Religious Leaders Contending with the Common Enemy of COVID-19

People wearing masks with their arms linked.

March 15, 2022
8:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. EDT
Location: Online Zoom

The outbreak of COVID-19 has been one of the greatest challenges facing the global community in recent times. This health emergency has been greatly amplified due to mistrust and misinformation between health professionals and various communities, including religious ones. Religious leaders from around the world have played a significant role in either helping to build greater trust and understanding between their communities and health professionals, or, at times, contributing to greater suspicion. The COVID-19 pandemic has also fueled increased domestic and sectarian violence and mistrust. Despite or possibly due to these challenges, opportunities of greater cooperation between communities, including different religious communities, have presented themselves as they respond to these common challenges.

The conference featured a case study of religious diplomacy in the context of COVID-19 in Israel and case studies from around the world, presented by academics from the fields of conflict resolution and public health, health professionals, and religious leaders. Panelists addressed these key questions: How did religious leaders help mediate between science and religion in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and how impactful were their roles in their respective communities? To what extent did religious leaders work together, across religious divides, to contend with this common enemy?

This event was hosted by Bar-Ilan University's Conflict Resolution, Management, and Negotiation Graduate Program and co-sponsored by Mosaica – The Religious Peace Initiative and Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs.


​Tuesday, March 15

8:00-8:15 a.m. EDT | Greetings

Amira Schiff, Bar-Ilan University
Amnon Albeck​, Bar-Ilan University
Gil Diesendruck, Bar-Ilan University
Ben Mollov, Bar-Ilan University

8:15-9:40 a.m. EDT | Panel I: Case Study of Religious Diplomacy in the Context of COVID-19: The Kavod-Karama (Dignity) Project

Daniel Roth, Bar-Ilan University/Mosaica (Moderator)
Cristiana Salvi, WHO Europe
Rabbi Michael Melchior, Mosaica
Rabbi Avraham Steinberg, Shaare Zedek Medical Center
Archbishop Youssef Matta, Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop of the Galilee
Sheikh Ra'ad Bader, Institute for Rulings on Sharia Law and Islamic Studies

9:40-10:00 a.m. EDT | Break

10:00-11:15 a.m. EDT | Panel II: Responding to COVID-19 on Global and Local Levels

Katherine Marshall, Georgetown University (Moderator)
Olivia Wilkinson, Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities
Sarah Hess, WHO
Jumanah Essa-Hadad, Bar-Ilan University

11:15-11:30 a.m. EDT | Concluding Remarks

Daniel Roth, Bar-Ilan University/Mosaica
Ben Mollov, Bar-Ilan University

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