Representatives from the three major monotheistic religions gathered at the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center for an international conference on forgiveness sponsored by the nonprofit US-based International Forgiveness Institute.

The first day, July 12, featured lectures in Hebrew, English and Arabic on what it means to forgive, the importance of forgiveness, and how to better interact with others through forgiveness.

Speakers were Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (by video); Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila; Prof. Adamou Ndam Njoya of Cameroon; Rabbi Yuval Cherlow and Bishop William Shomali of Israel, and Palestinian Authority Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash.

On the second day, speakers from Israel, Northern Ireland, the United States and the Philippines focused on forgiveness education in their countries.

The audience at the International Forgiveness Conference in Jerusalem, July 2017. Photo: courtesy

Three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee Abuna Elias Chacour, former archbishop of the Melkite Catholic Church in the Galilee region, talked about the Mar Elias Educational Institutions he established in the village of Ibillins, where forgiveness education is part of the curriculum.

Naftali Moses, whose teenage son was killed in a terrorist attack in a Jerusalem yeshiva in March 2008, discussed his activism in leading a local Jewish-Muslim discussion group under the auspices of the Interfaith Encounter Association.

Yehuda Stolov, executive director of the Interfaith Encounter Association, and Can Erbilgin, immediate past president of Rotary Club New York, discussed piloting a 15-session forgiveness curriculum endorsed by Rotary and the International Forgiveness Institute in a network of Israeli schools for at-risk youth.

Local partners in the conference included the Interfaith Encounter Association, Abrahamic Reunion, Ecumenical Tantur Institute, Praying Together in Jerusalem, the Elijah Interfaith Institute, Women Wage Peace and the Pontifical Institute of Notre Dame of Jerusalem.