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Tranen Family Distinguished Speaker Series



Learn more about Aswad Thomas

Learn more about the community leaders involved in the forum

Learn more about Senator Murphy


Event Note: Walk-ins are now welcome!

The Tranen Family Distinguished Speakers Series at Temple Sholom of Chicago was created in 2021 by Bruce z’l and Jan Tranen to bring speakers on the greatest issues of our day to inspire action.

On Sunday, May 7, Mr. Thomas will speak at 3:00 PM and will be followed by a panel of local change-makers on these issues at 3:45 PM including Reverend Ciera Bates-Chamberlain, Live Free IllinoisTeny Gross, the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago; Father Dave Kelly, Restorative Justice Hub PBMR; and State Representative Bob Morgan from Highland Park. On Monday, Senator Murphy will speak at 12:00 PM.

Due to scheduling conflicts, Senator Murphy will be joining us online from his office in Washington D.C. on Monday, May 8. We will still gather together at Temple Sholom to engage in meaningful conversation with him.

These Programs are Free and Open to the Public. Walk-ins are welcome!

Healing through Action: The Journey From Gun Violence Victim to National Policy, Expert, Healer of Communities, with Aswad Thomas

Sunday, May 7 – 3:00 PM  

Aswad Thomas, is the current Vice President of the Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ), National Director of ASJ’s flagship project, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice  (CSSJ) and the author of a book titled,  “The Stars  Represent You and Me.”

As an African American male, and a surviving victim of violence, Aswad is well aware of  the impacts of trauma and loss that many, in communities across the country have  experienced and continue to live with.  In 2009, he became the first male in his family to  graduate from college. He was just three weeks from going to Europe, to play  professional basketball, when he became a victim of gun violence.  Two near-fatal  gunshots to his back, not only ended his basketball career, but nearly ended his life.  Driven by this traumatic experience, and his passion for helping others learn to deal with  their own trauma, Aswad has dedicated his life to organizing communities, and helping  to elevate the voices of those victims and their families, through both state and federal  policymaking debates. Aswad has become one of the country's leading policy experts  on gun violence, criminal justice reform, and a leader in building coalitions across racial  lines to advance safety.  In his role, Aswad is dedicated to expanding ASJ’s national  network of crime survivors, to include those most commonly affected by violence, most  notably, young men of color. 

Continue reading about Aswad Thomas

Aswad's story has been featured in the New York Times, Time Magazine, The Hill, New  Yorker Magazine, NBC LX, NBC Nightly News, Huff Post, Chicago Tribune, Yahoo  News, The Trace, Detroit Free Press, Hartford Courant, The Guardian, VICE, The  Marshall Project, and dozens of other media outlets. He was recently named one of  The  Root’s 100 most influential African Americans of 2021.  Aswad received a Master's of  Social Work, with a concentration in Community Organizing, and a focused area of  study on Urban Issues, from the University of Connecticut and a B.A., in Business Management from Elms College.


Teny Gross

A veteran of the Israeli Defense Force, Teny began his career working to build peace between Palestinians and Israelis. Soon after, he became a street outreach worker in Boston. In 2000, he became founder and CEO for the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence in Providence, RI. In 2015, Teny was recruited to Chicago to aid in the city’s violence reduction efforts. He founded the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago and now serves as Executive Director. Teny is actively involved in shaping Chicago’s citywide community violence intervention strategy and building partnerships with key institutions–what he terms the New Civilian Architecture of Violence Reduction. Teny has a BFA from Tufts, an MTS from Harvard, and a fellowship in Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management from Harvard Business School.

Representative Bob Morgan (IL-58) 

Representative Bob Morgan serves Illinois’ 58th District. He lives in Deerfield with his wife, Sonya and two children. Bob serves as the chair of the Firearm Safety Reform Working Group and led the passage of the Protect Illinois Community Act banning the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. He also currently serves as Chair of the House Health Care Licenses committee and Vice Chair of the House Insurance Committee. Bob previously served as the lead healthcare attorney for the State of Illinois where he was instrumental in securing health care for over 650,000 Illinois residents and ensured they were covered under ACA’s Medicaid expansion. He was lauded for his efforts to implement the Affordable Care Act and the Illinois Medical Cannabis Program. Active in the local community, Bob is a tireless advocate for those without a voice. He is an active Board Member of the Anti-Defamation League and serves on the Board of Trustees of Equip for Equality. 

Father Dave Kelley

Father Dave Kelly is a Catholic priest and co-founder of the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation (PBMR) in Chicago. He is a leading advocate for restorative justice, which aims to address the root causes of violence and promote healing through dialogue and reconciliation. Father Kelly has been recognized for his work with numerous awards, including the Cardinal Bernardin Award and the "Champion of Change" award from the Obama Administration. He serves as the chaplain for the Chicago Police Department and is committed to promoting greater understanding and cooperation between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Father Kelly's inspiring work has made a significant impact on the lives of countless individuals and communities impacted by violence.

Reverend Ciera Bates-Chamberlain

Rev. Ciera Bates-Chamberlain was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. She is committed to the fight for social and economic justice by strengthening communities through radical theology. As the Founder and Executive Director of Live Free Chicago-Live Free Illinois, Ciera works with Black churches to create safe, economically viable, and self-sustained Black communities. Prior to Live Free Chicago, Ciera served as the senior organizer at a faith-based organization.

Ciera received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Lamar University, a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a Master's in Theological Studies from McCormick Theological Seminary. She has worked as an adjunct professor at Northeastern University, a mental health professional, and a strategy consultant. In 2013, Ciera was ordained as a minister through the Church of Jesus Christ House of Prayer Inc.,  where she served as the church administrator for the Chicago congregation. Ciera is a proud wife and mother of three daughters, one son, and a blended family of 9.

Every Mass Shooting Is A Moral Failure: The Righteous Actions We Can Take for a Better Future, with Senator Murphy

Monday, May 8 – 12:00 PM  

Chris Murphy, a United States Senator for Connecticut, has dedicated his career to public service as an advocate for Connecticut families. Senator Murphy has been a strong voice in the Senate fighting for job creation, affordable health care, education, sensible gun laws, and a forward-looking foreign policy. 

As a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) Senator Murphy has worked to make college more affordable and ensure that our public education system works to serve all students. Senator Murphy also led a bipartisan effort to reform our mental health system, working across the aisle to craft the first comprehensive reform to our nation’s mental health laws in decades.  

Senator Murphy has laid out a forward-thinking foreign policy vision for the United States. As a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, he has been an outspoken proponent of diplomacy, international human rights and the need for clear-eyed American leadership abroad.  

Following the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in 2012, Senator Murphy became one of the leading proponents of commonsense reforms to reduce gun violence. He has championed a number of bipartisan bills aimed at expanding background checks and keeping guns out of the hands of criminals

Continue reading about Senator Murphy 

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Murphy has fought to increase investments in Connecticut manufacturing and promote procurement of world-class national defense products made in the state. He has fought to expand American manufacturing and create jobs through his Buy American initiative, which urges the U.S. government to spend taxpayer dollars on American-made goods. Additionally, Senator Murphy has worked in partnership with local city and town leaders to rehabilitate former brownfields and factory sites so that they can be developed into new community spaces and businesses.   

Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, Murphy served Connecticut’s Fifth Congressional District for three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. During his time in the House, Murphy worked to improve access to housing for homeless veterans, foster job creation and advocate for affordable healthcare for all Americans. Murphy authored the Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act to revitalize housing programs for people with disabilities. The bill was signed into law by the president in 2010.  

Before getting elected to Congress, Murphy served for eight years in the Connecticut General Assembly where he was the author of the state's historic stem cell investment legislation and the state's workplace smoking ban. Senator Murphy grew up in Wethersfield, Connecticut, and attended Williams College in Massachusetts. He graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Law and practiced real estate and banking law with the firm of Ruben, Johnson & Morgan in Hartford, Connecticut. 

He is married to Catherine Holahan, an attorney. They have two sons, Owen and Rider, as well as two cats and two guinea pigs. 



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Aswad Thomas and Rabbi Shoshanah Conover will begin speaking at 3:00 PM in our beautiful sanctuary, followed by a panel of local community leaders at 3:45 PM. 

Senator Chris Murphy and Rabbi Shoshanah Conover will begin speaking at 12:00 PM. Due to scheduling, Senator Murphy will speak live on Zoom from Washington D.C. as we engage in conversation from our beautiful sanctuary.

Temple Sholom Membership

Additional Questions for the Distinguished Speakers



Mon, December 11 2023 28 Kislev 5784