World Peace Wednesdays: Meet Dishani

Roll your mouse over the image and click on the links to learn more about Dishani, one of our Peacemakers in Action.


World Peace Wednesdays: Meet Yehezkel

Meet Peacemaker in Action, Yehezkel Landau, a Jewish dual citizen of the United States and Israel and founder of Open House, an organization taking part in peacemaking work in the Middle East. After completing graduate studies in psychology, theology, and Interreligious relations and working in Israel for 10 years with a peace movement, Yehezkel and his wife Dalia Ashkenazi founded Open House, a center created to touch lives of thousands of Jews and Arabs through summer peace camps, coexistence training for educators, leadership training for teenagers and much more!
This video was made possible by grants from Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Henry Luce Foundation. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of Tanenbaum. Tanenbaum's Peacemakers in Action program is also supported by the Leir Charitable Foundations.

The joy in learning


“So what makes me think I could start clean slated / The hardest to learn was the least complicated.” Those lyrics from Indigo Girls’ song “Least Complicated” served as an anthem for my 17-year old reality. It was 1996 and I was a high school senior studying William Shakespeare’s tragic play Hamlet in Mrs. Riley’s English class. In short, I was a teenager grappling with the frequent shifts in relationships, friendships and life.

In class, we went through the play line-by-line, deciphering the hidden meanings of each character’s intent. Mrs. Riley helped us understand the role of Ophelia, particularly how she has become a symbol of angst in many popular and cultural references throughout time. As a class we studied Ophelia’s passive demise and how she essentially neglects to save herself from sinking. Mrs. Riley also paired quotes depicting Ophelia’s plight with famous paintings and music, even the Indigo Girls. Swamp Ophelia (1994) is the fifth studio album by the band.

How did Mrs. Riley know what I was listening to or what I was experiencing at that time? “Perhaps she too listened to the Indigo Girls and enjoyed studying Ophelia,” one of my co-workers recently offered.


As an adult working for Tanenbaum, an organization that promotes respect for difference and helps educators foster inclusive learning environments, the memory of Mrs. Riley’s English class continues to provide relevance.  Tanenbaum’s intensive educator course, Cultivating Global Citizenship, is designed to help educators prepare students to live in the 21st century and become global citizens. Educators are given tools to examine theories of multicultural education, practice differentiated instruction, integrate skills-based curricula and develop creative ways to establish inclusive learning environments.

As part of the Cultivating Global Citizenship final project, teachers create lessons that translate theoretical questions into practical measures that they will implement in their classrooms.  On Saturday December 7th, the Fall 2012 Cultivating Global Citizenship participants presented their final lessons. From a character development lesson examining the role of one’s own religion through the lens of The Crucible, to a global exploration of water usage, each teacher displayed great creativity and insight when considering how to bring the learning back to their schools.

During this final session of Cultivating Global Citizenship, we reviewed Paulo Freire’s “Letter to North-American Teachers,” which discusses the complex nature of the responsibility in teaching. In his letter, Freire states, “The act of studying, learning, knowing is difficult and above all demanding. But, it is necessary for learners to discover and feel the inherent joy that is always ready to take hold of those who give themselves to the process of learning.” This “joy” that Freire mentions is possible for both the teacher and student.

In a time where schools are pressured by test scores, standards and numerous other demands, finding the “joy” in learning could seem daunting. Yes, educators have to teach students to pass their exams and yes, teachers do have to be responsible for nurturing the “joy” of knowledge.  The Cultivating Global Citizenship course provides a roadmap for nurturing this “joy.”  Through a study of Tanenbaum’s Seven Principles for Inclusive Education, educators learn to foster individual relevancy for their students.

The character of Ophelia, her fragile self-image and lack of confidence spoke to my 17-year old self and the music I was listening to at that time.  Today, she still serves as a reminder to remain strong and aware of one’s choices in life’s most challenging circumstances. But, I think that even more so, the character of Ophelia spoke to Mrs. Riley. When I thought about what my co-worker said – “Perhaps she too listened to the Indigo Girls and enjoyed studying Ophelia” – I recalled that Mrs. Riley had inscribed in her wedding band “The Power of Two,” another song from Swamp Ophelia. Looking back I realize that both Mrs. Riley and I were equally engaged in studying the character of Ophelia. We both found joy in the process of learning.

Marcie Denberg-Serra, Associate
Education Program

Timely teaching resources:

World Peace Wednesdays: Meet Bill

Meet Peacemaker in Action Bill Lowrey, who worked for peace and reconciliation for the Sudanese people for over ten years as he discusses how he, as well as his colleagues, are motivated by their religion to put their lives on the line to work for peace.
For over 20 years, Sudan has been ravaged by wars that have stolen two million lives and displaced over four million people. Amid these desperate conditions, the Reverend Dr. William Lowrey fights for peace and reconciliation for the people of Sudan. His unique approach drew on the rich wisdom of the indigenous Nuer and Dinka peoples, as he integrated their traditional peacemaking methods with modern theories of conflict resolution.
Throughout most of his life, the Rev. Lowrey has been driven to combat injustice. It started with his work to promote racial reconciliation in the American South in his Mississippi church and with other social organizations. There, he honed his ability to work across cultures, and became inspired to take his peacemaking skills to work abroad.
The Rev. Lowrey first took his family to Sudan in 1991, while working with the Presbyterian Church. in 1998, he established a series of People-to-People Peace conferences through the New Sudan Council of Churches (NSCC), which was very successful.  Although he recently took a step back from the frontlines, the Reverend Lowrey's work today is influential on a global scale. As the Director of Peacebuilding and Reconciliation at World Vision International, the Reverend Lowrey has supported and trained peacebuilders in more than 30 countries, sharing the wisdom, skills and secrets from a lifetime of religious peacemaking.
Learn more about Bill Lowrey's life as a peacemaker.

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This video was made possible by grants from Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Henry Luce Foundation. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of Tanenbaum. Tanenbaum's Peacemakers in Action program is also supported by the Leir Charitable Foundations.


“Regional Human Rights Institutions: The OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission”

The Permanent Observer Mission of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in conjunction with the US Federation for Middle East Peace presents an open dialogue with Non-Governmental Organizations, entitled: "Regional Human Rights Institutions: The OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission"

Wednesday, 12 December 2012
4:00­‐6:00 p.m.
Conference Room D (NLB.)

This panel will feature Members of the OIC Independent Human Rights Commission who will give a short briefing on the work of the Commission and then will host an open dialogue with NGOs.

Seating is limited, please RSVP to Ms. Ameirah Ismail by email: by Tuesday, 11 December.  Please note that attendees will need to already have a Grounds Pass issued by the United Nations to participate in this event. 

World Peace Wednesdays: Meet Nozizwe

For our first “World Peace Wednesday" blog entry, we’d like to introduce you to Tanenbaum Peacemaker in Action Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, who shares how the end of South Africa's apartheid regime gave her hope that peace is possible through interreligious understanding.

Nozizwe, a South African pacifist, anchored by her Quaker faith, has dedicated her life to peacefully seeking social justice.

Nozizwe first became politically active in the 1970s, amidst the oppressive conditions of South Africa's apartheid regime. Nozizwe was jailed three times for her affiliation with the African National Congress, the last time spending one year in solitary confinement without a trial.

After her release, Nozizwe went on to mediate intra-black conflicts outside of Durban, and helped draft an historic, post-apartheid constitution for South Africa in 1991. Until August 2007, Nozizwe served as South Africa's Deputy Minister of Health, leading an effort to ensure that AIDS patients receive the best possible treatment.

Learn more about Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge's role as a peacemaker.

Follow us on Twitter (#WorldPeaceWednesdays)

Like us on Facebook.

Read our blog.

Subscribe to us on YouTube.

This video was made possible by grants from Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Henry Luce Foundation. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of Tanenbaum. Tanenbaum's Peacemakers in Action program is also supported by the Leir Charitable Foundations.

Palestine inches toward statehood: News Roundup

Palestine is granted "non-member observer state" by the U.N. General Assembly, "Innocense of Muslims" creator regrets nothing, and other news stories. 

The U.N. General Assembly voted to approve Palestinians' request to be upgraded to a "non-member observer state," defying opposition by the U.S. and Israel. Before the vote, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the General Assembly that it "is being asked today to issue the birth certificate of Palestine."

Of the 193 countries in the General Assembly 138 voted to recognize Palestine. Only nine, including the U.S., voted against it. Another 41 countries abstained. In the West Bank, Palestinians erupted in a roar of cheers, horn honking and fireworks as crowds thronged the main square of Ramallah to celebrate the world's recognition of their state.
The historic vote recognizes Palestine as a state and gives Palestine the right to join U.N. agencies. It opens the door for Palestine to become a party to the International Criminal Court, allowing them to bring cases against Israel.  Israel and the U.S. argued that the vote is purely symbolic, would change nothing on the ground, would hurt peace talks and could affect U.S. funding. ABC News

The violent crises in Syria, Gaza and Mali show how important it is for different religions to work together to promote understanding rather than sow hatred, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said on Monday.  Addressing the opening of a new Saudi-backed interfaith centre in Vienna, he said the Syrian conflict was "taking on troubling sectarian dimensions" and "unrest (continues) between Israelis and Palestinians."

Valuable religious monuments had been destroyed in Mali, he said, referring to the destruction of centuries-old Muslim heritage by the radical Islamist Ansar Dine movement.  Religious leaders "can unite people based on tenets and precepts common to all creeds" but at times have also "stoked intolerance, supported extremism and propagated hate." Reuters

Fuming for two months in a jail cell here, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula has had plenty of time to reconsider the wisdom of making “Innocence of Muslims,” his crude YouTube movie trailer depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a bloodthirsty, philandering thug.

Does Mr. Nakoula now regret the footage? After all, it fueled deadly protests across the Islamic world and led the unlikely filmmaker to his own arrest for violating his supervised release on a fraud conviction.

Not at all. New York Times

It happens every week at meetings in towns, counties and cities nationwide. A lawmaker or religious leader leads a prayer before officials begin the business of zoning changes, contract approvals and trash pickup.

But citizens are increasingly taking issue with these prayers, some of which have been in place for decades. At least five lawsuits around the country — in California, Florida, Missouri, New York, and Tennessee — are actively challenging pre-meeting prayers. Associated Press

There are more Muslims from America than any other country on this year’s “The Muslim 500: The World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims,” compiled by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, a respected think tank in Jordan, including two in the top 50. Washington Post

World Peace Wednesdays Begin December 5

Tanenbaum Peacemaker in Action Video StillStarting Wednesday, December 5, Tanenbaum is launching World Peace Wednesdays, a social media campaign to encourage people around the world to share ideas about how we can achieve world peace.

Follow us on Twitter for hourly tweets featuring quotes, questions, links and more. Like us on Facebook  to keep posted about our weekly World Peace Wednesdays blog that will include videos of Tanenbaum’s Peacemakers in Action. Subscribe to Tanenbaum's YouTube channel to be the first to see our World Peace Wednesdays video.

Imagine a more peaceful world that respects difference. We are committed to making that vision a reality—and we would like your help.

Please tell your friends, share with your family and get your social media fans & followers to help us raise awareness and bring the world one step closer to world peace. Click here for a sneak peek of our first World Peace Wednesdays video.


Who is welcome at the holiday table?

December, a time of year when holidays bring religious diversity issues to the surface in workplaces, is right around the corner.  In an article recently published in INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, Tanenbaum's CEO, Joyce S. Dubensky, discusses better practices around the “December Dilemma,” and proactive strategies for creating an inclusive workplace environment year round.

Who is Welcome at the Holiday Table? pdf.

Pregnant Indian woman dies after being denied an abortion by Irish Hospital: News Roundup

In the news this week, thousands rally in Ireland after woman denied abortion dies, customer sues Muslim barber for refusing to cut her hair, Atheists sue IRS for failure to monitor church politicking, and other stories. 

Thousands of people rallied outside Ireland's parliament on Wednesday to demand strict abortion rules be eased after a pregnant Indian woman repeatedly denied a termination died in an Irish hospital.

Savita Halappanavar, 31, admitted to University Hospital Galway in the west of Ireland last month, died of septicaemia a week after miscarrying 17 weeks into her pregnancy. Her repeated requests for termination were rejected because of the presence of a fetal heartbeat, her husband told state broadcaster RTE. MSNBC

In case of competing rights, a Toronto woman has lodged a complaint against a barber who refused to cut her hair because he's Muslim. In June, Faith McGregor requested a man's haircut at the Terminal Barber Shop in downtown Toronto. Co-owner Omar Mahrouk told her that his Muslim faith prohibits him from touching a woman who is not a member of his family. All the other barbers in the shop said the same thing.

"For me it was just a haircut and started out about me being a woman," McGregor, 35, told the Toronto Star. "Now we're talking about religion versus gender versus human rights and businesses in Ontario." She has filed a complaint with Ontario's Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario because the incident made her feel like a "second-class citizen." Religion News Service

A First Amendment watchdog group is suing the Internal Revenue Service for failing to challenge the tax-exempt status of churches whose pastors engage in partisan politicking from the pulpit.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which advocates total separation of church and state, filed the lawsuit Wednesday (Nov. 14) in U.S. District Court in Western Wisconsin, where the 19,000-member organization is based.

The lawsuit claims that as many as 1,500 pastors engaged in “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” on Sunday, Oct. 7, when pastors endorsed one or more candidates, which is a violation of IRS rules for non-profit organizations. The Washington Post

The faith-based Katallasso Family Health Center is set to open in York City's Salem Square neighborhood on Jan. 7. Treatment at the clinic will be free for York County residents, executive Director Brian Kreeger said. The story of Katallasso — a Greek word that means reconciliation — started a few years ago. Kreeger said he had a conviction to share Christ's love in a poor York City neighborhood. So, he headed to South Queen Street. York Dispatch