Tuesday, October 14, 2014

JIDS — Next Sunday's Dialogue on Peace Issues

Salaam Aleikum/Shalom:

     JIDS’ October dialogue will take place one week from today at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 19th.  We will be hosted by Congregation Har-Tzeon Agudath Achim at 1840 University Blvd W, Silver Spring, MD 20902.  The topic of the dialogue will be “Obstacles to Peace (mistrust, fear, trauma, ignorance, etc.) and What We Can Do to Break the Logjam in the Israeli/Palestinian Peace Process.”  I’m sure you agree that this is a great topic, especially as it follows so soon on our efforts this past summer to confront the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict.  Now let me introduce what I know you will agree is an outstanding four-person panel: Imam Mohamad Bashar Arafat, Dr. Sahar Khamis, Rabbi Uri Topolosky, and Dr. Ira Weiss. 
     Imam Mohamad Bashar Arafat was born and raised in Damascus, Syria.  He attended Damascus University and graduated with a degree in Islamic Studies and Arabic Language in 1987 and a degree in Islamic Law in 1988.  He served as Imam in Damascus from 1981 to 1989 and was then invited to the United States to lecture in various Islamic Centers. Among his many appointments, he was Imam of the Islamic Society of Baltimore, Maryland from 1989 to 1993, founded An-Nur Institute for Islamic Studies and Arabic Language in Baltimore in 1993, co-founded An-Nur Mosque in Carney, Maryland and was the Imam from 1995 to 1997, and served as Campus Imam at John Hopkins University from 1993 to October 2003,. Currently he is President of the Islamic Affairs Council of Maryland, based in Baltimore. Imam Arafat is also the Founder and President of Civilizations Exchange and Cooperation Foundation, a   non-profit organization that functions as an umbrella to bring people together for exchanges aimed at creating a better world that promotes peace and cooperation.
     Dr. Khamis is a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Communications at the University of Maryland (go Terps!).   An expert on the Arab and Middle Eastern media, Dr. Khamis is the former Head of the Mass Communication and Information Science Department in Qatar University and holds a Ph.D. in Mass Media and Cultural Studies from the University of Manchester in England.  She is the co-author of the book Islam Dot Com: Contemporary Islamic Discourses in Cyberspace (which I have read, enjoyed, and would definitely recommend to the entire JIDS community).  She has authored chapters in a number of additional books, and has published articles in international and regional academic journals.  Dr. Khamis is also a member of the editorial boards of the journals Media, War & Conflict, Journal of Middle East Media, Journal of Arab and Muslim Media Research, and Advances in the History of Rhetoric.
     Rabbi Uri Topolosky, is the rabbi and spiritual leader Rabbi of Beth Joshua Congregation in Rockville, Maryland and the Rav HaKehillah of the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy.  Before returning to his native Maryland, Rabbi Topolosky served as the Rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in New Orleans for six years where he helped revitalize a community shattered by Hurricane Katrina. He served previously as the Associate Rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in Bronx, NY. Rabbi Topolosky received his rabbinic ordination from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School.   Prior to his rabbinic studies, Rabbi Topolosky spent two years studying in Israel at Yeshivat Sha’alvim before attending the University of Maryland at College Park (I’ll say it again, go Terps!). He is also a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute.
     Dr. Ira Weiss, a neurophysiologist at Children's Hospital for 33 years, attended Orthodox yeshiva on the Lower East Side of New York City and has been involved in Arab-Jewish dialogue for 15 years. He was a co-founder of Projects Encounter, which brought Palestinian and Israeli high school students to Spain for summer human rights seminars and coexistence workshops.  Ira teaches various workshops and classes for adults in the Washington, D.C. area.   Many of us in the JIDS community have been privileged to take his workshop, “Parallel Narratives Never Meet: A History of the Israeli-Arab Conflict.”  Ira is truly a font of information regarding numerous topics relevant to JIDS, including the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
     I look forward to moderating this discussion and to seeing as many of you as possible there.  Please spread the word about this exciting event.  And if you have any questions about our November Social Action event, please go to our website, www.jids.org, and click on the Calendar entry for November 16th.

Take care.


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