Tanenbaum strongly condemns the proposed amendments to current U.S. immigration policy. As outlined in the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Economy Act (RAISE) and supported by the current Administration, the proposals are alarming. By seeking to cut legal immigration to the U.S. in half by 2027 and to cap the number of refugees at 50,000, the RAISE Act would actually institutionalize bias against people who practice one of the minority religions in the U.S. Tanenbaum therefore calls on Congress to reject the bill.
Tanenbaum’s CEO, Joyce Dubensky, notes, “The White House is telling us that this bill is not meant to target any particular group. But the truth is that this bill would thwart immigration, especially by people from minority religions in our country—like Muslims and Hindus, who have increasingly needed to come to this nation for safety, opportunity and better lives.” Dubensky believes this proposal should concern all of us.
“This is a critical moment in America’s history. Not only are we deeply polarized, but nationally, we are conflicted about whether to embrace our traditional values of welcoming the stranger. Many are more concerned with insulating themselves from current demographic shifts. Yet, these shifts are part of our global reality,” Dubensky said. “So the real question for all of us is, what does it mean to be an American? Do we welcome the stranger like our many religious and secular values urge? Or do we turn from the people who need us?”
Tanenbaum cautions our government’s leaders that passing the RAISE Act would backfire. Rather than protect our nation, it would amplify Islamophobia, legitimatize irrational fears of refugees and immigrants, and fuel hate crimes against people from religious minorities that are already reaching epidemic levels. We urge, instead, that our nation’s leaders prove that they value inclusivity by passing policies that honor and uphold religious freedom and diversity, which RAISE does not.
As Dubensky explains, “Simply stated, RAISE would raze our nation’s foundational values in the guise of sound immigration policy.”
Tanenbaum’s second Religious Diversity Leadership Summit took place on May 23rd at Bloomberg, LP. Over 100 people from more than 35 companies attended the event. In its second year, this event grew 65% in attendance and was twice as long. The Summit was made possible by our generous sponsors: Bloomberg, DTCC, and the Walt Disney Company.
According to our post-event survey, some of the most important takeaways from the event included:
- “…this summit helped me uncover the fact that religion is often neglected and never discussed yet it’s KEY in bringing our whole selves to work, therefore we should be talking about its impact way more.”
- “I…was on the fence about interfaith ERG’s, but now I’m sold. I plan to use the notes to start discussion with our team.”
- “Hearing from leaders who have been successful in implementing religious diversity programs as well as representation from the regulatory agency was a fantastic opportunity.”
We can’t wait to further grow the Summit in 2018!
On May 23rd, we celebrated an important moment in Tanenbaum’s history, our 25th Anniversary Gala: Peace Made Possible. In an evening highlighted by moments of profound reflection and celebration, we fortified our commitment to justice – and to never, ever forget.
The evening began with a moment of silence to remember victims of another random act of terror, in Manchester. Then founder and president Dr. Georgette F. Bennett was recognized as an Inspiration Circle honoree and she introduced 11 other friends and supporters who’ve helped Tanenbaum grow from a one-woman initiative to a vibrant, internationally-in-demand organization. The applause couldn’t even be held back as His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America was honored, along with Angelica Berrie, Ted Childs, Ilan Kauftal, Howard Milstein, Amelia and Adebayo Ogunlesi, Dr. Leonard S. Polonsky CBE, Dr. Ariella Riva Ritvo-Slifka, Judy Thompson, Scottie Twine and Maz Zouhairi.
Our Corporate Bridge Builder Award went to the Libra Group and was accepted by its Chairman and CEO, George Logothetis. Libra Group is a diverse international business with a commitment to giving back embedded in its culture. It’s latest philanthropic venture is the HOME Project which is dedicated to providing shelter and support for refugees, especially unaccompanied children in Greece. Everyone listened intently as Logothetis spoke about the HOME Project’s impact so far and how crucial it is to ensure people’s beliefs and sources of hope are respected and “oxygenated with dignity.”
Former UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon received the 2017 Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum Award for the Advancement of Interreligious Understanding. By video, he described the rise of terrorism as one of the world’s greatest threats, and spoke to the urgent need for humanity to remain committed to peace. Our 2017 Adam Solomon Award for Excellence was awarded to Lycée Français de New York, a bilingual school that teaches respect, because today’s students will be tomorrow’s leaders.
Later in the evening, Michael Bornstein, author of Survivors Club, powerfully introduced 2017 Media Bridge Builder Awardee Soledad O’Brien. He quietly shared recollections as a Holocaust survivor and later how he was “ruthlessly bullied” as a student in post-WWII Germany for being Jewish. As Soledad O’Brien concluded in her speech, “Peace is made possible when we don’t stop working at it. We celebrate tonight, and tomorrow we’ll get back to work.”
And now, we’ll do just that.
Joyce S. Dubensky
P.S. Our gala raffle winner for 2017 is Sam Matino of Concordia, Inc.! Thanks again to all who participated, see you next year!
- Nadine Augusta, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion & Corporate Social Responsibility, DTCC
- C. Justin Foa, President and CEO, Foa & Son Corporation International Insurance Brokers, Tanenbaum Board Chair
Ban Ki-moon, Former Secretary-General, United Nations
2017 RABBI MARC H. TANENBAUM AWARD FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF INTERRELIGIOUS UNDERSTANDING
Libra Group, Accepted by George Logothetis, Chairman and CEO
2017 CORPORATE BRIDGE BUILDER AWARD
Soledad O’Brien, CEO of Starfish Media Group, Host of Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien
2017 MEDIA BRIDGE BUILDER AWARD
Lycée Français de New York
2017 ADAM SOLOMON AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE
Longtime Friends & Supporters
- Dr. Georgette F. Bennett
- Angelica Berrie
- Ted Childs
- His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America
- Ilan Kauftal
- Howard Milstein
- Amelia and Adebayo Ogunlesi
- Dr. Leonard S. Polonsky CBE
- Dr. Ariella Riva Ritvo-Slifka
- Judy Thompson
- Scottie Twine
- Maz Zouhairi
Glasses were raised last week to kick off Tanenbaum’s 25th Anniversary, hosted by Holly Weiss, Partner at Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP. It was a great evening where new and old friends gathered to recognize Tanenbaum’s achievements – while noting that the need for Tanenbaum is greater now than ever.
Everyone present recommitted to forging a future with less hatred, violence and extremism. All agreed—If not now, when?
Check out the gallery of images below, and be sure to reserve your place for our 25th Anniversary Gala on Tuesday, May 23, 2017!
On Monday, three deadly terror attacks in Germany, Yemen and Jordan captured the world’s attention. It’s not that these acts are unusual. The number of articles about violent terrorism are too numerous to count. It’s that they all occurred on one horrific day.
And so did an effort to target Jews in the heartland of America.
On Monday, news outlets reported that alt-Right media presence Andrew Anglin (of the anti-Semitic online site “Daily Stormer”) was spewing rhetoric dangerously close to—if not directly from—the Nazi playbook.
In an article alleging that Jews had an agenda to go after the mother of the alt-right’s most visible alt-Right leader, Richard Spencer, Anglin accused the Whitefish, Montana Jewish community of plotting to destroy her business. Needless to say, Anglin’s story is a distortion. But he called for retaliation and asked his readers to make their objections known to members of the Jewish community, some of whom he showed with his article—wearing yellow stars.
Anglin actually encouraged his readers and other white nationalists to “troll,” or harass the town’s Jews and anti-discrimination activists online. Though his directions explicitly warned against violence, the reality is that it doesn’t work that way. Especially since his call to action included identifying information of neighborhood Jews and their allies. Not surprisingly, death threats have followed.
You can’t genuinely discourage violence, and at the same time call Jews, as Anglin did in his blog post, “a vicious, evil race of hate-filled psychopaths.” The road from hate to harm is all too short.
At Tanenbaum, we condemn the hatred, the anti-Semitism and the resulting threats that are now making one town in Montana unsafe for Jews. We also regret that, in so doing, we are giving Anglin public attention that can wrongfully be used as legitimizing him. Yet, we are compelled to be on the record. We condemn everything Anglin, Spencer and their audience stand for, do and say.
And so we ask…
If Anglin’s incitement isn’t a hate crime, what is?
And if it is, why aren’t we all standing in opposition to what he is doing?
If not now…when?
The room was full of old friends and some new, with lots of jabs at biases – racial, religious, sexual orientation, and the like. We had the opportunity to laugh at what society teaches us, and at how we cope with hatred in the world. The night gave us the opportunity to share a little more about Tanenbaum, to honor our oldest and dearest friend (and colleague) the Octogenarian Judy Banki, and to recognize our visiting Peacemaker, Reverend Jacky Manuputty from Indonesia.
We hope you’ll enjoy the gallery below from Tanenbaum Takes a Night Off! With Mike Rakosi Tanenbaum’s second annual comedy show at Comic Strip Live. Much like last year, Mike brought in some hilarious comedians, from our own backyard and Dylan Brody from LA, who lit up the stage with their wit.
From cursed tomato gardens to mockery of cultural and religious bias, Indidi, Sasha, DF and Dylan all put on a great show—and we thank them for their willingness to perform for Tanenbaum! Also, our special thanks to Mike Rakosi for hosting the evening and helping to plan the event.
Thanks to our sponsors, Dr.’s Georgette F. Bennett and Leonard S. Polonsky CBE, Stanton Public Relations and Marketing, and Michael Kessler and Marcia Riklis. And our partners, Whole Foods Market, dcc, and the Comic Strip Live. Without you, none of this would have been possible!
This is a night of fun, supporting a cause that is deadly serious. Make a note. And plan to join us next year! In the meantime, enjoy this album from the 2016 show!
Leading grassroots peacebuilders and Tanenbaum Peacemakers in Action, from six of the world’s conflict zones, made a celebrated appearance at the United Nations on Wednesday, July 13, 2016.
The event, “Turning the Tide: Engaging Religiously-Motivated Peacebuilders in Conflict Zones,” addressed two topics: alternative approaches to combating extremism and ways that grassroots peacemakers build relationships and trust with community members, diplomats and government officials.
The first panel featured Tanenbaum Peacemakers Ms. Maria Ida “Deng” Giguiento (Philippines), Mr. Azhar Hussain (Pakistan), and Ms. Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge (South Africa), as well as H.E. Mr. Rubén Ignacio Zamora Rivas, Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the United Nations. H.E. Mr. Kai Sauer, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations moderated the first panel.
Peacemaker Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge highlighted the need for multi-faith peacebuilding in South African communities. She noted how, “The interfaith movement between Christians, Muslims and Hindus, created in the struggle to end apartheid, continues today, providing a moral canvas for our government.”
Tanenbaum’s most recently awarded Peacemaker in Action, Deng Giguiento, discussed how she advises military leaders as a peacebuilder in the Philippines. She described once believing that she couldn’t work with the military: “I always perceived them as the enemy. But I was taught to pray for my enemies.” Following prayer with action, Deng sees positive results as she trains both military and community members with the hope of building a “lasting peace in Mindanao.”
The second panel reviewed innovative approaches to tackling violent extremism and the prominent but frequently overlooked role of women in this field. Panelists included Peacemakers Mr. Ricardo Esquiva (Colombia), Ms. Dishani Jayaweera (Sri Lanka), and Dr. Sakena Yacoobi (Afghanistan), as well as Ms. Faiza Patel, Co-Director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School, and Mr. Andrew Tomlinson, Director & Quaker U.N. Representative. Ms. Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women moderated.
Ms. Lakshmi began the panel by discussing how “Essentially religion is about humanity. It is about rights and it’s about the equality of all creatures.” Then Sri Lankan Peacemaker Dishani Jayaweera described how she created the Female Religious Leaders Initiative after working with 300 male religious leaders from diverse faith traditions. She began the initiative “to explore the role of female religious leaders in peacebuilding and reconciliation” and their “interpretation of religion and spirituality.” Her work aims to include women in the religious peacebuilding process, essential for creating lasting peace.
Peacemaker Sakena Yacoobi, who has founded numerous schools in Afghanistan, expressed, “I really strongly believe that women are the victim in every country, women and children.” And she gave insight into the solution, “If we really want to bring peace – it is not through guns, it’s not through tanks, it is through education…. education is the key issue that brings transformation”.
Peacemaker Ricardo Esquivia (Colombia) spoke about the importance of including both communities and government offices in the peacemaking process to combat extremism. “[We] use a pedagogy of nonviolence to teach communities about non-violent action, and we mobilize [groups] to interact through dialogue and direct negotiations with local and national governmental officials.”
The event at the UN was part of the 2016 Tanenbaum Peacemakers in Action Network Retreat, which brought together Peacemakers from all over the world to exchange ideas and best-practices in peacebuilding. This year’s retreat focused on combating violent extremism and women in peacebuilding.
We extend our gratitude to the event’s sponsors: The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), KAICIID, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA), and the GHR Foundation.
On Monday, May 23rd, representatives from over 30 companies came together at Gotham Hall in New York City to discuss global strategies for addressing religious diversity and inclusion. Tanenbaum’s first-ever Religious Diversity Leadership Summit was made possible by co-sponsors Disney and DTCC and featured speakers Brian Grim (Religious Freedom and Business Foundation), Pramila Rao (Marymount University) and Neal Goodman (Global Dynamics).
All photos: Jon Nissenbaum
Last Monday was a touchstone in Tanenbaum’s history. Not only was it our 2016 Gala – PEACE MADE POSSIBLE – but we began the journey toward our 25th anniversary, next year. I’m so grateful to all of you who were able to be with us – for what was truly a powerful evening. Thank you!
U.S. Army Major Kamal Kalsi, the first Sikh granted a U.S. Department of Defense religious accommodation in over a generation, moved everyone with his personal story about how hard it was to practice his religion freely in the U.S. Army, our nation’s largest employer. He shared a little of what it was like to be a doctor in Afghanistan. But one thing Kamal didn’t say was that he won the Bronze Star for his heroism. He reminded us all, “We can build walls or we can build bridges.”
Our speakers also talked about the pain and injury resulting from religious bullying, discrimination and hate. And how Tanenbaum provides effective strategies to counter divisive rhetoric and violent conflicts.
This year’s 2016 Media Bridge Builders, Nicholas Kristof, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist, and Sheryl WuDunn, also a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, provided insights into the many challenges facing us today. Both showed how even small efforts by each of us can make a huge difference.
Sheryl shared how a small nonprofit helped save children’s lives, while Nick shared how he manages to remain hopeful, despite reporting on the world’s greatest atrocities. Though he witnesses the world’s worst, he also sees the world’s best: acts of compassion and ordinary individuals displaying unexpected feats of bravery. In his own words, “I am a believer in drops in the bucket.”
Nick is right. We can all do something.
With hope for the future,
Joyce S. Dubensky