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FAU Holds Fourth Annual Global Shemin Trialogue Seminar:  'The Dignity of Difference'

BOCA RATON, FL (February 1, 2010) – Florida Atlantic University presents  the fourth annual Global Shemin Trialogue Seminar titled “The Dignity of Difference.”  The event will be held on Monday, February 15 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. in the Carole and Barry Kaye Performing Arts Auditorium in the Student Union on FAU’s Boca Raton campus, 777 Glades Road. It is free and open to the public.

Founded to encourage communication and understanding between the three Abrahamic faiths, this year’s Trialogue features Ms. Zainab Al-Suwaij, the executive director of the American Islamic Congress; Professor Michael J. Cook, the Sol and Arlene Bronstein Professor of Judaeo-Christian Studies at Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion; and Professor Philip A. Cunningham, director of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations of Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. The seminar will be moderated by Alan Berger, the Raddock Family Eminent Scholar Chair in Holocaust Studies in FAU’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters.

“The Shemin Trialogue is an invaluable asset for those wishing to participate meaningfully in conversation about interfaith relations,” said Berger.  “These conversations are increasingly important in our time. Carried out by informed people of good will, such discussion can make an enormous contribution in our search for a peaceful world.”

Al-Suwaij, who offers the Muslim perspective, is the granddaughter of Basra’s leading cleric, and she was one of the few women to join the failed 1991 intifada uprising against Saddam Hussein. She fled Iraq and eventually became an American citizen. Following the September 11 terror attacks, Zainab left her teaching position at Yale to co-found the AIC. An outspoken advocate for women’s equality and interfaith understanding, Zainab has appeared on NPR, BBC, Al-Jazeera, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, CNN, and Fox. Over the past several years, Zainab has directed AIC’s women’s empowerment programs in southern Iraq, leading a grassroots team that operates without international security. She has testified to Congress, lectured at Harvard and participated in interfaith events around the world. Named an “Ambassador of Peace” by the Interreligious and International Peace Council, Zainab has received Dialogue on Diversity’s Liberty Award and was recognized as “2006 International Person of the Year” by the National Liberty Museum.
            Cook, who will offer the Jewish perspective, is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Association for Jewish Studies and the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations. He is the only rabbi in America with a full professorial chair in the New Testament. In 2003, Cook was one of  seven scholars selected by the Catholic Secretariat for Interreligious and Ecumenical Affairs to assess the accuracy of the advance script of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ."  It was Gibson's reaction to the scholars' report that generated much of the ensuing controversy over the film. His new book is “Modern Jews Engage the New Testament: Enhancing Jewish Well-Being in a Christian Environment.”

Cunningham, who will provide the Christian perspective, serves as a vice-president of the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ) and as secretary-treasurer of the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations (CCJR).  He is a member of the advisory committee on Catholic-Jewish Relations for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and has also been a delegate for the Vatican at a number of international conferences on Catholic-Jewish relations. Cunningham has written numerous articles and books, including the recently published co-edited work titled “The Catholic Church and the Jewish People: Recent Reflections from Rome.”

The Shemin Trialogue is the creation of Rhoda and Emanuel (Manny) Shemin, local residents who have taken a special interest in opening lines of communication on the subject of Christian, Islamic and Jewish relations.  Manny passed away on January 30, 2009. His wife is dedicated to continuing the trialogue and bringing together internationally-known religious leaders to further dialogue and education.  The event is cosponsored by the Raddock Family Eminent Scholar Chair in Holocaust Studies and the Center for the Study of Values and Violence After Auschwitz in FAU’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, along with the Boca Raton Interfaith Clergy Association. For more information, call 561-297-2979.

- FAU –

About Florida Atlantic University:

Florida Atlantic University opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serves more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses and sites. Building on its rich tradition as a teaching university, with a world-class faculty, FAU hosts 10 colleges:  College of Architecture, Urban & Public Affairs, Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Biomedical Science, the College of Business, the College of  Education, the College of  Engineering & Computer Science, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Graduate College, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. For more information, visit

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