Starting Interfaith Dialogue at NYU Shanghai



In 2014 the documentary “Of Many” made its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film, produced by Chelsea Clinton and directed by NYU sociology professor Linda Mills, follows two of NYU’s chaplains, Rabbi Yehuda Sarna and Imam Khalid Latif, in their efforts to foster an interfaith dialogue between different religious communities on campus. The film is particularly based around Arab-Israeli tensions and the post-9/11 tensions in the NYU community which led to the beginning of the partnership between Sarna and Latif as well as the founding of NYU’s Of Many Institute for Multifaith Leadership. The Institute falls under the umbrella of programs for NYU Global Spiritual Life and was founded in 2012 by Chelsea Clinton, Imam Latif, Linda Mills and Rabbi Sarna. It carries out a wide variety of activities on campus, from service learning trips to leadership training and interfaith workshops on campus, as well as inspiring the creation of a Multifaith Student Advisory Council on campus that supports interfaith activities such as Shabbat-Jummah Prayer and yearly conferences.

But their work does not end in just New York: Latif and Sarna also briefly joined the NYUAD community and engaged students in dialogue about globalization, faith and misconceptions about the Islamic community. The work done by the Institute is incredibly important as a mediating force in any community with a diverse range of views and beliefs, many of which may sometimes conflict with each other. It goes without saying that NYU Shanghai is such a community. The need to create spaces and resources for interfaith dialogue is going to become more important as our campus continues to grow and is something that we are lacking in a tangible way right now. This year, we’ve seen our community grow more conscious of gender, sexuality and race issues and it is high time we added religion to that list.

You can watch the trailer for “Of Many” here.

This article was written by Ravneet Dehal. Send an email to to get in touch.
Photo Credit: NYU



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