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Walking the Walk Alumni

Walking the Walk Alumni encourages youth to stay involved with the goals and mission of the Interfaith Center after they graduate from Walking the Walk. Alumni events, which are planned by a student planning committee, include service-learning projects, speaking opportunities at public events, and leadership workshops. Some alumni serve as Student Group Leaders, working as assistants for their Walking the Walk network, or as members of the GreenTeam, who lead the Day of Environmental Action.

All Walking the Walk alumni are encouraged to get involved with this initiative! See the schedule of upcoming alumni events or apply to be a Student Group Leader below.

“I was so captivated by the program I couldn’t just let it slip through my fingers, so I returned as a Student Group Leader this year with my Christian and Muslim friends. There is absolutely no down side to this program.” —Mara, Walking the Walk Alumni Student Group Leader, West Philadelphia Network, 2010-2011.

Highlights from Walking the Walk Alumni

View photos from past alumni events!

Upcoming Opportunities

We are looking for Walking the Walk Alumni to serve in a leadership position in an exciting new initiative – the Walking the Walk Alumni Board! The alumni board aims to promote a sense of community between the alumni of the WTW program. The board will gage the needs and interests of alumni and create a method for Walking the Walk participants to continue their engagement in the Interfaith movement beyond the year of the program.

We are interested in creating a board of high school and college-age students and beyond. Think about applying if you are interested in outreach to fellow alumni through events and programs.
The time committment would be 1-2 in-person meetings per year, along with phone and e-mail check-ins before major events. Alumni would serve a two-year term on the board.

Please return the Alumni Board application form to Margie Scharf mns@interfaithcenterpa.org by August 14th if you are interested.

What’s New

Walking the Walk Alumni Engage in Service at Henry Got Crops and Share”

 

“I feel that I have become part of more than just a program, but rather a full-fledged interfaith movement.” —Louis, Walking the Walk Alumni Summer Intern, 2010. Read his full story.

Student Group Leaders 2013-2014

Lev Boonin, Northwest Philadelphia Network


A religious tradition which is important to me is the shabbas. This is because when I was little, my family and my uncle’s family would meet every Friday for shabbas. In fact, the first way I marked time was “how many shabbasas away” an event was.

My favorite part of the Walking the Walk year, if I must pick only one, would be going to the mosque or Sikh temple, as these were faiths that I had never had much direct contact with before, but had wanted to learn more about.

A “fun fact” about myself would be that I never give anything less than 200% to a task and accept no substitutes but success in some form or another.

Sarah Elmongy, Suburban-West/Media Network

A religious tradition that is very meaningful to me: After a long month of fasting, Ramadan is followed by another holiday called Eid al-Fitr. Eid literally means holiday and Fitr means breakfast. On Eid al-Fitr we greet one another with “Eid Mubarek” or “Happy Holidays”. My family makes a huge feast that consists of mostly lamb, followed by tons of different desserts. We also exchange gifts and my sister and I usually receive money from our relatives. Eid is sort of like a Christmas for my family and I love how it brings us all together.

My favorite part of the Walking the Walk year: I have two favorite parts: cleaning up the park and creating a religiously accommodating school. Cleaning the park not only created a bonding experience with the other Walking the Walkers early in our year together, but it also created a sense of immediate accomplishment. After a day of hard work, we were able to admire the good that we had done for our community. Creating a school that accommodated students from many different faiths was our last task together. This task was the long term result of our journey throughout the year. Creating the school allowed us to reflect on our experiences together and pushed us to use our new found knowledge.

A “Fun Fact”: I am part of my schools rowing team in the spring and I love it. I row about six days a week and love being out on the river.

Quinia Evans, Northwest Philadelphia Network

A religious tradition that is meaningful to me is that during service we greet one another and pass the peace to everyone.

My favorite part of my year in Walking the Walk was all of the service projects. They helped me to be more grateful for what I have.

Fun Facts: I love singing. I also love animals.

Jami Gross, West/Central Philadelphia Network


A religious tradition that is very meaningful to me is my tallis. As a Jew, you are given a tallis upon becoming a bat/bar mitzvah and my parents gave me a tallis that is very special to me and something I will cherish and hold close to me forever. They used my baby quilt as the fabric for it and in addition wove my baby blanket that I slept with for years into the part of fabric that rests on my shoulder, allowing me to hold a piece of my childhood very close to me as I pray. Also, on the underside of the tallis are pictures of my entire family tree: great grandparents, grandparents, parents, cousins, etc. allowing me to hold my family close to me as well. I hope that one day I can make my children tallis that are just as beautiful and special as the one my parents gave to me.

My favorite parts of my Walking the Walk year were the days we volunteered at the Inglis House. The Inglis House is a home for handicapped people and having the privilege of volunteering there was truly an eye-opening and meaningful experience. Meeting with the residents helped me grow as a person and look at my life from a different perspective. It opened my eyes and helped me realize and appreciate how truly fortunate I am for all the things I have – even the little details I often take for granted. Working with the residents helped push me out of my comfort zone, forcing me to take on a whole new kind of experience and situation. I was amazed how much I could learn from some of the residents about their faiths as well as my own. I learned how important it is to appreciate what you have and to be open to new experiences.

A fun fact about myself… I love to travel. I’ve been lucky enough to go to a lot of cool places like Israel, Costa Rica for 4 weeks, California for 6 weeks, Maine, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, the Dominican Republic, and more. I have two dogs. My favorite flavor ice cream is coffee. I can slalom (one ski) waterski. And I love to run.

Arman Hassan, Suburban-West Network


A meaningful religious tradition: For me, fasting during Ramadan itself isn’t as meaningful as the Iftar feast. Breaking the fast gives me an opportunity to sit together with my family, and enjoy interaction that normally I don’t get to have. Not to mention I love stuffing myself with as much food as possible.

Favorite part of the Walking the Walk year: My favorite experience with Walking the Walk was speaking as a Youth Panelist at the “Dare to Understand” event. I got the chance to voice my experiences and opinions, and I got to practice my advocacy skills that extended beyond just discussion.

Fun facts about myself: My favorite TV show is “Dexter” and I used to eat dry instant noodles as a kid.

Elise Higgins, Suburban-West Network


One of my favorite religious traditions is going to 3 churches with all of my cousins on Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter. My family gets together for the holiday weekend, and on this night we all go to the churches and do the Stations of the Cross at each.

My favorite part of Walking the Walk this year was when we went to the Sikh society. Their religion is so different from mine in most ways, but there are some similarities which were interesting to learn about. Also, I really enjoyed the community meal that was served afterwards.

A fun fact about me is that I have been dancing for almost 10 years.

Kyra Lesser, Suburban-West Network


A religious tradition that is meaningful to me is Hanukkah. The way that my family and I take time out of our day to make sure we can all come together and light the candles on the menorah is something I have cherished since my childhood. And, getting presents after we’re done isn’t too bad either!

My favorite Walking the Walk experience was going to the Sikh temple. The service was absolutely beautiful and the colors and music transported me to another world. The food was amazing as well, and I never could have had that experience if I didn’t do Walking the Walk.

A fun fact about me is that I love Hip Hop! I love both the music and the style of dance. I pursue it through my school’s dance team, classes, and even teach it to younger students.

Matt Newman, Wissahickon Network


A religious tradition that is very meaningful to me is every year for Yom Kippur my family and I get together in order to break-the-fast.

My favorite part of the Walking the Walk year is the beginning, because I love to see old friends and also make some new friends as well.

A “Fun Fact” about myself is that I love to play tennis.

Nicole Thompson, Wissahickon Network


A religious tradition that is meaningful to me is Christmas, when friends and family come together to spend time together, and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

My favorite part of the Walking the Walk year would have to be, whenever we get to do community service. Helping to make the community better is always fun and satisfying!

A fun fact about me is that I love traveling across the world!

Rogena Rezkalla, Suburban-West/Media Network


A religious tradition that is meaningful to me is Christmas because it’s the time where everything is just perfectly made. I think that because my family is around me. The Christmas carols, decorations, and presents just make me so happy. But that’s not all that matters, because it is the time of the year to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

My favorite part of Walking the Walk was going to the farm and harvesting the fruit that I did not know who was going to eat it or what was going to happen with it. But, it also taught me a lesson about how food products relate to different religions. But above all, the Walking the Walk group that I had gave me an opportunity to meet different people of different religions.

A fun fact about myself is that I like to play soccer and enjoy dangerous rides at amusement parks. I also love trying out different recipes with a” pinch of Rogena” that I put in.

Mickey Viola, Suburban-West Network


An important religious tradition for me is prayer. I think that is the most universal thing we can do to become close with God. I think that just talking to Him is the most important thing you can do.

My favorite part of my Walking the Walk year: All of it. I loved just learning and growing with a group of new people I didn’t know before.

A “Fun Fact”: I have a 22 year old sister who gets mistaken for my twin all the time and if you ask them who’s older they think I am.

Margot Weitz, West/Central Philadelphia Network


One religious tradition that is very meaningful to me is getting together with my family during the high holidays. Although this tradition may seem simple, it is this simplicity that makes it meaningful. Spending time with my family during the Jewish holidays enforces the values of relationships and hospitality.

My favorite part of Walking the Walk last year was volunteering at Inglis House. This work helped me learn important life lessons, including not to judge a book by its cover. It also allowed me to meet a lot of new and interesting people!

One fun fact about me is that I play volleyball. I am on varsity for Lower Merion High School and it is my favorite sport!

Past Student Group Leaders

2012 – 2013

  • Dalia Al-Bataineh, Suburban West Network
  • Suzanne Bernstein, Suburban West Network
  • Quinia Evans, Central Philadelphia Network
  • Tal Gilad, Wissahickon Network
  • Sophia Gluskin-Braun, Northern Day School Network
  • MaryKate Glenn, Northern Day School Network
  • Sharika Maliha, Wissahickon Network
  • Hasinah Rahman, Central Philadelphia Network
  • Sam Slavitt, Northern Day School Network
  • Graham Small, Suburban West Network
  • Katrina Tacconelli, Suburban-West Network
  • Leah Zebovitz, Central Philadelphia Network

2011 – 2012

  • Sydney Fleekop, Matt Siegleman, Suburban West Network
  • Ricca Marx, Wissahickon Network
  • Sophia Waldstein, North/Northwest Network
  • Ilanit Goldberg, Wissahickon Network
  • Arin Ahlum Hanson, Suburban West Network
  • Rev. Rob McClellan, Day School Network
  • Rev. Lamont A. Wells, Northwest Philadelphia Network

2010-2011

  • Aniqa Hassan, Anisa Tavangar – Suburban-West Network
  • Miriam Jason – Cheltenham Network
  • Baseerah Watson, Mara Pliskin, Sheannah Conneen – West Philadelphia Network

2009-2010

  • Dahlia Kenawy, Hanna Elmongy – Havertown Network
  • Anneke Kat, Wyatt Smith, Isam Osman – Suburban-West Network
  • Sa’ood Abdul-Basit, Danny Garfield – West Philadelphia Network

2008-2009

  • Dan Siegelman, Halimah Bakillah, Yasmine Hadjar – Suburban West Network
  • Hannah Weilbacher, Hope Platt, Kamil Saeid – West Philadelphia Network

2007-2008

Past Green Team Leaders

2010-2011

      • Lisa Doi
      • Noah Kosherick
      • Hanna Elmongy
      • Sa’ood Abdul-Basit
      • Michael Klingerman

2009-2010

      • Allison Peiser, The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
      • Emna Bakillah
      • Layla Tavangar
      • Leena Mazid
      • Michael Kligerman
      • Monique Smith
      • Noah Kosherick

2008-2009

      • Amanda Mazid
      • Dahlia Kenawy
      • Isam Osman
      • Layla Tavangar
      • Michael Kligerman
      • Sarah Claussen, The Lutheran Seminary
      • Qamar Muhaimin, Student Group Leader
      • Zia Islam

2007-2008

      • Halima Bakillah
      • Ibrahim Muhaimin
      • Ja’Milla Fitzhugh
      • Marjorie Scharf, Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia
      • Michael Kligerman
      • Michael Wanatik
      • Michael Pasek
      • Mikeerah Smith
      • Monique Smith
      • Qamar Muhaimin


“Towards the end of my time in interfaith I was doing all kinds of things I never would have done before. I was leading the team planning our annual Day of Environmental Action, and I was always one of the kids speaking at events …If I had let this program pass me by I wouldn’t be who I am today.”—Qamar, Walking the Walk Alumni Student Group Leader and Green Team Leader, 2009-2010.