Program IV Bios

Program IV: Women on the Forefront of Religious Debate

ELANA ROZENMAN: Elana grew up in the United States and served in the Peace Corps in South America. she has a Master’s degree in Social Work and is a certified mediator and negotiator. Elana moved to Israel with her husband and children in order to live an orthodox Jewish life. Her life’s turning point came when her son was standing in between two suicide bombers when they blew themselves up in the middle of Jerusalem. He survived, but not without much suffering, and Elana vowed to do something so that “no other mother would have to sit and watch her child suffering the way I was doing..” She co-founded the Women’s Interfaith Encounter of the Middle East, along with Muslim and Christian partners. Click to listen online to the story of her first meeting with her Muslim partner, Ibtisam Machmid. Elana has been able to gather hundreds of women together from Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, and other nations in the Middle East, to shift the war paradigm there. She’s served on the Global Council of the United Religions Initiative, and is the co-founder of their Global Women’s Coalition. And she is a proud grandmother. Her son Noam, who recovered and is married, has twins!

IRSHAD MANJI: The New York Times once hailed Irshad Manji as “Osama Bin Laden’s worst nightmare” and Oprah magazine gave her a “Chutzpah” award for audacity, nerve, boldness and conviction. Born in Pakistan, Irshad is a Canadian writer, a lesbian feminist activist, a practicing and serious Muslim, former host of Canada’s popular “Queer Television”, and an outspoken Muslim reformer. Her book The Trouble With Islam Today is a worldwide best-seller translated into several languages. She is currently Director of the Moral Courage Project at New York University. That project aims to develop leaders who will challenge political correctness, intellectual conformity and self-censorship. She is also a senior fellow with the European Foundation for Democracy. She graduated with honors from University of British Columbia. You can listen to Irshad recalling her rabble-rousing youth, and making her case for Muslim reform. Just click on Women Rising Radio program IV.

REGINA O’CALLAHAN: Regina O’Callahan was born and raised in Northern Ireland, with a traditional Catholic upbringing…She lived the first 48 years of her life unmarried. She just hadn’t found the right man. And when she did, it turned out that he was a Hindu from India. That changed many things in her life, and you can listen to her story of how her strict Catholic Mom responded to that, by clicking on Women Rising Radio IV. Regina helped to found the Northern Ireland Interfaith Forum, created to educate for the acceptance of multi-culturalism and diversity in a country known for its sectarian battles between Catholics and Protestants, Nationalists and Unionists. Multi-culturalism and tolerance of diversity have become more high profile of late, as a result of the mass murder in Norway by a right-wing extremist declaring his hate for multi-culturalists. Regina and the Northern Ireland Interfaith Forum see their main mission as educating people out of ignorance and narrow-mindedness. Says she: “I think we’re coming to a time when people no longer obey out of fear. People are religious through love…”