CANDIDATE: Rebecca Tobias • Jewish Renewal, Female, United States/Canada (dual)
Member of Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics CC and Current Trustee
Nominated by Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics CC
Interfaith cooperation is about relationships. Come to any relationship with a clear conscience an open heart and rolled up sleeves and the best that resides within us manifests itself. The United Religions Initiative exemplifies this vision by focusing on the positive and the possible.
I am currently serving and seeking re-election as a Global Council Trustee of the United Religions Initiative for the US and Canada. Presently I am the Program Director of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics CC, which designs and facilitates interfaith and intercultural programming; and through my work have coordinated capacitybuilding projects with civic, faith, and social justice advocacy organizations locally, nationally and internationally in both the US and Canada in keeping with the Preamble, Purpose and Principles of URI. Trained in Non-Violent Communication I am an active member of URI’s Conflict Resolution Satellite, and convene URI’s External Affair Committee whose primary focus is to generate official position statements on behalf of URI in times of political, environmental and social conflict or crisis.
I serve on several boards and advisory councils which grant me the opportunity to remain up to date with current interfaith events and social and political trends which help to keep my programming work as a Trustee relevant, some of these include: Levantine Cultural Center, Immortal Chaplains Foundation, The Interfaith Observer, International Forum for Literature and Culture, Interfaith Encounter Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility Non-Nuclear Proliferation Committee, the Euphrates Institute, the InterSpiritual Center of Vancouver BC. I have been invited to speak as guest lecturer on issues of interfaith and intercultural cooperation on behalf of URI at: North American Interfaith Network, Principia College, University of Southern California Northridge, Loyola Marymont University, Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue, Simon Fraser University Interfaith Institute for Justice, Peace and Social Movements, the United Nations Association and at the reserve land of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in preparation for the International Indigenous Leadership Gathering (partial list). I attended the University of London in 1984 and received my B.A. from Florida International University in 1989 with a concentration in political science and cross-cultural psychology. In 1996, I went on to study ethics, culture and mysticism of early Christianity and Islam throughout Turkey with Catholic Sisters of Notre Dame College. In 2003, I attended the Elijah Interfaith Institute program in Jerusalem, ‘Authority, Leadership and the Quest for Peace’ with Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein who is a founding member of the World Congress of Imams and Rabbis.
As a Fellow with the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights for the Working Group for Indigenous Populations, I assisted in the drafting of resolutions presented for the Human Rights Sub-Commission meeting held in August 2005 and since that time have served as a delegate to the United Nations for several NGO/CSO’s including the inaugural meeting of the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace. Most recently designing programs for United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week, which brought several CC’s in the US and the Holy Land together to take part in a transcontinental interfaith dialogue. The gift of technology affords us the opportunity to communicate and share in programming with CC’s around the world, and if re-elected I will explore this method of CC partnering in the future.
I have had the good fortune to have traveled and lived in many parts of the United States and now Vancouver BC. Most recently URI’s presence has taken root in Canada where I had a hand in organizing the launch of, URI Trustee Selection 2011-2012 “Women of Spirit and Faith Canada,” and have stewarded the establishment of the “Global Clergy Association of Canada CC,” as well as one our newest, “Protecting and Restoring the Sacred,” which has partnered with local and national interfaith and social justice groups, First Nations Peoples, as well as with representatives of the formal environmental movement who are all working together to raise awareness of the importance of protecting the fragile eco-system of the British Columbia coastline.
This is a practical example of coalition building which is at the heart of what URI, “We unite in responsible cooperative action to bring the wisdom and values of our religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions to bear on the economic, environmental, political and social challenges facing our Earth community.” This has been the guiding principle and the focus of my programming experience as a URI Trustee. One of these ongoing programs meant to grow the presence of URI throughout North America is a pilot project called the BioRegional Gathering which invites congregations of faith denominations, social justice advocacy groups, and inter-cultural organizations to come together and share best practices around peace-building in an informal social setting which takes place in a space that highlights the unique beauty of the natural environment. Through sharing, commonalities become clear as each group expresses its deep and abiding reverence for ‘the other” reflected in their unique mission and vision as we discuss ways to partner in “building communities of conscience.” Friendships are made and alliances are fostered. This networking model has blossomed into many practical opportunities: It has grown the presence of URI in that region, established lasting community partnerships, substantially increased the number CC’s and affiliates, and has granted URI the benefit of participating in co-sponsorship opportunities with local and regional interfaith and intercultural organizational affiliates, who when involved in high profile campaigns and events, display the URI logo alongside their own.
Effective outreach strategies are a vitally important part of gaining credibility in community, and participating in outreach is an important part of the work of a URI Trustee, the programming examples above are just some of what is possible in our efforts to raise URI’s profile so that funders and grantors become aware of our role in service to the community. Staying current about possibilities for funding opportunities is vital to our on-going success. Presently I am on several grant seeking listserves which has been a help in keeping track of donor trends. In the past I have sought out and received funds for programming through some of the following avenues: private donations, local houses of worship, universities, city and community funds, embassies and consulates, Rotary and Optimist Clubs as well as organizational partnering and co-sponsorships as mentioned above.
Trustees are the liaisons and mentors to our CC’s whom we serve, you are the heart of URI. It is important that lines of communication between us remain open. It is my intention, if re-elected to continue to remain engaged in listening to your concerns and your recommendations and to communicate these to the acting Leadership Council, Global Council Chair or to Hub if need be. I am asking for your CC to grant me the opportunity to serve you needs, provide you with programming possibilities, or if I am fortunate, come to take part in a program which you are hosting where and lend a hand wherever it’s needed.
The Trustees of the Global Council play a vital role in the success and sustainability of URI by remaining true to the Purpose, Preamble and Principles in all our endeavors. Trustees elected to a region who uphold the PPP’s serve as thoughtful stewards, listening deeply to their CC community and engaging openly and authentically with CC members as well with the Leadership Council and the Hub.
Ultimately the long term-success of the Global Council lies with the individual CC’s from around the United States and Canada whose unique strengths, gifts, skills and talents will serve to move URI ever forward into the future. I want to encourage CC members to amplify your voices through the tools that URI provides and to run for positions with the Leadership Council and as North America Trustees at every opportunity. Become active and engaged, in this way our Global Council will thrive and reflect the true needs and interests of the CC’s. Now is the time to share your vision as we come together to embrace the pressing social challenges of the day, to innovate around peace-building, face down religiously motivated violence, and explore effective ways to fundraise and secure steams of income. As you take up roles of leadership across the US and Canada, your contribution of clear and directed intention will carry the mantle of URI farther forward than any of us could have ever dreamed possible.
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