Past Events

Fall 2009

Rose Ensemble The Rose Ensemble
"Cantigas from the Land of Three Faiths: Voices of Ancient Mediterranean Christians, Jews & Muslims"
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Mitchell Auditorium
2:00 p.m. Concert, 3:30 p.m. Post-concert Discussion
Free and open to the public

Five hundred years of vibrant music and passionate poetry come alive in this program echoing the rhythms of ancient Mediterranean courts and the solemnity of sacred spaces. This lyrical collection of Arab-Andalusian and Bedouin dances, Sephardic laments, Spanish villancicos, Hebrew chants and Galician cantigas is "a brilliant blend of scholarly intrigue and superior performance chops" (Cleveland Plain Dealer). The Rose Ensemble's voices are joined by an array of period and Middle Eastern string and percussion instruments, including vielle, harp, 'ud, rebec, dumbek and riqq.

Following the concert, join the acclaimed performers of the Rose Ensemble and Tom Crann, host of MPR's All Things Considered, for lively and thoughtful discussion of the cultural and religious worlds brought to life by this music.

Sponsored by the Oreck-Alpern Interreligious Forum, School of Arts and Letters, and Department of Music.


Islam Poster Dr. Fawaz Gerges
Chair of Middle Eastern Politics and International Relations
Sarah Lawrence College
"The U.S. and the Muslim World: A New Beginning?"
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Mitchell Auditorium
7:00 p.m. Lecture, 8:30 Discussion
Free and open to the public

How well has the U.S. functioned in the complex religious and cultural climates of the Muslim world? What nuances should the Obama administration be considering as it shapes its relationships with Iran and Pakistan? Fawaz Gerges, an expert on Islam and political process, including American foreign policy towards the Muslim world, will explore exactly these questions. Gerges, author of Journey of the Jihadist: Inside Muslim Militancy (2007) and The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global (2005), has given scores of interviews on these subjects for various media outlets throughout the world, including CNN, NPR, and Al Jazeera. No armchair historian, Gerges has spent several years conducting field research in the Middle East. He is now working on a book tentatively titled Understanding Muslim Politics: From Nasser to Bin Laden.

Sponsored by the Oreck-Alpern Interreligious Forum and the Alworth Center for Peace and Justice.

Kashif Saroya
Islamic Resource Group of Twin Cities
"American Muslims: The Next Generation"
Thursday, November 12, 2009
7 :00 p.m
Somers Main Lounge
Free and open to the public

Kashif Saroya is President of the Advisory Council of Muslim Youth of Minnesota, an organization dedicated to "the nurturing of youth, the future generation of Muslims," and director of a summer camp for Muslim youth which focuses on struggles for identity, self-definition, and empowerment. Saroya is also outreach director for the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, whose mission is to enhance knowledge of Islam and encourage intercultural dialogue to promote justice and mutual understanding. He will examine issues of belief and practice on the minds and hearts of young men and women in Muslim communities in Minnesota and throughout the U.S. as they seek spouses and start their own families.

Spring 2009

"Anishinaabe Gagiikwewinan: Ojibwe World View and Ways of Knowing"

Anishinaabe Poster

"Anishinaabewiwin: Indian Identity in Historical Context"
Anton Treuer (Leech Lake)
Tuesday, March 24, 7 p.m.
Somers Main Lounge
The College of St. Scholastica

Dr. Anton Treuer (Leech Lake) is a professor of Ojibwe Language and Oral Tradition at Bemidji State University. He is the author of Living Our Language: Ojibwe Tales and Oral Histories and editor of Omaa Akiing (Ojibwe tales by Leech Lake elders) and the Oshkaabewis Native Journal. Dr. Treuer is considered one of the foremost experts of his generation on Ojibwe language, culture, and history.

"The Ojibwe Sweat Lodge: Life Teachings and Cultural Revitalization"
Dan and Dennis Jones (Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation)
Tuesday, March 31, 7 p.m.
Somers Main Lounge
The College of St. Scholastica

Dan and Dennis Jones (Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nations) are pipe carriers and respected teachers of Ojibwe language and culture at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College and the University of Minnesota, respectively. Dan leads a weekly language immersion group at Fond du Lac, and Dennis is the founder of an Ojibwe language immersion program in Ontario, Canada. They share a tremendous knowledge of cultural matters and are great innovators in the field of Ojibwe language and culture.

"Daa-mino-bimaadiziwag ina Giniijaanisinaanig gaye Gidoozhishenhyinaanig?" or "Can Our Children and Grandchildren Live the Good Life? Current Concerns"
Al Hunter (Manitou Rapids First Nation) & Bill Howes (Fond du Lac)
Tuesday, April 7, 7 p.m.
Somers Main Lounge
The College of St. Scholastica

Al Hunter (Manitou Rapids, Rainy River First Nations) is a poet who has been published in many journals and anthologies and is the author of two books of poetry including his new release, The Recklessness of Love: Dreams and Regrets. Bill Howes (Fond du Lac) belongs to the Eagle Clan. He is the project coordinator for the Ojibwe Language and Cultural Educational program at The College of St. Scholastica. Both are frequently called upon to speak across the region on a variety of matters pertaining to Anishinaabe ways.

Winter 2009 Series

Thursday, January 15
"From Generation to Generation: Journeys in American Judaism" with
Dr. Deborah Dash Moore, Director, Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, University of Michigan

Rabbi Jacob Staub



Thursday, January 29
"The Jewish Approach to Repairing the World: Partnering with the Divine"
Rabbi Jacob Staub, Professor of Jewish Philosophy and Spirituality,
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Philadelphia, PA










Rabbi Amy Bernstein and Rabbi Amy Eilberg








Thursday, February 26
"Being Jewish: Contemporary Topics and Tensions" with
Rabbi Amy Bernstein, Temple Israel and Rabbi Amy Eilberg









7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16

Burns Wellness Commons Auditorium
A free reception precedes the talk, beginning at 6 p.m.

"Attitudes Toward Religious Pluralism: Exclusion to Transformation"
with Gary Boelhower, professor, Department of Theology and Religious Studies

Respondents: Neal Keye, Department of History, Politics and Culture; Arshia Khan, Islamic Community of the Twin Ports; and Rabbi Amy Bernstein, Temple Israel


FALL 2008 SERIES: "Considering Catholicism"
Each session begins at 7 p.m. in Somers Lounge on campus.

Tuesday, Oct. 28 -- History and Identity
"American Catholics or Catholic Americans? Past, Present, and Future"
with David O'Brien, Loyola Professor of Catholic Studies,
College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA

Tuesday, Nov. 11 -- Belief and Practice
"Singing our Faith, Singing our Theology"
with Delores Dufner, O.S.B., Director of Liturgy,
St. Benedict Monastery, St. Joseph, MN

Tuesday, Nov. 18 -- Current Issues and Tensions
"The Grace of Arguing: Social Morality, Catholic Faith, and the Real World"
with Michael Schuck, Department of Theology and Director,
Joan and Bill Hank Center for Catholic Intellectual Heritage,
Loyola University, Chicago

These lectures and discussions explore the defining concepts which cut across religious communities and which also make them vitally distinct: What defines a human being? How does a given tradition understand the relationship between human and divine, body and spirit, this world and others? How is power or justice defined and embodied? We aim to provide points of departure by bringing in skilled teachers who can frame these issues for contemplation

Faces of Islam - A Film Series


Faces of Islam

“The Islam Project” 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25
What does it mean to be a Muslim today?With one-fifth of the world’s population practicing Islam, this is a question of growing importance, and one thoughtfully explored in the two PBS documentaries of “The Islam Project.” Drawing on the work of leading Islamic scholars, it tells the stories of Muslims from Iran, Nigeria, Egypt, Malaysia, Turkey and the United States who are struggling to define how Islam will shape their lives and societies. A companion Web site, at, offers a guide to the films, background and suggestions for discussion.


“Le Grand Voyage” 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11


An engrossing and whimsical feature film about a father and son who drive from their home in Paris to make the hajj (sacred pilgrimage) through Italy, Serbia, Turkey, Syria and Jordan, to Saudi Arabia and finally Mecca. Their cross-culturaljourney is complicated by the generation gap between the Moroccan father and his French-born son. This film was a winner at the Venice Film Festival.


“American Ramadan” 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 1


This film follows five families in Dallas and Los Angeles as they observe the holy month of Ramadan, balancing family, work, fasting and prayer.These stories are complemented by commentary from scholars of the three Abrahamic traditions, who bring to light the common threads of fasting and spiritual yearning. This is an introspective view of Muslims in America who are honoring their religious and cultural traditions while living out Western ways of life.



“Linda & Ali: Two Worlds Within Four Walls” 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 25
Linda and Ali’s 20-year marriage is the central focus of this film, produced during two years that overlap with the American invasion of Iraq.The couple fell in love in the United States, but now raise their seven children in Qatar, where Ali was born.Linda adopted the Shiite Muslim traditions of her husband, but within their loving home, Western and Middle Eastern ideals and attitudes often collide. The filmmaker hones in on surprising and intimate family discussions about Islam and Qatari society, painting a fascinating, funny and joyful portrait of a family living at the complex intersection of gender roles, nationality and religion.

Moderators: Dr. Nik Hassan, University of MN-Duluth; Dr. Neal Keye, The College of St. Scholastica; Arshia Khan, Dr. Nizar Saleh, Imani Jaafar Mohammad and Murad Mohammad, Islamic Resource Group of the Twin Cities; Katerina Alwan and Dr. Sabah Alwan, The College of St. Scholastica.

For more information, please contact Dr. Elyse Carter Vosen (218) 723-6446 or

Funding for The Interreligious Forum is provided in large part by a grant from the Oreck-Alpern Foundation