Tanenbaum.org https://tanenbaum.org Combating Religious Prejudice Tue, 10 Dec 2019 19:03:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.1 https://tanenbaum.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/cropped-FaviconLogo-1-32x32.png Tanenbaum.org https://tanenbaum.org 32 32 The New Faces of Human Rights https://tanenbaum.org/blog/2019/12/new-faces-of-human-rights/ Tue, 10 Dec 2019 17:16:12 +0000 https://tanenbaum.org/?p=17256

Friends –

Human Rights is more than a theory. It’s a vision and a responsibility. Just ask the newest generation of human rights activists—Malala Yousafzai, Greta Thunberg, Emma Gonzalez, Marley Dias, Joshua Wong—youth leaders having real impact.

They know that social justice is furthered through actions both small and large, by each of us. That’s why we’re calling on the Tanenbaum community to take small actions to tackle one of our biggest problems: Extremism and Fake News on Social Media.

Misinformation is the enemy of mutual understanding. Fake news causes viewers to react rather than reflect, disarming us with algorithms and exaggerated emotion. That’s why recognizing and combating fake news matters. It’s one of the easiest ways to engage in social action.

At Tanenbaum, we provide “how-to” resources for recognizing extremism and fake news on social media and for countering it.

Arm yourself with knowledge, resources and know that universal human rights begin with you, in small places, close to home.

We can do it together,



Image: Callum Shaw

Scheduling, greetings, décor, oh my! https://tanenbaum.org/blog/2019/11/scheduling-greetings-decor-oh-my/ Tue, 26 Nov 2019 22:37:35 +0000 https://tanenbaum.org/?p=17217

Dear Friends,

As the winter months are fast approaching, we look forward to the light and joy that comes with celebrations of Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. All three holidays begin within days of one another this year and also may bring challenges that impact the workplace.

Whether it’s concerns of scheduling, greetings, decor, or associated stressors, this busy time of year can be complicated to navigate. To help you feel more prepared, we have fact sheets on each holiday that you can refer to for Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and the December Dilemma.

If you have any questions or concerns, please be in touch and we can talk through potential solutions to support you and your workplace.

In peace,

Mark Fowler,
Deputy CEO, Tanenbaum



Sending our thanks… https://tanenbaum.org/blog/2019/11/sending-our-thanks/ Tue, 26 Nov 2019 22:13:05 +0000 https://tanenbaum.org/?p=17216

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to reflect on the people for whom we are grateful. For those of us at Tanenbaum, you are among the people we appreciate. Because you help us to counter hate and promote ways to treat one another respectfully.

That’s why, even though we know you’re getting lots of thank you emails from organizations you care about, we still wanted to pause to acknowledge that you’re making a difference by sharing the Tanenbaum journey with us.

We thank you for caring about the harm done by religious bigotry.
We thank you for reading our materials and sharing them.
We thank you for emailing us that you use our materials to teach students.
We thank you for your support because all your gifts to us—both large and small—make our work possible.

With appreciation and best wishes for a caring holiday season,
Joyce, Mark and all your Tanenbaum friends and colleagues


Photo: Aaron Berger

Holidays in the Hospital https://tanenbaum.org/blog/2019/11/holidays-in-the-hospital/ Thu, 21 Nov 2019 17:28:11 +0000 https://tanenbaum.org/?p=17197 As the end of the year approaches, whether you are decorating a tree with colorful lights, lighting a menorah, or burning a Yule log, it’s important to keep in mind that while holidays are an opportunity to celebrate culturally and religiously significant events, they are also an opportunity to learn more about traditions that are unfamiliar to us.

Tanenbaum likes to call this stretch of holidays the “December Dilemma,” as this convergence can often result in misunderstandings, miscommunication, and marginalization of less familiar traditions. There is no space in which this is more important than the hospital, where patients and their families may adhere to certain celebratory beliefs and practices that impact their care. For example, when observing Yom Kippur, which usually falls in September or October, many Jewish patients engage in fasting, prayer, and reflection. This could impact scheduling appointments, medication intake, and other dietary needs or concerns. Similar considerations also apply to Muslim patients observing the holy month of Ramadan.

Additionally, hospital staff and co-workers may also have certain religious and cultural practices that could impact scheduling, diet, and religious/cultural expression. In 24-hour workplaces, it is already difficult to try to schedule meetings with staff, provide food that everyone can eat, and ensure that requests for time off are accommodated. The holiday season can further complicate this when workplaces often have holiday celebrations and many staff members request off to celebrate with their friends and family. In order to better navigate these situations, Tanenbaum has put together some recommendations and resources, so you can proactively and respectfully address issues and conflicts that arise!

First, it is important to be aware of the holidays that may fall in or around December.

These include:

Eid al-Fitr, a celebration that marks the end of Ramadan in the Muslim faith. The Eid has shifting dates, and although it has fallen over the summer during recent years (it will fall in early-June in 2019), it can fall much later in the calendar and is, therefore, a holiday to consider in thinking about the December Dilemma.

Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights. This five-day celebration usually falls in October or November. In 2019, Diwali begins on October 27th and ends on October 31st.

Bodhi Day, a Buddhist holiday celebrating Siddhartha Guatama’s (the Buddha’s) realization and presentation to his fellow seekers of the Four Noble Truths. Bodhi Day is traditionally celebrated on December 8th (the 8th day of the 12th lunar month).

Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. This eight-day holiday can fall in late November, December, or occasionally early January. In 2019, Hanukkah will start at sundown on December 22nd and end at sundown on December 30th.

Christmas, a celebration of the birth of Jesus, the central figure of Christianity. Christmas is celebrated on December 25th by Christians who use the Gregorian calendar. Christians using the Julian calendar—many of whom are Eastern Orthodox Christians—celebrate Christmas on December 25th on the Julian calendar, which translates into January 7th on the Gregorian calendar.

Kwanzaa, a week-long secular holiday honoring African-American heritage. This holiday is observed from December 26th through January 1st each year by some African-Americans in the United States.

The Lunar New Year, a traditional Chinese holiday marking the end of winter that falls sometime during January or February (in 2020, it falls on January 25th). The Lunar New Year is an East and South East Asian celebration. In China, it is known as the “Spring Festival” and marks the end of the winter season.

Yule, a Wiccan or Pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice, will occur (in the northern hemisphere) on December 21, 2019. Yule celebrates the rebirth of the sun, the beginning of the time when the days will become longer, and welcomes the bounty of spring.

Second, it is also a good idea to download an interfaith calendar, like the one provided by Harvard Divinity School, so your calendar can make you aware of upcoming events and celebrations. For more recommendations and tips for navigating the December Dilemma, please refer to our December Dilemma resource, our religious factsheets, or our Tips for Respectful Communication.

May you all have a safe and happy holiday season!

Warmest regards,

The Tanenbaum Health Care Team



Tonight’s the Night to Confront Hate! https://tanenbaum.org/blog/2019/11/confront-hate/ Thu, 14 Nov 2019 17:54:01 +0000 https://tanenbaum.org/?p=17167

Tonight is the night to join us at “Confronting Hate: Examining Anti-Semitism Through Religious and Ideological World Views.” Please see below for some important information and reminders.

If you are joining us in person, the doors will open at 6:00 pm. This Courageous Conversation will take place from 6:30 – 8:00 pm at One Spirit Learning Alliance (247 West 36th St, 6th floor). Please check-in at our registration table upon arrival.

If you are joining us remotely, please click the link below to join the webinar via Zoom:


Or Telephone:

US: +1 646 876 9923

Webinar ID: 637 416 6188

Please be advised that this webinar will be recorded live and will be posted online following the event.

Food for the event is sponsored by Khyber Pass. The Courageous Conversation event series is made possible thanks to our partners at the Nissan Foundation!

Please contact Dasha Tanner, dtanner@tanenbaum.org if you have any questions.

Dilemma? Opportunity? Get ahead of the Fall & Winter Holidays! https://tanenbaum.org/blog/2019/11/the-december-dilemma/ Tue, 12 Nov 2019 20:26:13 +0000 https://tanenbaum.org/?p=17161 Dear Friends, 

The winter holiday season often raises questions about workplace inclusivity and accommodation. Perhaps your office is considering which holidays to address, which holiday decorations are appropriate to use, or how to create a holiday or Christmas party inclusive to all. Whatever the case may be for you and your company, this is an opportunity to be prepared for the season and practice inclusion by addressing the December Dilemma head on!

Our December Dilemma Fact Sheet will help you address you and your colleagues’ questions about time off and scheduling, decoration and holiday greetings.

There are plenty of opportunities for education and celebration, beginning with Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas (both on the Julian and Gregorian calendars), Kwanzaa, and then the Lunar New Year in February 2020!

In peace,

Mark Fowler
Deputy CEO, Tanenbaum

Photo: Ludmila Crigan-Mihajlovic


Mother Earth, Our Common Home https://tanenbaum.org/blog/2019/11/chencho/ Tue, 05 Nov 2019 15:00:03 +0000 https://tanenbaum.org/?p=16913

Tanenbaum Peacemaker in Action José “Chencho” Alas, El Salvador

The UN General Assembly declared November 6 of each year the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.

Several of Tanenbaum’s 28 Peacemakers in Action work, or have worked, within their countries’ conflict zones to protect the environment.

To honor Nov. 6, we share reflections from Tanenbaum Peacemaker in Action José “Chencho” Alas of El Salvador. He describes his faith-filled relationship to the environment and how he joined interfaith forces to restore El Salvador’s environment in the wake of the destructive civil war.:


A powerful verse from Gen. 2:15 has always impressed me and inspired my work:

Yahweh God took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden to cultivate and take care of it”.

This is the first commandment that we received, to take care of the environment in order to harvest the fruits of Mother Earth.

On May 24, 2015, Pope Francis promulgated his most important encyclical titled Laudato Si dedicated to the environment, just days before the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris.

Chencho (far right) in El Salvador

In the second paragraph the Pope wrote to us:

“This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her… The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life.”

On June 12, 1992, Fidel Castro, President of Cuba at the time, stated at the UN:

“An important biological species is at risk of disappearing due to the rapid and progressive liquidation of its natural living conditions: man. They have poisoned the seas and rivers, they have polluted the air, they have weakened and perforated the ozone layer, and they have saturated the atmosphere of gases that alter the climatic conditions with catastrophic effects that we are already beginning to suffer.”

After 15 years of living in exile, from 1977-1992, I returned to my country, El Salvador, with a heart full of joy to contribute to the recovery of my land that had been devastated by war from 1980-1992. As a result of the war, I found that my country had plunged into greater poverty. Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to emigrate from their places of origin, either internally or externally, to neighboring countries, the United States, Canada, or Europe.

I returned to Suchitoto, my last parish, and it was very hard for me to witness that 70% of the population of the countryside and the city had emigrated. The people who lived in Suchitoto were no longer the same, they were new, and the majestic hill of Guazapa looked bare of vegetation, it had been sprayed with white phosphorus imported from the United States and Israel. The hill served as a stronghold for the guerrillas during the war.

I asked Mario López, former guerrilla commander, what my contribution could be to the reconstruction of the human network. Mario requested that I collaborate in the Lower Lempa River where 47 rural communities had been established. I received financial support from the Kellogg Foundation. They donated $300,000. The contribution served to organize families in groups of 7 to 10 for food production, introducing organic farming. The families understood the importance of being organized.

We founded the Coordinating Committee of the Communities of Bajo Lempa and together we created a peace program. This was the beginning of the Local Peace Zone following the UNESCO model. I facilitated a total of 36 peace workshops and we obtained the participation of 114 communities. The crime was lowered to zero and in 1998 we declared the region a zone of peace after having been one of the most violent in the country.

Mangrove trees along the coast of Jiquilisco Bay

Very soon we discovered that the area needed a reforestation program, especially the coast of Jiquilisco Bay. We began receiving delegations of Jewish university students sent by American Jewish World Service, based in New York, and with them we planted hundreds of thousands of mangrove candles* on the beaches. Mangrove, like coral, serves as a nest for shrimp and fish multiplication.

It is clear that wars only serve to destroy our Mother Earth and burden our populations with poverty.

The war industry only serves to enrich a very small number of wealthy people feeding on the blood of the poor. The only thing that can save us from violence is solidarity of the peoples, a universal recognition that we have been created in the likeness of God and that our dignity is above any material means.


*The mangrove produces seeds that are like candles. It doesn’t multiply by the roots. You plant the candles.

Capitalizing on Inclusion – Our Religious Diversity Symposium with Ted Childs https://tanenbaum.org/blog/2019/10/capitalizing-on-inclusion/ Thu, 31 Oct 2019 16:59:40 +0000 https://tanenbaum.org/?p=17120 Tanenbaum and Ted Childs LLC hosted our fourth annual Religious Diversity Symposium on September 19th – 20th, 2019. This fall conference, designed for high-level diversity, equity, and inclusion leaders, focused on the theme of “capitalizing on inclusion.”

We brought together representatives from 30 different organizations and corporations for two days of robust learning and discussion. Programming included a presentation from Robby Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute, a panel of Chief Diversity Officers from two multi-national companies, and a session lead by Sumreen Ahmad, Global Change Management Lead at Accenture, focused on moving through your organization’s religious diversity journey.

Attendees called the sessions “raw and eye-opening,” and filled with “invaluable insights.” Tanenbaum and Ted Childs are proud to partner on a conference that builds the knowledge, skills, and competencies of DEI leadership on religious diversity in the workplace.


Tragedy struck again in California https://tanenbaum.org/blog/2019/10/tragedy-in-california/ Wed, 30 Oct 2019 16:59:49 +0000 https://tanenbaum.org/?p=17113

Non-Violence – a sculpture by Karl Fredrik Reutersward at UN Headquarters in New York


Last night, three men were fatally shot and nine others were injured in a shooting at a Halloween party. Tanenbaum’s Peacemakers in Action Network—religious peace activists from across the globe—took note that once again, the U.S. suffers from such violence. They are both concerned and outraged at the escalating rate of mass shootings taking place in the U.S. I am proud to share their words. 

We are Tanenbaum’s Peacemakers in Action Network: Religiously motivated peace activists from armed conflicts across the world and recipients of the Peacemakers in Action Award. Spanning different religions, beliefs and conflicts, we have experienced violence and reconciliation. We know the pain of loss, the destruction engendered by hatred, and the possibilities of peace.

The Peacemakers in Action Network is dedicated to conflict transformation and reconciliation. Our vision is to build a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world. As individuals who work to resolve armed conflicts, we stand together and raise our collective voice to denounce developments that threaten peace and human security.

Today, with profound sadness, we call on the people and the lawmakers of the United States to stop the proliferation of dangerous weapons across the U.S. and the rhetoric of hate that is fueling America’s epidemic of mass shootings.

This summer alone, mass shootings have left over 120 people dead, and many more survivors and families who will long carry their wounds. Tragedy struck again in California yesterday, where 3 people were killed at a Halloween party and too many others injured. As a Network, we are deeply pained and outraged. We work in 23 global conflicts and dedicate our lives to peace within our own communities—and we are heartbroken to see the United States, once a beacon of hope for all of us, devolve into repeated outbreaks of preventable violence.

Responsible societies throughout the world regulate and control weapon ownership and availability, especially military-style weapons of war along with high capacity ammunition. As a result, the citizens of these responsible countries live in greater security and safety. Incomprehensibly, this responsibility continues to elude the United States government at the expense of thousands of victims every year.

To those who support the current legislative inaction, ignore the overwhelmingly popular demand for change, and oppose comprehensive reform, we say to you: Your choice is tantamount to participating in these crimes. The guilt of those who fire the weapons at innocent civilians is shared with those who stand in the way of reasonable and responsible laws and policies.

We stand in solidarity with the women and men across the United States, and the world, urging U.S. lawmakers and weapons manufacturers to take overdue action on these crimes fueled by hate and misunderstanding. Only by doing this can the U.S. put an end to the reactionary cycles of violence that have become systemic in a nation once revered for its ideals and freedoms, and halt the spread of the very same weapons that go on to enable violence and conflict around the world.

Protecting humanity is a primordial need, and it is through reflecting inward, to the wisdom of our faith traditions, that we are reminded of our interdependence and that violence perpetrated against one group of people is violence directed at us all.

As Christians, Muslims, Jews, and Buddhists, we offer these reminders from the books of Genesis and the Quran:

Genesis, Chapter 1, verse 27

So God created humankind in God’s own image, in the image of God He created them;
male and female God created them.

Al Quran 7:56

And create not disorder in the earth after it has been set in order
and call upon Him in fear and hope.
Surely, the mercy of Allah is nigh unto those who do good.

Life is sacred, and it is our mission not to harm it, but to protect and honor it.

Peacemakers in Action Network

Dr. Sarah AK Ahmed – Iraq
José “Chencho” Alas – El Salvador
Betty Bigombe – Uganda
Abuna Elias Chacour – Israel/Palestine
Ricardo Esquivia – Colombia
Maria Ida “Deng” Giguiento – Philippines
Azhar Hussain – Pakistan
Dr. Ephraim Isaac – Ethiopia
Father Sava Janjic – Kosovo
Dishani Jayaweera – Sri Lanka
Hind Kabawat – Syria
Dr. Yehezkel Landau – Israel/USA
Dr. William Lowrey – USA/South Sudan
Rev. Jacklevyn Manuputty – Indonesia
Friar Ivo Markovic – Bosnia & Herzegovina
Rev. Canon Andrew White – Iraq
Pastor James Movel Wuye – Nigeria


Joyce Dubensky,
CEO, Tanenbaum

Join the Celebration! Tanenbaum Gala 2020! https://tanenbaum.org/blog/2019/10/save-the-date/ Mon, 28 Oct 2019 21:33:44 +0000 https://tanenbaum.org/?p=17104 We look forward to welcoming you to our 2020 gala, at the magnificent Edison Ballroom, on May 27, 2020. It is sure to be a splendid affair, and even more so if you are there! See you in 2020!