Seminarians Participate in Interseminary Dialogue at Jewish Theological Seminary

12 December 2012 • Off–Campus • Dn. Adam Horstman

On Wednesday, December 12, several SVOTS students traveled to the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) to participate in the discussion "Dialoguing Beyond Our Dialogue." The group Interseminary Dialogue (ISD), an informal organization composed of eight different Jewish and Christian seminaries in the New York area, sponsored the event. It was one of eight such meetings held during the course of a given academic year, in which a host seminary sets an agenda and offers participants a tour of the campus worship space. SVOTS students have been participating in the dialogues since the 1950s.

Historically, the Interseminary Dialogue has provided a venue for discussion of both theological and pastoral issues we face in our respective communions, whether we be Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, or Jewish in faith. The schools besides St. Vladimir's that participate in the dialogue are: Hebrew Union College's Jewish Institute of Religion, the Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, the Yeshivat Maharat , the Academy for Jewish Religion, St. Joseph's Seminary, General Theological Seminary and Union Theological Seminary.

Of course, there are profound differences between us in how we approach matters of faith, but by speaking with each other and putting a face on "the other," we are able to see that we ask many of the same questions and deal with many of the same needs and concerns. Indeed, we have much we can learn from each other, and this event fosters respect and concern for people who are different from ourselves. Through dialogue, we also come to a greater understanding of our own particular religious traditions.

On this particular December evening, we discussed different types of interfaith engagement, primarily through the experience of a JTS student who spoke about his experience in taking a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). The speaker shared ways in which CPE helped him to understand and help people who come from  religious faiths very different from his Jewish one. We then broke up into small groups and talked about the different types of dialogue we can have in the arenas of life, action, and theology.