Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding

This data was last updated on 14 May 2020.

Address: 55 Broad Street, New York, NY 10004
Phone: 212-967-7707
Email: info@tanenbaum.org
Website: http://www.tanenbaum.org/

Mission and Background: The Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding’s primary mission is to promote “mutual respect” through “practical programs that bridge religious difference and combat prejudice.”[1] Tanebaum was founded in 1992 by Georgette Bennett, as a way to build upon the legacy of her late husband, Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum, a leader and pioneer in the interfaith movement. Today, the organization works to prevent religious prejudice, hatred and violence in specific settings such as schools, the workplace, and health care. Tanenbaum partners with experts in order to develop curricula and trainings in each of these areas. In addition to this work, Tanenbaum seeks to empower religiously-motivated peace-building activists in armed conflicts around the world. Tanenbaum believes that religion is an important component of diversity that is often ignored. Religious diversity—and the challenges and opportunities it presents—is often not sufficiently spoken about in schools, hospitals, and office settings. As founder and president, Bennett is the visionary behind much of Tanenbaum’s work. Joyce Dubensky, CEO of Tanenbaum, runs the organization and has led the expansion of all of their initiatives and international focus. At their midtown Manhattan office, Tanenbaum currently has 13 full-time staff members. They also have a board of directors and an advisory board, along with expert advisory councils focused on each of their programming areas. Through their work, Tanenbaum hopes to change how teachers teach, how healthcare is provided, and how workplaces operate. Their focus is on the practical results, emphasizing how these institutions can create productive environments in which people are not harassed or bullied on the basis of religious identity and in which religious needs are respected and widely accommodated. Tanenbaum employs a variety of strategies to create spaces where people, who practice their religions in a variety of ways, are respected and treated fairly. Tanenbaum provides resources for educators to teach multicultural values, while working to combat bullying on the basis of identity and religion. They use a pedagogy called the Seven Principles for Inclusive Education that is applicable to all grade levels. Allowing students to explore identities, learn about different cultures and religions, and cultivate an appreciation for social justice are among the pedagogical principles that underpin Tanenbaum’s curricula, which are aligned with Common Core state standards. Kids in grades K-6 learn about respecting difference and the importance of teamwork through a curriculum called World Olympics for All. Another curriculum, Coexist, teaches high school students about the role of religion in conflict resolution through the story of a Muslim and a Christian in Nigeria. Additionally, Tanenbaum runs trainings for educators to learn how to teach about religion in the classroom. Multicultural values, Tanenbaum believes, should not be limited to a one-off assembly, but should be part of the student’s learning experience in a robust way across academic subjects. In healthcare, Tanenbaum works with hospitals, medical schools, residency programs, and nursing schools to recognize the role that religion plays in the lives of patients. They hope that by developing religious and cultural competencies, medical professionals will better understand the needs of their patients, leading to better communication and trust, and ultimately better health outcomes. Tanenbaum runs trainings and develops curricula for healthcare providers. In 2009, Tanenbaum published The Medical Manual for Religio-Cultural Competence, a guide that provides information on issues ranging from dietary restrictions to end of life procedures, and also includes guides for talking about religion with patients. Through their workplace program, Tanenbaum provides resources for companies on how to develop the best corporate practices for today’s religiously diverse work environments, especially in an increasingly globalized economy. They aim to help companies create a productive workplace that is free of religious bias and harassment and can therefore expand their reach across diverse marketplaces. Their Corporate Membership Program includes many major corporations, including Disney, DTCC, Citigroup, Merck, and Allstate. Companies are provided with consultations, resources, management briefings, and workshops. Tanenbaum’s online resource, Religion at Work, includes case studies on religious issues that emerge in the workplace, such as prayer spaces in an office and wearing religious clothing. For almost 20 years,Tanenbaum’s work has included conflict resolution and peacebuilding in areas of armed conflict. Today, Tanenbaum coordinates its Peacemakers in Action Network, comprised of 24 religiously-motivated peacemakers, and supports them including by hosting week-long working retreats where they improve their efforts by sharing their strategies and expertise, by promoting their work and by facilitating Interventions where they collaborate across borders in small groups to counter extremism, violence and hate. A book published by Tanenbaum, Peacemakers in Action, tells the heroic stories of these activists who are showing how religion can be a source of peace. The book tells stories that often go untold and provide a counter-narrative to the way the media often portrays global events. In the summer of 2016, Tanenbaum will publish its second book on the Peacemakers in Action, highlighting activists in Syria, Afghanistan, Israel, the DRC, Pakistan, and Colombia. By highlighting the work of these activists, Tanenbaum hopes that others can learn their techniques and follow in their footsteps. Tanenbaum’s work uses a broad range of strategies to combat religious prejudice, hatred and violence. Their emphasis on practical long-term solutions keeps them focused despite constantly changing circumstances. In recent years, Georgette Bennett took on a new initiative to raise awareness about the Syrian refugee crisis. The Mission and Background: The Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding’s primary mission is to promote “mutual respect” through “practical programs that bridge religious difference and combat prejudice.” is a project of Tanenbaum, in conjunction with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. This project is just one new manifestation of Tanenbaum’s mission and long history of searching for practical long-term solutions to some of the world’s most pressing issues.

[1] “About Us.” The Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding. https://tanenbaum.org/about-us/. Accessed 24 March 2016. ↩︎