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Beacons of Hope: Our Interreligious S/Heroes Beacons of Hope: Our Interreligious S/Heroes — Imam Taymullah Abdur-Rahman

By Marilyn Stern

Each month, we honor an individual (or group) who inspires the bridge-building efforts of the Miller Center. Each honoree uniquely embodies the values of inclusivity, justice, and compassion. Imam Taymullah Abdur-Rahman (Imam Tay), the founder of Spentem, is our Beacon of Hope for the month of February.

It was six years ago that Miller Center Founding Director Rabbi Or Rose introduced me to Imam Taymullah Abdur-Rahman. In doing so, Rabbi Rose described Imam Tay as his friend, interreligious partner, teacher, and “brother from another mother.”

I quickly understood why the rabbi was so fond of the imam. Having now worked with Imam Tay on several different initiatives, I can attest to the powerful ways he “walks his talk,” acting with warmth, kindness, and empathy rooted in his Islamic faith.

Whether serving as a Muslim chaplain for the Massachusetts Department of Correction or at Harvard and Northeastern Universities; advocating for formerly incarcerated people in his “Exconversations” podcast; or teaching Hebrew College graduate students the history and tenets of Islam, Imam Tay practices fearless and compassionate interreligious fellowship.

Below, Imam Tay describes his new endeavor: Spentem, a rapid response crowd activism app and storefront at the South Shore Plaza in Braintree.


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.

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