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Welcoming the Stranger: Abrahamic Hospitality and Its Contemporary Implications

One of the signal moments in the narrative of Abraham is his insistent and enthusiastic reception of three strangers. That moment is a beginning point of inspiration for all three Abrahamic traditions as they evolve and develop the details of their respective teachings. On the one hand, welcoming the stranger by remembering “that you were strangers in the land of Egypt” is enjoined upon the ancient Israelites, and on the other, oppressing the stranger is condemned by their prophets. These sentiments will be repeated in the New Testament and the Qur’an and elaborated in the interpretive literatures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Such notions have been seriously challenged on many occasions throughout history—at no time more profoundly than in the 20th and 21st centuries. The Holocaust began by the decision of the German government in the mid-1930s to turn specific groups of German citizens into strangers, a process that expanded over the following decade to overrun much of Europe.

In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, the United States—which has wrestled with the question of welcoming the stranger since mid-19th century—began an emphatic twist toward closing the door on those seeking refuge on these shores. We have arrived at an unprecedented slamming of that door within the last three years. The repercussions may be felt across the globe–and have intensified with the arrival of the Corona virus pandemic..

The purpose of this conference is to explore these issues, from both a theological perspective and perspective that examines concrete historical instances within the past 85 years in which aspects of these issues have played out.

Program forthcoming 


The event is organized by Fordham University’s Institute on Religion, Law & Lawyer’s Work and The Fritz Ascher Society for Persecuted, Ostracized and Banned Art, Inc.