In this multifaith discussion, Los Angeles-area religious leaders discuss the challenges—personal and professional—of guiding a community through pandemic.
- What do the religious spring holidays tell us about this moment?
- What is the truth that really matters right now?
- How can people create a sense of sacred rhythm and centerness?
Join Brie Loskota (moderator, USC Center for Religion & Civic Culture) with Rabbi Noah Farkas (Valley Beth Shalom), Aziza Hasan (NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change) and Najuma Smith-Pollard (USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement, Word of Encouragement Community Church).
Noah Farkas is a clergy member at Valley Beth Shalom, the largest Jewish congregation in the San Fernando Valley. He was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 2008, where he won numerous academic prizes in the areas of Jewish Philosophy and Talmud. He is a faculty member of the Florence Melton Graduate Studies Program and is a guest lecturer at the American Jewish University. Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl appointed Noah to the Los Angeles Homelessness Services Authority as a which oversees the regional strategy between public and private partnerships to end homelessness. He has been featured on NPR as a change maker and a rising voice of Jewish leadership.
Aziza has extensive experience in program management and coalition building. She has worked with diverse groups to deliver quality programming that developed the skills of its participants in the areas of civic engagement, advocacy, service learning, leadership, conflict transformation and diversity training. Aziza is a founding director of NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change. An experienced mediator and conflict resolution practitioner she has co-facilitated multiple fellowship cohorts. A successful model of genuine engagement, NewGround has been featured on Public Radio’s “Speaking of Faith” with Krista Tippett, the Unites States Institute for Peace, Arabic Radio and Television, the LA Times, the Jewish Journal and InFocus.
Brie Loskota is the executive director of the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Her research focuses on how religions change and make change in the world. She is co-founder and senior advisor to the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute and serves as the implementation partner for the United States Institute of Peace’s Generation Change program, where she has trained young leaders from across the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and South America.
As program manager for the USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement, the Rev. Najuma Smith-Pollard combines her experience as a pastor and expertise as a community leader to run programs that train pastors to take on civic engagement work.
Smith-Pollard also is a pastor, motivational speaker, author, life coach, radio personality and community activist. She is pastor of Word of Encouragement Community Church (WOECC.ORG) in Los Angeles and founder of Living on Assignment, LLC, a personal development coaching and consulting firm that helps people live rich and meaningful lives.