About the Center

The Temple Emanu-El Center for Interfaith Dialogue is a new endeavor to explore the role of religion in our complex world and the dynamic role of faith in today’s society. While other organizations bring together religious leaders, the Center for Interfaith Dialogue takes this a step further by galvanizing lay individuals from various faith communities. 

The Center offers a variety of engagement opportunities from meaningful interaction bridging religious divides to organizing action on pressing social issues. Center programming combats hate and violence through education and alliances, our two best tools in answering the extremism polarizing our society today. This, in turn, translates beliefs into actions that promote social justice and help disseminate socially responsible thinking about the issues that face us. 

With an open invitation to all—those of diverse religious backgrounds and the religiously unaffiliated, alike—our center is a hub of learning, reflection and action. We strive to foster understanding and cooperation among different faith communities through programs and partnerships with religious institutions in the New York area. 

Unique among City synagogues, our current interfaith efforts assemble Jewish, Christian and Muslim congregational members in study, dialogue and worship, and provide a foundation for the next critical endeavor of coalition building around shared concerns. Our offerings include diverse dialogue groups that delve into such topics as women in religion, social justice, mindfulness, prayer and ancient mysticism. Meeting once per month, these groups gather in year-long cohorts beginning in the fall, and provide rich opportunities for engaging discussions and meaningful exchanges. 

We are also developing additional programming that nurtures intellectual and spiritual growth, including annual meditation retreats, scholarly lectures, and international travel to places with overlapping faith traditions. Interfaith table fellowship like Shabbat and Iftar dinners at Emanu-El likewise enable us to embrace the vibrant community we are building together.

The Center for Interfaith Dialogue is the realization of Temple Emanu-El’s commitment to bridging divides and catalyzing social change through the power of respectful conversation and shared experiences. We invite you to join us in this vital endeavor—your voice is an essential part of the tapestry of interfaith engagement we are dedicated to weaving together.

Who We Are

Dr. Alyssa M. Cady

Dr. Cady joins Temple Emanu-El from New York University, where she worked as a Visiting Assistant Professor in Religious Studies. She completed her PhD in Religion at Princeton University in 2022, received her Master’s in Classical and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Minnesota in 2016, completed her Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Classics at the University of Pennsylvania in 2014, and received her Bachelor’s in Classical Archaeology from Macalester College in 2012. Dr. Cady is a scholar of Classics, Near Eastern Studies and Late Antiquity focusing on material culture, literature, and intellectual history. Her research interests include the rise of the cult of saints in early Christianity, Jewish-Christian relations in the late Roman Empire, and the study of Jewish and Christian art and architecture.

Throughout her time in academia, Dr. Cady has been passionately engaged in education non-profit. In 2013, she served as a paraprofessional with students with disabilities at Nova Classical Academy in St. Paul, MN. During her time in the Twin Cities, she also spent several years teaching for TRiO Upward Bound. While in her doctoral studies, Dr. Cady acted as co-director of a residential arts program known as the Edwards Collective, as well as serving as a Residential Graduate Student for Mathey College.

As the director of the Center for Interfaith Dialogue, Dr. Cady dedicates herself to organizing interfaith dialogue groups and scholarly colloquia, planning meditation retreats in the Catskills, and lecturing on religious traditions from both past and present. Dr. Cady hails from the rainy woods of Portland, Oregon, where she spent her time hiking, caffeinating, and curling up with a good book. After long stints in Minnesota and New Jersey, Dr. Cady has relocated to New York where she has explored the hustle and bustle of the city, as well as the highs and lows of being a burgeoning Mets fan. She is thrilled to be a part of such a lively and welcoming community, and looks forward to building the Center for Interfaith Dialogue for years to come.

Joshua M. Davidson

Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson began his tenure as Temple Emanu-El’s senior rabbi in 2013. From 2002 through 2013 he served as senior rabbi of Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester in Chappaqua, New York, and from 1997 to 2002 as assistant and associate rabbi of Central Synagogue in New York City, advising that synagogue’s award-winning Social Action Committee.

A graduate of Princeton University, and ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion from which he also received Master’s and honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees, Rabbi Davidson’s work has included anti-death penalty advocacy, LGBTQ+ inclusion, and interfaith dialogue. In 2009, he was honored for his interfaith efforts by the Westchester Jewish Council and the American Jewish Committee, on whose New York Board he sits. He has been profiled in both Leaders Magazine and Our Town.

Currently Rabbi Davidson is a member of the Hebrew Union College Board of Governors, HUC’s President’s Rabbinic Council, the Clergy Advisory Board of Interfaith Impact of New York State, and the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council. He is a past chair of A Partnership of Faith in New York City, and past president of both the Westchester Board of Rabbis and the Chappaqua Interfaith Council. From 2001 to 2006, he served as chair of the Central Conference of American Rabbis’ Committee on Justice, Peace and Religious Liberties and vicechair of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism. He also chaired the Commission’s task force on Israel and world affairs. He is a past board member of UJA-Federation of New York and Rabbis for Human Rights-North America.

Rabbi Davidson was honored with a Corkin Family Fellowship at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and Clal-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. His articles have been published by The Jewish Week, The Forward, Commentary Magazine, The New York Times, The New York Daily News, The New York Post, CNN, The Huffington Post, Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, and The Times of Israel; and he is a contributing writer in Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman’s Prayers of Awe series.