Skip navigation Search

Water Justice in Religious Tradition(s)

Video Series for Interreligious Group Discussion

This four-part original video and discussion series, originally part of an initiative called Imagining Justice in Baltimore, is now available for use in classrooms, congregations, and organizations at no cost. The series provides resources for a robust study and dialogue experience for diverse interreligious groups, including students and adults.

The series provides space for reading, reflection, and discussion for participants to consider how Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions speak to the issue of just access to water resources. While created in Baltimore, the videos and resources are universally applicable and are not rooted in a particular locale.

The series was designed to be explored across four group sessions. Prior to each session, a participant watches the 20-30 minute video at home. At the group gathering or class session, participants discuss the videos in facilitated small groups, using the Group Discussion Questions and provided sacred texts.

Launched in 2016, Imagining Justice in Baltimore offered the community space for civic conversations on social challenges where an interreligious understanding of justice could enrich civic life.

Teachers: Heather Miller Rubens, Benjamin Sax, Matthew D. Taylor, and Fatimah Fanusie

Length: 4 videos , 20-25 minutes each; Discussion Groups, 30-40 minutes each

This program is supported in part by the Henry Luce Foundation in partnership with Morgan State University’s Center for the Study of Religion in the City, with additional funding from the David and Barbara B. Hirschhorn Foundation.

CSRC logo

Part 1: Introduction

Heather Miller Rubens, ICJS Executive Director and Roman Catholic Scholar, introduces this video series that invites participants to do “shoulder-to-shoulder work” of interreligious dialogue by looking at a common problem and drawing on the best of religious teachings to illuminate how to address it. She offers guidelines for successful conversations and shares 10 practices to promote dialogue, rather than debate. She also shares her own story of a sacred object to model how participants can then share their own in their groups.   

Part 1: Instructions for Group Discussion — Introduction

Before the Group Session:
  • Watch video prior to the group meeting.
  • Refer to the Religious Terms sheet (below), which serves as a glossary for what you’ll hear in the videos.
  • Prepare a Sacred Story, as Heather Miller Rubens modeled in the video, that you can share with the group. (See Instructions below)
In the Group Session:
  • Read together the Sacred Rules for Peaceful Dialogue to prepare for group discussion.
  • Share a sacred story no longer than three minutes. If one is available, share a related sacred object that carries with it a story that you feel comfortable sharing with others.
    • Why did you choose this story and / or object? What makes it sacred?
    • Is this story / object sacred only to you, or does it have meaning for your family / others?
    • If sharing an object, describe where you keep it and why?

Part 2: Water Justice in Jewish Tradition(s)

ICJS Jewish Scholar Ben Sax explains how Jewish tradition views water. “In the beginning, we have water, but water is the one thing that is not created,” Sax says, reflecting on the Hebrew scriptures. Jewish tradition recognizes the sacredness of water because no one owns it, including God. It is unique in that both God and human beings don’t own or create it. Like Torah, water is essential for life.

Part 2: Instructions for Group Discussion — Jewish Tradition(S)

Before the Group Session
  • Watch video (above)
  • Read Jewish texts from Genesis and the Talmud (download below)
In the Group Session
  • Use the Discussion Questions for group conversation (download below)

Part 3: Water Justice in Christian Tradition(s)

ICJS Protestant Scholar Matt Taylor uses the Book of Revelation to describe one vision of water justice in the Christian tradition. First, Taylor describes the persecuted and alienated first century Jewish followers of Jesus, who live under the alienation and impurity of the Roman Empire, depicted in Revelation as the City (or Bablyon). Yet the book ends with the vision of the New City where the river—or the waters of life flowing from the Lamb of God—are at the center. The vision of life that first begins in the garden now returns in Revelation as an urbanized place, Taylor says.

Part 3: Instructions for Group Discussion — Christian Tradition(s)

Before the Group Session
  • Watch video (above)
  • Read Christian texts from the Book of Revelation (download below)
  • Review Additional Reading by Pablo Richard, liberation theologian (download below)
In the Group Session
  • Use the Discussion Questions  for group conversation (download below)

Part 4: Water Justice in Islamic Tradition(s)

Fatimah Fanusie, Ph.D., Program Director for Justice Leaders, says in the Qur’an, G-d has made from water every living thing. Water is considered to be a mercy, which sustains our physical life; whereas the mercy of revealed scripture sustains our spiritual life. The Qur’anic concept of justice is the notion that you are giving everyone what they are due. 

Part 4: Instructions for Group Discussion

Before the Group Session
  • Watch video (above)
  • Read Islamic texts from the Qur’an (download below)
  • Review Additional Reading by Imam W.D. Mohammed
In the Group Session
  • Use the Discussion Questions for group conversation (below)