Columbus residents and religious leaders have been working the past few years to foster dialogue and build bridges between people of different faiths in order to promote greater understanding.

That’s been appreciated in this multicultural community, especially at a time when cultural differences have been in the spotlight — sometimes negatively — in the U.S. and abroad.

The local focus has mainly been on fostering dialogue between Christians and Muslims. Recent examples include:

The Dec. 10 Ask a Muslim event in front of The Commons in downtown Columbus, organized by the Islamic Society of Columbus Indiana, included about a dozen Muslims who answered questions and facilitated discussion while 70 to 90 people passed through and participated.

A Nov. 13 Muslim-Christian panel at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church drew a diverse audience of about 140 people.

Now, a new effort is focused on promoting a greater understanding between Jews and Christians by showing the deep ties between the religions.

A free class is being offered at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Torah 1.0, intended to show the Jewish roots of Christianity so Christians understand their faith at a deeper level.

The free, one-hour weekly course is taught by Chad Foster, a Christian minister as director of life at St. Peter’s and a Messianic Jewish rabbi.

This class is another good example of how people can learn how they are connected in more ways that they thought, even though differences exist because of cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs.

Such educational efforts in a multicultural city such as Columbus fit well with previous efforts to make the community open to people of diverse backgrounds, and foster improved relationships through understanding.