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Interfaith Engagement Series to Spark Dialogue


The Center for Interfaith Engagement at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) is offering a forum and film series to spark dialogue and encourage relationships based on mutual respect and understanding.

“Our goal is to increase understanding of Islam and Judaism within the EMU community and strengthen interfaith relationships in the Harrisonburg area through building relationships with local Jewish and Muslim communities through the forum and film series,” said Ed Martin, director of the center.

Each forum series is in Martin Chapel on Wednesdays, at 4 p.m., except the Friday, March 16, forum which has yet to be determined. All film series are held in Martin Chapel on Thursdays, at 7 p.m., with follow-up conversation about the film to follow.

Forum Series

Jan. 11 – One of the first ten women in Jewish history to enter Rabbinic life and the first woman ordained in the Jewish Renewal Movement, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb will address, “Trail Guide to the Torah of Nonviolence.”

Feb. 8 – For opening its doors to Muslim neighbors, Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Alexandria was featured on “The Daily Show with John Stewart.”  Rev. Dennis Perry, an Eastern Mennonite Seminary graduate, and Naeem Baig, vice president of Islamic Circle of North America, will talk about crossing boundaries to build relationships.

*Friday, March 16 – Daniel Tutt, Outreach and Program Director, will talk about his work to promote peace and understanding across religious and cultural lines at Unity Productions Foundation.

April 4 – Mohammed Ghanem, assistant professor at Damascus University, will talk about his pilgrimage from English teacher to peacebuilder. Ghanem, a native of Syria, is a Fulbright scholar and a Center for Justice and Peacebuilding student at EMU.

Film Series

Jan. 19 – “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” tells the story of 8-year-old Bruno, whose family relocates when his Nazi officer father is given command over Auschwitz. Bruno’s forbidden explorations lead him to meet and befriend 8-year-old Shmuel, who always wears striped pajamas and lives on a “farm” behind an impenetrable fence.

Feb. 16 – “Second Home,” documents how Kurdish immigrants to Harrisonburg inadvertently ran afoul of the law and how the community rallied to help them accurately represent their intentions to the judicial system.  The video was filmed by EMU Visual and Communication Arts Professor Jerry Holsopple’s Documentary Production class.

March 15 – “Talking Through Walls: How the Struggle to Build a Mosque Unites a Community,” chronicles the struggle of Zia Rahman to build a mosque in his New Jersey community. As post-9/11 fears threaten to scuttle the project, a coalition of Jews, Catholics, Buddhists and others join Zia’s efforts, revealing the best of American ideals.

April 12 – “Amreeka,” follows the trials of a Palestinian mother and her son as they immigrate to the U.S. Two years post 9-11, anti-Arab sentiments are rampant and the newcomers confront many obstacles to their start in America.

Story by Mike Zucconi and Gretchen Maust
Category: Academics, Campus Community, Center for Interfaith Engagement, Special programs

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