About Vital Voices:
The world is beset with violence in the name of religion and much of this stems from ignorance and misconceptions about each other. In this multi-faith mosaic, there are people who don’t even know who their neighbour is. Honest dialogue and communication are key to eliminating ignorance because “knowledge is the best weapon of mass instruction”. Three voices of compassion, commitment and concern engage in conversations deemed to be “beyond the fluff stuff” in order to build bridges of understanding between all people of all faiths who call Canada home.

Watch Vital Voices at: Soul Tv.net


Rabbi J Cohen:
Rabbi Jordan D. Cohen is the Senior Rabbi of Temple Anshe Sholom in Hamilton, Ontario and the Founder and Director of The Orchard, an innovative Multifaith Spirituality Centre located in Peterborough, Ontario. Originally from Toronto, Rabbi Cohen previously served as Rabbi of the United Jewish Congregation of Hong Kong, the only Liberal Rabbi at the time serving in Asia. Rabbi Cohen has worked and studied in Canada, Israel, and the United States, and served for five years as Rabbi of the North Shore Temple Emanuel in Sydney, Australia. Rabbi Cohen holds a Bachelors Degree in English Literature from the University of Waterloo (Ontario), Masters Degrees in both Hebrew Literature and Education from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (California) and was ordained as a Rabbi at the Hebrew Union College in New York. In addition to his congregational work, Rabbi Cohen has worked extensively in the areas of Spirituality, Interfaith Relations, Education and Folklore. A respected teacher and avid story-teller, Rabbi Cohen has served as Associate Director of Kolel, the Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning in Toronto and on the faculty of the internationally renowned Brandies-Bardin Institute in Los Angeles. Rabbi Cohen has published in the areas of multifaith spirituality, religious education and folklore, and his weekly Internet scriptural commentaries have been translated into three languages. Rabbi Cohen is married to Paula Baruch, and together they share five wonderful children.


Raheel Raza:
Author of THEIR JIHAD…NOT MY JIHAD, Raheel Raza is a writer, public speaker, diversity consultant and interfaith advocate. Raza works towards bridging the gap between East and West, promoting cultural and religious diversity through her writing and speaking. She has appeared numerous times in print, on television and radio to discuss diversity, harmony and interfaith. A passionate advocate for human rights and a leader among Muslim women, Raza has the distinction of being the first Muslim woman in Canada to lead mixed gender prayers. Raza has received many awards for her work to build bridges of understanding. In a presentation to Members of Parliament and international diplomats at the House of Commons, Raza received a standing ovation in response to her 30-minute speech titled, "Celebrating our Differences". She is a recipient of the City of Toronto’s Constance Hamilton award and has the distinction of being the first South Asian woman to do the narration for a CBC documentary on “Passionate Eye”. Raza started writing at a young age because she grew up in a culture where women were supposed to "be seen and not heard.” Travelling extensively throughout the world, Raza brings a fresh global perspective and international experience to her diversity mandate which is “there is unity in diversity”. She has spoken at Harvard and Columbia; churches and synagogues, the private sector, the Justice Department, School Boards and government institutions.


Ted Schmidt:
Ted Schmidt is the recently retired editor of the Catholic New Times and the author of Shabbes Goy: a Catholic Boyhood on a Jewish Street in a Protestant City. A pioneer in Holocaust studies, Ted’s experience in inner city Toronto motivated him to become the first teacher in Canada to systematically teach the Holocaust (1968) and act as consultant to other boards in this area. In a lifetime of teaching and writing he has been honoured by religion teachers and colleagues at large. In 1991 he received the Ontario English Teachers' Award of Merit, the highest distinction the association grants. In 2006 the Ontario Teachers’ Federation presented him with the Greer Memorial Award for his “outstanding commitment to publicly funded education.” As well, Ted has been recognized by the Somali Sports and Arts Centre for his work with that community. After his life in teaching ended, Ted became the editor of Catholic New Times, an ecumenically focused peace and justice newspaper. A frequent speaker on religious affairs in all media he continues his public speaking
and writing.



“I found Vital Voices to be a great way to spend the day, learning about other faiths, rejoicing in our similarities and respecting our differences. The schedule allowed us to learn from 3 speakers, listen to a panel discussion and participate in a Q & A. I believe we all learned much more than we would from a 2 or 3 minute news byte.”

“It was a pleasure listening to you today in Kirkton. You are very right, we do need to talk to each other and to learn of each other.”

“I enjoyed the day, so many things to think about. It gives one hope for humanity when we gather in the countryside or the city and discuss the faiths in the world.”



Or call us
Phone: 416-505-6052






© Copyright 2008 Raheel Raza.com. All Rights Are Reserved | .