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Youth Interfaith Encounter group increasingly active in Bar Ilan University
From :Yehuda Stolov

Bar Ilan University is often stereotyped as The Religious University, but
what people dont know is that the student body is, in fact, significantly
diverse in its

religious identification and affiliation. Students on Bar Ilan Campus are
very aware of the diversity on their campus, but little opportunity presents
itself for any

sort of significant interaction beyond the classroom setting. This, however,
is no longer the case.

In March of 2018, two students in the Bar Ilan University BA Program, Ms.
Sariba Feinstein and Ms. Fatima Amer, launched a monthly dialogue between
students of all

faiths on Bar Ilan Campus with the vision of changing perceptions, building
bridges and creating friendships. Structure of the dialogue followed Gordon
W. Allports

Contact Hypothesis: Equal status between members, ongoing/intimate contact,
cooperative goals, institutional support, and finding commonalities with the
other. The

dialogue was developed according to the model of the Interfaith Encounter
Association, encouraging discussion related to religious beliefs, traditions
and observances,

where it has determined the most common ground can be found. The IEA @ Bar
Ilan University was approved as the official chapter on Bar Ilan Campus, and
maintained a

steady attendance and increased level interest among its participants
throughout the remainder of the year.

The IEA @ Bar Ilan University returned in October of 2018, this time as a
credited academic course under the auspices of Dr. Ben Mollov of the

Department of Social Sciences and the Graduate Program in Conflict
Management at Bar-Ilan University, and with the assistance of Ms. Sariba
Feinstein and Ms. Fatima

Amer, the dialogue`s original founders. Class registration surpassed the
initial 20 student limit and was extended to accommodate an additional 10
students. There

remains a waiting list of students who applied to the course, but in order
to maintain an environment of intimacy, were unable to be accepted for the
current academic


During their first encounter, students introduced themselves, clarified the
meaning of their names in their respective languages, identified their

faith/affiliation, and shared a part of their culture/religion/ancestry of
significance to them.

The course, titled Jewish-Arab Religious Dialogue will maintain weekly
attendance and feature intensive discussion between members, guest speakers,
field trips to

various religious sites, and holiday celebrations throughout the year.

Among the thirty registered students, here is an incredible international
representation including but not limited to students from China, Taiwan,
Italy, France, the

United States and Columbia. The religious affiliation of the dialogues
members varies greatly, featuring those of Jewish, Christian and Muslim
faith, as well as

students who identify as atheist, non-affiliated and with the philosophy of
Confucius. Student feedback is overwhelmingly positive.

Reported: Sariba
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