Congregational leaders from the three Abrahamic faiths — Rabbi Tuvia Brander, Bishop Dr. Benjamin Watts, and Imam Refai Arefin — will discuss the pastoral, spiritual and logistical challenges they face, as well as the unanticipated opportunities they encounter as they guide their communities of faith in prayer during this time of crisis and social distancing. Jews around the world are currently observing a ten-day period of intense repentance and prayer (Aseret Yimay Teshuvah) in preparation for the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). It is thus, an apt time for Abrahamic siblings to learn from and support one another in their faith practices.
Deena Grant, Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, will moderate.
About the Speakers
Rabbi Tuvia Brander is the Mara D’Atra (spiritual leader) of the Young Israel of West Hartford. Under his leadership, the Young Israel of West Hartford has continued to grow rapidly – welcoming new faces and families from near and far. Rabbi Brander’s warm and welcoming personality and commitment to creating multiple, diverse, halakhicly meaningful moments and spiritual opportunities have helped attract people of diverse backgrounds and ages to feel at home in the Young Israel community.
Bishop Dr. Benjamin K. Watts is the Senior Pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church of New London, Connecticut, where he has served for over 30 years. Under his leadership, the church ministry has grown and serves the spiritual, cultural, and physical needs of its members and the community. Dr. Watts is also Hartford Seminary’s Faculty Associate in Religion and Community Life and Director of the Black Ministries Program.
Imam Refai Arefin serves as the Assistant Imam of the Islamic Association of Greater Hartford. He pursued study of Arabic and Islamic sciences abroad for over ten years at Al-Azhar University and Qortoba Institute in Cairo, Egypt, at Balqa’a University in Amman, Jordan, and under traditional tutelage in Fez, Morocco and Damascus, Syria. He has spoken at countless mosques, churches, schools and universities throughout the State of Connecticut on Islam, its spiritual underpinnings and social manifestations.
Dr. Deena Grant is Associate Professor of Jewish Studies at Hartford Seminary. She received her Ph.D. in Hebrew and Judaic Studies from New York University, specializing in Hebrew Bible. An observant Jewish scholar, Dr. Grant values studying and teaching the Hebrew Bible from a historical-critical perspective and also as it is interpreted and lived out by faith communities.
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