Sarah and Hagar Face the Twenty-First Century:

A Dialogue on Change in Judaism and Islam

Press Contact: Nina Jacobson
Office: (212) 678-8950

October 10, 2007, Washington, DC

Asra Q. Nomani, a noted Muslim reform activist, and Rabbi Burton Visotzky, a Conservative rabbi and scholar at The Jewish Theological Seminary, will discuss “Sarah and Hagar Face the Twenty-First Century: A Dialogue on Change in Judaism and Islam” at the Abraham and Minnie Kay Memorial Lecture at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 31. Sponsored by JTS, the program will take place at Adas Israel Congregation, 2850 Quebec Street NW, Washington, D.C.

Among the issues to be explored will be how change can be effected in Judaism and Islam; whether the two religions can learn from one another in the area of empowering women; if there can be genuine dialogue within Judaism or Islam, let alone between them; and whether there can there be a return to the good relations between Judaism and Islam that distinguished most of their history together. The program, which reflects the commitment of JTS Chancellor Arnold Eisen to expand dialogue with members of many faiths and especially with Muslims, will examine the critically important implications of such developments.

Asra Q. Nomani

Nomani, an American Muslim born in Bombay, was a Wall Street Journal reporter for fifteen years. Author of Standing Alone: An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam, she is a leading writer-activist dedicated to reclaiming women's rights and tolerance in the Muslim world. In 2005, Nomani posted on her mosque doors, "99 Precepts for Opening Hearts, Minds, and Doors in the Muslim World," and was lead organizer of a historic woman-led Muslim prayer service. In 2006, she cofounded Muslims for Peace. She has commented on Islam on CNN, NPR, and Nightline and in the Washington Post, New York Times, and Time magazine. She is currently a Georgetown University journalism professor, leading the Pearl Project, an investigation into the murder of her friend and Wall Street Journal colleague Daniel Pearl.

Rabbi Burton Visotzky

Rabbi Burton Visotzky, Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies at JTS, is active in Jewish–Christian–Muslim dialogue internationally, in capitals such as Washington, Rome, Cairo, and Doha, Qatar. His lectures, study groups, and books have been hailed on radio, television, and in print. With Bill Moyers, he developed and took part in Genesis: A Living Conversation, a PBS series featuring scholars of different faiths. He is the author of nine books, including Reading the Book: Making the Bible a Timeless Text. Rabbi Visotzky was the founding rabbi of the egalitarian worship service of the JTS synagogue.

The event is open to the community at no charge. For further information, please contact Adas Israel Congregation (202) 362-4433 or

Editors/Reporters: To schedule an interview with the speakers or for further information, please contact Sherry S. Kirschenbaum in the JTS Department of Communications at (212) 678-8953.

Founded in 1886 as a rabbinical school, The Jewish Theological Seminary today is the academic and spiritual center of Conservative Judaism worldwide, encompassing a world-class library and five schools. JTS trains tomorrow's religious, educational, academic, and lay leaders for the Jewish community and beyond.