The Chautauqua Institution's Department of Religion observes Abrahamic week by focusing on the most iconic of sacred spaces -- considered by the three Abrahamic Faiths as the most holy of sacred places -- Jerusalem.
Invited from Jerusalem to participate in the conversation are members of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faiths who can impart both their understandings of how this penultimate sacred space came to be so regarded, as well as their visions of how it might be shared in peace.
Rabbi Michael Melchior
A former member of the Israeli Knesset, Rabbi Michael Melchior received his rabbinical ordination from Yeshivat Hakotel in Jerusalem. A native of Denmark from a long line of Scandinavian rabbis, he has served as rabbi of a Jerusalem congregation since 1986, and since 1980 also holds the title of Chief Rabbi of Norway. International Director of the Elie Wiesel Foundation, as well as an administrator of various human rights, immigration, and educational organizations, among his many awards are the Norwegian Nobel Institute's Prize for Tolerance and Bridge-Building and Yeshivat Hakotel's Award for Work in the Diaspora Rabbinate. Rabbi Melchior has written numerous articles published in the Israeli and foreign press.
Since 1996 Rabbi Melchior has been the chairman of Meimad, a modern-Orthodox party, which in 1999 became a faction of One Israel. He was elected to the Knesset in May 1999. From August 1999 until March 2001, he served as Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, responsible for Diaspora and social affairs, and from March 2001 until October 2002 he served as Deputy Minister of Israeli Foreign Affairs. Rabbi Melchior served as Deputy Minister of Education, Culture, and Sports from January until June 2005, when he was appointed Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, until the resignation of Labor from the government in November 2005.
Rabbi Melchior devotes his life to teaching the recognition of the equality and dignity of every human being: that all peoples, as brothers and sisters, have a common lineage, and all are, irrespective of race, religion, or gender, created in the divine image.