Each summer the Kriya Vedanta Gurukulam hosts its Annual Interfaith Conference to promote inter-religious awareness, tolerance, and respect while encouraging ongoing goodwill dialogue and cooperation among peoples of all cultures and religious traditions. Panelists are invited from various major faiths such as Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, and Christianity.

2015 Interfaith Conference Panelists

Bonney Rega

Islam

Rabbi Marc Rudolph

Judaism

Swami Ishatmananda

Hinduism

Gyoshin Laurel Ross

Buddhism

2014 Interfaith Conference Panelists

Venerable Drupon Rinchen Dorjee

Buddhism


Drupon Rinpoche received teachings on the Fivefold Path of Mahamudra and Kunsang Lama's Words of Profound Instruction. In 1995 Drupon received full ordination vows from His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche. In 1996, he received initiation into the Profound Path of the Six Yogas of Naropa. Venerable Drupon Rinchen Dorjee is currently the teacher and spiritual director of Chicago Ratna Shri Sangha.

Imam Kareem Irfan

Islam


Imam Kareem M. Irfan is a lawyer by profession. He has lead and advised US State Department, inter-faith delegations and global initiatives on international peace. Mr. Irfan has been honored by the Director’s Community Leadership Award from the US Dept. of Justice; Excellence in Interfaith Leadership Award from the City of Chicago.

Father Ed Shea

Christianity


Franciscan Father Ed Shea is the third of eight children from St. Giles Parish in Oak Park. Father Ed has spent most of his priesthood in parish work. He was also pastor of St. Joseph Parish, a predominantly Hispanic community in Chicago’s famous Back of the Yards neighborhood. Father Ed has served on his Provincial Council and as Director of Formation for the Franciscans of the Sacred Heart Province.

Yonah Klem

Judaism


Yonah Klem, Ed. D., L.C.P.C., recently retired from a mental health counseling practice which she had for over 25 years. She is also an ordained teacher of Jewish meditation. As a counselor, Yonah continues to confidentially work with the individual needs of congregants to assist them in coping with challenging situations.

Swami Varadananda

Hinduism


Swami Varadananda is a Hindu monk of the Ramakrishna Order, which has its headquarters at Belur Math in India. He is involved in many interfaith activities in the Chicago area. He has been the president of the Hyde Park/Kenwood Interfaith Council and a trustee of the Council For a Parliament of the World’s Religions.

Dr. Rajani Patwari

Moderator


Dr. Patawari is a practicing physician. Dr. Patawari’s open mindedness and subtle understanding of deep spiritual philosophies have earned her the respect of friends, peers and the community.

2013 Interfaith Conference Panelists

Swami Ishatmananda

Hinduism


Swami Ishatmanandaji is a Hindu monk and minister-in-charge of the Vedanta Center Chicago in Homer Glen, IL. He joined the monastic order as a novice in 1975 and became a monk in 1986. For the last 4 decades Swamiji has been working extensively for social, economic, educational, and spiritual development of people in many parts of India, specifically in the North Eastern states.

Mr. Kushal Singavi

Jainism


Kushal Singavi was born and raised in India in a devout Jain family. After having completed his Masters in Speech Pathology & Audiology, he pursued his doctorate in the area of infant cry analysis. His quest for religion and spirituality arose after moving to the Chicagoland area. For the past nine years, he has been facilitating bi-weekly young adult class discussions on the core principles of Jainism in daily life. He also has served as an Executive Committee Member for the Jain Society of Metropolitan Chicago.

Venerable Sayadaw
U Khema Wuntha

Buddhism


Venerable Sayadaw U Khema Wuntha, Maha Thera, holds a law degree from the Bur-mese University. He practiced law in Burma prior to being ordained as a Bhikkhu in 1985 under the Most Venerable Sayadaw U PANNA VAMSA, Chief Monk of Dhammikarama Burmese Bud-dhist Temple in Penang, Malaysia and Chief Monk of the Burmese Buddhist Temple in Los Angeles.

Fr. Dan Peters

Christianity

Father Dan Peters has been ordained a Roman Catholic priest now for 24 years for the Diocese of Rockford, IL. He is currently serving as an Associate Pastor of St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Church in Sugar Grove, IL. He is a USA veteran having served in the United States Coast Guard for four years before beginning his college studies.

Imam Kareem M. Irfan

Islam


Imam Kareem M. Irfan is a lawyer by profession. He recently served as the first Muslim President of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago. He is a former Chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, a federation serving over 400,000 Muslim Americans. He has contributed in a leadership capacity for over 25 years with American and International Muslim Community Projects.

2012 Interfaith Conference Panelists

Ms. Mazher Ahmed

Islam


Ms. Mazher Ahmed was born in Hyderabad, raised and educated in Bombay, India and now lives in the United States. Ms. Ahmed is currently vice president of the Batavia Islamic Center, Director of Global Peace Works and founder of Interfaith Prayer for Peace, a group for people of all faiths to gather and pray from their own tradition for world peace. Mazher Ahmed has been involved with the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions since 1990. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Council.

Rev. Mark Winters

Christianity


Rev. Mark Winters grew up in the eastern part of Washington State. He received a BA in English from Boston College in 1999, and a Master of Divinity from Chicago Theological Seminary in 2009. Mark was born and raised in the United Church of Christ. He is passionate about examining the implications of theology in the world, especially in issues of peace and justice. Mark and his family live in Naperville.

Dr. Amarjit Singh

Sikhism


Honorary Chairman (Punjabi Cultural Society Of Chicago)

Dr. P. Boonshoo Sriburin

Buddhism


Dr. P. Boonshoo Sriburin was born on October 3, 1952 in the present Phu-Reu district of Loei province, in northeast Thailand, near the border of Laos. He joined the monastic life at the age of 14 (July 19, 1966) as a novice or Samanera, under the monastic training. After practicing and teaching, he first traveled to the U.S.A. was in May of 1994. Since then he has been residing at Wat Dhammaram/Vipassana Meditation Center. His present duties in the temple include meditation guidance, doing monastic works, welcoming guests and assisting with cultural events among people.

Mr. Dinesh Jain

Jainsim


Jain Society of Metropolitan Chicago

Rev. Emmy Lou Belcher

Unitarian


Rev. Emmy Lou Belcher has been a UU minister since 1989, previously serving churches in Traverse City, Michigan, and Morristown, New Jersey. Before her ordination, she served congregations in Troy, Michigan and Lyons, Ohio, and was the Director of Religious Education for six years at the UU church in Detroit, Michigan. Rev. Belcher holds a Masters of Religious Studies from the University of Detroit and did her undergraduate work in fine arts at the University of Michigan.

Swami Vedantananda

Hinduism


Bharat Sevasram Sangh, Chicago