Newsletter – June 2016

1. Muhammad Ali and his Legacy – An Elijah Perspective

The death of Muhammad Ali, the funerary rites and the interfaith service held in his memory drew much global attention. Members of Elijah’s network have a special relationship to Muhammad Ali’s legacy.

Elijah scholar, Timothy Gianotti, has been working closely with Ali’s family in planning the funeral and was quoted extensively in the media. We have asked him for a tribute to Ali, that captures his experiences in working with Ali and his impressions from the funeral and interfaith service.

Muhammad Ali: Reflecting on a Decade of Serving a Soul’s Preparations for the Journey Home
 Timothy J Gianotti

For over a decade, I was blessed with the privilege of being one of two Muslim scholars/theologians who worked with Muhammad and Lonnie Ali, along with a small team of dedicated professionals – lawyers, accountants, funeral directors, PR specialists and event planners, law enforcement and security, government officials, etc. – to prepare for Muhammad Ali’s inevitable passage from this world to the next. Muhammad had given this much thought as his body declined, and he wanted his funeral events to be his last statements to the people of planet Earth. He insisted that his burial and funeral be in accord with Islamic law and traditions, but he wanted everything – insofar as it was possible – to be open to and inclusive of folks of all backgrounds and faiths. In other words, anchored in an unwavering belief that God is one and so godly religion must be unitive, he wanted to bring diverse peoples and faiths together in these special and definitive celebrations of his life and legacy.

Architect Lee Skolnick has been working with Elijah on the initial design of the Center of Hope.  One of Skolnick’s most celebrated projects is the Muhamad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Wisdom asked Skolnick for a tribute to Ali, capturing his experiences and impressions from years of collaboration with Ali.

A Memory of Muhammad Ali
 Lee H. Skolnick

Over the course of eight years, I was privileged to spend time with Muhammad Ali as we conceived and realized the Center in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky that would bear his name. This magical period of my life will always be a transformative and defining experience in so many ways.

2. Responses to Orlando – Elijah’s Leaders and Scholars Respond

The world’s attention was riveted by events last week in Orlando. Several Muslim scholars and leaders of Elijah’s network have crafted messages in response to these events. We bring them here to the attention of Wisdom readers.

On the Carnage in Orlando
Mustafa Ceric, Grand Mufti Emeritus of Bosnia and member of Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders

On behalf of the innocence of the Muslim open mind I want to extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the barbaric assault that occurred the day before yesterday morning at Pulse in Orlando, Florida. I unequivocally say that such an act of hate-fueled violence has no place in the good heart of man.

Love and Peace
 Ghassan Manasra, International Co-Director, Abrahamic Reunion

It was very hard to me to hear what happened yesterday in Orlando. It makes me and all of my family very sad, we know the meaning of sadness, because we came from a land of pain and conflict, we came from the land of the prophets, which the whole world refers to as the Holy Land. We came here to change our life and to begin a new life and to create a new line of support for the Holy Land.

Statement on the Orlando Massacre
 Muhammad Suheyl Umar Professor & Head of Department (Social Sciences), University of Central Punjab, Pakistan

The person who has committed this heinous act of murder in Orlando, whatever professed religious proclivities and unhinged condition of mind he might have carried with him as a personal history, is a criminal according to the Islamic Law, is a criminal in the light of the core human values, is a criminal in view of the universal standards of ethics as well as a criminal according to the law of the land where he lived and to which he owed loyalty as a citizen; because:

Public Announcement: Responding to the Florida Massacre
 Timothy J Gianotti, IISF Principle Teacher and Director

The Islamic Institute for Spiritual Formation joins its voice to the voices of Muslims worldwide and all peoples of healthy-minded religion in condemning the atrocities perpetrated against the innocent in Florida.

  1. Remembering Judith Hertz


Judith Hertz, a founding member of the Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders, passed away after a long illness on 2 June 2016 at the age of 80. Judith was internationally known for her commitment to the Reform [Jewish] Movement, and through that, in a number of national and international organizations. A 60-year member and longtime leader of New York’s Central Synagogue, she, along with her late husband Martin, became involved in the leadership of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, now known as the Union of Reform Judaism. She was the chair of URJ’s committees that deal with other religions in the USA, and was well known as a lay leader in a role dominated by clergy.

She was also active in the World Union of Progressive Judaism, on the board of Religions for Peace, a URJ representative to IJCIC [International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations], and was a selected delegate to the Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders. Until her health made it impossible, Judith attended these meetings faithfully.

Judith had a lifetime commitment to both intra-Jewish, and interreligious amity, always from a solid commitment to and being informed by the Reform Movement. Her presence in every setting was both predictable and welcomed, and her voice always thoughtful even when opinionated. We in the EWBRL will surely miss her. She is survived by her daughter and two grandsons.

Elijah Summer School now Taking Enrollments

Become an Interfaith Leader!

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Summer Leadership Institute 2016!

Do you have what it takes to become a
leader in interreligious dialogue?
Join the Elijah Interfaith Summer Leadership Institute and explore the meaning and challenges of leadership in and between religions.

“Religious Leadership: Ideals and Challenges” 
will be held July 31st-August 11th in Jerusalem.
CLICK HERE for program and registration details.

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