Taking Action Together: “Interfaith Friendship: Building Bridges During Hard Times” with John Archibald, Ali Massoud, and Leah Nelson

Interfaith Friendship: Building Bridges During Hard Times

In this program, panelists Ali Massoud, an Egyptian-born Muslim, and Leah Nelson, a Jewish-American, share their journey of overcoming the silence and fear wrought by October 7th to restore their friendship. Moderated by two-time Pulitzer-prize winning journalist John Archibald, who covered their story for Al.com, this panel will discuss how courage and radical empathy can heal political divides. Join our conversation to learn how people from “different places, different faiths, different ethnicities and mythologies” can spark hard conversations to reconcile our differences. 

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About the Speakers

John Archibald is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a longtime fixture in the South, where he is a columnist for the Alabama Media Group. The 2018 Pulitzer jury described his columns as “lyrical and courageous commentary that is rooted in Alabama but has a national resonance in scrutinizing corrupt politicians, championing the rights of women and calling out hypocrisy.”

He was the lead reporter on a series of articles that examined out-of-control policing in the tiny Alabama town of Brookside, which won the 2023 Pulitzer for Local Reporting. That coverage also won the George Polk Award for local reporting, the Sidney Hillman Award for web journalism, and a Best-in-Show National Headliner Award, among others.

Archibald wrote and co-hosted the national Murrow Award-winning podcast “Unjustifiable” in 2021. His book “Shaking the Gates of Hell: A Search for Family and Truth in the Wake of the Civil Rights Revolution” (Alfred A. Knopf), was named one of NPR’s 2021 “books we love.”



Ali Massoud is a J.D. Candidate at the UCLA School of Law. He is on the staff of the UCLA Law Review, a recipient of Moot Court Honors, and a member of the Public Interest Law and Policy Program with a specialization in Technology Law. His interests lie at the intersection of artificial intelligence and civil rights.

Prior to law school, Ali served as the Government Affairs Coordinator for the Alabama chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights organization. There, he launched the state’s first Get Out The Vote campaign aimed at Muslim voters and spearheaded campaigns for immigration and criminal justice reform.

Ali grew up in Egypt and England before coming to the United States. He is a 2017 graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is learning to surf and line dance, though not at the same time.



Leah Nelson serves as Research Director at Alabama Appleseed, where she coordinates and conducts original research into drivers of poverty, violence, and mass incarceration in Alabama. She is Appleseed’s principal expert on the collateral consequences of fines and fees.

In 2021, Leah had the privilege of serving as volunteer investigator with the legal team that helped Claudette Colvin successfully petition for expungement of her 1955 juvenile record. Prior to joining Alabama Appleseed, she spent five years in the Capital Habeas Unit of the Middle District of Alabama Federal Defenders, supporting the appeals of death-sentenced individuals seeking new trials. Before that, she worked as a reporting fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Leah grew up in central Connecticut. She is a 2006 graduate of Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, and a 2002 graduate of the University of Connecticut. She lives in Montgomery with her husband and two children, and attends Temple Beth Or.



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Feb 07 2024


12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


ZOOM Online


Alabama Holocaust Education Center