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 chapelA chapel is a place of worship, smaller than the sanctuary of a church or synagogue, or in an institutional setting such as a college or hospital..

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 AshramIn the religious traditions of India, an ashram is a retreat center, where the cultivation of religious life takes place under the guidance of a teacher or guru. (an American SikhSikhs call their tradition the “Sikh Panth,” meaning the “community (panth) of the disciples of the Guru.” The tradition reveres a lineage of ten Gurus, beginning with Guru Nanak in the 16th century and coming to a clos. with the death of Guru Gob... center), Sikh Society of Central Florida, Siddah YogaYoga is a Sanskrit word, deriving from a verb meaning “to yoke” or “to join.” Body and consciousness are joined together in the discipline of yoga. Yoga practice involves ethical restraints, the mastery of bodily postures (called asanas), the cont... MeditationMeditation is the disciplined practice of quieting and focusing the mind or cultivating the heart’s attention. Different meditation practices commend focusing attention on a word, a prayer, a form, or the breath as a way of practice. Meditation is commo... Center of Orlando (Hindu), Shri LakshmiLakshmi is the goddess who embodies auspiciousness, wealth, and good fortune. She is often regarded as a wife of Vishnu or Narayana and is worshipped especially in the fall festival of lights called Divali. Narayan MandirA Hindu temple will be called a mandir in northern parts of India or a koyil in the south. There are many styles of temples and temple-complexes, but most temples are laid out according to precise dimensions and proportions and erected to be the symbolic ... Inc. (Hindu), Zen Buddhist Center, ChabadLubavitchers are members of a branch of Hasidism, a Jewish pietistic movement. They take their name from a Russian town called Lubavitch and follow a line of spiritual masters or rebbes, the last of whom was Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994), w... Center of Central Florida (Jewish), the Bahai Faith Center, and the Islamic Society of Central Florida. Profiles of centers were

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.

Selected Links and Publications