Founded in 1971, the Inter-seminary Exchange Program (InterSem) is a retreat experience for Los Angeles-based Jewish, Christian, and Islamic seminarians to build relationships by engaging in dialogue designed to increase understanding and appreciation for their respective traditions. Since its inception, InterSem has served over 3500 students.

InterSem's goal is to build relationships among emerging religious leaders by sharing experiences from their own lives about religious beliefs and practices. The program provides extensive opportunities to study sacred and liturgical texts. In addition, the participants demonstrate their own religious tradition's daily prayers, rituals, and customs in order for the entire group to gain insight about the other. InterSem provides an atmosphere of openness and trust for dozens of seminary students to gather for a unique program that has become an integral component of their seminary education.


  • Create positive relationships among emerging religious leaders of Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, and Islam
  • Increase participant's knowledge and understanding of Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, and Islam
  • Encourage participants to highly value and advocate for cultural diversity and religious pluralism
  • Promote communication between Christian, Jewish, and Islamic communities in Southern California

Partner Institutions

Topics of Dialogue

Each year, joint student-faculty planning committees carefully select themes around which to dialogue. Past themes have included:

  • The Power of words
  • Surviving Empire: Our Tradition’s Relationship to Power and Resilience
  • Encountering the Divine: Spiritual Experiences Beyond Our Understanding
  • Art in Our Tradition: Implications and Practical Practices
  • Dealing with Difficult Text
  • Contemporary Values, Religious Values: Culture Today and Our Space in it
  • The Good the Bad and the Ugly: Addressing and Understanding the Extremes of Our Faith
  • Bible: Battle Ground or Common Ground
  • Struggles and Blessings: Encounters Within Our Traditions
  • Reinterpreting Discomforting and Non-Negotiable Texts
  • Jews and Christians Approaching Israel
  • Living Out a Truth Claim: Who Wants To Be Clergy?
  • How Does Liturgy Deal with Suffering?
  • Interfaith Cooperation in the Alleviation of Suffering and Injustice
  • Faith as an Agent for Change

Faculty Committee

Marc Purchin

Mr. Marc Purchin
Martin Gang Institute

Rabbi Joshua D. Garroway

Dr. Joshua D. Garroway
Hebrew Union College

Dr. G. Tommy Givens

Dr. G. Tommy Givens
Fuller Theological Seminary

Dr. Ozgur Koca

Dr. Ozgur Koca
Bayan Islamic Graduate School

Rabbi Gail Labovitz

Rabbi Gail Labovitz
AJU Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies

Rabbi Rochelle Robins

Rabbi Rochelle Robbins
Academy for Jewish Religion, California

Rev. Slawomir Szkredka

Rev. Slawomir Szkredka
St. John's Seminary