Seminarian Interfaith Seminar

April 11, 2014

The Seminarian Interfaith Seminar

August 28 to August 31, 2014


How to apply:

Deadline for applications has passed.  Thanks to those who applied!

Those with questions should contact Catherine Orsborn, Campaign Director for Shoulder to Shoulder ( or 202-544-8989).


Overview of the Seminarian Interfaith Seminar:

Shoulder to Shoulder is a national campaign of interfaith, faith-based, and religious organizations dedicated to ending anti-Muslim sentiment.   An integral part of ending anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States is ensuring that American religious leaders of various traditions provide leadership to interfaith efforts including ending anti-Muslim sentiment.

In 2014 Shoulder to Shoulder is co-sponsoring the Seminarian Interfaith Seminar for 10 seminarians and other emerging religious leaders at the convention of Islamic Society of North America. The Seminar will begin with dinner on Thursday, August 28 at 6:30 p.m. and finish the evening of Sunday, August 31.  The 51st Annual ISNA Convention will be held in Detroit, Michigan from August 29-August 31, 2014.  Each year, the convention attracts over 20,000 American Muslims from diverse backgrounds to discuss issues of importance to the larger American Muslim community.  In 2014, the Convention theme is “Generations Rise: Elevating American Muslim Culture.”

The goal of the seminar is to prepare participants for leadership in interfaith efforts including working to end anti-Muslim sentiment.  Jewish and Christian emerging leaders will be our primary participants. Muslim emerging leaders attending the convention will be invited to join portions of the seminar for tri-faith conversations.  Seminarians will be chosen on the basis of their commitment to interfaith efforts and the possibility of their providing leadership in the future to this work. Facilitators will be from the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities and will lead the workshops.  

Workshops will be led by two facilitators: Rabbi Alana Alpert, who will then be serving as the Rabbi/Organizer of Project Micah, a collaboration between Congregation T’chiyah and the Harriate Tubman Center in Detroit; and Dr. Doug Kindschi, founding director of the Kaufman Interfaith Institute in Grand Rapids, MI.


What we'll do together:

Before the convention, participants will be offered suggested readings and will participate in a preparatory webinar for initial introductions to one another, to review the goals of the seminar, and to set clear expectations for the weekend.

While at the ISNA Convention participants will attend the plenary events as well as various parallel sessions (workshops). Participants can also attend the film festival, photography and art exhibits, Qira’at competition (recitations of the Qur’an), Interfaith Banquet dinner, bazaar, entertainment sessions, meet the author events, and more.

In addition, the Seminarian Interfaith Seminar will have its own gatherings during the convention to discuss such issues as:

  • Why should the Abrahamic faiths cooperate with each other and work to end anti-Muslim sentiment.
  • Ideas for interfaith programming
  • What is the nature of discrimination against American Muslims, South Asians, Sikhs and Arabs.
  • Discussion of what can be done on seminary campuses and in congregations to foster interfaith understanding.
  • Skills for intercultural engagement, including productive dialogue skills that foster action and change from participants of diverse backgrounds.

After the convention, participants will be invited to describe their experiences on the Shoulder to Shoulder blog and will be encouraged to share their experiences with their campus communities, congregations, and judicatories.

There will be no costs for participants. Seminarians and those preparing for leadership in their religious community must apply no later than June 15, 2014 and participants will be notified of their acceptance on June 30. Applicants must write a two page letter indicating why they wish to participate, include a resume and list two references. 

Those with questions should contact Catherine Orsborn, Campaign Director for Shoulder to Shoulder ( or 202-544-8989).


Facilitators Include:

Rabbi Alana Alpert (Hebrew College, 2014) will be serving as the Rabbi/Organizer of Project Micah, a collaboration between Congregation T’chiyah and the Harriet Tubman Center in Detroit.  She is a graduate of AVODAH and ACTIVATE! The Community Organizing Fellowship of Social Justice Leadership.  Alana co-founded and directed Project Hayei Sarah, a community of emerging Jewish leaders speaking out about human rights abuses in Hebron.  While in rabbinical school, she worked at Harvard Hillel, Temple Shir Tikva, and the Parades Center for Judaism and Conflict Resolution.  She was a fellow with the Center for Interreligious and Communal Leadership Education, leading the Prison Justice & Ministry program, and is alumnus of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College Muslim-Jewish Emerging Leaders Retreat.

Dr. Doug Kindschi is the founding director of the Kaufman Interfaith Institute. He is also a professor of Mathematics and Philosophy at Grand Valley State University, and was previously Dean of Sciences at GVSU for 28 years.  With a unique path of starting in science and ending up in religion, Kindschi is particularly interested in the relationship between the two fields.  After spending 7 months at the Cambridge Interfaith Programme in Cambridge, England, Kindschi has returned to Grand Rapids with new interfaith initiatives in the community as well as internationally.



Emerging religious leaders are seminarians, rabbinical students or  graduate/professional school students preparing for careers as clergy, academics, chaplains, educators, counsellors, faith-based activists or lay leaders in their religious communities.

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