The John A. Widtsoe Foundation is deeply committed to elevating dialogue between members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other religious communities. During the 2022 calendar year, Latter-day Saints will study the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible as individuals, families, and in weekly church meetings, which presents a unique interfaith opportunity. Through a series of monthly online conversations, The Widtsoe Foundation hopes to educate Latter-day Saints about Judaism’s rich history of interpreting and applying the teachings of the Hebrew Bible in ways that can inspire their religious neighbors.
Dr. Jacob Rennaker (Widtsoe Foundation Scholar in Residence and member of the Jewish–Latter-day Saint Academic Dialogue Project) has organized this virtual conversation series in consultation with Rabbi Mark Diamond (Loyola Marymount University, Academy of Jewish Religion, CA, and co-director of the Jewish–Latter-day Saint Academic Dialogue Project). For this monthly series, Dr. Rennaker will host a leader or scholar from the Jewish community for an hour-long conversation on Zoom revolving around a Hebrew Bible passage or book of scripture from that month’s “Come Follow Me” lessons.
The general subject matter for each event will coincide with this curriculum schedule (see below for a monthly schedule of passages), while the specific conversation topics will be determined in advance by the guest and Dr. Rennaker. To help Latter-day Saints better comprehend and engage with the material under discussion, these special guests will focus on explaining and elaborating on two or three significant and/or meaningful interpretations and will then spend time discussing their implications for the Jewish community (either collectively or individually). Dr. Rennaker will bring Latter-day Saint thought and practice into conversation with these points, noting both similarities and differences between the traditions. Audience members who tune in live will have the opportunity to submit questions throughout the event, which Dr. Rennaker will draw from during the final third of the conversation. A few days before the event, guests will provide a short list of Jewish vocabulary terms with which a general Christian audience may not be familiar. The Widtsoe Foundation will send these in a pre-event email to registered attendees to maximize the discussion time.
The John A. Widtsoe Foundation plans on making each event available shortly thereafter as YouTube videos and podcast episodes for greater access among Latter-day Saints and other interested groups.
By providing Latter-day Saints with an explicitly interfaith-oriented series and featuring members of the Jewish community, it will provide unique value not available among the abundance of other Church curriculum-related programs and podcasts. Ultimately, we feel this program will serve to educate Latter-day Saints about the rich history of Jewish scriptural interpretation and application, while at the same time modelling meaningful interfaith conversations and empowering Latter-day Saints to do the same in their own communities.
Schedule and Links to each Event
All events are held via Zoom at 5 pm PST
|1/2/2022||The Garden of Eden (Gen. 2-3) with Tamar Frankiel (video of previous event)|
|1/23/2022||Sacrifice of Isaac (Gen. 22)|
|2/27/2022||Joseph in Egypt (Gen 42-45)|
|3/27/2022||The Passover (Ex 12-13)|
|4/24/2022||Israel and Moses at Sinai: Ten Commandments (Ex 18-24)|
|6/26/2022||Elijah (1 Kgs. 18, 2 Kgs. 2)|
|7/24/2022||Job (Job 1-3, 38-40)|
|8/28/2022||Isaiah’s message of comfort and victory (Isaiah 40-45)|
|9/25/2022||Jeremiah’s consolation for Israel (Jeremiah 30-31)|