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Interfaith Friendship: Personal and Political Reflections

Date(s) - Sunday, June 19th
7:00 pm CDT - 8:30 pm CDT

Cardinal Stritch University Kendall Theater

dsc0801-version-2In this program moderated by Pardeep Kaleka (Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee), award-winning artist Siona Benjamin and her childhood friend Zehra Tahir (Vice Principal and Counselor at Salam Middle and High School in Milwaukee), will initiate a new way of understanding Jewish-Muslim relations through an examination of their shared childhood experiences, their insights from working for social justice over the last three decades, and their visionary belief in what is possible through interfaith friendship.

FREE | All Are Welcome

Sponsors: Suzy Ettinger Donor Advised Fund of the Milwaukee Jewish Community Foundation, Betsy Rosenblum and Richard Buchband, Annalee Sosman

Partners: Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee and Cardinal Stritch University

In connection with Beyond Borders: The Art of Siona Benjamin, an exhibit on display at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, June 17 – September 25, 2022. Image: Finding Home #61 (Beloved), 2004 © Siona Benjamin

About the Presenters

Siona Benjamin has an MFA in painting from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, Ill., and an MFA in theater set design from the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign. She has exhibited in the United States, Europe and Asia.

She was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in 2011 to India, and a second Fulbright fellowship in 2016-17 to Israel. As not just a Jewish artist but also as one who crosses cultural boundaries, she’s received praise in The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Financial Times, The Boston Globe, Art in America, Art New England, Art and Antiques, ArtNews, Moment Magazine, The Times of India, The Mumbai Mirror, Marg Magazine, and other publications.

Her multicultural art has also been featured in The Jewish Week in New York City and New Jersey, The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, and other publications.

Pardeep Kaleka is the executive director of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, a de-radicalization expert, and a trauma-focused clinical therapist. As a first-generation immigrant from India, Mr. Kaleka has spent more than 20 years in the public arenas of law enforcement, education, and social services. He has worked on issues of violence prevention and coalition-building across ethnic, racial and religious cultures, and has helped trauma survivors and perpetrators with recovery. As a consultant he has developed policies and practices to help mental health workers, social service practitioners, law enforcement agents, and educators build healthier, safer, more inclusive communities. He is the author of, “The Gifts of Our Wounds” and award-winning community columnist on community health. 

Zehra Tahir grew up in the same neighborhood as Siona Benjamin and they shared many days together as childhood friends. She is a Wisconsin licensed K-12 school counselor, and has earned two Masters degrees from Concordia University of Wisconsin, one in School Counseling and another in Educational Administration. Ms. Tahir is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Wisconsin Schools of Character, and is a strong advocate of shaping lives through character. She is also a Board member of Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition (MMWC), and a former two-term board member of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee (ISM) Executive Board.

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