Harnessing the Power of our Transformational Will
Jul 15, 2022
Pardeep Kaleka - Interfaith Conf of Greater MKE
Harnessing the Power of our Transformational Will

"Harnessing the Power of our Transformational Will”

Our story is one of many who journey to a new land in the hope that our life will be better than the one we would have led if we stayed in our homelands. It is the story of the immigrant and the "American Dream" Only thing was that our American Dream was severely interrupted on August 5, 2012 when a white-supremacist Neo-Nazi skinhead entered our most sacred spiritual center and killed 7 worshippers that day, one of them being my father and Temple President, Satwant Singh Kaleka.
While this attack at our most vulnerable devastated our small minority community, it also galvanized us and connected us to a broader spiritual community and taught us the importance of not letting this “Dream’ die. This transformation however did not happen over-night. We engaged in a process of communal healing in an effort to teach the world that we are more than what happens to us. 

In collective grief, we realized that healing is both individual and communal. I also learned that in order to heal, we must be lovingly challenged to get to a better space. The man who challenged my personal trauma was the most unlikely ally, Arno Michaelis, the man who started the skinhead Neo-Nazi organization that the shooter pledged allegiance to. The greatest lesson that I learned from Arno is that “hurt people, hurt people,” because pain that is not processed is either transferred or consumed. This understanding allowed for a forgiveness to settle in my heart which in turn allowed me to be free and regain power over my life. 

Today, I am a husband, a father of 4 beautiful children, a community leader, trauma therapist, author, and Director of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee. It is clear that our journey to a post traumatic America, whether individual or communal, requires a process of co-creating healing through the "transformational will" that lives in us all.

Biography(please shorten as you see fit)

Pardeep Kaleka is the executive director of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, a de-radicalization expert, and a trauma-focused clinical therapist. As a first-generation immigrant from India, Mr. Kaleka has spent more than 20 years in the public arenas of law enforcement, education, and social services. He has worked on issues of violence prevention and coalition-building across ethnic, racial and religious cultures, and has helped trauma survivors and perpetrators with recovery. As a consultant he has developed policies and practices to help mental health workers, social service practitioners, law enforcement agents, and educators build healthier, safer, more inclusive communities. He is the author of, “The Gifts of Our Wounds” and award-winning community columnist on community health. 

In 2012, following the hate killings at the Oak Creek Sikh Temple, he founded Serve2Unite, an organization nationally recognized for bridging school and community groups. Today, he helps families steer their loved ones away from domestic and foreign violent extremism as a clinician with Parents4Peace and works towards building faith and cultural inclusivity. He has spoken on the rise of hate in America and the need for community prevention strategies to mitigate threats.