Thursday, July 13 plenary 1

“The role of parents and caregivers”

A panel exploring the roles of parents/grandparents/caregivers in tending children’s spirituality and nurturing religious identity/formation. Includes researchers and practitioners from multiple traditions.

Duaa Haggag

Duaa Haggag, LPC is a Community Educator with The Family & Youth Institute. She holds a Master’s degree in counseling, with a dual certificate in school and community counseling. She currently works in private practice as a child, adolescent, and family therapist at Silent Sunlight Counseling. Her interests include group, play, and art therapy. At both the local and national level, Duaa uses her love of storytelling to integrate Islamic psychotherapy in her parent and youth development workshops. She served as the content editor for the first comprehensive Islamic Health curriculum for adolescents and has also authored a number of discussion guides to help parents use movies as powerful education and mentorship tools. Duaa has been a community organizer for more than 15 years. Her passion is working with parents, mentors, and schools to create safe, affirming spaces for youth to discover and establish their identity. She actively mentors Muslim youth and families through the Muslim American Society.

Rabbi Aaron Weininger

Rabbi Aaron Weininger joined Adath Jeshurun Congregation in 2012 upon receiving rabbinic ordination and an MA in Hebrew Letters from the Jewish Theological Seminary. He holds the Berman Family Chair in Jewish Learning. Aaron earned his BA in Anthropology and Jewish Near Eastern Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. In 2007 he became the first openly gay person admitted to rabbinical school in the Conservative movement of Judaism. That experience taught him the power of listening at the margins rather than pulling people into whatever the center is at that moment. He is attuned to the spark each person brings to the Torah, prayer, and acts of kindness in the warmth of the community. During rabbinical school, he was welcomed into communities as a teacher and prayer leader in Statesville, NC, Portland, ME, Sag Harbor, White Plains, NY, and across New York City. He trained as a chaplain in Clinical Pastoral Education for two summers at Bellevue Hospital Center and a third with the Educational Alliance at a Kosher soup kitchen for older adults on the Lower East Side. He studied as a Schusterman Fellow at JTS. From 2018-2021 Aaron served as co-chair of the Minnesota Rabbinical Association and joined Honeymoon Israel as rabbi for the MSP cohort in January 2020. A product of pluralistic Jewish camping and USY, he is the chair of the Herzl Camp Clergy and Educator Council. He serves on the Editorial Committee of Siddur Lev Shalem for Weekdays and the JTS Chancellor’s Rabbinic Cabinet, as a board member of JFCS Minneapolis, and on the Advisory Board for the Multi-Religious Fellows Program at the Collegeville Institute.

Brad Wigger

J. Bradley Wigger (PhD, Princeton Seminary) is a professor of religious education and childhood studies at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary. Much of his writing and research has revolved around the world of home and children, including The Power of God at Home, part of the Families and Faith book series (Jossey-Bass), which he co-edited. Other works include, Together We Pray: A Prayer Book for Families (Chalice), the children’s picture book, Thank You, God (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers), as well as numerous articles for general and academic audiences alike. His most recent publication, Invisible Companions: Encounters with Imaginary Friends, Gods, Angels, and Ancestors (Stanford University Press) explores the wild, yet sophisticated, world of children’s imaginations, based upon interviews with over five hundred children across five countries (US, Kenya, Nepal, Dominican Republic, and Malawi).

In 2018, Wigger was named a Luce Fellow in Theology which initiated the Religious Imagination of Children project that involves interviewing children, parents, and grandparents across North America about their religious beliefs and practices. He has been a frequent consultant to churches and foundations regarding their initiatives and programs for children and parents. At various points Wigger has served as a pastor, stay-at-home parent, journal editor, and a school social worker.

Elaine Champagne

Elaine Champagne holds the Religion, Spirituality and Health Chair, and is professor of spirituality and spiritual theology at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies (Laval University). Her research in practical theology focuses on spiritual and pastorale care in pediatric contexts. Her recent projects examine relational dynamics linked agency, vulnerability and hope of children in the context of serious illness.

Moderated by Karen-Marie Yust

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