Paul L. Caron

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Religious Diversity At Pepperdine Caruso Law

Pepperdine Caruso Law Surf Report, April 2024 Spotlight: Religious Diversity:

Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law values the religious diversity among its faculty, staff, and student body. During the months of March and April, many of our community members celebrated the beginning of Ramadan, the Easter season, and Passover. These seasons remind us to pause and reflect on the importance of our spiritual journeys and the role it plays in developing our character, guiding our path and living a life of meaning in our professions and beyond. Four of our faculty and staff shared their reflections on the importance of spiritual formation and how our values play a key role in living out a life of purpose. 

JarvisI came first to Pepperdine in 1991, drawn in the abstract to Pepperdine's religiosity but without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ until 1995, when I became a Christian and was baptized by then-Malibu Church of Christ minister Dan Anders. From my first few weeks of law school several years later I wanted to come back and combine my vocation and passion for the University's missiona dream that was realized in 2019 when I joined the law school as a staff and later faculty member. Pepperdine Caruso Law is to me unique in having an ecumenical Christian identity while welcoming people of all faiths and none. We often say that we refuse to compromise the twin pillars of our Christian mission and academic excellence. We could also say, however, that our commitment to each pillar supports the other. We pursue academic excellence because this is how Pepperdine can glorify God; and our commitment to the mission is strengthened by the knowledge and discipline our pursuit of the rule of law requires. To me this is what makes this place unique and special. Dean Jason Jarvis

Helfand 2Before college, I spent a couple of years in Israel engaged in study at a yeshiva—what you might think of as a seminary of sorts. As part of that experience, I studied with one of the institution’s rabbis who not only provided insight into Talmud, but also periodically dispensed life advice as well. One piece of advice stands out: find a profession which is integrated with, as opposed to alienated from, your religious life. At the time, I don’t think I fully appreciated the advice. But decades later, I realize that so much of my personal fulfillment is the result of taking that advice seriously. When I think about why it is that law has been an enriching professional path, it is ultimately because my professional portfolio—everything from what I read and write to the institutions I work with and the pro bono projects I take on—is all wrapped together in the enterprise of bringing law and faith together. No doubt, how to engage in this endeavor looks different depending on one’s skills and one’s aspirations. But focusing on that goal of building an integrated life of faith and law is something that requires planning, care and commitment—all of which pay significant dividends in the long run. Professor Michael A. Helfand

TahaI find that faith is a key for dealing with the ups and downs in life. In hard times, I try to bring to mind something that Prophet Muhammad said, 'No believer is afflicted with any harm—even the prick of a thorn—but that God makes their sins fall away from them like leaves falling from a tree.' This imagery of the expiation of sins and reminder that God is the most merciful and just gives me great comfort in trying times. As you go through final exams, remember to keep the exams in perspective.  By five to ten years after you graduate, no one will care what grades you received or where you went to law school.  Professionally, all that will matter is how good of a lawyer you are. Professor Ahmed E. Taha

SinghBeing a mediator and conflict resolver is a way of life. Conflict resolution demands persistence, patience, and perseverance, but it gives you in return an approach to tackle any problem in life—big or small. Mediation as a profession requires you to listen, to speak, and to behave better. Conflict resolution matches my value system because it teaches me to see the world without “us and them.” Blessed to live this fulfilling professional life, I am very fortunate because both my faith and my professional lives are intrinsically connected. Growing up and living in the Sikh faith taught me to be generous, to practice and promote reconciliation, and to help others through hard work. My faith also pushes me to believe and to deliver on the concept of Sarbat da Bhala (may all be blessed meaning we ought to practice equality), to go beyond “us and them.” The turban and the kara (steel bangle) I wear every day serves me with a constant reminder to stand up to such principles. Even when I fail, I look forward to the next day because ultimately, my profession and my faith brings peace to me. To share peace, I must believe in peace, and to me, it starts at home. My home is my family and my faith. My home is also Pepperdine; a Christian community that has truly embraced me as a member of the Sikh faith and is guiding me to lead a life of purpose, service, and leadership. I admire the leaders at the University and we have a similar mission—to change lives for the better. I am proud to continue to pursue this path, which even though at times seems arduous, our joint commitment to peaceful co-existence still is the right path.  Dean Sukhsimranjit Singh

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