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Tuesday, April 26

11:00 am - 12:00 pm

The Alumni Committee of Interfaith Philadelphia held a virtual panel and discussion on the evolution of personal faith and faith communities during the COVID-19 pandemic:

How has COVID-19 impacted people's faith journeys?


How has COVID-19 impacted the ability of congregations and communities to come together?


How have faith community leaders overcome these challenges?

Check out the recording to hear from panelists from different communities tell their stories from the pandemic. 


Meet our Panelists!

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Yashpal Singh Bains P.E.

Yashpal is a Professional Engineer in Civil Engineering with project Engineering & Management career of 50 years. Now retired, he is engaged in multiple projects with his Sikh community, locally, nationally and internationally. He has been involved with Interfaith movement for last 15 years (member of the Philadelphia Interfaith Peace Walk, Interfaith Center of Philadelphia, PWR and several other Interfaith organizations). Working with youth in his community and other faith communities to expose the youth to their faith and the experience of other faiths to build the bridges across the faiths, has been his passion. Yashpal was a panelist/moderator for Session "Living Religious Pluralism" in 2018 PWR Convention at Toronto. He has been awarded by the PCHR (Philadelphia, Commission on Human Relations, the oldest organization in USA) the PCHR Human Rights Award for Community Service in the year 2009.

He engages non-Sikhs youth and adults to expose them to Sikh faith principles in various settings such as Interfaith conventions, conferences, panel discussions and educating the officials in civic, educational and law enforcement organizations.

Presently Yashpal is working with the Global Sikh Council (GSC, a global organization representing Sikh Diaspora) Heritage Committee as its chairperson, to address the Preservation of Sikh (and other faiths) Historical, Heritage Sites In Pakistan. He has created a platform for Sikh youth (which later on will bring onboard youth from other faiths also) as a GSC project and expanding it globally.


Gity Banan-Etemad, MD


Gity Banan-Etemad is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia and Attending Physician at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and Temple University Hospital. Having long-standing teaching experience in pediatrics, she has published books, articles, and an entry in Encyclopedia Iranica. Her other interest is in “Health Development” in developing countries through NGO organizations—namely, Health for Humanity. Through this organization, she travels around the world giving lectures on health issues, continuing medical education in medical schools, hospitals, and public health institutions.


Gity is a founding board member of Interfaith Philadelphia, founder of Mainline Interfaith Women's Group, co-founder of Devon Interfaith Gathering, and executive committee member of the Dialogue Institute/Journal of Ecumenical Studies at Temple University School of Liberal Arts. These groups serve to promote dialogue between religious leaders, high school students, and diverse faith groups for the advancement of world peace. Gity has been an instrumental force in spreading interfaith understanding in the Philadelphia region, and her generosity and passion for our work has been crucial to the continued growth and success of the Interfaith Center. She is a fourth-generation Baha’i, an active member of national and local Baha’i communities, and she currently represents the region’s Baha’i community on the Religious Leaders Council of Greater Philadelphia. Together with her husband Dr. Bijan Etemad, they have three adult children and five grandchildren, and reside in Villanova, PA.


Dave Eckert


Dave Eckert is the Director of Intersect, an initiative within Access Services that supports those at the intersection of faith and mental health through consultation, training and the fostering of collaboration between faith communities and mental health providers.  He has spent 20 years working for Access within various roles including Director of a Mobile Psychiatric Rehabilitation program and agency Chaplain.  In addition, Dave has served as one of the pastors at Grace Community Church in Chalfont, PA for the last 14 years.  Dave holds degrees in Social Work, Biblical Studies and Divinity.  He lives with his wife and three children in Montgomery County, PA.


Jothsna Kethar


Coach Jo is an Independent Educational Consultant and College Counselor. 
Jothsna Kethar (Jo) is the founder and CEO of Gifted Gabber. She has a proven track record of more than 20 years at Fortune 20 companies and is a Tony Robbins Certified Mindset Mastery and Success Coach. She trained to identify children's goals and be their supportive friend and trusted adviser.

She has also Trained under Peg Dawson, EdD., a renowned psychologist. 

She uses this understanding to coach children to discover their strengths to overcome their hurdles and roadblocks on their path to success. She is a certified Meditation Instructor as well and strives to empower parents in their child's educational journey.
She is a certified Meditation Instructor as well and strives to empower parents in their child’s educational journey.

She completed her College Counseling course at UC Berkeley. 

Her mission is not only to get acceptance from colleges but also to win scholarships! 


Aziz Nathoo


Aziz Nathoo is a Muslim Interfaith and Peace activist hailing from East Africa with extensive experience as an educator, service volunteer, leader and preacher. He has presented on Islam and Interfaith Relations at multiple academic, civic, religious and interfaith forums. He preaches on Islam at various Churches, Synagogues and Temples. He is the founder and president of UMMA Charities and currently serves on the charitable arm of the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF). He is a member of the United Nations Association (UNA) and works with the UN Refugee Relief Agencies, Amnesty International, Charter for Compassion, Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia, Habitat for Humanity, Sisterhood of Salam Shalom (SOSS), Dialogue Institute, United Religions Initiative (URI), WE The World, AJC Circle of Friends Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council, Pathways to Peace, Institute for Religious Tolerance, Peace & Justice (IRTP&J), Philadelphia Interfaith Walk for Peace, Brahma Kumaris Spiritual Movement, Chestnut Hill College and the Poor Peoples Campaign. Mr. Nathoo sits on the Mayor of Philadelphia’s Interfaith Advisory Board, multiple interfaith, Peace and houses of worship and also works in Interfaith Mediation, Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation.

His engagements include presenting at the United Nations on the Culture of Peace, LeadIndia 2020 Foundation on Service to Humanity, Henry Luce Foundation on Cultivating Character, the Dialogue Institute on Interfaith Dialogue, George Mason University School of Conflict Analysis & Resolution on Healing the Soul of The Nation, University of Pennsylvania, University of Wisconsin, Temple university, Eastern University, Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia on Islam. He recently spoke on The Role of Peace at Peace Day Philly and at “Lights of Liberty” vigil for Immigrants and refugees as well as “Peace in the Park” in New York. He spoke at the “Poor Peoples Campaign” on the duty of all human beings and especially Muslims to protect the poor, vulnerable and disenfranchised. He offered prayers for peace and tolerance at the International Day of Peace at the United Nations. He is actively involved in assisting refugees and provides resources for employment, housing, medical and other humanitarian needs.

He has Co-chaired a series of National Interfaith Conferences titled “Healing the Soul of the Nation” at George Mason University, University of Pennsylvania and Respect Graduate School. He also chaired an interfaith conference on “Giving & Forgiving” in collaboration with the Institute of Forgiveness and Reconciliation at Chestnut Hill College.
By profession, he is a Cloud Technology Consultant and an Investor with several business interests. He has an Undergraduate degree from the University of Texas in Islamic Studies and pursued his MBA at Boston college. He serves on several boards and also contributes as an advisor, interpreter, mediator, grief and crisis counselor and lay clergy with various faith communities.

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Rabbi Shawn Zevit


SHAWN ISRAEL ZEVIT,, serves as rabbi at Mishkan Shalom, in Philadelphia, PA. He is co-founder/director with Rabbi Marcia Prager of the Davennen (Prayer) Leader's Training Institute and with Rabbi Nadya Gross is the Associate Director for the ALEPH Hashpa'ah (Spiritual Direction) Training Program. Shawn is an active leader is faith and justice work, former co-chair of the clergy caucus of POWER Faith in Action in Philadelphia, and is a liturgical recording and performing artist founder of; co-editor of “Brother Keepers: New Perspectives in Jewish Masculinity”; and author of

Questions? Contact Jocelyn Brown:

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