Leonard Petlakh is the executive director of the Jewish Community Center, Kings Bay Y. He served as the associate executive director of the Hebrew Free Loan Society in New York. He teaches an undergraduate class in Russian and Soviet Jewish history at Hunter College. He is the winner of the 2005 Young Professional Award.

“I think of Mr. Gulen as someone who does not just lead a movement of Turkish Muslims. Someone who does not just lead a movement in Islam… I think of him as a world leader.”

“I think the Hizmet Movement is showing the world the real face of Islam. The face of love and commitment to fellow human beings and something that a lot of people, especially in the West in the past 15 years or so, do not necessarily associate with Islam.”

“Members of the Hizmet movement open schools in areas where there’s a lot of quality education. And they start quality schools that prepare the next generation of leaders. They prepare these young people to succeed in life. So if we were to fast forward 5-10 or 15 years from now, there will be thousands of people in this country who will be better off because of the education and the opportunity they received through Hizmet movement’s schools that emphasize quality and science and math and other subjects.”

“I was privileged to see members of the Turkish Cultural Center and other people affiliated with the Hizmet Movement distributing food and blankets and other necessities to people who suffered from Sandy. Those were people of different backgrounds. The vast majority of them were obviously not Muslims or not Turkish. This was a great example of the enormous value that is placed in the Hizmet Movement on relief and on work and social action.”

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