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Contemporary Christian Communities in the Holy Land (2009-2012)




Academic Directors: Prof. Steven Kaplan and Dr. Merav Mack


13.6.11: Participants of the conference standing by the icon of Our Lady of the Wall, by Bethlehem checkpoint 300 A collaboration of The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, the Center for the Study of Christianity the Hebrew University, Centre de recherche français de Jérusalem (CRFJ) and the Tantur Ecumenical Institute for Theological Studies, Jerusalem.

This research forum was established as a multi-year program. The uniqueness of this forum consisted in its focus on the living Christian communities of the "Holy Land," a subject which has been relatively neglected in academic circles. Our purpose was to encourage collaborative work both locally and internationally and advance new scholarship. 


Activities in 2011-2012

In the beginning of the academic year 2011-2012 Dr. Merav Mack held a research seminar on "the contemporary Christian communities in the Holy Land" for MA students at the Center for the Study of Christianity at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


Earlier that year we held two major academic activities: a workshop at the Tantur Ecumenical Institute (January 2011), which dealt with the Palestinian Christians in Israel and the Palestinian Authority from various social, anthropological, artistic and legal perspectives (see program); and an international conference on "The Competition for Souls" (June 2011). In addition to local participants from Israel and the Palestinian territories scholars arrived from the US, the UK, France and India. We explored various topics concerning conversion and inter-Christian relations: gender, ethnicity, conversion of sacred spaces and influences through art. We also held a tour of Bethlehem including Bethlehem University and the Bible College.


Activities in 2009-2010


The theme of our work in the first two years was "Transnationalism and the Contemporary Christian Communities in the Holy Land." An international conference was hosted by the CRFJ and the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute (June 2010). The keynote speaker was Prof. Anthony O'Mahony from Heythrop College, University of London. Other international speakers included Prof. H.L. Murre van den Berg and Mr. Mordechay Lewy, Ambassador of Israel to the Holy See. Conference program



An article written about the conference in 2010 in the online magazine Jerusalem and Religions


A publication on Transnationalism and the Contemporary Christian Communities in the Holy Land is currently under way.






Artistic expressions related to the Christian communities in the Holy Land:

"The Ruins of Lydd" - an exhibition by the artist Dor Guez was held at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute (29.6.10-12.8.10). It tells the story of the Christian Palestinians in the mixed city of Lydd (Lod) in Israel.











The film Yellow Mums (2010) was broadcasted at the Tantur workshop, accompanied by a discussion with the film director Firas Khoury, winner of the short-film prize at the Jerusalem Film Festival (2010).








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