New monthly series combines religious and secular perspective on headline news and topical issues starting with women’s activism and sanctuary cities
April 6, 2017 – NEWARK, NJ — NJTV, New Jersey’s public television network, announced the launch of A Matter of Faith with a Bishop, an Imam and a Rabbi, a new monthly series that examines today’s headlining news through the lens of faith. The series, hosted by Bishop Mark Beckwith, Imam W. Deen Shareef and Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz, premieres Wednesday, April 12 at 8:30pm on NJTV, and gives viewers a seat at the table as the hosts vigorously discuss and debate high-profile issues sharing diverse perspectives on local, national and global issues.
“Every day the news is filled with local and national stories that raise emotional reaction, and resonate within our country’s religious communities…from international relations to human rights to politics. Knowing that personal perspectives on issues like these are often cultivated through the eyes of faith, this series aims to create a neutral platform for fruitful discussions that resonate from a variety of perspectives,” said NJTV General Manager John Servidio.
The hosts will share the discussion with special guests who are experts from the religious and secular worlds. “All of us define faith differently. And all those definitions will have a place on this show,” explains Rabbi Gewirtz in the show opener. “That goes for those who know they believe, those who struggle to believe and those who don’t believe at all.”
The half-hour series premiere tackles the trending topics of women’s activism and sanctuary cities, featuring in-studio guests Marathon Public Affairs President Jeanette Hoffman and State Director of NJ Working Families Analilia Mejia discussing the first topic and Montvale Mayor Michael Ghassali and Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro weighing in on the second. Post-discussion, the Bishop, the Imam and the Rabbi will end each episode with individual sermons or closing benedictions, to provide broader perspective on the topics of the program.
“My hope for this show is that we can provide a more open space for learning, and even debate,” says Bishop Beckwith, “drawing on our respective religious traditions to help frame the conversation.”
Adds Imam Shareef about the mission of the series, “How can we actually spread some of the goodness and the feelings we (the hosts) have toward each other. How can we educate people how to develop that kind of relationship with their neighbors, that kind of relationship with those that they work with, despite the fact they may disagree on some of their spiritual rituals, they may disagree with some of their politics. How can we bring them to the table where we can at least find a way- civilly- to discuss our commonalities and have an appreciation for those differences.”
A Matter of Faith with A Bishop, An Imam and A Rabbi is produced by Public Media NJ, Inc.. John Servidio is Executive is Charge; Mike Kostel is Executive Producer; and Anisa Mehdi is Senior Producer.
Support for A Matter of Faith with A Bishop, An Imam and A Rabbi is provided in part by the William & Mary Greve Foundation, Esme Usdan and the Lemberg Foundation, Ross Wisnewski and George Reeves, and by these funders: Madeline and Charles Dreifus and Donald and Margery Karp.
About the Hosts
Bishop Mark Beckwith
Mark Beckwith is the tenth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark. He co-founded and chairs Bishops United Against Gun Violence and is co-chair of the statewide Coalition of Religious Leaders of New Jersey. Deeply committed to urban ministry, Bishop Beckwith has initiated homeless programs and soup kitchens in each congregation he has served in New Jersey and Massachusetts
Imam W. Deen Shareef
Imam W. Deen Shareef is the Imam of Masjid Waarith ud Deen in Irvington, New Jersey and the Convener of the Council of Imams in New Jersey. Previously he served as Director of Logistics and Industrial Opportunities in the Department of Economic & Housing Development and as Senior Advisor to Mayor Cory A. Booker. Committed to serving the spiritual, social, and economic needs of community, Imam Shareef co-founded Waris Cultural Center, Masjid Waarith ud Deen, and ComWealth Economic Development Corporation in New Jersey.
Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz
Rabbi Matthew D. Gewirtz is the Senior Rabbi of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, New Jersey. Previously he served as Senior Associate Rabbi of Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York City. A regular contributor to numerous professional publications, Rabbi Gewirtz is the author of “The Gift of Grief: Finding Peace, Transformation and Renewed Life after Great Sorrow” (Random House).
About the Producers
Mike Kostel, Executive Producer
Mike Kostel is a five time Emmy-award winner and twenty-time nominee with extensive experience developing, producing, writing and directing compelling television shows and special events in entertainment, sports, news and the arts. He has served as the executive producer of American Graduate Day at WNET and NJTV’s Emmy-nominated American Songbook at NJPAC.
Anisa Mehdi, Senior Producer
Emmy Award-winning producer, director and correspondent Anisa Mehdi is a pioneer in covering religion and has helped broaden the scope of religion reporting at CBS News, PBS, ABC News Nightline, NPR, and National Geographic. Her documentary films shine a human light on global culture, religion and politics. Mehdi consults to the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and writes on global affairs for Stratfor.com.
NJTV, New Jersey’s public television network, brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to all 21 counties in New Jersey and its tri-state neighbors. NJTV presents acclaimed PBS series such as Nature, American Masters, Charlie Rose, and BBC World News America and children’s programs with diverse local programs including American Songbook at NJPAC, On the Record with Michael Aron, Driving Jersey, NJDocs, Due Process, One-on-One with Steve Adubato, Classroom Close-Up NJ and State of the Arts. The network’s flagship news broadcast, NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams, features stories from across the Garden State utilizing the Agnes Varis NJTV Studio in Newark, its Trenton Statehouse studio and remote cameras at university content bureaus as well as media partners. The NJTV website offers online programs and free digital resources for educators. NJTV is comprised of WNJN, WNJS, WNJB, and WNJT, which collectively broadcast throughout NJ. NJTV is operated under an agreement with the state of New Jersey by Public Media NJ, Inc. (PMNJ), a non-profit affiliate of WNET, parent company of award-winning New York public television stations THIRTEEN and WLIW21.