Near the end of last year, Pacifica Institute organized a series of “Muslim Voices Against Extremism” panels in almost all its offices in the West Coast. The panel in Irvine office last year, unfortunately coincided right after the Paris attacks. In the wake of San Bernardino shootings in our recent memory, we are trying to find out with our local, religious and government leaders, what we, as a community can do better to fix this problem.
In this upcoming Combating Cancer of Extremism panel, the speakers will be looking for the answer to the question if it is fair to blame a particular religion and the tradition’s text for the atrocities of violent radicals? The panelists will also be delving the question of what members of each tradition should do to prevent the cancer of extremism in our communities and what the consequences are, if we sit idle and not do anything about it.


Rabbi Sharon Brous, Founding Rabbi of IKAR

In 2004 Rabbi Brous, Melissa Balaban and a handful of young entrepreneurial Jews set out to build IKAR, a laboratory for bold, imaginative Jewish practice – which quickly became one of the fastest growing Jewish communities in the country and a model for inspiring Jews from the most marginalized to the most engaged.

Since then, Brous has been recognized as one of the nation’s leading rabbis by Newsweek/The Daily Beast and among the 50 most influential American Jews by the Forward. In 2013 she topped The Daily Beast’s list, which credited her with reanimating Jewish community and re-energizing prayer at a time of growing disaffection and declining affiliation. In 2013 she blessed President Obama and Vice President Biden at the Inaugural National Prayer Service. She sits on the faculty of the Hartman Institute-North America, Wexner Heritage and REBOOT, and is a Senior Fellow at Auburn Theological Seminary. She serves on the International Council of the New Israel Fund and rabbinic advisory council to American Jewish World Service.

Brous was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2001 and received a Master’s Degree in human rights from Columbia University, where she also received her Bachelor’s Degree.

Edina Lekovic, Director of Policy & Programming at the Muslim Public Affairs Council 

Edina Lekovic frequently acts as a national spokesperson for the American Muslim community to media outlets, government officials, interfaith leaders, academic institutions, and community organizations.

Edina is one of the founders of Elev8, an arts-based youth program which has a mission to identify, train and develop youth community leadership rooted in awareness, responsibility, and action. Lekovic has made many appearances in the media including FoxNews, CNN, MSNBC, BBC, and the History Channel. She has also written for several national newspapers like the Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, Associated Press, Chicago Tribune, and Los Angeles Times.

Mrs Lekovic has a Master’s degree in Communications from Pepperdine University and a Bachelors Degree from UCLA in American Literature & culture.

Joumana Silyan-Saba, City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission 

Joumana Silyan-Saba is a Senior Policy Analyst for the City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission (City HRC). Within the government structures her focus includes working with local, state and federal agencies to provide recommendations aimed to improve community-government relations and expand community engagement concepts.  Over the past five years, Joumana has been at the forefront of developing the local framework for countering violent extremism and building healthy and resilient communities.

Ms. Silyan-Saba obtained her B.S. in Criminal Justice – Law Enforcement with a minor in Business Administration Human Resources Management at California State University Long Beach.   She completed her M.A in Negotiation and Conflict Management at California State University Dominguez Hills, where she is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor and teaches graduate courses in the Negotiations and Peace Building Program.

Date: Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Time: 6:30pm

Venue: Pacifica Institute, Los Angeles

8055 W Manchester Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90293