Tanenbaum Peacemaker Father Sava Travels to the U.S.

Father Sava Janjic, a Tanenbaum Peacemaker in Action who has been tirelessly pursuing peace and reconciliation in Kosovo for decades, concluded his recent trip to the U.S. last week in Boston, where he presented at the Colloquium on Orthodox Christianity and Humanitarianism: Ideas and Action in the Contemporary World. The Colloquium was sponsored by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America’s Office of Inter-Orthodoxy, Interfaith and Ecumenical Relations. Father Sava and Joyce Dubensky, Tanenbaum CEO, both had the privilege of sitting on the Colloquium’s “Experiences from the Frontline of Crisis Response and Delivery (Around the World)” panel on Friday, May 8, 2015.

Prior to his trip to Boston, Father Sava traveled throughout California with His Grace Bishop Maxim of the Western Diocese before spending a few days in Washington DC and New York. While in New York, Father Sava spoke to an intimate gathering at the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Sava on Tuesday, May 5, about life in Kosovo and the plight of Kosovo Serbians.

Tanenbaum CEO Joyce Dubensky with Peacemaker Father Sava Janjic

Tanenbaum CEO Joyce Dubensky with Peacemaker Father Sava Janjic

During his talk at St. Sava, Father Sava touched on a number of topics. He lamented the “second class” treatment of Kosovo’s Serbs; expressed concern over ethnic and religious extremism; and described how his monastery, Decani Monastery, was vandalized late last year with graffiti by ISIS sympathizers. While the Serbian Orthodox Church does not get involved in politics, Father Sava told the audience that the church promotes the equal treatment of all citizens, engaging in interfaith dialogue to help foster communal bonds among Kosovo’s differing sects.

Despite difficult challenges and numerous setbacks for Kosovo, Father Sava believes it’s critical to maintain hope and to continue to strive towards peace and a better world. He refuses to give up on his people.


Ramadan Accommodations Gone Awry

Last year, during Ramadan, we commended some companies for taking proactive steps in accommodating their workforce during the month of Ramadan. We highlighted the efforts of Electrolux, a Swedish appliance manufacturer in Minnesota. In 2010, the EEOC mandated that the company allow their employees to take their usual 30-minute lunch break at sunset, to allow time to break the fast. 

Unfortunately, almost 150 Muslim Electrolux employees once again have no time or space to make ritual ablution, eat and pray in observance of Ramadan this year, and over a dozen employees are filing another EEOC complaint. Although Electrolux successfully accommodated their employees' needs last August, those scheduling changes didn't seem to carry over this year. 
In our benchmarking, we've found that many companies often suffer from inconsistencies.  For example, the company will go through the arduous give-and-take process of finding appropriate accommodations for religious employees, but then fail to institutionalize that accommodation for the following year. Or perhaps a successful policy is created for one branch of the company, but no efforts are taken to ensure that the policy is communicated company wide.  Some companies may not clearly think through how addressing religious diversity can fit into their overall business and diversity strategies, leaving their accommodations  ad-hoc, disorganized, and difficult to implement.   Creating and distributing policies and guidelines around accommodations can help avoid these misunderstandings and can prepare managers and HR to deal with similar issues and requests in the future.
As you may know, yesterday was the Eid al-Fitr, which signifies the end of Ramadan. But as the month-long observance ebbs to a close, we cannot help but reflect that there are some Muslims who were left feeling marginalized for their sincerely held beliefs. Next weekend will also mark the 10th Anniversary of 9/11. Don’t let your leadership be blindsided. Reactions to this anniversary will be diverse, as will your companies’ decisions to either acknowledge or ignore the event. While we cannot say there are any right or wrong ways to handle this day, we can provide some information. Click here to view fact sheets and guidelines for conversations that will help your employees and leadership prepare for the day.