Life. Faith. Resilience.
This podcast is about three American women, Hurunnessa Fariad, a Muslim, Rabbi Susan Shankman, a Rabbi, and Dr. Sabrina Dent, a Christian, coming together to discuss life, faith and resilience. Conversations centered around humanizing American Muslim narratives while discussing likes and differences between the faiths through life experiences. Join the co-hosts weekly for a variety of topics and guest speakers! Follow Sister Act by clicking below.
Hurunnessa Fariad is a staple name amongst the interfaith community around the Washington, DC area. Her initiatives between the various faith groups have established a multitude of relationships of understanding, respect and acceptance.
Hurunnessa has been asked to speak and participate on many panel discussions at various faith related events as well as representing the Muslim community at government agencies. Her witty humor combined with real life references and facts, makes her a dynamic speaker.
Escaping the Soviet/Russian invasion of Afghanistan, Hurunnessa and her family fled from Kabul in 1980 and immigrated to Pakistan. Three years later, she and her family landed in Queens, NYC as refugees. She grew up in Queens and attended a performing arts High School where she majored in music and became a trained vocalist. She graduated Hunter College with a degree in English Literature and Elementary Education.
Hurunnessa currently lives in Sterling, Virginia with her 4 daughters and serves as Head of Outreach/PR & Interfaith at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS Center), the second-largest mosque in the United States. She has represented the ADAMS Center on CNN, WUSA9, Channel 7, Channel 4, NPR, Kojo Nnamdi show (WAMU) and other national and international media outlets. She is an active member of MJAC (Muslim Jewish Advisory Council), PCI (Peace Catalyst International), member of the Board of Directors at Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy(VICPP), Leadership Circle for New America Movement, Committee member for Fairfax County’s Interfaith & Equity Committee, member of the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) Multicultural Coalition and former Chair of Religious Affairs at Fairfax County NAACP.
Hurunnessa is the Music Director of America’s first Mosque Youth Choir, ADAMS BEAT, which she started in 2016. ADAMS BEAT is actively involved in interfaith and advocacy work. Aspen Institute Featured ADAMS BEAT on a podcast to showcase the importance of involving youth in Interfaith work through music.
Rabbi Susan Shankman has been a Rabbi at Washington Hebrew Congregation for 19 years. In addition to officiating services, life cycle events, and pastoral care and counseling, Rabbi Shankman coordinates the Confirmation program, works closely with the Women of WHC, focuses on programming for families with young children, outreach to interfaith families, engages in social justice work, and is dedicated to ongoing dialogue with the interfaith community. Rabbi Shankman was ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2001.
The first female President of the Washington Board of Rabbis, Rabbi Shankman has also served on the board of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR). She currently sits on the Board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, and is a board member of Jewish Women International, and serves on JWI’s National Clergy Task Force on Domestic Abuse. In 2006, Rabbi Shankman was honored with JWI’s Women to Watch Community Leadership Award, and in 2014, she received the Matthew H. Simon Rabbinical Award from the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.
As a rabbinical student at HUC-JIR in Cincinnati, Rabbi Shankman served student pulpits in Valparaiso, Indiana, and Columbus, Mississippi, providing their sole rabbinic support. She worked as an intern in the Youth Programs Department of HUC-JIR and was also an intern in the Outreach Department of HUC-JIR. Upon ordination, Rabbi Shankman received the Ferdinand M. Isserman Prize, an award recognizing her contributions toward the development of community relations. Rabbi Shankman received a Master’s Degree in Religion from the University of Chicago Divinity School in 1992. She graduated from Dartmouth College in 1991, having majored in History and Religion. Prior to rabbinical school, Rabbi Shankman was Regional Director to NFTY-Long Island, and Assistant Director of URJ Eisner Camp. She has served as regional rabbinic advisor to NFTY-MAR, and spends time each summer on the faculty at URJ Camp Harlam.
Rabbi Shankman is married to Rabbi Michael Namath, Director of Leadership Development at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and they are the proud parents of Isabel, Jacob, and Evie.
Dr. Sabrina Dent is the Senior Faith Adviser at Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Dr. Dent is a life-long advocate for human rights and social justice. Throughout her career, she has worked with vulnerable populations including women and children impacted by domestic violence and abuse, youth with mental health and behavioral challenges, and racial and religious minorities. However, she developed a passion as a religious freedom advocate in 2015 when she became a BJC Fellow with the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC).
Before joining the AU team, Dr. Dent worked as director of recruitment and admissions at the Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum where she managed several of the education initiatives designed for religious and civic leaders, including a three-year project funded by the Henry Luce Foundation titled “Religious Freedom: African American Perspectives.” She enhanced the Center’s Summer Bootcamp for Interns, providing an opportunity for college interns to learn more about religious freedom and engage national experts on this topic.
Prior to her time at the Religious Freedom Center, Dr. Dent served as program coordinator for the Doctor of Ministry Program at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University (STVU). Sabrina is the past president of the Interfaith Community of Greater Richmond (ICGR). ICGR is a non-profit organization of 20 faith groups and denominations that is committed to developing respect, understanding, and cooperation among the various religious faiths.
In her work, Dr. Dent has presented at numerous programs and events, including the American Academy of Religion’s Public Scholars Project, Faith Journeys in the Black Experience: 1619 – 2019 Commemoration, 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions conference, and Melissa Rogers’s Faith In American Public Life book launch on CSPAN Book Tv. In June 2019, Dr. Dent served as the moderator for the panel discussion “Voices of a New Generation: Racial and Religious Reconciliation” at BYU Law School’s Religious Freedom Conference in Provo, Utah. In February 2020, she was the keynote presenter for the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference’s Micah Institute at the Clergy and Lay Leaders Conference – the largest social justice network for progressive African American clergy and lay leaders. Her most recent article, “The Two Big G’s – God and Government,” emphasized the importance of the separation of church and state even in difficult times. Dr. Dent’s contributions to the field of religious liberty were recognized by the Honorable Suzan Johnson Cook in December 2018 when she was named as a Pro Voice/Pro Voz, Inc. honoree.
Dr. Dent earned her master of divinity degree and doctor of ministry degree from STVU. Her doctoral dissertation project title was “Bridging the Gap of Race and Interfaith Relations: Connecting Humanity with Our Stories.” She earned her bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech. Dr. Dent is a native of Petersburg, Virginia, and a proud mother.