Reaffirming our Purpose in the Face of COVID-19

We hope this note finds everyone safe and healthy. The rise of COVID-19 around the world and here at home continues to impact all of us on a daily basis. What is most frightening – for me at least – is the unknown and how it might affect the most vulnerable among us.

You’ve undoubtedly received several emails recently from companies sharing their thoughts on COVID-19, along with new and updated procedures that they are adopting as a result.

We want to reach out to reaffirm our purpose in the face of these unprecedented times.

As people refrain from large public gatherings, we have already seen a decline in attendance in places of worship while some have decided to suspend worship services entirely. We created Vennly so that everyone – regardless of where they fall on the spiritual and religious spectrum, and regardless of where they live in relation to spiritual communities that resonate with them – could have ready access to an inclusive spiritual space.

As more and more of us work from home, manage young children that are not in school, and generally implement social distancing practices, we hope that our approach to providing spiritual context to life’s biggest challenges is of benefit to you in these complex times.

I’ve heard from many family and friends that they are searching for guidance and encouragement right now, and if you know of others that might be seeking a similar source of connection, we’re hoping that Vennly can strengthen our collective spiritual health. 

With gratitude,

Brian, Cofounder and CEO

Groundbreaking New Podcast “Spirited” Explores Relationship Between Spirituality and Social Action

Hosted by Writer-Scholar-Activist Dr. Simran Jeet Singh, Weekly Podcast Will Feature Interviews with a Wide Range of Leading Social Activists and Spiritual and Community Leaders

New York, October 25, 2019 – Vennly, Inc. a spiritual health platform providing timely and compelling short-form audio content from a diverse and highly curated network of top spiritual and community leaders, today announced the launch of “Spirited,” a new weekly podcast hosted by Dr. Simran Jeet Singh, a renowned educator, writer, and social activist.

The first season of “Spirited” will include 12 episodes, featuring interviews with comedian/social commentator Hari Kondabolu, U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar, activist Charlotte Clymer, the Rev. Dr. Amy Butler, and other thought leaders across politics, faith/spirituality and social justice. A preview of the new podcast can be found here.

Dr. Simran Jeet Singh, who speaks regularly on issues of diversity, equity, race, and religion, said “Spirited” will showcase inspiring stories of how spirituality can lead to awareness, engagement and social action. “It’s easy to feel isolated and discouraged when our world seems so divided, but there are inspiring examples of social engagement all around us,” said Dr. Singh. “The idea for this show is to lift us up and point the way forward, providing some fun, thought-provoking, and spirited conversations along the way.”

Produced in partnership with Vennly, Inc, “Spirited” will also feature interviews with some of Vennly’s top spiritual contributors across faith traditions, offering diverse perspectives on faith and spirituality in American life.

“Across faith traditions, America’s houses of worship have historically been a critical source of community engagement and social activation,” said Vennly founder and CEO Brian Landau. “But as a recent Pew study found, religious affiliations – particularly among younger Americans – are declining as more and more individuals look to redefine faith and spirituality in a more intimate and individualized way. We believe “Spirited” is uniquely positioned to provide those of us on a spiritual journey with the connection and encouragement to social engagement so critical to community well-being and a rich spiritual life.” “Spirited” will be produced by Wonder Media Network and will be available on all major podcasting distribution services.

About Dr. Simran Jeet Singh

Dr. Simran Jeet Singh is a scholar-activist and a leading voice on equity and justice at the intersections of race, discrimination and civil rights. He teaches at Union Seminary and his work has been published in Time Magazine, the New York Times, the Washington Post and more. He has two books in the works in contract with Penguin Random House. He currently serves on Governor Cuomo’s Interfaith Advisory Committee for the State of New York and as a chaplain at both NYU and Columbia University. He is the youngest person to ever receive the Peter J. Gomes Memorial Award from Harvard Divinity School. The Center for American Progress named him a Faith Leader to Watch in 2018.

About Vennly, Inc.

Vennly ( is a spiritual health platform providing short-form audio content on everyday life topics from a diverse and highly curated network of top spiritual and community leaders. Vennly’s contributor Perspectives offer supportive advice and guidance designed to appeal across faith traditions. Vennly is currently in beta for iOS and will be available for Android users in early 2020.

Arielle Densen Tiller LLC

Vennly Leader Spotlight: Q&A with Rabbi Mike Moskowitz

Rabbi Mike Moskowitz is a deeply traditional and radically progressive advocate for trans rights and a vocal ally for LGBTQ inclusivity. Raised as a secular Jew in Richmond, Virginia, he began identifying as Orthodox at 17 and spent the next 20 years learning and teaching in the world of yeshivahs. Rabbi Moskowitz received three Ultra Orthodox ordinations while learning in the Mir (Jerusalem) and in Beth Medrash Gevoha (Lakewood, New Jersey). His work on behalf of trans rights began while he served as the Rabbi of the Old Broadway Synagogue in Harlem and as the Aish NY Rabbi at Columbia University. Rabbi Moskowitz is currently a Scholar-In-Residence for Trans and Queer Jewish Studies at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York City, the world’s largest LGBT synagogue. He is the author of Textual Activism.

Vennly: How can people best use their own spirituality to inform ways to be a better ally for others?

Mike: If we want to have a relationship with G-d as a parent, we must love each other as siblings. Seeing our human interactions as part of our spiritual responsibility helps us to engage with allyship as a spiritual practice. Just as G-d asks us to listen to the Divine needs, and partner in fulfilling them, so too must we expand our capacity to hear the voice of those in traditionally marginalized communities. 

Vennly: Specifically, what does it mean to be an ally to the LGBTQ community?

Mike: Each community is unique and therefore deep relationship building is essential to know when to help and how. No one’s life is ever hypothetical and the more awareness of the lived life experience of the LGBT folks in the broader community can help ensure that all spaces are safe. Amplifying the first person narrative by providing platforms and opportunities for these stories to be told is essential. Words mean things and the way we say things can go a long way in reinforcing better practices of inclusivity and equality.

Vennly: You’ve commented that you frequently look different than other LGBTQ supporters. How has your appearance impacted your justice efforts?

Mike: Presenting as an ultra-Orthodox rabbi, there is a lot of prejudice. People generally assume that I am in opposition to the queer community because traditionally rabbis in my very insular community have been. So part of the work is destigmatizing the perception of “religious communities” and educate folks on the growing number of Orthodox Jews who are also queer. People do also seem to listen more because of the authority that my education is perceived to have and what writing within the rabbinic texts and methodologies provide.

Vennly: What gives you hope about the future of LGBTQ acceptance in the religious world?

Mike: It is very easy to hate things and people that we have never experienced. So much of the change comes when we open ourselves to the truth of the lives of others. Today, most religious people know someone, often in their own families, who is queer. Many people, especially young people, no longer want to choose between a religious identity or a queer identity and are out as both. Also, there is a growing awareness of the deleterious consequences of the rabbinic malpractice to encouraging folks to hide or change their true nature. 

Vennly: True or false: you used to be able to bench press 400 pounds?

Mike: That is true and, unfortunately, a stat of the past 😉

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Vennly Leader Spotlight: Q&A with Rev. Lauren Van Ham

Rev. Lauren Van Ham, M.A., began her professional life as a performing artist in NYC before pursuing interfaith seminary studies at The Chaplaincy Institute, in California.  Following her ordination in 1999, Lauren served as a hospital chaplain focusing on psychiatry, palliative care, and bereavement support.  Her ministry moved to a corporate environment, in 2007, where she custom-designed employee engagement programs for multi-national companies committed to sustainability and culture change.  In 2010, she returned to The Chaplaincy Institute where, until recently, she served as Dean. Lauren’s passion for spirituality, art and Earth’s teachings have supported her specialization in eco-ministry, grief & loss, and sacred activism.  Her essay, “Way of the Eco-Chaplain,” appears in the collection, Ways of the Spirit: Voices of Women; and her work with Green Sangha (a Bay Area-based non-profit) is featured in Renewal, a documentary celebrating the efforts of religious environmental activists from diverse faith traditions across America. She is a guest writer for “Progressing Spirit,” a weekly publication exploring theology, spirituality and public events. Currently, Lauren tends her private spiritual direction and eco-chaplaincy consulting practice; and serves as guest faculty for several schools in the Bay Area.

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Vennly Leader Spotlight: Q&A with Dr. Celene Ibrahim

Dr. Celene Ibrahim serves on the faculty of the Groton School in the Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy. Ibrahim is a public voice on issues of religious pluralism and has authored numerous publications in the field of women’s and gender studies, religion in America, and Islamic studies. Ibrahim’s current book project (forthcoming with Oxford University Press) examines female figures in the Qur’an. She is also the editor of One Nation Indivisible: Seeking Liberty and Justice from the Pulpit to the Streets (2019). Ibrahim holds a bachelor’s degree with highest honors from Princeton University, a Masters of Divinity from Harvard University, and a PhD in Arabic and Islamic civilizations from Brandeis University. She is a frequent public speaker and consultant to educational and civic institutions and is the recipient of several dozen awards and honors, including being named a Mellon Fellow; a Harvard Presidential Scholar; and a fellow in the Program on Religion, Diplomacy, and International Relations at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.

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Vennly Leader Spotlight: Q&A with Dr. Denise Fournier

Dr. Denise Fournier is a mindfulness-based psychotherapist. Her practice, Evergreen Therapy, aims to help individuals heal and transform through a deeper connection with themselves, and a greater understanding of the many relationships they hold in their lives. Denise also teaches graduate students in Nova Southeastern University’s Family Therapy department and writes a mindfulness-based blog for Psychology Today.  She is trained to operate within traditional models of psychology, but she also regularly incorporates concepts from Buddhism, Taoism, Shamanism, and indigenous healing traditions to address the psychological, emotional, spiritual, communal, and ancestral dimensions of the human experience.

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Vennly Leader Spotlight: Q&A with Rev. Jeremy Nickel

Rev. Jeremy D. Nickel is a thought leader, a lifelong spiritual adventurer and an entrepreneur. Following Seminary and multiple jobs in the tech world, Rev. Jeremy served for seven years as the Minister of Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Fremont, CA.  He left in 2017 to launch the SacredVR Project and later its secular cousin EvolVR (pronounced “Evolver”). Both projects host live spiritual and personal growth events like Yoga and Meditation sessions, in Virtual Reality spaces attended by people from around the world. These events have been attended by over 3,000 people from twenty-two different countries in the last year!

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Vennly Leader Spotlight: Q&A with Mel Carter

Mel Carter is the Head of Mindfulness Education and Innovation for New York University, a professor at NYU’s Silver School of Social Work in the Multi Faith Leadership Minor program, and the founder of Ignite with Melissa. After a decade long career as a music business executive in a number of roles including artist management, digital marketing, and sales for the number one music company in the world, Mel embarked on a spiritual journey that inspired transformations in both her career and daily life. For the last ten years, Mel has served as a meditation teacher, as well as a holistic wellness and intuitive lifestyle coach. Mel is a certified Reiki Master and Teacher, and doula.

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Vennly Leader Spotlight: Q&A with Rev. Katey Zeh

Rev. Katey Zeh is a strategist, author, and speaker who works with nonprofits and faith communities on organizing for social change. She is the interim Executive Director of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. A highly sought thought leader and speaker, Katey has presented on faith and activism at conferences and universities across the United States. The Center for American Progress named her one of their top justice-seeking faith leaders to watch. She is the co-host of the Kindreds podcast and the author of a Women Rise Up: Sacred Stories of Resistance for Today’s Revolution (FAR Press, May 2019), a timely take on the tenacious women of the bible.

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Vennly Leader Spotlight: Q&A with Frank Fredericks

Frank Fredericks is the founder of World Faith, a global nonprofit organization he started in 2008, to help end religious violence. Frank has been recognized as a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum and is the founder of Mean Communications, a digital marketing agency. He received his BM from NYU where he currently serves as an Interfaith Chaplain, and his MBA from the University of Oxford Said Business School.

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