There are few people with the credibility, long practice, authorship or who have had as broad an impact at the grass roots level on interreligious dialogue as Leonard Swidler, Ph.D., and Chair of Catholic Thought & Interreligious Dialogue for the Religion Department at Temple University. He is a member of a small group of original pioneers that promoted interfaith activities along with His Holiness the Dali Lama, Pope John Paul II, Fr. Thomas Merton, O.C.S.O., Fr. Hans Kung, Rev. Dr. Hans Ucko, and Brother Wayne Teasdale credited with having coined the term “interspiritual”.

The “Universal Declaration of a Global Ethic” and “ten commonsense guidelines for interreligious dialogue called the “Dialogue Decalogue” are just a few of the significant resources that Dr. Leonard Swidler has contributed to humanity for the purpose of increasing cross-border diplomacy, interreligious dialogue, respect and peace throughout the world among Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Upon reading the Introduction in the book, “Interfaith Dialogue at the Grass Roots”, Edited by Rebecca Katz Mays, I became aware of Dr. Swidler’s early work in Macedonia, one of the independent republics from former Yugoslavia.  Inspired by his work on dialogue, I decided to write to him with the hope of eventually having the honor of meeting him.

Dr. Swidler invited me to join him for a private meeting. Later, when he was able to do so, I dined with him in the faculty dinning hall at Temple University.  After, our lunch together, he took me on a tour of the campus during which he talked about the long history and recent developments in the areas of interfaith and interfaith dialogue.  Dr. Swidler advised me to become familiar with a number of scholars and accomplished grass roots leaders in the nonprofit sector in (e.g., Eboo Patel & others).  He also introduced me to several other Faculty within the Religion Department and lastly before departing he gave me free copies of a number of books that he authored to add to the future library at our proposed ‘Center for Inter-Spiritual Dialogue’.

Dr. Swidler is Co-Founder with his wife Arlene Swidler in 1964 of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies (and still the Editor), Founder/Director of the Institute for Interreligious, Intercultural Dialogue (1985),and Co-Founder/Director of the Global Dialogue Institute (1995), holds degrees in History, Philosophy, and Theology from Marquette University (MA), University of Wisconsin (Ph.D.) and Tübingen University, Germany (S.T.L.), was Visiting Professor at Graz (Austria), Hamburg and Tübingen (Germany), Nankai University (Tianjin, China), Fudan University (Shanghai), and Temple University Japan (Tokyo), University of Malaya (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia). He has published more than 180 articles & 60 books, including: Dialogue for Reunion (1962), Jewish-Christian Dialogues (1966), Bloodwitness for Peace and Unity (1977), Jewish-Christian-Muslim Dialogue (1978) From Holocaust to Dialogue: A Jewish-Christian Dialogue between Americans and Germans (1981), Buddhism Made Plain (1984), Religious Liberty and Human Rights (1986), Breaking down the Wall Between Americans & East Germans, Christians and Jews (1987), Catholic-Communist Collaboration in Italy (1988), After the Absolute: The Dialogical Future of Religious Reflection (1990), Death or Dialogue. From the Age of Monologue to the Age of Dialogue (1990), A Bridge to Buddhist-Christian Dialogue (1990), Human Rights: Christians, Marxists, and Others in Dialogue (1991), Muslims in Dialogue. The Evolution of a Dialogue over a Generation (1992), For All Life: Toward a Universal Declaration of a Global Ethic. An Interreligious Dialogue (1998), Theoria ¸ Praxis. How Jews, Christians, Muslims Can Together Move from Theory To Practice (1999), The Study of Religion in the Age of Global Dialogue (2000).