by Halima Krausen
Eventually I joined the JCM conference as a regular participant and later as a member of the coordinating team. It had then developed into a one-week bilingual conference that focused on learning together in a multi-religious context - not only through lectures and plenary discussions but also in various kinds of group work as well as through excursions, meditation, and religious services in the weekend. There are no measurable results and no joint declarations, but the conference is an unforgettable experience: a whole week of studying, debating, celebrating, crying, laughing, silence, singing, worrying about news, clarifying mistakes and misunderstandings, and sharing hopes for the future builds up confidence. With this programme and the informal communication during meals, I gradually made many friends among Jewish, Christian, and Muslim colleagues alike, and a network of cooperation and exchange emerged.
It is through the JCM that I understood the following principles:
- Dialogue, if it is supposed to have a lasting effect for coexistence, takes time together and a combination of cognitive and affective processes.
- One of the "secrets of success" for interfaith projects are that they are as balanced as possible, starting from the work of the organizing team, in order to ensure that all participants feel respected in their religious identity.
- Dialogue is not "negotiation" or a debate, therefore it is important for participants to speak for themselves and relate to each other not as representatives of an institution or ideology but as human beings ready to learn.
With such insights and experience, I feel quite well equipped for other interfaith activities of mine, among them a number of interfaith study workshops on our sacred scriptures. But it also enables me to make my contribution to the work that is done in the context of :
- "Dialogue in the Class Room", that is, inter-religious religious education in Hamburg state schools from a very early age for children from all world religions and beyond, including the production of suitable study materials.
- The Academy of World Religions at Hamburg University where Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist faculty members cooperate in training teachers and other professionals in religious studies and dialogue skills.
Beyond all that, there is my dream of generally training future clergy, RE teachers, and theologians for dialogue and cooperation with colleagues from other faith traditions and a perspective of interfaith coexistence.