Welcoming the stranger: Refugees are part of interfaith discussion, exhibit

Cawo Abdi, Mary Dana Hinton, Laurie Wohl and Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman will speak at the College of St. Benedict Wednesday, Sept. 5.
(Photo: College of St. Benedict, St. John’s University)

What often gets missed in these discussions, discussion revolving around refugee and immigration policy, are the actual humans these decisions affect. John Merkle hopes the human aspect will be a major part of the discussion at an interfaith, multi-media event at the College of St. Benedict this week.

He is the director of the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at St. John’s University, which is organizing the event.

On Wednesday, “Exile, Memory and Welcoming the Stranger” will celebrate the opening of an art exhibit that focuses on themes of exile and migration found in Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

“The main emphasis will be on ‘Welcoming the stranger,’ ” Merkle said. “That’s a biblical phrase. We picked that right up from the Bible.”

All three monotheistic religions have some emphasis on welcoming, protecting and supporting strangers, he said. “It’s something that’s mandated in each of the traditions.”

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