Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & Leadership: Faculty & Staff
Imam Taymullah Abdur-Rahman
Imam Taymullah Abdur-Rahman is a faith leader, educator and activist. He has served as Muslim chaplain for the Massachusetts Department of Correction, Northeastern University and Harvard University over the past two decades. He is a self-proclaimed decarcerationist and host of the podcast, “Exconversations” on the TIDAL streaming network. A frequent contributor to the Boston Globe and Cognoscenti, he believes in practicing fearless interreligious fellowship and exploring the art and science of faith-based leadership along the way. Imam Tay holds a a degree in Islamic studies from Al Baseerah International Institute, a Masters in Global Interreligious Leadership from Andover Newton Theological School and is a candidate for Doctorate of Ministry in Transformational Leadership at Boston University School of Theology. Imam Tay is the founder of SPENTEM, a rapid response crowd activism app available on all digital platforms.
Liz Aeschlimann has spent the last decade helping people build transformative relationships and draw on our collective wisdom traditions to take powerful action. A facilitator, community organizer, and interfaith chaplain, Liz has organized congregations in New Bedford and Fall River, supported Jewish student leaders at Tufts University and Vassar College, and facilitated collective learning experiences about everything from end-of-life planning to closing the racial wealth gap.A proud Midwesterner, Liz has an M.Div. with a concentration in Judaism from Harvard Divinity School and a B.A. in Cognitive Science from Carleton College. She shares a Watertown triple-decker with her wife, sister-in-law, two close friends, and her daughter Raya.
Kyle is an MTS student at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. Originally from North Texas, Kyle joins the Miller Center after two years spent in Israel, where he completed a Fulbright grant in Conflict Resolution and Mediation, receiving an M.A. from Tel Aviv University. Since his undergrad years at Baylor University, Kyle has been involved in interreligious community building through Interfaith America. He is also a free-lance religion journalist. Kyle enjoys art, science fiction novels, hiking, and spending time with animals.
Rafi Ellenson (he/him) is a shanah gimmel student in the Hebrew College Rabbinical School. He works as the Rabbinic Intern at Temple Anshe Amunim in Pittsfield, MA and the Dignity Project Assistant Director at the Miller Center for Interreligious Learning and Leadership of Hebrew College. He is currently translating “the little book of e,” a collection of the poet E. Ethelbert Miller’s haiku, due out for publication by Simon & Schuster in 2023.
Rev. Dr. Soren M. Hessler
Rev. Dr. Soren M. Hessler is instructor of Christian and interreligious studies at Hebrew College and an advisory board member of the Journal of Interreligious Studies. He is an elder in full-connection in the West Ohio Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church and served for nine years as a member of the ministry staff of Boston University’s Marsh Chapel. Currently, Rev. Dr. Hessler is the Coordinator of Assessment for the Faculty of Theology at Huron University College in London, Ontario. He previously served as Director of Graduate Academic Services at Drew University and as Associate Director of the Miller Center from its inception in 2016 through September 2018. He co-edited Words to Live By: Sacred Sources for Interreligious Engagement (Orbis, 2018). Rev. Dr. Hessler teaches the Introduction to Christianity course in the Rabbinical School curriculum. He holds master’s degrees in church administration, divinity, and higher education administration as well as a PhD in practical theology from Boston University and his research emerges among the intersections of theological education administration, interreligious studies, and Methodist studies.
rev. seigen johnson
Seigen is an ordained Soto Zen Buddhist priest in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki. She is currently an MDiv candidate (2024) at the Boston University School of Theology where she is the graduate assistant in the Spiritual Life Office and serves as treasurer for the Association of Black Seminarians. Seigen was a fellow in the BU Pardee School of Global Studies, Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs: CURA 2021-2022 Colloquium. Her most recent article, “Being: Awakened by All Phenomena,” was published in the October 2019 issue of Lion’s Roar magazine. Seigen’s self-love activities include crochet, hiking, kayaking, reading, and cooking “all the things”.
Dr. Axel Marc Oaks Takács
Axel is an assistant professor in the Department of Religion at Seton Hall University and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Interreligious Studies. He completed his doctorate at Harvard Divinity School in comparative (interreligious) theology, Islamic Studies, and Catholic theology in 2019. As a constructive theologian, his scholarship aims to read pre-modern sources as resources to contemporary questions. His dissertation and current research focuses on poetry, poetics, the imagination, and social imaginary as ways to understand the Christian theology of the Incarnation and the Islamic theology of the imagination. His tangential academic interest attends to how the ideology of capitalism functions as a modern religion that effectively restricts our collective imagination of alternative ways to relate with each other. He lives in Maplewood, New Jersey, with his spouse (Kim), their child (Emery), and two rescue poodles (Donovan and Ducky).
Shelton Oakley Hersey
Shelton Oakley Hersey, has sought out, participated and facilitated spaces for reconciliation over the past decade. Her Bachelor degrees are from Rhodes College (Memphis, TN) in Religious Studies and Sociology. From Los Angeles and Fuller Theological Seminary, where she obtained a Masters in Intercultural Studies and Urban/International Development, to Mexico and South Africa, she has worked cross-culturally in bridge-building, development of communities and leaders, and spiritual formation, confirming her deepest passion: seeing lives and communities whole and living out their God-given potential. As the Interfaith Youth Initiative Program Director (a program of Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries), she brought together emerging youth leaders of Greater Boston across difference, understanding the significant role in unlearning and relearning that which divides and unites us. With her husband Scott, she enjoys living life in Jamaica Plain and loves being outdoors, sharing a slow meal with community, expressing herself through visual art and reading a really great book.
As a second-year Master’s student at Boston University School of Theology, Joshua joined the Miller Center team as a contextual education intern. Among his areas of academic interest are medieval Christianity and contemporary Islam. In his free time, he has been learning Turkish. After graduating from BUSTH, he joined the college’s marketing team full-time.
Rev. Tom Reid
Tom Reid is the Associate Director of the Miller Center for Interreligious Learning and Leadership at Hebrew College. Tom is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and serves as pastor of Newton Presbyterian Church in Newton Corner. He holds a Master of Divinity (MDiv) magna cum laude from Boston University School of Theology where his studies included a focus on religion and conflict transformation and interreligious engagement. Prior to returning to higher education, Tom spent over ten years working in a variety of fields: clean energy in Boston, environmental and green building consulting in Boston and Dubai, and business education in Madrid, Spain. Originally from Kansas, Tom holds a BA with honors from the University of Kansas in Environmental Studies, Latin American Studies, and Spanish and an MA in European Politics, Policy, and Society granted jointly by the Euromasters consortium of European universities and funded by a Fulbright grant.
Rabbi Or Rose
Rabbi Or Rose is the founding Director of the Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & Leadership of Hebrew College. Before assuming this position in 2016, he worked in various administrative and teaching capacities at Hebrew College for over a decade, including serving as a founding faculty member and Associate Dean of the Rabbinical School. Rabbi Rose was also one of the creators of CIRCLE, The Center for Interreligious & Community Leadership Education, cosponsored by Hebrew College and Andover Newton Theological School (2007-2017). In addition to his work at Hebrew College, Rose has taught for the Bronfman Youth Fellowships, The Wexner Graduate Fellowship, Me’ah, and in a variety of other academic, religious, and civic contexts throughout North America and in Israel. Rose is the co-editor of Speaking Torah: Spiritual Teachings from Around the Maggid’s Table (Jewish Lights), and the award-winning anthology, My Neighbor’s Faith: Stories of Interreligious Encounter, Growth, and Transformation (Orbis). His most recent publication is the anthology Words To Live By: Sacred Sources for Interreligious Engagement (Orbis 2018). In 2009-2010, he was selected as a member of the Shalom Hartman Institute’s inaugural North American Scholar’s Circle. In 2014, Northeastern University honored him for his interreligious educational efforts.
Rev. Rob Schenck
Rev. Rob Schenck, D.Min. is an ordained evangelical minister and a progressive voice of dissent in his religious community.
Over a 40-year career, he has served as an addictions counselor, youth director, pastor, global humanitarian outreach worker, and a minister to top elected and appointed officials in Washington, DC. In the aftermath of 9/11, Schenck helped lead an unprecedented international dialogue between North American evangelical leaders and North African Islamic scholars. Shortly afterward, he was the subject of Abigail Disney’s Emmy Award-winning documentary, The Armor of Light, a critique of the American evangelical embrace of popular gun culture, eventually leading to his break from evangelical orthodoxy on guns, abortion, and the public display of religious symbols.
Schenck holds degrees in Bible and Theology, Religion, and Christian Ministry and a Doctor of Ministry in strategic leadership with a concentration in church and state. He has been a visiting academic at Oxford University where recently co-convened a historic colloquium on racialized Christian Nationalism. Schenck tells the story of his religious journey in a memoir, Costly Grace: An Evangelical Minister’s Rediscovery of Faith, Hope and Love (HarperCollins). His essays on the intersection of religion and public life have been published by Religion News Service, USA Today, TIME Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, and The New York Times, among other national journals.
Marilyn Stern joined Hebrew College in 2015, as public events coordinator and associate director of adult learning. During her tenure at Hebrew College she has held the positions of public events coordinator, associate director of Adult education, and community engagement administrator. She currently serves as Director of Special Projects for Hebrew College’s Miller Center for Interreligious Learning and Leadership Prior to her work at Hebrew College, Ms. Stern spent twenty years as a Jewish educational professional, directing family, youth, and adult programs at Temple Isaiah in Lexington and Congregation Eitz Chayim in Cambridge. In her congregational work, Ms. Stern worked closely with parents from a variety of faith traditions, who were raising Jewish children, to help them find their place in the Jewish community. Ms. Stern, grew up in the Los Angeles area, where she graduated with her B.A. in History from UCLA. She has lived in the Boston area for over 30 years and lives in Jamaica Plain with her husband, David. Ms. Stern received Certificate in Family Education at Hebrew College in 1995 and her M.A. Degree in Jewish Education at Hebrew College in 1996.