JERUSALEM, Oct. 19, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A delegation of influential U.S.-based Latino clergy is visiting Israel with AJC's Project Interchange (PI) and will learn about Israel's experiences absorbing and integrating immigrants from around the world, the Israeli-Palestinian relationship, religious communities in Israel, Israel's political landscape, and national security. This delegation reflects AJC's leadership at the forefront of organizations working to strengthen ties with the Latino community, and marks PI's 26th delegation of influential U.S. Latino leaders to Israel. The program was developed in coordination with Dr. Gabriel Salguero, President of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC), and Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations, both of whom are participating in the delegation.
"Latino Evangelicals are a growing force within the American mosaic. This is an historic opportunity to introduce their key leaders to the diverse, historic and innovative society of Israel," said Marans.
With a population of 50.5 million, Latinos are one of the fastest growing minorities in the U.S., with projections pointing to an increase to 91 million by 2050. While Latinos are predominantly Catholic, the Pew Research Center's 2013 National Survey of Latinos and Religion found that 16 percent of Latinos identify as Evangelical. As the U.S. gears up for national elections, Latino Evangelicals are organizing into a powerful political force. Unlike their Catholic counterparts, Latino Evangelicals share interests with both major American political parties, positioning them as a key voter demographic in 2016. As senior leaders representing this emerging majority, the Project Interchange participants are powerful voices for their communities.
"The National Latino Evangelical Coalition, and the close to eight million Hispanic evangelicals we represent, are a major spiritual, moral, and political force deeply interested in peaceful inter-cultural and inter-religious relationships in the world," said Salguero. NaLEC is proud to partner with AJC and Project Interchange on this first-of-a-kind delegation to learn more about the culture, government, and peoples of the Holy Land."
The week-long intensive educational seminar in Israel will provide participants with first-hand experiences and an opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions with high-level officials, such as former Israeli President Shimon Peres and diplomats from Central and South America. The program will focus on understanding the diverse religious communities in Israel, Israel's achievements integrating immigrants, and geopolitical discussions about Israel's borders.
The delegation will travel across much of Israel, including visits to sites of historic and religious importance including Christian sites in Nazareth, Jerusalem, and the Sea of Galilee. Participants will meet with Reverends and leaders in academia to discuss Jewish-Christian relations and Christianity's place in Israel. As with all PI seminars, the delegation is scheduled to meet with Palestinian leaders.
Participants in this delegation are rising leaders in their religious community across the U.S., and many also work internationally in Latino countries. They include pastors who teach leadership across the globe, a leader of an association that represents more than 400,000 parishioners, and a member of President Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships.
For over 30 years, Project Interchange, an educational institute of AJC (American Jewish Committee) has brought over 6,000 influential figures to Israel from 89 countries and all 50 U.S. states, offering them broad exposure and first-hand understanding of the complex issues facing Israel and the region. projectinterchange.org
SOURCE American Jewish Committee