Juan Carlos Ruiz is co-founder of the New Sanctuary Movement, a network of churches and synagogues that offer resources to undocumented immigrants in New York City. He began his career as a Catholic priest, but was excommunicated after getting involved with leftist politics in the Catholic Worker Movement. In this far-reaching interview, he discusses his work with immigrants in the Trump era, the effect that US intervention coupled with corporate interests have had on Mexico and Honduras, and the role that history should play in our discourse around immigrant rights.
Avi Garelick wears many hats: he runs a Hebrew school associated with the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York city, he is active in Northern Manhattan is Not For Sale, an anti-gentrification group focused on Washington Heights and Inwood, and he's a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. In this interview, Garelick describes participating in a rent strike when his landlord turned off the heat, how his socialist philosophy informs his role as a manager at his job and how the Jewish concept of redemption guides his social justice activism.
Dr. Debbie Almontaser is a Yemeni-American and Muslim community leader and activist, founder of the Bridging Cultures Group and the Khalil Gibran International Academy, a New York public school with an English and Arabic bi-lingual program. Almontaser discusses growing up in a largely white neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, rediscovering her Muslim faith in her 20s and making the decision to wear the hijab, the controversy that led to her resigning as head of Khalil Gibran Academy, and winning her ensuing wrongful termination lawsuit against the Department of Education. She also discusses how the aftermath of 9/11 prepared the Muslim community for the election of Donald Trump, and why she finds being called a "moderate Muslim" offensive.
A conversation with Reverend Andrew Wilkes, a an African Methodist Episcopal pastor of young adults and social justice and leader in a black Christian community in Jamaica, Queens. Unlike some of our interviewees, Rev. Wilkes identifies as a democratic socialist, and has spent a lot of time working out those principles with his faith. He discusses why socialism is a theological commitment, what democratic socialist policies could look like in practice, why leftist politics has a race problem — and why joy is the most important feeling of Christianity.
A conversation with Reverend Khader El-Yateem, a native Palestinian and Lutheran pastor running for City Council for the 43rd District, which includes Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst. El-Yateem discusses growing up in the Greek Orthodox in Palestine, where he came to realize he was under two occupations: the Israeli Occupation, and the Greek occupation of the indigenous Palestinian Christian church. In this far-reaching interview, he talks about how being tortured by the Israeli Defense Forces taught him about faith, love and justice, what it's like to serve as a police liason for the Arab community in a time of Islamophobia and racial profiling, and why he finally decided to run for office after two decades as a pastor and community organizer in Bay Ridge.
A conversation with Reverent Ann Kansfield, pastor at Greenpoint Reformed Church and chaplain for the FDNY. Kansfield discusses how 9/11 prompted her to leave her finance job and join seminary, her feelings when her father went on trial for marrying her and her wife and had to step down as a theology professor, and what it's like to be the first woman and lesbian chaplain of the New York Fire Department.