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Listening Conversations for the Repair of the World (Tikun Olam)

Dr. Rebecca Berru Davis, inspired by the 2017 TOLI Summer Seminar “Worlds Apart, But Not Strangers, Holocaust Education and Indian Education for All,” at Montana State University Billings (MSUB), received a mini-grant to deepen the understanding of the role religion plays in shaping our principles and activating our response, in her classroom. Three conversations were held with guest speakers from various religious traditions to create dialogue around three significant themes: 1) Sacred Texts as Guiding Principles for Healing a World; 2) Religion as Justice and Activism; and 3) Caring for Creation and Each Other. Holding open conversations such as these modeled ways to engage in listening and dialogue while thoughtfully considering the ways in which religious principles and spiritual practices direct us toward compassion, activism, and healing a broken world in light of the current realities we face.
Representatives from the Jewish and Islamic traditions highlighted principles that provide positive guidance within historically oppressive periods, such as the Holocaust, as well as current examples of religious intolerance. Attention was directed to the ways in which sacred text and testimonies by people of faith, particularly those who have endured oppression, inspire healing in the world.
Making connections with current movements of hate, this discussion considered the ways that religious values and ethics challenge us to seek justice, be attentive to those most vulnerable, and respond as activists and upstanders.
Distinguishing between human made catastrophes and genocides from natural catastrophes, such as environmental devastation, this discussion explored these differences and their effects. Presenters considered how memory, spirituality, and evolving wisdom work together in compelling us to care for each other and all creation.

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