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Board Meeting Minutes

November 7th, 2022

Interfaith Alliance of Upstate New York

Meeting Minutes


In attendance: Rev. Jim Kane, Laura Weed, Monshin Paul Naamon, Rev. Gloria Jimson, Rabbi Moshe Bomser, Rob Kovach, Rabbi Bev Magidson, Deb Riitano, Karl Bower, and on zoom: Rabbi David Eligberg, Mussarat Chaudhry, and Kathleen Duff.


8am: Rabbi Bomser opened the meeting with a prayer.


Spring Awards Dinner


Paul and Deb have been in communication with Kim from Albany Country Club about reserving time and space for the dinner.  We have a tentative date set for May 3rd.


Rabbi Bomser asked what the fundraising process for the dinner is and what the interfaith vision for the awards and dinner are.

Paul commented that we invite as broad a range of people as possible, and awardees often bring friends and family. Deb commented that we do not have a financial underwriter, but we do succeed in raising money from the dinner, because people like to come.  Deb mentioned that she is trying to bring Bishop Mariann Budde from the National Episcopalian Cathedral to do an event for The Albany County Department for the Aging, and she suggested that we could co-host, and the Bishop could also address our group, and get an award. Bishop Budde has been outspoken on LGBTQ issues.

Deb also suggested that we could make a new award commemorating the service to the Interfaith Community of Balasubramanian, who now lives in North Carolina, and bring him back for the event.  We could call it a Community Service, Engagement and Organizing award in honor of Bala.

Rev. Jimson suggested that we give an award to some of the local theater groups, such as Proctors, Capital Rep and the local Black theater troupe, for the work they do educating the public on important issues and spreading community.  We are also looking for more nominations for award recipients.  Please send your nominations to Karl Bower, Bev Magidson, or David Eligberg. This subcommittee will meet on zoom sometime in the next week or two.


Dinner structure: The dinner begins with a cocktail/mocktail and appetizers hour for schmoozing, followed by the presentation of awards, in the dining room, while attendees eat salads. There was some discussion of speeches by awardees, which David argued should be kept short, or eliminated altogether.  Deb suggested that Bishop Budde could give a short speech, and everyone else could be introduced, then just handed their awards.  Dinner follows, and if some people don’t want to stay that long they can leave with their food.  Deb pointed out that most want to stay.


Announcements/ Discussions


Paul reported that he has been in touch with the new president of the National interfaith Alliance, Paul Rauchenberg, and he has circulated a link to a talk by Rev. Rauchenberg on White Christian Nationalism, in a prior e-mail.  Pres. Rauchenberg and his field organizer Maureen O’Leary are both dedicated to engaging local affiliates and attending local programming, and there is Grant money available for funding local initiatives.  Paul pointed out that there have been five times as many anti-semitic attacks in the past year as in previous years, and anti-Asian hate and Islamophobia are also increasing.


Support for Groups under attack: Moshe started a discussion about how we can better support groups who are under attack, and form alliances with groups, such as the ADL who are fighting hate.  Deb recalled writing a letter to a Radio station personality who had expressed negative attitudes toward a Palestinian girl in 1995. David asked how we can get our interfaith message of supporting the human dignity and sanctity of everyone out in the public better, to counter the growing volume of the voices of hate. Several suggestions followed, (below) but David insisted that we can’t wait to develop these resources.  He suggested we each do a short (5min video) on the meaning of our upcoming, or just past, religious holidays for human dignity and sanctity for all. Everyone agreed that we have to be more pro-active in confronting hate. Kathleen suggested that day-to-day support is needed.


More long-term Support suggestions:

  • Deb suggested that we hold a conference, have speakers, invite TV, newspapers and radio to cover it.

  • Laura suggested that we could start a you-Tube channel on which each of us would post short videos about how our religions do not support hate, but support care for everyone.  Someone pointed out that Carol Tyrell had done something similar.  Karl said he would look into how he could do this, and recruit Kaidan to help.  He thinks he can post short videos on the website, if we would each make one and send it.

  • Bev suggested that we should do more work to link groups opposing hate.  She suggested the Chaplains at the local colleges could be involved.

  • Paul said we should be working on broadening our membership in any case, and suggested sending a letter to local congregations inviting people in.  He suggested that inviting people in could be a theme for the conference. We should invite people to programs as much as to join the board.

  • Kathleen pointed out that on Oct. 15th 2023 there will be meeting of Jewish-Catholic Dialogue at which they will honor Jim Kane for his many years of on-going interfaith work, and she suggested that we could piggy-back other planning to work in co-ordination with this event,

  • Mussarat suggested we have an Interfaith Festival, perhaps in conjunction with the annual Larkfest, or other events in Washington Park. This might connect with a new audience.

  • Moshe pointed out that This Thursday there will be a meeting at St. Peter’s Hospital to plan an Ishtar Dinner with the Muslim community.  He invited everyone and said he would send around more details on when and where this meeting will be.

9:30 meeting adjourned.

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