ADAShA: The Jerusalem Center for Interreligious Encounter


ADAShA: The Jerusalem Center for Interreligious Encounter provides groups which are interreligious in their composition or in their areas of interest with a serious, systematic and balanced educational experience in Israel. The Project’s innovative programs encourage personal discovery through firsthand experience. Site visits, text-study, lectures, meetings with local religious leaders and visits to local organizations serve as stimuli for far-ranging theological, historical and contemporary discussions amongst the participants.

ADAShA (Hebrew and Arabic for “lens”) allows participants to explore their own Christian, Muslim or Jewish roots and gain a deeper understanding of key religious, cultural, spiritual and educational issues in Israeli and Palestinian society. This, along with confronting serious questions about faith, people and nationality in the context of complex regional problems

Target Audience and Program Length

ADAShA creates programs for communities, universities, religious groups, inter-religious groups and others from abroad that want to experience a unique, nuanced, and sensitively multi-narrated visit in Israel/Palestine.

Programs range from in-depth seminar-tours (10-18 days) to short (half-day) workshops, and are designed for groups of first-timers or for returning visitors.

Seminars are tailored to the needs and interests of our partnering institutions (both universities and community groups).


Ophir Yarden, Program Director

Shakhaf Avital, Logistical Coordinator

Program themes

  • Religion and Politics » Hearing Two Narratives – and how not to export the conflict along religious lines » Understanding the Israel – Palestine Conflict and Interreligious initiatives for amelioration
  • The Faiths of the Holy Land » Commonalities and Differences between Jews, Christians, Muslims and Druze
  • Sacred Text and Archaeology » Jewish, Christian and Muslim Education: Teaching about ourselves and the other »
  • The Parting of the Ways: Christian-Jewish Relations over the ages » Study the origins and development of the troubled relationship and learn about its rehabilitation in recent times.
  • History of the Holy Land » Exploring aspects of the vast history packed into very little geography.
  • Religion and Spirituality » Investigate the diverse spiritualties of the land which inspires so many and to which so many dream of journeying to on pilgrimage
  • Religious Education in the Holy Land » How is religion taught and passed on amongst Christians, Muslims and Jews in Israel/Palestine? What are the advantages of working in the land of history?

All Programs include:

  • Exploration of sites sacred to Judaism, Christianity and Islam from both spiritual and historical perspectives.
  • Study of sacred text, often in situ
  • Meetings with religious leaders and activists
  • Encounters with political and civil society activists on the ground
  • Home hospitality
  • Visits to sites of religious and political tension
Adasha from the programs

From the Participants

“It was stunning and overwhelming to discover new dimensions of my own faith whilst sharing important ‘moments of faith’ with Muslims and Jews.”

“I will always treasure the experience and fully intend to translate it into practical action which will work to unite faith communities.”

“The tour provided a learning opportunity that text books, articles or documentaries read and observed in the UK could never give.  It gave a range of physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual experiences which I am now drawing on to develop my understanding and personal views about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.”

“I hope to hold on to the idea of being pro-solution, rather than choosing a side… I hope to position myself in a way that promotes encounter and dialogue, actively seeking complexity to facilitate a deeper understanding.”

ADASHA From the Participants

Ophir Yarden – ADAShA Program Director

Ophir is a senior lecturer in Jewish and Israel studies at Brigham Young University’s Jerusalem Center and teaches in several other universities, colleges and seminaries in Jerusalem.  He is a licensed Tour Educator and has trained Tour Educators and Guides in Judaism and Islam since the 1990s.  Ophir has rich experience in interreligious work having coordinated and facilitated many engagement programs and has recently begun to teach courses on religion and conflict transformation. Born in the U.S.A and has been living in Jerusalem since 1978.


Articles and More:

The Balfour Declaration: From Imagining a State to Re-imagining Majority-Minority Relations in Jewish Thought and the Jewish State – Article by Ophir Yarden, Director of ADAShA. In: Walters, James (ed.), Religious Imaginations: How Narratives of Faith are Shaping Today’s World. (2018)

Covering Religion in Israel and Palestine: Columbia school of Journalism reporters, articles and daily dispatches from ADAShA study tour. (2019)

In Tel Aviv, Jews join with Muslims in vigil mourning New Zealand dead : Article by Jonathan Harounoff, Columbia Journalism School Participant, written during ADAShA study tour (2019)

The Subjectiveness of Seeing :  Reflections from Jessica Foster, after participating in an intensive ADAShA seminar (2018)

Godland: A Reporting Journey to Israel and Palestine. Columbia school of Journalism articles and daily dispatches from ADAShA study tour. (2018)

The Land: Covering Religion in Israel and Palestine. Columbia school of Journalism articles and daily dispatches from ADAShA study tour (2014)

Covering Sacred Ground. Columbia school of Journalism articles and daily dispatches from ADAShA  study tour (2011)

James Walters

Among Our Partner Institutions

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