Rabbi Herman E. Schaalman Interreligious Leadership Award

The award honors Rabbi Schaalman’s long commitment to interreligious understanding, including his 12 years of teaching at CTS. The award is intended to advance interreligious understanding, engagement, and leadership.

Each year CTS students are invited to submit an essay and proposal for an interfaith project. One entry is selected as the Schaalman recipient and receives a $500 cash prize and $500 microgrant to implement their project.

Vanessa Gomez-Brake
2018 Schaalman Recipient
Last November, the IRI awarded the 2018 Rabbi Herman E. Schaalman Interreligious Leadership Award to MDiv student Vanessa Gomez-Brake. As Associate Dean of Religious Life at the University of Southern California, Vanessa supports and promotes broadly-conceived religious and spiritual life at the University. Her IRI microgrant was used to host an on-campus storytelling event focused on migration and movement in response to recent changes to DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Submissions were reflections on the stories we are told from our sacred texts, religious traditions, and classic literature, as well as how those stories inform our values and actions. Vanessa’s vision for the evening was realized with six students sharing their stories, in a variety of forms, engaging attendees to “learn about wordviews they had not previously known about and step away with more nuanced perspectives on why people migrate.”

The Waraich Family Scholarship

The IRI offers a full scholarship each year for a student in Muslim Studies at Chicago Theological Seminary. Combined with directed, interfaith recruiting efforts, this scholarship will enhance religious diversity in our student body and Muslim representation in our community.

Additional, partial scholarships for Muslim students will be funded by CTS as other students are recruited, enabling us to continue growing our Muslim student population.

Jenan Mohajir
2018 Waraich Recipient
Jenan Mohajir is an educator, a storyteller, a mother and a believer in building relationships across the lines that separate us. Jenan currently serves as the Senior Director of Leadership at Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), where she oversees the creation and implementation of programs that invest in the development of IFYC's student and alumni leaders. For the last 11 years, Jenan has served as a senior staff member at IFYC and has trained hundreds of young people from religious and secular backgrounds to be interfaith leaders who create a different story of engagement in our polarized world. When she can, Jenan volunteers with Sirat Chicago, a neighborhood space that fosters a healthy Muslim community by supporting initiatives around service and worship, education and arts, and family life. Jenan is deeply inspired by the stories from her family and her faith to create change at the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, and religion. Jenan loves collecting old children’s books and lives on the south side of Chicago with her husband and three children.