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Interfaith Interconnect hosts August’s virtual religion chat with a Jewish and a Muslim with the question: “How does your community provide for those in need of forgiveness?”

The panelists are Dr. Rabbi Milder (Congregation Beth Emek) and Dr. Abdul-Mun’im Jitmoud (Muslim Community Center – East Bay).

The program is from 7 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.  The Zoom session opens at 6:45 p.m. to give attendees a chance to virtually chat with people from other cultures and faiths.

7 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. | Wednesday, August 11 | Join live session on Zoom at mcceastbay.org/chat

Questions? interfaith.interconnect@gmail.com

Rabbi Laurence Elis Milder, Ph.D.

Rabbi Larry Milder is a native of St. Louis, Missouri. He received his B.A. at Brandeis University and was ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York in 1983. Following ordination, he earned a Ph.D. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University, where he was the recipient of a fellowship from the Center for Modern Jewish Studies, a research institute devoted to the social scientific study of American Jewry.

Rabbi Milder has pursued dual careers in the rabbinate and in academia. He has served congregations in Indianapolis, IN; Bangor, ME; and Westborough, MA. He also was an assistant professor (of Judaic studies) at the University of Maine and a lecturer at the Bangor Theological Seminary. From July 2011 through June 2013, Rabbi Milder served on the faculty of the American Hebrew Academy in Greensboro, NC, as the Academy’s Reform Rabbi.

Rabbi Milder has been active in civic affairs, interfaith coalitions, and youth work. He has served the Union for Reform Judaism as a regional director in its Social Action and Youth divisions.

Rabbi Milder’s hobby is composing and performing Jewish folk music. His songs are popular in youth groups and summer camps throughout North America. Rabbi Milder is married to Janet Elis Milder. They have three children: Miriam, Avi, and Alex.

Abdul-Mun’im Jitmoud, Ph.D.

Dr. Abdul Mun’im Sombat Jitmoud was born and raised on a small rice farm in Thailand. He felt his calling to teaching when his principal asked him to lead his first-grade peers at his village school.

After finishing Teacher’s College in Thailand, he came to the U.S. for higher education. While working on his Ph. D, Dr. Abdul-Mun’im fell in love with his colleague, Dr. Linda-Jamilah Kolocotronis.

She embraced Islam and over the next 30 years, they raised six boys as Dr. Jitmoud moved from city to city to serve as principal at seven Islamic schools in the U.S.

In 2015, while in retirement in Thailand, Dr. Jitmoud received the tragic news. His 22-year-old son Salahuddin was fatally stabbed during a robbery while he delivered pizzas in Lexington, Ky.

The slaying rattled Lexington’s large Muslim community, which wondered whether the killing was a hate crime. It was not. Two years later, Dr. Jitmoud sat on the witness stand and looked at his son’s murderer. “I don’t blame you,” he said.

Dr. Jitmoud asked the court to spare the life of his son’s murderer. He cited verses from the Qur’an.

The Washington Post quoted Jitmoud as saying: “Forgiveness is the greatest gift of charity in Islam.”

Jitmoud later embraced his son’s murdered in court, who sobbed as he apologized for Salahuddin’s death. A video of that moment went viral on social media and made headlines around the world.

Dr. Jitmoud now travels around the world speaking about the power of forgiveness. He received Malaysia’s First Compassion Award.


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                                         Interfaith Interconnect monthly “Chats”

   Tri-Valley Interfaith Interconnect meets on the second Wednesday of every month at a different Worship Community location in Livermore and Pleasanton.

The meetings begin and end promptly at 5 p.m. and 6:15 p.m., respectively, so that you can make other commitments that evening if needed. The doors open at 4:30pm and remain open until 6:30pm for a social period and to continue discussions if desired (as often happens).

Typically, two speakers from different faiths will speak for 10-15 minutes each about a particular subject, followed by Q&A for each speaker.  We then break up into groups of three to discuss a suggested question dealing with spiritual or culture values.  The Chat ends promptly at 6:15pm, so that people are free to leave, but small groups often extend their discussions as desired, or they may join others for discussion or socializing as desired.

The subject of the Chat discussions will typically continue for 1-4 meetings, as the various faith groups within Interfaith Interconnect address the particular subject.  Past topics have been:

  • What does your faith teach about the acceptance of other religions? Has this changed over time?
  • Choose a particular holy day or celebration that your faith observes. What is its significance? How do you celebrate it?
  • What myths or misconceptions would you like to dispel about your religion or religious practice?
  • How is meditation practiced in your faith?
  • What is your faith’s creation story? How did the work come to be?
  • What is your faith’s perspective on the afterlife?
  • How does your congregation help to bridge the different political or social justice views within it?
  • Who in your religion would you consider to be a holy person or one held in high esteem?
  • When have you felt like an outsider? When you were an outsider, how did someone welcome you?
  • What are the courtship and wedding traditions of your faith?
  • What are practices and rituals honoring someone who has passed away in your faith?
  • What should people of other faiths/cultures know so not to offend people of your faith?
  • What does your faith teach about forgiveness?
  • How does your tradition describe God?
  • Holidays of various faiths: share a favorite tradition or memory.
  • How does your faith pray?
  • How did/have the events of September 11, 2001 affected you? (on the anniversary)
  • How does your faith welcome new members?
  • How is meditation practiced in your faith?
  • How does the architecture of your place of worship reflect your faith’s teachings?
  • What are the first rights of passage in your faith?
  • What myths would you like to dispel about your religion or religious practice?
  • What Interfaith and Intercultural friendships that have enriched your life?
  • What behavior would get you thrown out of your religion? How has this changed over the years?
  • What is your religion’s path to leadership: requirements, process for choosing, etc.?
  • Engaging our Youth – challenges and success. What does a successful program look like?
  • What is the role of women in your faith tradition? How has it evolved over time?

  • To get current information about the meeting location and subject, please contact us or ask to signup for our (no spam) mailings at our e-mail:
  • We are also on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/InterfaithInterconnect/timeline