Kayla Reiman, Class of 2014
“Hi this is Kayla calling from the Interfaith Center; may I speak with Imam Muhammad?” I’ve made this call twice before, but perhaps today will be my lucky day and the Muslim leader will be available to speak with me. I wait for a few minutes as the person who answered the phone goes on a search, and I am thrilled when I hear a new voice answer the phone, “Hello?” We set up a time to meet, and the next day I trek out to Flushing to visit his mosque and conduct an interview.
I am in the process of conducting follow-up interviews for the Interfaith Center’s Domestic Violence Training program for clergy. Prior to my work here at The Interfaith Center of New York (ICNY), I was completely unfamiliar with domestic violence work. However, over the course of the summer, I have been privileged to interview Rabbis, Pastors, Imams, and lay congregational leaders about their experience with the course and additionally spoken with them how they felt about working with one another in the training. In addition to addressing domestic violence in a new way, my interviewees often express fascination at the people they met in the training: “I’ve never laughed with an orthodox rabbi before”, one Christian respondent exclaimed. This is exactly what we’re aiming for. Here at ICNY, we do Interfaith work in a new way; it’s not about theological dialogue, but rather about providing socially relevant programs that help people get to know their religious neighbors.
Over the course of the summer, I’ve also been privileged to do a tremendous amount of outreach on my own to communities with which ICNY previously had minimal contact. I spoke with Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America’s main representative to the UN, visited New York’s Baha’I center, and met many leaders of the Tibetan Buddhist immigrant community. These meetings provided ICNY with contacts for future programs and also let these communities know about the tremendous breadth of resources ICNY is able to offer.Here at ICNY, I’ve had the tremendous opportunity to meet religious leaders from a wide variety of backgrounds, and even more than that, I’ve been extremely grateful to work with these leaders in Interfaith work. ICNY is a small nonprofit, and I’ve loved being at the heart of its functioning for the summer months.