Madrasa-Midrasha Program

Madrasa-Midrasha, a program sponsored by the GTU's Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies and the GTU's Center for Islamic Studies, seeks to advance study, dialogue, and understanding on Jewish and Islamic texts and contexts within academia and the larger public sphere by offering workshops, lectures, panels, and courses, exploring the richness, diversity, differences, and commonalities of the Jewish and Islamic traditions. Participants study and learn about the two traditions through texts and as they are lived and practiced.

Since the program’s inception in 2008, a range of themes and topics have been explored, such as understanding of sacred space through mosque and synagogue visits, museum visits, holidays in both traditions, the lunar calendar, dietary laws, circumcision, pilgrimage, ritual, Israel, Palestine, Gaza, Jerusalem, art and architecture, environment/ecology, identity and belonging, women and gender, Hagar, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, media depictions of Jews and Muslims in US media/film, religion and the elections, and what is means to think about scholarship across disciplines and boundaries.  Over the years, thousands have attended various Madrasa-Midrasha programs, providing rich and valuable opportunities for mutual engagement and learning,

The terms Madrasa-­Midrasha (Arabic­/Hebrew cognates, literally meaning “a place of study/learning”) refer to the traditional pedagogical settings and educational methods and practices of the study of the classical Islamic and Jewish sources. In our program, these closely related practices are mobilized for the purposes of contemporary Jewish-­Muslim study and dialogue.

Madrasa-Midrasha Public Program Events for 2018-2019

Sacred Memories: Reflections on Holy Days in Judaism and Islam
Wednesday, October 3, 2018 - 12:30pm | LeConte Student Lounge 2465 LeConte Avenue

Good Faith, Bad Faith
Thursday, October 25, 2018 - 5:30pm | GTU Library Dinner Boardroom 3rd Floor 2400 Ridge Road 

GTU Interfaith Prayer Vigil for Victims of the Synagogue Attack
Monday, October 29, 2018 - 4:30pm | Pacific School of Religion 1789 Scenic Avenue

Bridging Cultures: Abraham Shalom Yahuda and the Transformative Power of Jewish-Islamic Inquiry
Wednesday, November 7, 2018 - 5:30pm | GTU Library Dinner Boardroom 3rd Floor 2400 Ridge Road

Aesthetics in Judaism and Islam
Sunday, February 24, 2019 - 3:00pm | GTU Library Dinner Boardroom 3rd Floor 2400 Ridge Road

Scriptural Rhapsodies - Robert Alter and Todd Lawson in Conversation about the Hebrew Bible and the Quran 
Sunday, April 28, 2019

Madrasa-Midrasha Spring 2019 Course

Aesthetics in Islam and Judaism

Tuesdays 5:30-8:20pm, Carol Bier and Francesco Spagnolo This course examines various approaches to the study of aesthetics in Islam and Judaism, and explores a variety of visual and performing arts, as well as literary texts. Considerations of aesthetics in Islam focus on diverse cultural traditions and intersectionality of the arts; questions of representation, addressing such concerns as abstraction, geometry, and meaning; and the centrality of the Qur’an through calligraphy, illumination, and monumental inscriptions. Approaches to aesthetics in Judaism focus on synagogue liturgy as a synesthetic experience encompassing time/form, space/architecture, text/literature, sound/music, and gesture/choreography, and the confluence of diverse and often conflicting aesthetic dimensions of Jewish ritual in the global diaspora, including the liturgy of Jews in Islamic lands. Particular attention will be paid to aesthetic "values" such as non-linearity, repetition, and discontinuity.

Madrasa-Midrasha Student Research Grants

Mahjabeen Dhala (CIS, February 2017), "Exploring the Role of Female Activism in Islamic and Jewish Tradition," Ahmed Ibrahim Moss (CIS), "Imagining an Islamic Liberation Theology in a Post-Truth World," and group grant recipients Bat Shiva Miller (CJS), Mahajabeen Dhala (CIS) and Jonathan Homrighausen (JST/SCU/GTU), "Abrahamic Hevruta: Developing Pedagogies of Interfaith Education."

The Graduate Theological Union would like to thank the Walter & Elise Haas Fund for their generous support of the Center for Islamic Studies and the Center for Jewish Studies Madrasa-Midrasha program, which seeks to advance study, dialogue, and understanding on Jewish and Islamic texts and contexts within academia and the larger public.