Community Conversations is a series of three events bringing together Waterville faith and community institutions with Colby faculty and students to discuss major issues of common concern. This series began last year, bringing together scholars from the field of Jewish studies and civic leaders to discuss the intersection of Jewish civilization and current political issues in the United States.

This year, community conversations will bring Waterville’s diverse constituencies together at Beth Israel Congregation to engage in three conversations guided by one unifying question: “Are We One? Speaking as a Divided Nation.” The three conversations will take place over the course of the 2017-2018 academic year.

Sunday, November 19, 2017 6:30-8:30 p.m.: Political Diversity

Is our political diversity our strength? 

Location: Beth Israel Congregation, 291 Main St

Thought Leaders: Pious Ali and Rabbi Daniel Nevins

Pious Ali: Pious is a Youth and Community Engagement Specialist at the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service and has spent the better part of his life focused on community engagement. He is the first African-born Muslim American to be elected to public office in Maine, becoming a member of the city’s elected Board of Public Education in 2013 and an at Large- City Councilor in November 2016. He also founded the Maine Interfaith Youth Alliance and is the co-founder of King Fellows, a Portland-based youth group dedicated to creating meaningful opportunities for youth through leadership and civic engagement based on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Pious currently serves on the board of Rippleffect a Maine based outdoor and adventure based youth development and leadership program over the years Pious has also volunteered at Long Creek Youth Development Center and served on the following boards: Executive Board for The YMCA of Southern Maine, Board of Directors of The Maine African Film Festival, Advisory Board for the Schair Memorial Lectures.

Pious is an alumnus of the Institute for Civic Leadership (now known as Lift360), and in 2015 he was named Lift360’s Most Distinguished Alumnus.

A native of Ghana, Pious migrated to the United States (NY) in 2000 and has called Portland home for the past ​1​.5 decades where he lives with his two children ( son and daughter). He is also a gifted photographer and has worked as a photojournalist for a range of print publications in Ghana.

Rabbi Daniel Nevins: Rabbi Daniel Nevins is the Pearl Resnick Dean of the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Division of Religious Leadership, which includes the rabbinical and cantorial schools, as well as the Center for Pastoral Education and the Block-Kolker Center for Spiritual Arts. He has served as dean since 2007 and ordained over 200 rabbis since then. A scholar of contemporary Jewish law, Rabbi Nevins writes position papers, or responsa, on topics of contemporary concern such as technology and religious life, gender and sexuality, and bioethics. Prior to his work as dean, Rabbi Nevins was a congregational rabbi for 13 years at Adat Shalom Synagogue in suburban Detroit. He lives with his family in New York City.


Sunday, January 21, 2018 6:30-8:30 p.m.: Pastoral Approaches to Political Questions

Are some wounds too deep to heal? 


Sunday, March 11, 2018 6:30-8:30 p.m.: Faith and Equality

How do we get along when our personal faith and societal conceptions of equality and justice diverge?