 3: Islamophobia and Antisemitism
Week 4: Jews in the Colonial Maghreb: Emancipation or Exile?
Week 5: Gender Perspectives on Jewish-Muslim Relations
Week 6: Muslim-Jewish Relations in America

Course timetable

Course timetable
Induction Week: 16-21 January 2018

Judaism and Jewish Perceptions of the 'Other': 22 January - 18 February 2018
– Tutors: Edward Kessler, Rabbi M Bruce Lustig

Islam and Muslim Perceptions of the 'Other': 19 February - 18 March 2018
– Tutors: Akbar Ahmed, Mohammad Shomali and Amine El Yousfi

Muslim-Jewish Encounters: 19 March - 29 April 2018
– Tutors: Esther-Miriam Wagner, Lea Taragin-Zeller, Akbar Ahmed, Julian Hargreaves and Sami Everett

Application details

Applications are now being accepted for the course commencing Tuesday 16 January 2018.

The deadline for applications is 7 January 2018.

Download the application form here.

Download the course flyer here.

Before submitting your application, please read the Booking Terms and Conditions and Refund Policy.

The fee is £465 which includes online access to the course and the course materials, tutor feedback, and a Woolf Institute Certificate of Completion.

A limited number of bursaries are available.