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iSchool student Ahmed Al-Salem '11 travels to Jerusalem with interfaith group over Spring Break

Read the students' posts.

Ahmed Al-Salem
of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Niskayuna, N.Y., a sophomore majoring in information management and technology in the School of Information Studies (iSchool) at Syracuse University, is among a diverse group of SU students from different faith traditions who are spending their Spring Break in a unique way—by traveling to Jerusalem to study how Christian, Jewish and Muslim peoples have co-existed in the region throughout history and today.

Thirteen students—nine Christian, two Jewish and two Muslim—are traveling to Jerusalem beginning on Sunday, March 8, as part of the University’s “Three Faiths, One Humanity: Interfaith Travel Study Experience,” sponsored by Hendricks Chapel. They are accompanied by Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, Episcopal/Anglican chaplain and rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Syracuse; Ahmed Kobeisy, Muslim chaplain and director and resident scholar of the Islamic Learning Foundation; Lowell H. Lustig, executive director of Hillel at Syracuse University; Kelly Sprinkle, interim dean of Hendricks Chapel; Thomas Wolfe, senior vice president and dean of student affairs; and Ginny Yerdon, special events coordinator at Hendricks Chapel. They are scheduled to return March 17.

A special web site, http://hendricks.syr.edu/jerusalem, has been established for family, friends and members of the Syracuse University community to follow along on the trip. Members of the group are sharing their experiences through journal writings and photos that will be posted on the site.

The experience is intended to put a human face on the issues of how diverse faith communities have historically shared and continue to share life together, and in turn to foster a greater awareness of the contemporary issues within the three faith traditions and to renew dialogue toward understanding and cooperation. 

Student selection for the trip began nearly a year ago with written essays outlining students’ connections to their own faith commitments and how they felt they could participate in meaningful interfaith dialogue. The itinerary includes visits to mosques, churches, synagogues and other sites that have special significance within the faith traditions.

This is the third year of the “Three Faiths, One Humanity: Interfaith Travel Study Experience.” Students traveled to Spain in 2003 to study the history between 750 and 1492, when under Muslim rule Jews, Christians and Muslims lived together and collectively created a culture of considerable discovery and advancement. Students traveled to Turkey in 2007 to follow the migration of these communities to Istanbul.

Preparations for the trip have included receiving lessons in each faith tradition, starting conversations regarding why Jerusalem is important for all three faiths, and learning to embrace even the difficult questions in addition to lectures from SU professors on the history of the region, politics and conflict resolution.

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