Yudit K. Greenberg and Dr. Arnold Wettstein

Dr. Yudit K. Greenberg and Dr. Arnold Wettstein

Dr. Yudit K. Greenberg and Dr. Arnold Wettstein became Pluralism Project affiliates in 1998 and engaged students in the study of the religious landscape of Orlando, Florida. Dr. Yudit K. Greenberg is the George D. and Harriet W. Cornell professor of religious studies and director of the Jewish Studies Program at Rollins College in Winter Park. The late Dr. Arnold Wettstein (d. 2008) was also a member of the faculty at Rollins College and long time dean of the campus chapel.

This research project began in 1998 and consisted of surveying the religious history of Orlando and researching most recent activities and developments in the life of emerging religious communities and centers in the area. The study sought to provide a comprehensive history with a focus on the rise of new communities and their integration into the life and culture of Orlando. The spiritual and religious centers that studied in depth include the Jain Vishva Bharati Spiritual Center, Baba Siri Chand Ashram (an American Sikh center), Sikh Society of Central Florida, Siddah Yoga Meditation Center of Orlando (Hindu), Shri Lakshmi Narayan Mandir Inc. (Hindu), Zen Buddhist Center, Chabad Center of Central Florida (Jewish), the Bahai Faith Center, and the Islamic Society of Central Florida.

The objectives of this project were: 1) to establish a historical overview of religious life in Orlando, emphasizing the shift from a homogeneous western and predominantly Christian community to a multicultural and multireligious one; 2) to provide up-to-date data on the growth of new religious/spiritual communities; 3) to capture the ethos and character of these religious centers and their festivals, the composition of their membership, and the social and economical issues confronting them; 4) to prepare the groundwork for students' class-related fieldwork in the fall semester of 1998; 5) to forge ties between their college and the people and religious institutions of Orlando; and 6) to move towards an environment in which interfaith work is possible and greater tolerance and understanding among people of different faiths in Orlando is achieved.


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Rollins College
Winter Park, FL

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