Talking Religion: Fostering dialogue with Samar Dahmash-Jarrah

By Taylor Young

Nassima Neggaz, assistant professor of religion and Islamic studies, introduces Samar Dahmash-Jarrah, a Palestinian American journalist, author and radio host, who spoke at Sainer Auditorium Sept 24.
Nassima Neggaz, assistant professor of religion and Islamic studies, introduces Samar Dahmash-Jarrah, a Palestinian American journalist, author and radio host, who spoke at Sainer Auditorium Sept 24.

Students and community members came together at Sainer Auditorium Sept. 24 to hear the experiences of Samar Dahmash-Jarrah, a Palestinian American journalist, author and radio host speak on what it’s like to be Arab American in the U.S. after 9/11 and a Muslim in the U.S. in the Trump era.

The event was the first of three discussion in the Talking Religion series be held this semester at New College.

Manuel Lopez, assistant professor of religion, and Nassima Neggaz, assistant professor of religion and Islamic studies, partnered together to organize these events as a part of the New College: Connecting the Arts and Humanities on Florida’s Creative Coast, funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The professors said they chose leaders from the community to talk about the issues that they face and open conversation within the community.

Dahmash-Jarrah talked about her first book, written to showcase her life as a real Palestinian American in America, but the course of her life changed on 9/11. From her experience, she had no self-confidence and was afraid of being in America. She said she found confidence from her husband and decided to continue to share her story of being an America.

Dahmash-Jarrah ended up speaking in the media on behalf of the Muslims and Arab Americans to help start a conversation in the U.S. After the release of her book in 2005, people in the Middle East wanted to know more about the U.S. rather than going off the stereotypes of Americans they had known before.

She described a letter she got from someone who lost a loved one at the World Trade Center, thanking her for creating the conversation between Arabs and Americans. Dahmash-Jarrah also speaks on the misunderstandings of Islam like the Quran, the hijab and gender inequality, which is also a worldwide problem.

Dahmash-Jarrah discusses more topics on her radio show. Both she and her co-host are volunteers that discuss events and happenings in the Middle East for Muslims and Arab Americans. Despite some opposition to the topic by some listeners, they continued with the show to foster conversation within the community. They invite other Muslim and Arab voices, particularly female Muslim voices, to to be a little more diverse.

New College’s Talking Religion series are designed to allow the community to talk and learn from each other, and as a community outside of social media. Although people may not agree on beliefs, they can still talk to each other and foster more dialogue.

The Talking Religion series continues with:

Lynne LockeyTalking Religion with Lynne Lockie
Monday, Oct 7, 5-6:30 p.m. in the College Hall Music Room

In this second segment of Religion in Sarasota, Lynn Lockie, mindfulness instructor at the Sarasota Mindfulness Institute and New College of Florida, will talk about bringing mindfulness to Sarasota.

Lynne Lockie has been an artist, writer, psychotherapist and a teacher of meditation and mindfulness practices. She has been practicing meditation and spiritual disciplines/ways of skillful living for over 55 years, starting with her teacher Shunryu Suzuki Roshi in 1959 in San Francisco. She received ordination as a lay practitioner from him in 1964, among the first ordained students of Zen Center. Since 2017, Lynne has also worked with New College to bring mindfulness practices to the campus. In this talk, Lynne will talk about her long experience practicing and teaching meditation, and the impact it can have on people and local communities.

 

Movie poster for Watching Religion: Faith, Ethics, and Community In The Film “First Reformed”
Thursday, Nov 7, 5-7:30 p.m. in Sainer Auditorium

Come watch Paul Schrader’s 2017 film “First Reformed,” which follows a Protestant minister (played by Ethan Hawke) faced with questions of faith and morality while serving as pastor of a dwindling historical church. The film was nominated for an Oscar for best screenplay. After the film, the Rev. Melanie Kim, an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church and chaplain at New College and former chaplain at Ringling College and USF-SM, will discuss some of the main themes of the movie, with a particular focus on the role, impact and struggles of a local pastor in a small community.

 

— Taylor Young is an intern working with the Office of Communications and Marketing at New College of Florida.


Located in Sarasota, New College of Florida has educated intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement since its founding in 1960. As the State of Florida’s designated honors college, New College provides an exceptional education that transforms students’ intellectual curiosity into personal accomplishment. The 110-acre campus on Sarasota Bay is home to more than 800 students and 80 full-time faculty engaged in interdisciplinary research and collaborative learning. New College offers nearly 40 areas of concentration for undergraduates and a master’s degree program in Data Science.

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