Unity in Amsterdam

“What unites the students is the fascination for the city. Jerusalem is not an empty theme,” said Dr. Lieve Teugels, Lecturer in Jewish Studies and Semitics (PThU), in her welcome speech.

July 17, 2019 21:43
2 minute read.
Unity in Amsterdam

MUSLIMS, JEWS and Christians are taking part in the inaugural summer school on ‘Jerusalem and the Three Religions’ at the Protestant Theological University of the Netherlands.. (photo credit: ROB NELISSE)

Some 20 Muslim, Jewish and Christian students participated this month in the first “Jerusalem and the Three Religions” summer school program at the Protestant Theological University of the Netherlands (PThU) in Amsterdam.

This course is part of a unique academic partnership of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem (SIJS) and the PThU. During the week, there were lectures and seminars about the history and archaeology of Jerusalem, holy places in Jerusalem and the relationship between Jews, Christians and Muslims in the city.

“What unites the students is the fascination for the city. Jerusalem is not an empty theme,” said Dr. Lieve Teugels, Lecturer in Jewish Studies and Semitics (PThU), in her welcome speech.

Prof. Doron Bar and Dr. Tamar Kadari, both of the Schechter delegation, came to lecture.

“I discussed with the students the myths related to the city and the religious myths of sanctification,” said Bar, Schechter president, a seventh-generation Jerusalem resident and historical geographer specializing in documenting the development of Jerusalem’s holy sites.

“Both institutions see great importance in making Judaism and Christianity a source of inspiration. In light of the hostility that has existed between these two religions for thousands of years, it is important to emphasize the connection between them.”
“My historical and personal acquaintance with Jerusalem enables me to present the complexity of the city. Since the Israeli reality is very complicated and often misinterpreted in the media, it is important to present the Dutch students with a balanced and critical voice about Jerusalem, its history and the present situation,” added Kadari, an expert in Biblical exegetical literature.
The program supported by an Erasmus+ grant awarded to the two institutions by the European Union in November 2018, is intended to explore the city holy to three religions. The course enabled participants to engage in conversation with students and professors from all over the world. It focused on biblical history and archaeology; the religious significance of Jerusalem in Judaism, Christianity and Islam; the meanings of pilgrimage; the architecture of holy sites and the impact of contemporary politics on the city.

“Loaded with meaning for Jews, Christians and Muslims, Jerusalem is often a contested place. Everybody has heard of it, but most lack information to really put Jerusalem in perspective. This is what we tried to achieve in this summer school,” said Dr. Teugels from PThU.

“By reading texts from different traditions, I gained a deeper understanding, both in these texts themselves as well as the underlying discussions that surface through them,” said Dr. Wout Koelewijn, a senior relation manager for Medical Specialist Care and a PThU premaster student.

“As an activist in the political humanitarian point of view of the Israeli-Palestine conflict, I felt I was missing some background about where it all started. I find it very interesting,” added participant Geke van Vliet.

“In order to have good dialogue, you need to understand where the other person is coming from. Participating in this program helped me see points of view of people who are different from me. Having meaningful conversations is essential to lead to peace,” Marije van der Poel summed up.

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