Staff Showcase – Eli Tamir
29 / 06 / 20
08 / 06 / 20
Jess supports the delivery of our work in local communities, notably organising the Faith & Belief Community Awards. She began her F&BF journey in September 2016 as an intern, before working as a project consultant and is now staff member!
Your name and job title: Jessica Hazrati – Community Team Programmes Officer.
What made you initially interested in interfaith work?
I studied Philosophy, Religion and Ethics at a University that had Jesuit roots and therefore had elements that were Christocentric. Through my three years of study I took modules in comparing Abrahamic Religions, and was amazed by my lack of knowledge about the interlinked histories, practices and stories of the three faiths. Initially, I was interested in just learning more about different faiths.
I also became aware of how important it is that in an increasingly secular society, faiths come together to offer a counter narrative. That collectively the voice of faith is louder, and that we have more in common than one would at first presume. However, I also learned that although ‘faiths getting along’ happens naturally, certain factors are needed in order for meaningful relations to grow. That there is practice to interfaith and there is also a history of privilege, oppression and harm that needs to be understood.
After dedicating time to the study and theory aspects of different faiths, I thought it would be interesting to explore the practical side of interfaith work. This interested me much more than becoming a religious studies teacher!
Why do you feel interfaith is still required in our world? What motivates you?
I am aware of the levels of hate and discrimination people receive due to their religious belief.
It seems the world is becoming more and more religiously illiterate and I think the only way to combat this is to collectively respond to this rather than from a single faith perspective.
Engaging with someone from a different faith is a wonderful thing to do but people can be nervous about engaging meaningfully and deeply with someone who they assume has a different experience, upbringing, values and beliefs. Many find it uncomfortable to break down cultural barriers.
My motivational drive is witnessing the confidence you see in someone when they are able to bring their whole self into a conversation, with another person who is also fully present.
How did you first hear about F&BF?
I saw an advertisement for the internship programme at my University – and applied!
What is your favourite aspect of your job?
The favourite aspect of my work is that I get to meet so many people that I can learn from, be challenged by, and share with. I am also proud of the interfaith practice / education that F&BF champions, and I enjoy teaching this to others and practicing it in my daily life.
What didn’t you realise about interfaith until working at F&BF?
That there was an art to it. There can be the assumption that that engaging in interfaith dialogue and work dilutes one’s own faith – I believe that it in fact deepens your religious tradition. As part of my role, I have had to describe my personal beliefs to people who didn’t grow up with the same religious imagery. this is often given me a chance to reflect on my everyday religious experience, value what is important to me and how it is unique and special.
What are you most proud of during your time here at F&BF?
I am proud of the relationship I have made with people I would never had met otherwise.