An interfaith group of religious leaders will explore a wide range of topics describing the similarities and differences among these great world religions – Judaism, Catholicism, Islam, Zen Buddhism, and Buddhism. These questions include: creation; why we exist; what/where is God; why we die and what happens after death; and how to balance tradition and modernity. The speakers will also be asked to discuss three things not known about their religion and de-mystifying stereotypes. The course will be moderated by previous OLLI@SCU instructor Rabbi Dana Magat
The speakers are:
Rabbi Magat (Judaism)—10/27
Father Jon Pedigo (Catholicism)—11/3
Iman Tahir Anwar (Islam)—11/10
Jian Ying Shifu (from Zen Center of Sunnyvale)—11/17
Rev. Gerald Sakamoto (Buddhism)—12/1
Rabbi Dana Magat became Temple Emanu-El’s Senior Rabbi in July 1999. Prior to that, he served four years as Associate Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in San Diego. Rabbi Magat’s first pulpit was in Miami, where he was the Assistant Rabbi/Director of Education for Temple Israel of Greater Miami. Before his ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1993, he earned a Masters in Education from the Fingerhut School of Education at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles.
Rabbi Magat is actively involved in interfaith relations. He is the immediate past Chair of the Interfaith Council on Economics and Justice for Santa Clara County. He also serves on the board of Chai House, Shalom Bayit, Northern California Board of Rabbis, and Home First. He has served as President of the Cantors and Rabbis Association of Greater San Jose and has been a board member of Hillel of Silicon Valley, the Jewish Community Center, and the Pacific Association of American Rabbis. Rabbi Magat has taught three classes for OLLI on Israel and Introduction to Judaism.
Father Jon Pedigo, STL, is a native of northern California. He has been active in civic affairs and social justice causes for over 30 years. Since his ordination to the Diocese of San Jose in 1991, Father Pedigo has been involved with several local social justice causes and inter-faith dialogues. He serves as Pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, in the East Side of the city of San Jose; and he is currently the diocesan Director for Justice for Immigrants in the Diocese of San Jose. Father Pedigo is a 2004 recipient of the Martin Luther King Good Neighbor Award and has been awarded the 2008 Immigrant Advocate of the Year by SIREN (Services, Immigrants Rights and Education Network); the 2010 Director’s Award from the Human Relations Commission of Santa Clara County; and the 2013 Cesar Chavez Social Justice Award from American Muslim Voice. He is an Active PACT Clergy leader. Fr. Pedigo also serves on the Sacred Heart Community Service Board, and on the Inter-Faith Council on Economics and Justice Board of Santa Clara County, as well as being a 2012 Rockwood Fellow for Immigrant Leaders in California. Father Pedigo holds a Bachelor’s of Music Degree from San Francisco State University and a Master of Music from Indiana University, Bloomington. He did his theology studies at St. Patrick Seminary, Menlo Park and holds a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from SCU’s Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley.
Tahir Anwar is an Imam, a teacher, an activist, a husband, a father, and most importantly, a servant of Allah. Born in London, England, he has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1983. Upon completing his religious studies in India, he has been serving as the Imam of one of the oldest masjids in the country, the Islamic Center of San Jose, since 2000. After teaching middle school at one of the oldest Muslim schools in the country for 7 years, he is the founding board member of Averroes High School, the Bay Area’s first Muslim high school. He teaches Islamic Law at the renowned Zaytuna College, America’s first Muslim liberal arts college in Berkeley. He is currently the Chairman for the Board of NISA, North American Islamic Shelter for the Abused, an organization that works towards alleviating issues related to abuse and domestic violence. NISA also runs a shelter for abused women in the Bay Area. Mr. Anwar is also the founding board member of Islamic Art Exhibit, an annual traveling exhibit rooted in the Islamic tradition; and he sits on the Executive Committee for the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the country’s largest Muslim umbrella organization. He has a passion for community service and has served on the Human Rights Commission for the City of San Jose for over 5 years, and the Human Relations Commission for the County of Santa Clara for one year. Mr. Anwar also leads a group for Hajj each year, which has been covered by CNN twice.
Venerable JianYing Shifu, Abbot, Chung Tai Zen Center of Sunnyvale,grew up in Taiwan and received two doctorate degrees in the U.S. -- a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from The Ohio State University and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies, with a concentration in Buddhism, from Rice University. He was ordained by Grand Master WeiChueh in 1998, later serving as a Vice Abbot at Chung Tai Chan Monastery. In January 2012, the Grand Master appointed him Abbot of the Zen Center of Sunnyvale. As a scholar and a practitioner, JianYing Shifu strives to bring theories and practices together.
Gerald Sakamoto was born in Hawaii. He has a B.A. in Liberal Studies, Buddhism, from the University of Hawaii and was ordained the following year in Kyoto, Jodo Shinshu, Nishi Hongwanji. He has had assignments in the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii and with Oakland and White River Buddhist Churches. He has served the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin since 1986. In his role as National Ministers Association Chair from 2001-2005, the following resolutions were approved: 1) noninterference by government of gay marriages, and 2) opposition to preemptive military action and war. His current interests include photography, barbecue, woodworking, and aquaponics.