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A Muslim is one who has made a conscious decision to freely surrender and submit to the one and only God, the creator of every thing and every being. ICJS Muslim Scholar Zeyneb Sayilgan will explain how Muslims try to embody these ideals in everyday life.
Secondary school educators will learn how teaching about religion can help disarm religious bias and bigotry. This one-week, on-site intensive professional development opportunity is open to all public, independent, and religious school teachers who aim to teach about religion with more nuance and understanding.
ICJS mourns the lives of our brothers and sisters who were murdered in Buffalo, New York. ICJS strongly condemns the racism and bigotry behind this hate crime, and we stand in solidarity with Black communities who are experiencing deep pain, grief, hurt, and fear.
Executive Director and Roman Catholic Scholar
Heather Miller Rubens is the Executive Director and Roman Catholic Scholar at the Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies (ICJS). She is responsible for advancing the organization’s vision to build an interreligious society in which dialogue replaces division, friendship overcomes fear, and education eradicates ignorance. Rubens is an experienced teacher, public speaker, facilitator, and practitioner of interreligious learning and dialogue. She develops educational initiatives that foster interreligious learning and conversation for the public in the Baltimore-Washington corridor and online. Rubens is a member of the Committee on Ethics, Religion and the Holocaust at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, a board member of the Washington Theological Consortium, and an invited member of the Christian Scholars Group. She has served in leadership positions with the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations and the Catholic Theological Society of America. She is a member of the 2019 Class of The Baltimore Leadership. Rubens holds degrees from Georgetown University (B.A.), the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies (G.Dip.), and the University of Chicago (A.M. and Ph.D.). In her research and writing Rubens creatively focuses on the theoretical, theological, ethical, and political implications of affirming religious diversity and building an interreligious society.
Matthew D. Taylor, Ph.D., is the Protestant Scholar at ICJS, where he specializes in Muslim-Christian dialogue, Christian theology and interreligious engagement, religious politics in the U.S., and American Islam. Prior to coming to ICJS, Taylor served on the faculty of Georgetown University and The George Washington University, and he is currently a faculty member in the Theology Department at Loyola University Maryland. He is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the North American Association of Islamic and Muslim Studies, and the Company of Teachers of the Reformed Institute of Metropolitan Washington. Taylor holds a Ph.D. in Religious Pluralism and Muslim-Christian Relations from Georgetown University and an M.A. in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. His forthcoming book, American Scripturalism: The Parallel Lives of Salafi Muslims and Evangelical Christians (2022), offers an introduction to the oft-misunderstood Salafi movement in the U.S. by way of comparison with American Evangelicalism.
Ben Sax is the Jewish Scholar at the Institute for Islamic, Christian, Jewish Studies in Baltimore. He is an experienced professor, university administrator, scholar, award-winning teacher, public speaker, and practitioner and facilitator of interreligious dialogue. Before arriving at the ICJS, Ben was director of the Malcolm and Diane Rosenberg Program in Judaic Studies and the founding faculty principal at the West Ambler Johnston Residential College at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. Sax holds degrees from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (B.A., Social Thought and Political Economy), the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (M.A., Jewish Thought), and the University of Chicago (Ph.D., History of Judaism). He also studied at Middlebury College’s Summer Language School, where he received a Zertifikat ÖSD Mittelstufe, M.D. in German Language and Culture. Ben has published on topics relating to Jewish philosophy, German-Jewish history and culture, Jewish-Christian relations, and interreligious dialogue. Ben’s most recent research project, a book entitled The Life of Quotation in Modern Jewish Thought will be published next year.
For access to Benjamin Sax’s publications, please visit his Academia.edu webpage.
Zeyneb Sayilgan, Ph.D., is the Muslim Scholar at ICJS, where her research centers around Islamic theology and spirituality, Christian-Muslim relations, and the intersection of religion and migration. Her personal experience of growing up in Germany as a child of Kurdish Muslim immigrants from Turkey informs her academic work and engagement in interreligious learning. Sayilgan is an affiliated faculty at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria and also a Fellow Emerita in Peace and Reconciliation at its Center for Anglican Communion Studies. She also taught at The Catholic University of America and The Washington Theological Consortium. From 2010-2014, Sayilgan was appointed as a residential chaplain at Georgetown University where she advised students from all and no faith backgrounds. She has a Ph.D. in Theological and Religious Studies from Georgetown University, a Master’s degree from Hartford Seminary in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations, and a B.A/M.A. in Islamic Studies and Public Law from the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. She co-edited The Companion to Said Nursi Studies (2018) and Faithful Neighbors: Christian-Muslim Vision & Practice (2016). In 2019, Sayilgan was awarded the First Book Grant for Scholars of Color by the Louisville Institute. Her current work is a book, Islam and Immigration: Theological Insights from the Qur’an, which articulates a religious discourse on immigration based on Islam’s Holy Scripture.
Program Director, Teachers
Christine Gallagher has more than a decade of teaching and ministry experience. Most recently, she was the director of mission and ministry at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Baltimore where she taught world religions and social justice courses, planned the school’s religious and spiritual programming, and served on a number of committees to help further reflection on how the school lives its mission. She grew up in Philadelphia, studied American Studies at Georgetown University, and received M.A.’s in Theology and History at Villanova University. Christine served on the planning committee for the Teachers’ Fellowship and was a member of the first cohort.
Program Director, Congregational Leaders
Alisha Tatem has a B.A. in Social Work from Messiah College and is a graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA, where she earned both her M.Div. and a Th.D. in Pastoral Care and Counseling. Most recently Alisha served as an Associate Chaplain at a continuing care retirement community in Pennsylvania. She has more than 15 years of experience working and providing leadership in nonprofit and congregational settings. She is passionate about building bridges across diverse communities and finding creative ways to foster relationships.
Program Director, Justice Leaders
Fatimah Fanusie is a historian of 19th- and 20th-century American religion whose research is an evolving reappraisal of the study of African American Islam, the modern Civil Rights Movement and Islam in the West. She is also a lecturer in the Islamic Studies department at Johns Hopkins University and a Historian Consultant for the Howard Thurman Historical home in Daytona Beach, Florida. She received her B.A. in History and Arabic from Lincoln University, her M.A. in American History from Tufts University, and her Ph.D. in American History from Howard University.
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Morgan State student Evana Upshaw came to the ICJS economic justice course because she had to: it was a course requirement. She stayed because she wanted to. What began as a simple assignment became a way for her to engage with other religious learners outside of her faith. “Dutifully as a student, I went. But…
My paternal great-grandfather emigrated from Germany in the mid-to-late 19th century. From an early age, I was told by my father that we had Jewish “roots” but were not actually Jewish. That line of heredity had been broken sometime in the distant past. However, my feelings towards Jewish people were always positive and remain so.…
As a teacher in Baltimore City Public Schools, the ICJS Teachers Fellowship experience has taught me there aren’t enough lessons or teachings about race and religion. It is essential that we expose all students to people of color in all subjects, whether it is having a teacher of color; learning about significant people of color…
It is always good to explore new metaphors and new ways of understanding interreligious and interfaith efforts. At ICJS, our aim is to build an interreligious, multigenerational, racially diverse network of institutions, schools, nonprofits, and religious communities in our area. What would it take to get there? At our best, we could be bringers of…
High school teachers serve as unintentional interreligious leaders, as they navigate classrooms with diverse students and teach history, politics/government, literature, art, religious studies,and language that regularly intersects with religion. ICJS equips secondary teachers to meet the challenge to transform classrooms into places of interreligious literacy and understanding.
How can our religious diversity become an asset that anchors our shared civic life? ICJS offers public events plus a cohort-based study year for nonprofit and community leaders interested in considering how Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions can enrich their justice-making work.
Religious leaders from Jewish, Christian, and Muslim congregations can rely on ICJS to help them build their congregation’s capacity to disarm religious bias and bigotry and to build resilient networks across diverse houses of worship.
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