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August 14-18, 2023
Chicago, IL

I will be presenting five different programs.

Individual Lecture “What is White? Can a Sephardi, Mizrahi, or Muslim-Arab be a ‘Real’ POC?”
Presenting on “The Dichotomy of Identity” panel
Aug. 16, 8-9:30am with Dr. Davide Tacchini: Islam and Democracy, Muslim Voices Amongst Us,
Jena Center for Reconciliation Studies

Art Exhibit “Welcome the Stranger: Interreligious Lessons from Zazu Dreams
Aug. 16, 2-3pm, exhibition lecture


Workshop “How to Live Our Indigenous Semitic Interfaith Eco Ethics”
Aug. 18, 8-9am


Spiritual Playdate Workshops
Aug. 18, 1:30pm, Main Lobby Stage


Zazu Dreams: Ancient Lessons for Modern Times
Aug. 18, 2pm, Main Lobby Stage

What excites you about presenting a program at the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions?

I am most excited about collaborating with other activists, scholars, and artists who are radically committed to the intersection of art, politics, and daily living as a way to embody our eco-social justice ethics. In my art exhibition, workshop, and individual lecture, I will challenge binary thinking that reinforces neoliberal denial of our corporeal, societal, and global interconnectedness—instilling conformist laws of conduct that continually replenish the toxic soup in which we all live. It is this fear-of-difference/ fear-of-other chasm that this conversation intends to cross and subvert. Interfaith, transgenerational storytelling and art can stimulate anethic of  empathy that urges us to expand our sense of play, vulnerability, uncertainty, and intuition—simultaneously an emotional and cognitive state. Moving beyond socially imposed binaries, my PoWR programs will attempt to illuminate possibilities of inhabiting the fertility of often seemingly contradictory, interstitial terrain. My profound desire is to discover the passion- work of others who are similarly engaged in these challenges. Hopefully we can work together!

What is the primary message you hope to share with attendees of your 2023 Parliament program?

My performance-based pedagogical attempt to establish a sense of equilibrium revitalizes interfaith wisdom from interfaith Semitic ancient traditions. Semitic cultural diversity and conviviality is a key to sustaining biodiversity and is at the core of this interreligious ecoliteracy conversation. Semitic diversity reflects the decolonizing, liberatory practice of nourishing interdependent, co-beneficial relationships. Hybrid identities ignite an ethics-of-difference and a politics-of-transformation rooted in an investigation of how to individually and collectively dissolve the calcifying tyranny of certainty—that which obliterates the possibility of difference. RabindranathTagore’s famous conversation with Einstein titled, “We Think That We Think Clearly, but That’s Only Because We Don’t Think Clearly,” refuted the faulty assumption characteristic of industrialized humans “that the world we see is all there is.” By highlighting the violence of the closed border (binary-based illusions of our separateness from one another and from our natural worlds), we conjure the multiplicity of the imagination. This is an urgent call for a lived dialectic, a transformative resistance that emphasizes collaborative trans- disciplinarity/interreligiosity, offering a model for integrating art with life, politics, and unapologetic complex thought.

In The Reader, Bernard Schlink’s novel about love and dignity in the face of the Holocaust, there is a scene where the main character confronts the cruelty of indifference as motivation for murder: human beings considered useless can be carelessly disposed of. As a child of a Holocaust survivor, it is particularly horrifying for me to witness how industrial civilization continues to harness apathy and contempt of difference. My ancestral memory, my cellular memory tells me we must reconsider waste in terms of symbiotic kinship: a pencil, a rubber band, a square of toilet paper, a fruit tree, a family pet, a human friend, or a stranger in a distant land—all connected to us as kin. Rather than asking: how can we “save” or “conserve” industrial civilization (nation-state thinking/convenience-culture consciousness), my PoWR conversations explore:

  • How can we live our lives without sacrificing the lives of others?
  • How can we transition from our petroleum-pharmaceutical-addicted cyber-culture to a circular, localized economics rooted in symbiotic relationships?
  • How can we decolonize our bodies and minds by learning from interreligious ancestral teachings?

The interfaith trickster disrupts the taken-for-granted normalcy of Western imperialism, colonialism, and the nation-state. Curiosity and intellectual risk-taking is central to a practice of embodiment of magic and myth that teaches us how to collectively live. Non-binary (trickster/interstitial) traditions that reflect both social justice and oral storytelling enable us to witness our habitual behavior and then develop new frameworks for social-moral imagination.

By challenging multicultural Jewish and Islamic epistemicide perpetuated through EuroChristian-centric normative practices, my climate-justice presentation is intended to ignite cross-cultural, interfaith, transdisciplinary paradigm shifts. While encouraging individuals and communities to resist industrialized convenience-culture and its self-destructive consequences, this action-based academic presentation offers psychological, behavioral, and infrastructural design shifts that embody spiritual intelligence from the ancient Middle East still in practice today. We will emphasize how we can transform our habitual capitalist-consumerism through a historical and contemporary interfaith commitment to biophilia and biomimicry. Enlivening philosophies from our respective spiritual legacies, our presentation will highlight models of symbiosis between ethnic diversity and biodiversity in order to galvanize sustainable changes at the intersection of individual behavior, community action, infrastructural design, corporate accountability, and policy reform.

Why should faith communities work together to protect freedom and democracy? 

Fostering the advantages of working together across religious and spiritual differences, we can offer how the concept of home (oikos—economy/ecology) can become a unifying goal. Home can be a foundation for freedom and democracy. Through dialogue and debate, we can bridgeseemingly irreconcilable differences and intractable conflicts through active listening where people of diverse backgrounds can find allies in unexpected places. Our varied experiences and perspectives can nourish sustainable coalition building and build extraordinary resiliency and creativity necessary for community. More than ever in history, it is essential to recognize our interconnectedness—our unity in diversity. Following models of Truth & Reconciliation conversations, co-evolving relationships can help overcome fear that divide-and-conquer politics breed. Rather than blaming and shaming and “us” vs. “them” divisions, we recognize our commonalities and how we are all interdependent. Embedded in radical interdependency, this embodiment offers symbiotic solutions as we transition from our extractive petroleum- pharmaceutical-addicted cyber-culture to a regenerative ecological spirituality. Cross-cultural models of symbiosis across the Levant are found in languages, symbols, festivals, liturgy, and life-cycle markers. These can counteract the paralysis of climate-anxiety / climate-grief as well as the justification of destructive industrialized high technologies.

By celebrating cross-cultural voices and by protesting a singular perspective–a ‘tyranny of purity’ that erases (makes invisible) difference—these hybrid ethnic overlays are intended to offer the potency/vitality of multiple simultaneous identities. By engaging dialogues between scientific inquiry, visual narrative, and personal-historical anecdote, this exhibit hopefully unites diverse factions and inspires an embodied way of learning leading to collective eco-social justice: leadership development, civic engagement, and social innovation. Rooted in ancestral practices of engineering, architectural, and agricultural wisdoms (for instance, the Medieval Iraqi qanat irrigation system, still in use today), Judaic, Islamic, and Persian spiritual pharmacopeias (for example, Sephardic folk domestic medico-magic), interspecies lessons (ranging from plant, tree, and mycelium intelligence and octopus decentralizing thinking and sensing), and epigenetics (environmental stimuli that regulate gene activity), the text-based images explore the sacred as an antidote to “overindustrialized” (Ivan Illich) agrochemical, medical, and petrochemical-addicted infrastructures.

What convinced you to lend your voice to interfaith spaces? 

Children in my 4th grade class in Texas searched through my big curly hair looking for horns; the kids in the school cafeteria would go into vomit-mimicking hysterics because they saw my grapeleaves and bagels as dog food, and my colorful clothes and elaborate jewelry as Gypsy-like and gaudy—my voice, gestures, opinions were too big, completely out of place. They encountered my Jewish otherness (additionally, my Arab-Jewish otherness) as danger and as a reflection of the abject. My mother and I were clearly displaced, seen as foreigners—trespassing on U.S. territory. They would press, “Where are you From?… No, Where are you really from?“ This was my first embodied understanding of the relationship between the individual experience and the greater whole, the vulnerability of my “ethnic” body and the vulnerability of my “natural” environment, the private and the public, microcosmic interactions reflecting macrocosmic interconnections. I quickly learned both the extraordinary danger and vitality of difference–the lived intersection between cultural diversity and biodiversity. In my cellular consciousness, I learned as a Sephardic, Arab-Jewish child the depths of Western culture’s anathema relationship to what it deems “waste” and how the unfamiliar, the unknown, the Other is too often categorized as “abject,” “invisible.” Early on, I felt consumed by my compulsion to speak out about the relationships I experienced between exiling the supposed Other and harming the natural worlds in which we live.

Why are religious and spiritual communities important participants in initiatives promoting peace, justice, and sustainability? 

One way to explore this question is by asking: How can we invoke dynamic intersubjectivities in order to hold ourselves and corporations accountable to toxic production / consumption / disposal habits that poison life on earth? How can we transform habitual behaviors of entitlement and obsessive accumulation so that we embody the ways we are all interconnected as a model and resource for compassionate living? How can we individually and collectively transform the Anthropocene to a biocentric Commons—one that inspires, educates, and mobilizes peoples of diverse cultural backgrounds? Like the metabolism of the human body and the earth’s tendency towards homeostasis, the metabolism of our global culture must be scrutinized as a relational organism. As Salman Rushdie reminds us that  freedom (like peace, justice, democracy, and sustainability) is not divisible, I am acutely conscious of how these multiple subjectivities and commitments are inextricably bound. For example, the Arabic word ummah refers to the co- existence of Jews and Muslims as a community of believers. Under Medieval Islam, over  90% of Jews flourished throughout the Islamic world—a convivencia. I am not suggesting a nostalgic return to a diasporic homeland, but rather, an investigation into the ‘deterritorialization’ of our home in the borderzone (Smadar Lavie). This fertile territory that recognizes the intersections of ethnicities can become a basis for global justice—a modern manifestation of convivencia, reminiscent of Spinoza’s “declaration of cooperation.”

What program track are you most looking forward to attending at the 2023 Parliament? Why?

I am most excited about the conversations and potential future collaborations among myself and the presenters that cross-over the specific, individual tracks.


Interfaith Super PoWR 
Life Lessons on the Love Bus
The tiniest home with the most magical impact Join us for a video tour of this unique and promising way of living. Be inspired by Cara and her family and their adventure as they rescued a school bus and transformed it into an eco-art storytelling dwelling!
Judaism, Islam Super PoWR 
Spiritual Amazement: Making the Dream of Eco-Human Rights a Reality 
How can we balance life in our modern world while learning from Ancient Technologies? Learn how to appreciate our natural world home and how it connects, grounds and teaches us to nurture our cultural diversity, biodiversity and human rights!