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Rumi Forum and JIDS present a virtual panel discussion on

“Modern Muslim and Jewish Thinkers Who Have Inspired Us”

Jews and Muslims belong to living, breathing, and stimulating faiths. Let`s discover some of their inspiring modern thinkers at a panel together!


While anti-Semites and Islamophobes often speak as if our faiths have been frozen in ice (and primitive thinking) for many centuries, the fact is that Jews and Muslims belong to living, breathing, stimulating faiths.  On  February 9, 2022, at 7:00 p.m., JIDS and the Rumi Forum will jointly present a dialogue that presents some of the exciting ideas and personalities that have emerged within the past century to enrich our faiths.  We will hear presentations about two modern Jewish thinkers: Rami Shapiro, who has brought a passion for various eastern faiths into his study of Judaism, and Menachem Mendel Schneerson (aka the Lubavitcher Rebbe), whose ideas sparked the rapidly growing Chabad Movement within Judaism.  We will also hear presentations about two modern Muslim thinkers: Said Nursi, whose commentary of the Qur’an inspired a renewed way of engaging with the modern age; and Muhammad Iqbal, who had a remarkable impact on the intellectual and cultural reconstruction of Islam in British India and beyond.

These presentations will be given, respectively, by four scholars: Herb Levy, Rabbi Lee Weissman, Dr. Zeki Saritoprak, and Dr. Marcia Hermansen.



Rumi Forum and JIDS present this event as a collaborating partner of the Interfaith Council of Metropolitan Washington (IFCMW) during the 3rd Annual World Interfaith Harmony Week in the DMV. We are glad that this panel discussion coincides with the annual worldwide observance during the month of February 2022.





Herb LevyHerb Levy was raised in an Orthodox home in Baltimore, completing the high school department of the (then) Baltimore Hebrew College, in addition to public high school. Through his college years, he became disconnected from the Judaism that he was raised on but began to reconstruct Judaism to address the social change commitment he made in his life. He spent over 40 years working in affordable housing as his contribution to Tikkun Olam. He’s been active in Kol Ami Reconstructionist of Arlington VA since its birth in December 2000. During that time, he’s led more than 200 services, been active in the Steering and Ritual Committees, served as Director, and drafted a Machzor and the Haggadah that he used to lead 18 Kol Ami Second Seders.


lee weissmanRabbi Lee Weissman has been a Jewish educator in California for over 25 years. For over 10 years, Lee has been an interfaith activist both online and in person. His Facebook forum “Abraham’s Tent” offers a place for Muslims and Jews to communicate on religious issues. His Twitter account @JhadiJew has a wide interfaith following. Lee’s personal passion is Chassidic philosophy, particularly the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. Lee currently attends Magen David Sephardic Congregation.



Zeki saritoprakDr. Zeki Saritoprak is the Bediuzzaman Said Nursi Chair in Islamic Studies and a Professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. He holds a Ph.D. in Islamic Theology from the University of Marmara in Turkey. His dissertation which examines the personification of evil in the Islamic tradition was published in 1992. Professor Saritoprak is the author of over thirty academic articles and encyclopedia entries on topics in Islam. He is editor and translator of “Fundamentals of Rumi’s Thought: A Mevlevi Sufi Perspective” and the editor of a critical edition of Al-Sarakhsi’s “Sifat Ashrat al-Sa’a”. His most recent books are “Islam’s Jesus” (University Press of Florida, 2014) and “Islamic Spirituality: Theology and Practice for the Modern World” (Bloomsbury, 2017). He is currently working on a book on “Islamic Eschatology”.  


Marcia hermansenDr. Marcia Hermansen is Director of the Islamic World Studies Program and Professor in the Theology Department at Loyola University Chicago where she teaches courses in Islamic Studies and the academic study of religion. She received her Ph.D. in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago and her numerous authored and co-edited books include Religious Diversity at School: Educating for New Pluralistic Contexts (2021), Varieties of American Sufism (2020), Islam, Religions, and Pluralism in Europe (2016), Islam and Citizenship Education (2015), and Muslima Theology: The Voices of Muslim Women Theologians (2013), as well as translations of works of Shah Wali Allah of Delhi.


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