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Review for Salaam Network Inc, Louisville, KY, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

It has been gratifying to work with The Salaam Network (TSN) toward the goal of promoting unity within the Greater Louisville community through education and outreach. TSN fosters understanding and challenges ignorance, prejudice and animosity toward marginalized faiths and groups. To meet growing concerns about the prevalence of Islamophobia we became members of a core group of educators, clergy and activists representing the three Abrahamic faiths who joined together to develop a series of programs to be presented in religious, educational and secular venues.
Louisville is a religiously and ethnically diverse community. Every major religious faith is represented by long-time residents and newer immigrants. We are officially a Compassionate Community, appreciative of diversity and welcoming to newcomers. Nevertheless, there is a tendency for groups to be isolated. Knowledge can begin to break down this isolation on both interpersonal and policy levels. The self-image of our city as one that strives for wholeness provides an opportunity for type of outreach that shapes the TSN mission.
One approach TSN has taken has been to address the ways each faith community deals with central concerns of the day such as the position of women and LGBTQ individuals within it. Another has been to examine shared scripture and shared history. Each presentation or panel has been tailored for its audience: religious venue, university class, continuing education program or public library. Wherever possible presentations have been part of a series allowing presenters and audience to get to know each other. For many that has provided their first contact with a Muslim, their first introduction to Jewish ritual or their first opportunity to learn alternate scriptural approaches to issues of gender and sexuality. TSN programs have allowed for in depth focus on the origins of Islam and on the relationships between Jews, Christians and Muslims in medieval Spain. Where possible American Indian perspectives and traditions have been included in TSN programming as well.
As TSN core members and presenters we have drawn upon our academic backgrounds in sociology and anthropology including focuses on gender, diversity and religion, our extensive international experience as well as our grounding in Judaism, our own religious tradition. We have both learned an immeasurable amount from those we have worked with in TSN. We have become better prepared to work toward wholeness and have seen how effective TSN outreach has been. The questions participants in our programs ask have become more focused and nuanced. Members of the wider community and of our own congregation who have attended our programs and are not only eager for more, but also tell us that they have shared what they have learned and want to know when and where the next offering will be so they can encourage others to attend.
TSN is justifiably proud of the work it has done and continues to do.
Marcia Texler Segal, PhD Professor of Sociology & Dean for Research Emerita, Indiana University Southeast Co-Editor, Advances in Gender Research, Faculty Member Louisville Florence Melton Adult Mini-School
Edwin S. Segal, PhD Professor of Anthropology Emeritus, University of Louisville Board Member Congregation Adath Jeshurun, Faculty Member Louisville Florence Melton Adult Mini-School

Role:  Volunteer