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The Diane and Guilford Glazer Institute
for Jewish Studies

2009 Events

Finding Common Ground: Reconciliation Among the Children of Abraham

November 2, 2009

Speakers at the Finding Common Ground ConferenceView the slideshow.

About the Conference

Jews, Muslims, and Christians all share a common heritage; we are all people of the book. Pepperdine University was pleased to convene this one-day conference that brought together leaders from the three great monotheistic religions to discuss our common ground. The event focused on shared issues that unite our communities.

Learn about the featured speakers.

Topics included:

Interpreting Sacred Texts

All Abrahamic faiths maintain that sacred texts are divinely inspired. But each faith struggles with the question of interpreting sacred text and applying it to the modern age. This panel wrestled with the foundational question of how one understands the method by which God has communicated to his people.

Dealing with the Outsider in Our Midst

Every Jew, Christian, and Muslim struggles with the question of the "other." In a pluralistic society we routinely rub shoulders with individuals who share our space but do not share our faith. This panel focused on how the Abrahamic faiths address the question of the outsider who is among us, but not of us.

Why Faith Matters

All people of faith struggle to respond to disbelief. In the keynote lecture, Rabbi Wolpe answered the new atheism by shining a light on religion’s deepest scars while at the same time showing how religions have also (almost) always been a force of good in the world.

National Identity and Religious Pluralism

Many nations of the world are deeply religious in their orientation. But that religious experience is often pluralistic, spanning a continuum from extremism to extreme accommodation. In this panel, political leaders from Turkey and Israel addressed religious pluralism as it is expressed in their respective countries.


Interpreting Sacred Texts
Watch the full video here.

Dealing with the Outsider in Our Midst
Watch the full video here.

Why Faith Matters

Watch the full video here.

National Identity and Religious Pluralism
Watch the full video here.

Conference Quotes

"Sharia law supports common principles: life, intellect, family, property, and religion. The theology of life to combat the theology of death."
Jihad Turk, Islamic Center of Southern California

"You cannot…cut windows in other peoples' souls. All you can do is see belief enacted. When we speak about what faith should be in the world, there's a part of me that thinks that all we're really talking about is how faith should be enacted in this world."

Rabbi David Wolpe, Sinai Temple

"We must not sacrifice our own identities in the quest to love others. Rather, we should recognize that they are like us—they are their own 'you', and their lives are every bit as precious, valuable ... and important as ours."
Mark Diamond, Board of Rabbis

Finding Common Ground

Classroom Lectures

In her first semester teaching at Pepperdine, Professor Rebecca Golbert gave a guest lecture on Judaism in Tim Pownall's class on Religion and Dispute Resolution, and has been instrumental bringing guest lecturers to campus. After her students read it for class, Rabbi David Wolpe came to speak about his book Why Faith Matters to a group of 40 students and faculty. On November 18, Rabbi Mark Diamond and Reverend James Butler had an intimate conversation about Christian-Jewish Dialogue in the Hahn Fireside Room. This event was co-organized with the SAAJ classes (with the help of Professor Jeff Banks).

Rabbi Wendy Spears came to speak in Professor Golbert's Introduction to Judaism class about the experience of being a female rabbi. Additionally, Valerie Kronsburg, who is a Moroccan Jew, came to speak about the Jews of Morocco in Golbert's Jewish Cultures class. Finally, Professor Golbert took students from her Jewish Cultures class (along with several students who joined them from her Introduction to Judaism class) to the Skirball Cultural Center for a docent led tour of the permanent exhibit.

Download the full video of Rabbi Diamond's lecture here.