Abraham’s Bridge helps connect the three religious buildings and community center at the Tri-Faith Commons campus near 132nd and Pacific Streets. (Courtesy of Tri-Faith Initiative)
OMAHA — During another time of war in the Middle East, a Nebraska experiment in encouraging people of different faiths to worship near one another has been recognized for how it hires and helps its diverse workforce, often by embracing their differences.
The Human Resources Association of the Midlands has given its IDEAL award for diversity, equity and inclusion efforts to Omaha’s Tri-Faith Initiative, a nonprofit that works to bridge gaps of understanding between people of three major religions.
The Tri-Faith Initiative became the first campus in the Western Hemisphere that co-located a Muslim mosque, a Jewish temple and a Christian church when it finished building the last of three houses of worship on 38 acres in 2019.
The faiths share a common space called Abraham’s Circle that links all three houses of worship using bridges.
The award was accepted Oct. 20 during a Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce event by Karim Khayati, a Tri-Faith board member and president of the American Muslim Institute, and by Wendy Goldberg, executive director and co-founder of Tri-Faith and a past president of Temple Israel.
Khayati said being recognized for efforts to recruit and retain a diverse staff means that Tri-Faith is “living out our core values and mission” and that the group can “walk the walk.” This is an important time to show the “core values” of the organization, he said.
“As we promote these values of diversity, inclusion and acceptance, I think the minimum we can do is live that within our organization…,” Khayati said. “It’s harder to convince the hearts and minds of others if you don’t lead by example.”
Goldberg, discussing the symbolism of the award, said she was grateful to stand with Khayati and show that Tri-Faith’s “audacious experiment in peaceful proximity is possible.”
“Today, it is more important than ever that we counter tropes that divide us and choose to advocate for each other’s freedom of thought and belief,” she said.
Sarah Schulz, executive director of the Human Resources Association of the Midlands, said in an email that her organization connects HR representatives from companies across the Omaha metropolitan area.
The group’s IDEAL award recognizes Omaha companies and groups for diversity, equity and inclusion programs that are helping workers of various backgrounds thrive. It highlights companies that have taken an active local role in advocating these goals.
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