Raouf M. Abdullah, Father Tim Heflin, Alan Ronkin joined us for an interfaith panel on Religion and Democracy on October 26, 2016.
Raouf M. Abdullah is an attorney who practices in DC and MD. He is proficient in civil litigation, criminal defense, corporate law, and other areas of law. He was a senior trial attorney at the Federal Trade Commission until 2003. He also served at the State’s Attorney’s Office, Prince George’s County, Maryland.
Father Tim Heflin is the Rector (senior priest) at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Burke, Virginia and has been a local advocate for conversation and building friendships among strangers, especially for interfaith relationships in the Jewish and Muslim communities. Tim served in executive management and chaplain positions for hospice programs across the country prior to ordained ministry – in his native Mississippi, the Southside of Chicago, western Colorado, and the metro New Orleans area following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In one particular hospice, he oversaw the construction of the largest free-standing residential hospice in the United States.
Tim is part of a local, interfaith clergy group in northern Virginia that he calls friends, a group that is spreading the word that people can be different and be friends. This interfaith group is now meeting monthly in local congregations to model ways to have open, honest discussion, while encouraging friendship in the midst of difference. St. Andrew’s has an active relationship with a church in Ramallah, Palestine and Tim encourages travel to the Holy Land as a way to meet people and understand firsthand what is going on in a region of the world we hear about daily. St. Andrew’s opens its doors weekly to a local mosque – Peace Islamic Center in Burke – for Friday prayers as part of this commitment to relationships.
Alan Ronkin is an accomplished advocate and career Jewish professional who has been involved in Israel and community relations for over 20 years.In that time he has worked in Jewish communal institutions across the United States including in Los Angeles, Cleveland, Seattle, Boston and now Washington DC.
As an advocate, Alan has focused on relationship building and policy development to support a society that reflects the best of Jewish values including support for Israel, equity and appreciation of difference. In his long career he has led successful campaigns to defeat anti-Israel ballot initiatives, conducted numerous tours of Israel for prominent non-Jewish leaders including elected officials and clergy, and advocated on behalf of domestic urban concerns.
In addition to his work in Jewish communal circles, in 2013, Alan served as Policy Adviser and Constituent Manager for Congressman Joe Kennedy III. In that role he assisted the congressman in enriching his relationships with Jewish constituents and in grappling with issues related to Israel and other Jewish causes. He is a native of Bridgeport, CT, earned a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Southern California and a Masters in Jewish Communal Service and a Doctorate (honoris causa) in Jewish Non-Profit Management from Hebrew Union College.