About Jacob Bender

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Images of Averroes in Western Christian Art

A Lecture and PowerPoint Presentation by Jacob Bender

Averroes, the Latinized name of the Spanish Muslim philosopher Ibn Rushd (1128-1198 CE), was one of the most important thinkers to emerge from the multifaith epoch of al-Andalus (Muslim Spain). He had a profound influence on Christian and Jewish philosophy for centuries after his death. As an apostle of a hyper-rational Islam, he was controversial in his own time among his fellow Muslims, but it is precisely Averroes's espousal of reason that has attracted a new generation of contemporary Muslim reformers and democrats to his legacy. This lecture and visual presentation looks at the surprising number of images of Averroes made by Christian artists in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

The Jorgensen Lecture is also sponsored and supported by Indiana University's Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, Robert A. and Sandra S. Borns Jewish Studies Program, Themester, Medieval Studies Institute, Center for the Study of the Middle East and the IU Cinema.

Jacob Bender, Writer / Producer/ Director

Jacob Bender is a documentary filmmaker, video producer, photographer, graphic designer, and interfaith consultant. During a career spanning more than thirty years, Jacob has produced dozens of television, video, audiovisual and radio programs, graphic and print projects, museums exhibitions and educational programs. His clients have included a wide range of major corporations, such as American Express and Time Warner, and nonprofit organizations, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, NASA, The Baltimore Zoo, and the United States National Park Service.

During the many years Jacob lived in Israel, he worked as an audio-visual producer at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, as well as for the Israel Ministry of Education.

Jacob was the Audio-Visual Producer for the United States Constitutional Bicentennial Exhibition in 1985. He is the director of the television documentary, “The Voice Still Speaks: Jews and Revelation,” broadcast nationally in 1999 on The Odyssey Channel, and “So Goes a Nation: Lawyers and Communities,” produced for Fordham University Law School and narrated by Sam Waterson and Jimmy Smits. “So Goes a Nation” has been screened at over 200 law schools around the world.

Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, Jacob was one of the initiators of interfaith dialogue with the American Muslim community. He has spoken dozens of times at mosques and at large gatherings of Muslims in the United States, particularly at the conventions of the Islamic Society of North America, the largest Muslim organization in the US.

In 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, Jacob was a featured speaker at the annual Doha Conferences on Religious Dialogue, organized by the Foreign Ministry of Qatar. In 2008, he was invited by the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC, to participate in the historic interfaith conference in Madrid initiated by HRH King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia. In January and June of 2009, Jacob spoke at interfaith conferences organized by Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt. Jacob has also been a featured guest on the Aljazeera Channel show “Min Washington.”

Jacob has published articles in Islamic Horizons Magazine, The Daily Star of Beirut, Lebanon, and an article appeared about him in The Arab News of Saudi Arabia. His “Letters to the Editor” have been published in newspapers around the world, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Jordan Times, The Gulf News, and El Pais.

In 1984, Jacob was a speech writer on interfaith affairs for Rev. Jesse Jackson during his historic presidential campaign.

Jacob has been a leading voice in the American Jewish community for a just resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict. 1995, he led delegations of American peace activists that met with Chairman Yassir Arafat in Gaza and King Hussein in Amman.

Jacob has a degree in “The History of Religions” from the University of California at Los Angeles, and studied film and television at New York University’s Graduate School of Film.

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