Conference Speakers

[Please check back regularly as we add more information]

Iain Benson Bloemfontein Professor PhotographDr. Iain T. Benson Born in Scotland and raised in British Columbia; PhD (Wits), MA (Cambridge), JD (Windsor); BA (Hons) (Queens), he is Extraordinary Professor of Law, Faculty of Law, Department of Public Law, University of the Free State, South Africa; Appointments Include:  Fellow, South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Human Rights, Public and International Law, Johannesburg; Senior Fellow, Chester Ronning Centre for the Study of Religion and Public Life, University of Alberta, Canada;  Senior Fellow, Institute for Hermeneutics, Freiberg, Germany;   Visiting scholar, Massey College, University of Toronto (2014-2015); Visiting Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Western Ontario (2014).   Appointed by the Government of Canada and the Aga Khan Development Network to sit on the Founding Board and Executive Committee of the Global Centre for Pluralism, Ottawa Canada (2010, ongoing); Author of many peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, his writing on law and religion, the nature of “secularism” and “the secular” has been cited by the Supreme Court of Canada and the Constitutional Court of South Africa;  He is the author of Living Together with Disagreement:  Pluralism, the Secular and the Fair Treatment of Beliefs by Law (Connor Court: Australia, 2012).   A frequent lecturer in many countries around the world, when he is not at his home in France, he the father of seven wonderful children and is a published poet.

mary-boysSister Mary Boys has been the Skinner and McAlpin Professor of Practical Theology at Union Theological Seminary, New York City since 1994. She also serves as an adjunct faculty member of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Prior to her present appointment, she served for seventeen years on the faculty of Boston College.

Boys is the recipient of honorary doctorates from Hebrew College-Jewish Institute of Religion (2004), The Catholic Theological Union (2007), The Jewish Theological Seminary of America (2011) and Gratz College (2012). She was the recipient in 2005 of the Sternberg Award from the International Council of Christians and Jews.

She has served as visiting Lecturer of Religious Education at Princeton Theological Seminary, Claremont School of Theology, John Carroll University, Villanova University, and St. Mary’s College (London, England).

A Seattle native, Mary Boys has been a member since 1965 of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, a congregation of Roman Catholic women.

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Nuzhat Jafri has wide leadership experience in public, private and non-profit sectors. She is personally committed to diversity, inclusion and human rights. She has been a long-serving member of the national board of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW), where she initiated the Women Who Inspire Awards and played a pivotal role in the “no-religious arbitration in family law” campaign

In the community she has served as chair and member of several non-profit boards, including the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, Accessible Community Counselling and Employment Services (ACCES) and South Asian Family Support Services.

She is currently the Executive Director of the Office of the Fairness Commissioner, an arm’s-length agency of the Ontario government, established under the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Trades Act, 2006. Its mandate is to ensure that regulated professions have registration practices that are transparent, objective, impartial and fair.  She has led policy, human resources and communications initiatives in several capacities in several government and private sector organizations.

Nuzhat holds a BA in French language and literature from the University of Toronto and a Master’s from the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Western Ontario. She is multilingual and enjoys being a grandmother.

Ed Profile Picture 2013Dr. Edward Kessler, MBE is Founder Director of the Woolf Institute and Fellow of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge. He is a leading thinker in interfaith relations, primarily, Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations. In 2007, Dr. Kessler was described by The Times Higher Education Supplement as ‘probably the most prolific interfaith figure in British academia’ and was awarded an MBE in 2011 for services to interfaith relations.

Much of his work has been examining Scripture and exploring the significance for Jewish-Christian relations of sharing a sacred text. He has identified a common exegetical tradition, especially in the formative centuries. More recently his writings have focussed on the encounter with Islam and contemporary relations between the three Abrahamic faiths. Dr. Kessler proposes approaches for managing difference, which he argues is vital in forming a positive identity as well as sustaining communities.

Dr. Kessler is also Vice-Chair of the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life, chaired by Baroness Butler-Sloss. The Commission, which will issue its report in the summer 2015, considers the place and role of religion in contemporary Britain. Dr. Kessler sits on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s Advisory group on Freedom of Religion and Belief and regularly teaches FCO staff on how and why religion can fundamentally affect policy.

Ron Kronish informal portraitRabbi Dr. Ron Kronish is the Founding Director of the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel (ICCI), and now Senior Advisor of the new ICCI, which is a department of Rabbis for Human Rights. He is a noted rabbi, author, lecturer and speaker. Rabbi Kronish has lived in Jerusalem for the past 36 years, serving as Director of ICCI (1992-2014), Director of Staff Development and later Co-director of the Melitz Centers for Jewish Zionist Education (1979-1988), and lecture in Education at Tel Aviv University (1982-86) and at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1979-81)

Educated at Brandeis University (BA), Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in New York (MHL, rabbinic ordination) and the Harvard Graduate School of Education (doctorate in philosophy and history of education), Rabbi Kronish has published articles and essays on Jewish politics, faith communities and the peace process, as well as education, culture and contemporary issues in America and Israel. He has represented ICCI at the Vatican and at many international conferences, and is frequently consulted by media representatives for background information and briefings. In addition, he blogs regularly for the Times of Israel, http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/author/ron-kronish/and the Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ron-kronish/

Dr. Kronish is the editor of Towards the Twenty-first Century: Judaism and the Jewish People in Israel and America, an anthology in memory of his beloved father, Rabbi Leon Kronish. In addition, he has edited two books of essays: Toward the Third Millennium and Pilgrimage in a New Millennium. His new book of essays, Coexistence and Reconciliation in Israel: Voices for Interreligious Dialogue has recently been published in by Paulist Press in the U.S.A. In addition, he is a Library Fellow at the prestigiousVan Leer Jerusalem Institute.

Rabbi Kronish lives in Jerusalem with his wife Amy. In addition, he is the proud father of 3 wonderful daughters (and 3 wonderful sons-in-law) and the even prouder grandfather of 5 fabulous grandchildren.

Lauwers JA

Justice Peter Lauwers was appointed to the Court of Appeal for Ontario on December 13, 2012, having served on the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario in Central East Region since July, 2008. Before his  judicial appointment, Justice Lauwers was a partner at Miller Thomson LLP.  He practised in the areas of civil litigation, constitutional law, human rights, and administrative law including education, municipal and labour law and appeared at every level of court including the Supreme Court of Canada.

Justice Lauwers received a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Toronto in 1978 and a Master of Laws from Osgoode Hall Law School of York University in 1983. He was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1980.

6Dr. Reid B. Locklin is Associate Professor of Christianity and the Intellectual Tradition at the University of Toronto, a joint appointment with St Michael’s College and the Department for the Study of Religion. His research focuses on a range of issues in Comparative Theology and Hindu-Christian Studies, particularly the engagement between Christian thought and the Hindu tradition of Advaita Vedanta.   He also writes on the scholarship of teaching and learning in theology and religion.  Dr. Locklin grew up in Athens, Georgia, completed a BA in Humanities at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, a MTS from Boston University, and a PhD  in Theology from Boston College in 2003.  He has taught at the University of Toronto since 2004.

timothy1Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, OP was born in London in 1945, the fourth of six children. He is Director of the Las Casas Institute, Blackfriars, Oxford. He was educated by the Benedictines at Worth and Downside schools. He joined the English Province of the Dominican Order in 1965, and was ordained a priest in 1971. He studied at Blackfriars and at St John’s College in Oxford, and in Paris. He was a chaplain to the University of London in 1974 – 76, before returning to Oxford, where he taught scripture and doctrine for twelve years. Besides teaching and preaching, he was involved in the Peace movement and in ministry to people with AIDS. He was Prior of Oxford from 1982 – 88, when he was elected Provincial of the English Province. He was President of the Conference of Major Religious Superiors. In 1992 he was elected Master of the Order, finishing his term in 2001. He was Chancellor of the Angelicum University in Rome, S.Tomas in Manila, the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem and the Theology Faculty in Fribourg. He is now an itinerant preacher and lecturer, based at Blackfriars, Oxford, spending two thirds of the year traveling, and was a Trustee of the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development from 2001 to 2014. He is an Honorary Fellow of St John’s College, Oxford, and Doctor of Divinity hon. causa of Oxford University and the Pontifical University of St Thomas (Angelicum), and has honorary doctorates from various other universities in France, and the United States.

Dr. Nevin Reda received her PhD from the University of Toronto, where she also completed a Masters in Biblical Hebrew Language and Literature.   Her main area of research is the Qur’an, often enriched with interdisciplinary perspectives from Biblical studies, literary theory and women’s studies.  She has a particular interest in Surat al-Baqara, on which she wrote her PhD dissertation, and in Islamic legal theory and political theologies, occasionally publishing her research in both Arabic and English.   She has also co-lead several interfaith dialogue seminars over the past eight years.

In 2014, Nevin was the recipients of the Independent Book Publisher award for her contribution to Three Testaments: Torah, Gospel and Quran, ed. Brian Arthur Brown, (Plymouth: Rowman and Littlefield, 2012).  Her course entitled “Intertwined Texts:  Bible and Qur’an in Dialogue” was awarded a generous grant from the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations at Merrimack College and The William and Mary Greve Foundation in 2013.  She also received the Canadian Council of Muslim Women’s Women Who Inspire Award in 2010. This award is given each year to five Canadian Muslim Women who serve as role models for girls and women through their commitment to improving the lives of others, to women’s equality, and by their participation in grassroots activism and civic engagement.

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The Honourable Hugh Segal, the fifth Master of Massey College, chaired the Senate Subcommittee on Urban poverty, as well‎ as the Anti-Terrorism and Foreign Relations Committee during his eight and a half years in the Senate.

A graduate in History from the University of Ottawa, Hugh is a former President of the Institute for Research on Public Policy, chief of staff to the Prime Minister, and Associate Cabinet Secretary for federal provincial affairs in Ontario‎.

P1070064 Lucy ThorsonSr. Lucy Thorson, nds, is a member of the international Roman Catholic Congregation of the Sisters of our Lady of Sion. Born in Saskatoon, Canada, Sr. Lucy spent many years of service in Jerusalem and Rome. She completed her Masters of Theology in conjunction with the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and St. Michael’s University College at the University of Toronto. Her thesis dealt with ‘The Communal Dimension of Repentance in Jewish and Christian Liturgies’.

During her fourteen years in Rome, Sr. Lucy was Directress of SIDIC – an International Centre for Jewish-Christian Relations which was established in 1965 at the request of the Second Vatican Council Fathers. She also taught seminars and did programme planning at the Cardinal Bea Centre for Jewish Christian Relations which offers both a Diploma and a Masters programme at the Gregorian Pontifical University in Rome.

Presently, Sr. Lucy is a member of the Executive Board of the Christian Jewish Dialogue of Toronto (CJDT), a member of the Canadian Christian Jewish Consultation (CCJC), a member of the Sisters of Sion Canada-USA Relation and Encounter team and works part-time with the Scarboro Missions Interfaith Department as Education and Liaison Development Officer in the area of Jewish-Christian Relations.

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