Interfaith Lecture Aims to Bridge Divide

President of the Howard County Board of Rabbis, Rabbi Susan Grossman, testifies at the board of education meeting. (Marc Shapiro)
Rabbi Susan Grossman (Marc Shapiro)

In a time of sweeping anti-Semitism and Islamophobia rocking minority communities across the country, the push for religious understanding and partnership is on a lot of people’s minds.

For the second straight year, Beth Shalom Congregation and the Howard County Muslim Council have offered a class to help shed light on those topics. The class, “The Children of Abraham Compare Notes: An Interfaith Dialogue,” brings together Jews, Christians and Muslims to educate people of each faith how to celebrate one another’s differences.

Rabbi Susan Grossman, who has served as Beth Shalom’s spiritual leader since 1997, said that audience participation is one of the most important aspects of the conversation.

“This is one of the most concrete ways to get to know our neighbors and support each other during what has been a pretty turbulent time,” said Grossman, who has moderated each of the first two sessions. “We have really seen how much this has helped the community, and we’ve received nothing but positive feedback.”

The final lecture, set for Dec. 4 at 7 p.m., will feature Imam Ali Siddiqui of the Muslim Institute for Interfaith Studies & Understanding and Dr. John Ahn of Howard University School of Divinity. Siddiqui and Ahn will address the challenges of how Jewish, Christian and Muslim Holy Scriptures command people of those faiths to protect their neighbors and the weak, among other issues.

“Now more than ever, especially in the context of the times today, there’s no better time to be having these conversations,” Grossman said.

At the first two lectures, on Oct. 30 and Nov. 13, more than 50 people attended. Grossman said she is expecting anywhere from 80 to 100 on hand for the final event. JT

For more information and tickets, visit

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