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Speakers’ Bureau

ICJS scholars and staff are available to provide lectures and presentations to organizations, congregations, and businesses. The expertise of ICJS speakers covers a wide range of topics. While popular topics are listed below, we are happy to discuss your particular needs. Simply submit a speaker request, and we will be in touch to talk through the details.

HEATHER MILLER RUBENS, Ph.D.

Heather Miller Rubens is the Executive Director and Roman Catholic Scholar at the Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies (ICJS), where she leads in developing educational initiatives that foster interreligious learning for the public in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. The following question animate Rubens’ work in interreligious literacy: when, where, and how can religious communities understand an affinity between themselves, as well as constructively engage their differences?

In her research, Rubens explores how religious communities navigate political, legal, and cultural spaces, as well as how different religious communities relate to one another in particular contexts. Her current project focuses on the theoretical, theological, and ethical implications of building an interreligious city.

Rubens has been an adjunct professor at Lewis University, DePaul University, and St. Mary’s Seminary. She is a member of the Committee on Ethics, Religion, and the Holocaust at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. She also serves on the Board of the Washington Theological Consortium.

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.).

  • Reading Noah Interreligiously
  • Religion & the US Supreme Court
  • Gods & Guns: Interpreting Contested Texts in Polarizing Times
Publications
  • “Toward an Interreligious City: A Case Study” in Interreligious/Interfaith Studies: Defining a New Field (2018)
  • “Rebellious Jews on the Edge of Empire: The Judeo-Irish Home Rule Association” in Irish Questions and Jewish Questions (2018)
  • “Something Has Gone Wrong: The JFS Case and Defining Jewish Identity in the Courtroom" (2014)
  • “Interreligious Dialogue in a Post-Nostra Aetate Church: The Tension between Mutuality and Evangelization” in Visions of Hope: Emerging Theologians and the Future of the Church (2013)
  • A “Judeo-Christian” Myth of Disestablishment: The Legacy of McGowan v. Maryland (2012)

BENJAMIN SAX, Ph.D.

ICJS Jewish Scholar Benjamin Sax is an experienced professor, university administrator, scholar, award-winning teacher, public speaker, and practitioner and facilitator of interreligious dialogue.

Before arriving at the Institute for Islamic, Jewish, and Christian Studies (ICJS), Sax 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 has published on topics related to Jewish philosophy, German-Jewish history and culture, Jewish-Christian relations, and interreligious dialogue.

Sax holds degrees from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (BS), the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (MA), and the University of Chicago (Ph.D.).

  • Emerging Trends in 21st Century Jewish-Christian Dialogue
  • Models of Interfaith Leadership
  • Interreligious Study as a Civic Good: The Case for Building Learning Communities through Religious Difference
  • How Religious Difference Can Make a Difference
  • Leaving Room for Holy Envy: Applications for Interreligious Application
  • The Contemporary Jewish-Catholic Moment in Interreligious Dialogue
  • Mendelssohn, Lessing, and Jacobi: A Lesson in Modern Jewish-Christian Relations
  • Imagining Justice Interreligiously
  • Interfaith Justice: Beyond Rhetoric
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel: Interreligious Friendship
  • Abraham Joshua Heschel’s ‘Religion and Race’: Notes on Interreligious Dialogue
  • Abraham’s Legacy: A Jewish View on Racial Justice
  • Talking Jewishly About Race in Interreligious Settings
  • Refugees: Challenges and Promise for Interreligious Encounter
  • The Rise of Religious Bigotry in the United States
  • Judeo-Christian Islamophobia: Re-examining the Hyphen
  • How Islamophobia Makes Us Less Safe
  • Confronting Islamophobia and Antisemitism
  • The Old-New Antisemitism: Rhetoric, Hate Speech, and the U.S. Political Landscape
  • Religion and Media
  • Awareness, Red Herrings, and the Specter of Violence: The Use and Abuse of the Phrase ‘Judeo-Christian’ in the 2012 Presidential Election
  • Judeo-Christian and Holocaust-Denial: Interpreting Between Hyphens
  • Debating Relevance and Nonsequiturs: The Holocaust and the Religious Right
  • Making Sense of Nonsense: The Holocaust in Contemporary U.S. Political Discourse
  • Who Gets to Tolerate? The Politics of Toleration in Judeo-Christian Discourse
  • Religion and Tolerance: A Postcolonial Perspective
  • Divine Teaching and the Way of the World: A Critique
  • When a Great Tradition Modernizes: Judaism and Its Engagements with Politics and Culture
  • Is Biblical Commentary Jewish or Christian?
  • Revelation: A Jewish Genealogy
  • A Jewish Way into the Hebrew Bible
  • Jewish Theology and the Big Lebowski
  • Whose Text Is It? Medieval Judaism and the Construction of Nineteenth Century Jewish Identity
  • American Jews or Jewish Americans: The Rise of the Jewish ‘Nones’
  • Old Wine, New Bottles or New Wine, Old Bottles? What Makes a Jew Jewish? Are There non-Jewish Jews?
  • Linguistic Form as Cultural Identity
  • Language and Jewish Identity
  • What’s ‘Jewish’ about Jewish Philosophy?
  • What is ‘Jewish’ about Jewish Music: Matisyahu and Modern American-Jewish Identity
  • Kabbalah and the Art of Spirituality
  • Quotation, Hermeneutics, and the Problem of Modern Jewish Thought
  • Theological Aesthetics in Modern Jewish Thought
  • Citation, Judaism, and the Crisis of Modernity
  • Words of the Living God: Hillel, Shammai, and the Discourse of Rabbinical Interpretation
  • Partners in Creation: Finishing the Mishkan
  • What Is There for a Jew to Do on Christmas?
Publications

ZEYNEB SAYILGAN, Ph.D.

Prior to becoming to ICJS ' Muslim Scholar, Zeyneb Sayilgan served as the Visiting Assistant Professor of Islamic Theology and Religious Pluralism at Virginia Theological Seminary, and was the Senior Fellow in Peace and Reconciliation at the Seminary’s Center for Anglican Communion Studies. Sayilgan also served as a residential chaplain on Georgetown’s campus addressing the various needs of students from all backgrounds, and taught classes at The Catholic University of America.

Sayilgan was born and raised in Germany as the child of Kurdish immigrants from Turkey. Her personal experience with religious diversity and Muslim immigration informs her academic work. Her current research focuses on the intersection of religion and immigration, particularly in relation to Muslims living in the West. Passionate about Christian-Muslim engagement and Islamic spirituality, Sayilgan has led numerous tours to Turkey to explore interreligious dynamics on the ground.

Sayilgan holds degrees from Georgetown University (Ph.D.), Hartford Seminary (M.A.), and Johannes Gutenberg University (M.A.).

  • The Necessity of Interfaith Dialogue
  • A Muslim Vision for Interfaith Relations
  • The First Muslim Refugees in the Christian Kingdom of Abyssinia:
  • Implications for Christian-Muslim Relations Today
  • Christian-Muslim Relations Today
  • The Need for Christian-Muslim Dialogue: A Muslim Perspective
  • How Can Muslims and Unitarians Talk to Each Other?
  • Loving Our Neighbor
  • Religion in the Public Square
  • Introduction to Islam
  • Exploring Islam: Faith and Practice
  • Islam: Ideals and Realities
  • The Foundations of Islam
  • Basic Beliefs and Practices in Islam
  • Articles of Faith in Islam
  • Scripture and Authority in Islam
  • The Inner Meaning of the Hajj
  • Islam and the West
Publications
  • Faithful Neighbors: Christian-Muslim Vision & Practice
  • The Companion to Said Nursi Studies (co-editor)
  • Islam and Immigration: Theological Insights from the Qur’an (forthcoming)

MATTHEW D. TAYLOR, Ph.D.

ICJS Protestant Scholar Matthew D. Taylor describes himself as a "seminary-trained Mainline Protestant with an Evangelical-background who studied Islam at a Catholic University." His research and writing focus on the complicated relationships communities of Christians and Muslims form with their respective scriptures in the United States. His current book project American Scripturalism: The Parallel Lives of Salafi Muslims and Evangelical Christians, offers a sympathetic introduction to Salafism, a frequently misunderstood modern Muslim movement, which Taylor puts into conversation with his own Evangelical upbringing.

As an interfaith dialogue theorist and practitioner, Taylor is a frequent speaker at churches and other religious congregations and civic groups on Islamophobia, antisemitism, Muslim-Christian dialogue, Islam in the United States, and Protestant theology.

Taylor has served on the Religious Studies faculty of Georgetown University and the International Affairs faculty of George Washington University. He holds degrees from the University of California, Irvine (B.A.), Fuller Theological Seminary (M.A.), and Georgetown University (Ph.D.).

  • Protestants and Islam (3-part series or individual lectures)
    • Why the Protestant Reformers Published the Qurʾan
    • Does Islam Need a “Reformation”?
    • Building Bridges between Protestants and Muslims
  • The History and Complexities of Christian and Islamic Fundamentalism
  • What Christians Need to Know about Islam Today
  • Building Bridges in Muslim-Christian Dialogue
  • Evangelical Christians, U.S. Politics, and the State of Israel
  • The Advent and Judaism: Revisiting a Difficult History
  • White Supremacy, Christian Theology, and the Rising Violence Against Jews and Muslims
  • Mary in the Islamic Tradition: Memories from the Qurʾan
  • Facing the Bible Critically
    • Part 1: The Hebrew Bible and Recent Historical and Critical Scholarship
    • Part 2: The New Testament and Recent Historical and Critical Scholarship
  • Engaging Religious Diversity in the Classroom: Tools for Facilitating Interreligious Dialogue and Encounter
  • Christianity 101: Why Do We See So Much Diversity in Churches in the United States?
Publications