The Power of Peacemakers

Friends—

This week, we welcomed two dozen religiously-motivated peace activists—Tanenbaum’s Peacemakers and some of their mentees—to our Network Working Retreat #PIAretreat2019. Throughout the week, they share their stories and explore ways they can respond to defeat violence. One participant broke our hearts as she shared the following: 

“I was working with the youth. A 12-year-old boy came to me. He told me he had to tell me something that I could not repeat.

His brother was in a gang. He did not want to be in the gang. But the gang told him he had to join the gang. He told them no but they said he must. He did not want to do it, but he was scared and did not want his family hurt or killed. He asked me for help.

And I had to tell him the truth. I could not help him. I could accompany him—but I could not help him and I could not go to the police—or my own family would be killed. What I could do was to try to keep him from the Hating.

He died a terrible death when he was 13.”
What struck me as she finished, was that this is only one of her stories. And yet she persists. Because she knows that peace is still possible.
Joyce S. Dubensky
Tanenbaum CEO

Tanenbaum’s 2019 Religious Diversity and Inclusion Summit

Tanenbaum held its fourth annual Religious Diversity Leadership Summit (the Summit) on June 19, 2019, tackling the theme of “innovating religious diversity in the workplace.” Programming included dynamic speakers and engaging panel discussions that highlighted the work of leaders in the religious diversity and inclusion space.

Missed this year’s Summit? Keep an eye out for additional content and details about next year’s event!

Join us Oct 3rd at Comic Strip Live!

Come join us and have a good laugh for a good cause on October 3, 2019. With an outstanding line-up of comics, you are sure to have a good time. And bring a friend!

Thanks for Helping Make Peace Possible

Last week, Tanenbaum’s Peace Made Possible Gala celebrated the people and places that are making inclusion of our religiously diverse country a reality.

Hosted by Sandra Bookman and brought to life by Chuck Nice, this year’s gala honored champions of human rights through inclusivity, respect and education.

  • Target received our CORPORATE BRIDGE BUILDER AWARD for its work in creating faith inclusive environments among its team members and guests.
  • The Henry Luce Foundation received Tanenbaum’s PHILANTHROPIC BRIDGE BUILDER AWARD for its investment in creating a more nuanced, contextualized and dynamic understanding of the power of religion in the international sphere.
  • NYC Health + Hospitals received the ADAM SOLOMON AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE as innovative leaders who are educating health care providers to further enhance their care of the religiously diverse patients they serve across NYC.

And Tanenbaum’s Peacemaker in Action, Rev. Bill Lowery spoke about his work fighting for peace and reconciliation in Sudan and South Sudan for over 25 years. His words helped us understand the horrors of the conflict there, and how local leadership and interfaith coalitions were working every day in that fraught region.

Tanenbaum is grateful for the gracious support of many our Corporate Members and long-time and newer friends including Dr. Georgette Bennett & Dr. Leonard Polonsky CBE, Target, DTCC, FJC, Howard P. Milstein and The Russell Berrie Foundation. The evening was made possible because because of our Honoree Committee members Carla Harris, Brian Lehrer, Soledad O’Brien, Fareed Zakaria, Maz Zouhairi and Libra Group, the Co-Chairs Georgette Bennett, DTCC, Justin Foa and Holly H. Weiss, and the Gala Committee Mary Jane Brock, Reverend Gregory Johnson, Sara Pandolfi, Marni Selman and EmblemHealth for their work.

In a world marked by growing bigotry, the evening’s theme was timely — because peace is not only a far off dream. There is much we can do now. And we must.

If there was ever a time to support Tanenbaum’s work combating religious bigotry, that time is now. We must not wait until it is too late to conquer this hate!

Thank you for a hilarious night off!

Friends,

In a night full of laughs, Tanenbaum’s annual comedy show supports a cause that is deadly serious. Together, we had a great night as everyone from lawyers to race car drivers laughed together, at what is happening in the world, at ourselves, and with each other! Have a look at our photo gallery to glimpse the fun!

With jokes on every aspect of society including the perils of growing older and white privilege, Eric Neumann, Akash Bhasin, Sasha Srbulj, DF Sweedler and our very own Holly H. Weiss, put on a fantastic show! Tanenbaum thanks each and every one of them for keeping us in stitches the whole night!  

Once again, Tanenbaum Takes a Night Off proved that laughter is food for the soul!

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO, Tanenbaum

P.S.: Special thanks to Mike Rakosi, who again partnered with us to bring this show to you and who helps it grow year after year. Huge thanks to our partners, Whole Foods Market for the fabulous food and Comic Strip Live.

Thanks again and always to our generous sponsors, Dr. Georgette F. Bennett & Dr. Leonard Polonsky CBE, Foa & Son Corp., Karlinsky LLC, John Miller, Sara Pandolfi & Co., Marni & Jeremy Selman, Ari Storch, Holly H. Weiss and Mary Jane Brock. And a huge Thank You to our fantastic inaugural Comedy Show Host Committee!

Fostering Religio-Cultural Competence in Nursing

Dear Friends,

On July 19-20, 2018, Tanenbaum convened a number of nursing educators from across the United States, to discuss our new nursing curriculum, Fostering Religio-Cultural Competence in Nursing. This curriculum was created and piloted in partnership with Columbia University School of Nursing’s Masters Direct Entry (MDE) Program to address a gap in nursing education in relation to religious and cultural competence. The event was well attended, with representatives from 16 nursing schools, and 34 attendees overall, including nursing educators, practicing nurses, and people generally involved in health care and health education.

Our speakers at the event, Dr. Vivian Taylor, Associate Dean of Diversity and Cultural Affairs at Columbia University School of Nursing, Dr. Karen Desjardins, Associate Professor and Director of the MDE Program at Columbia University School of Nursing, and our Deputy CEO, Mark Fowler discussed the challenges and opportunities encountered when creating and implementing the curriculum. They further discussed the opportunities for new nurses to have this training in advance of seeing patients. We fulfilled one goal of the Symposium through conversations, garnering feedback on the curriculum content and gaining advice on how to organize the material to attract interest from, and better serve, nursing education programs when the curriculum is made available to the public.

This symposium is the culmination of a 4-year effort spearheaded by Tanenbaum and CUSON staff to create and organize a nursing curriculum on religio-cultural competence that is accessible and easily incorporated into existing nursing programs and class syllabi. The symposium guests responded well to the curriculum, many underlining the necessity of better education and training when it comes to interacting with and treating patients of unfamiliar religious and cultural backgrounds.

Other insights included:

“Great people, awesome organization, and insightful lecturers”

“This conference far exceeded my expectations. I am excited and motivated to begin a new academic year with a new skill set (although I still have much to learn)”

“[The curriculum] seems very thorough”

“It seems very accurate and comprehensive, it’s good to have lots of case studies”

“[I am] really pleased with the material”

We also received some guidance on how to expand the curriculum’s impact by perhaps, making it more concise, breaking up the curriculum thematically rather than by specialty, making the questions more open-ended, both for students and patients, and for certain case studies, including more background information and context.

Overall the Nursing Symposium was a success! The feedback we received was much appreciated and will help guide our next steps as we move this curriculum forward so we can soon make it available to all nursing schools and nursing education programs. We are very excited to continue this project and our effort to ensure that patients of all religious and cultural backgrounds are treated equally and with respect.

Warm regards,

The Tanenbaum Health Care Team

Thank You to Our 2018 Gala Sponsors

Every year, Tanenbaum hosts an annual Gala in New York City to recognize leaders who stand for justice and are combating religious prejudice. We thank all of our generous sponsors for Tanenbaum’s 2018 Gala. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Folashade Kornegay at FKornegay@tanenbaum.org or call 212.967.7707 x129.

Religious Diversity Leadership Summit: Raising the Bar

This year’s third annual Religious Diversity Leadership Summit was the largest one yet, with attendance near capacity and a waitlist in hand. Tanenbaum’s first full day Summit boasts 155 attendees and 23 speakers plus moderators from 64 companies, spanning 18 industries. The day included four concurrent breakout sessions addressing focused topics, another first for the Summit. Hosted by Bloomberg, the Summit was sponsored by Bloomberg, DTCC, and the Walt Disney Company.

Speakers shared personal stories to highlight pragmatic approaches to handling religious diversity in the workplace, showing attendees that this topic is not just about professional policies, it’s also about the people. Amin Kassam, keynote speaker and Chief of Staff and Senior Counsel at Bloomberg, eloquently spoke of his trepidation of coming out of two closets, as gay and as Muslim, during his professional life and highlighted some of his challenges. He courageously discussed the intersectionality of his religious and sexual identities in a way that was moving and inspiring.

Panelists and moderators in the programs that followed repeatedly came back to the importance of “bringing ones’ whole self to work” and the positive impact, as well as sometimes challenges, this can have for everyone. This was addressed in the context of varying positions of power in a company, the impact of generational norms, and the influence of different company cultures (corporate, non-profit, government, etc.).

In response to the Summit, attendees shared the following reactions and takeaways from the day:

  • “I have attended the previous conference[s]. They just keep getting better.”
  • “I appreciated ‘respectful curiosity. As a baby boomer, I was taught never to ask questions about why people are different. However, I always found [that] by asking respectful questions, you get to learn the culture and practices of others.”
  • As organizations, we celebrate what we value. [Also,] don’t be paralyzed by potential backlash. Instead, be prepared to ask people what they want/need when they raise concerns and say ‘What about me?’
  • “The Senior Leadership Panel described strong actions implemented at their company that describes the financial [return on investment] from diversity and inclusion. Using the Learning Lab assignment with Senior Management will generate dialogue and ultimately result in exercise to implement with staff.”

Pragmatic approaches were presented together with presenters’ stories, which provided an element of transparency that many attendees were pleasantly surprised to experience. From Mr. Kassam’s speech to the six different panels to Deputy CEO Mark Fowler’s Learning Lab, the Summit provided attendees with personal insight and practical knowledge of how to handle religion in the workplace. The overarching message of the day as one attendee so powerfully articulated was that diversity of religion is a fact, but inclusion of religion is a choice.”

My Diaspora Journey

2017 Diaspora Dialogues

For as long as I can remember, I have always cared about fairness. Even as a kid, I had a pretty clear idea of what it meant to act fairly. In time, that internal driver found expression as a passion for justice, which I defined as treating all people with respect—no matter who they are or what they believe. Precisely what that would come to mean, however, was not always clear and certainly not static.

As society’s understanding of identity expanded over decades, my own view of what it meant to practice justice likewise evolved. Now, far into my justice journey, I have discovered yet another identity that resonates with me. One that offers me a new, powerful vehicle for working toward global justice. In a phrase, I am talking about diaspora identities.

To explain what I mean, it is worth reflecting on how I got here. In part, it started with anti-Semitism. I am Jewish and was about seven years old when I first felt the paralyzing pain of hearing the kids on the block call my little brother “Jew bastard” and “Christ killer.” I asked them to stop, to apologize, but they kept repeating their taunts. I’ve always remembered that moment, and it became my lens for understanding others.

I felt pained by the lack of basic respect and equality societally allowed to African-Americans. But when Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. called on us to judge his children by the content of their character and not the color of their skin, my sense of justice crystalized. That was what justice should look like—for every child.

In the years that ensued, I learned more about the ways different identities are targeted. I realized how the bias inflicted on African-Americans also attaches to other people of color, though not always in the same ways. That women do not have the same opportunities as their male counterparts, not only because of sexual harassment, but also because, institutionally, women are not paid equally for the same work. I came to recognize that people have many identities including those that result in injustice and marginalization—their sexual orientations, gender identities, disabilities, age, economic and social backgrounds, etc. And always, there is religion, a core identity that far too often is used to divide and fuel conflict, and that becomes a target for prejudice, hatred and violence.

Now, I have another new identity, one that holds promise for more global connections, constructive collaborations and justice.

Last week, I attended an unusual international conference convened by Common Purpose. Called the Diaspora Dialogues, they identified diaspora leaders from across diverse communities and brought them together in Armenia. The goal was to consider whether and how the power of distinct diaspora leaders of all ages could be harnessed for global good.

When I was invited to go, I hesitated. For one thing, while I am Jewish and therefore a member of the Jewish diaspora, I am not a leader in that community. In addition, my work at Tanenbaum is based on combating prejudice directed at people from every faith and none, and we do this work from a secular and nonsectarian perspective. However, as I thought more about it, I realized that being part of the Jewish diaspora was, in fact, part of who I am. In different places around the world, I have been stopped by total strangers, looking at me and saying “Jewish!” In each instance, they were identifying a fellow from their tribe. I also had an unexpected reaction when I first visited Israel. It was the only time in my life that the majority of people around me were somehow brethren. In that, there was a sense of belonging and safety that I have not experienced anywhere else on earth.

Given this awareness and as a person with leadership responsibilities as Tanenbaum’s CEO, I agreed to attend. Approximately 60 people from a range of diaspora identities convened. Most were people who were born in one country, and now lived in another nation. Some had ties to several countries. Most of the participants could identify as a member of a diaspora (Nigerian, Pakistani, etc.) based on the reality that they did not live in their birth/home country. A few of us were diaspora because of our religious identity, as Jews.

Like me, many were thinking deeply about this diaspora identity for the first time, although others had already embraced it, including in their daily work. Even though the ways we came to be among a diaspora differed, we all had a lot in common, perhaps because of how we were selected. We were’s all strivers and wanted to do something to better our communities or the world. We could identify shared experiences around not belonging, as we owned our diaspora identities and experiences.

Therein, lie the possibilities. Right now, across the globe we are dangerously divided by our different identities and our different beliefs. This manifests in political divisions and global conflicts. Working across diverse diaspora identities suggests new possibilities of identifying common ground and creating novel opportunities for problem-solving and collaboration. This vision was embedded in Common Purpose’s program with us and its long-term thinking. As one of the people who explored the possibilities with them, I was moved to see the power and potential in this effort.
Together, diaspora leaders and diaspora community members have an opportunity to tackle big and small problems—and to create greater justice for all. Count me in!

*This post originally appeared on HuffPo on October 19, 2017