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Metro Detroit Muslims, Jews work together to raise $26K for border asylum seekers
WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (FOX 2) – Republican or Democrat – it doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you think is right. There is a harsh reality on the ground in cities that border Mexico.
When asylum-seekers arrive at border cities as they try to enter from Mexico, they’re met with resistance and told to find their own way. That’s according to rabbi Jen Lader with Temple Israel.
“They’re then dumped in a downtown city with no food, no clothes, no lodging – often with children in tow and their expected, often without English skills, to find their way to their sponsors, so they can have their asylum hearings in that city,” Lader said. Members of the metro Detroit Muslim community caught wind of the effort and got on board to help. Mahmoud Al-Hadidi with the Michigan Muslim Community Council said the problems at the borders span all faiths.
“We have a lot in common as American citizens from all faiths. Whether we practice our religion or uphold our Constitution, we have a lot in common. It’s an essential part of a mission to bring people together,” said Al-Hadidi.
These two faiths working together is nothing new in Southeast Michigan. The Muslim and Jewish communities have made a strong bond over the years and it’s something both sides are proud of, in good times or in bad.
“Our traditions, both in the Jewish and Muslim tradition, there is a teaching that he who saves one life is as if that person saved an entire world. It speaks to the magnitude of a single life,” said David Kurzmann with the Jewish community relations council.
In just one week, $26,000 have been raised for toiletries, food, underwear, and bus tickets. All of it is going right to the New Mexico congregation that’s helping asylum seekers ahead of their legal proceedings.
“When they clear the process to give them essential health aid, transportation to their destination, some cash. To give them some dignity and welcome to this country that we all wish to receive when we enter any other country,” Al-Hadidi said.
“Buying packs of T-shirts, housing their families in hotel room for a night or two, giving them $10 cash and a bus ticket for a three-day journey to somewhere else in the country. So, we can’t be there on our hands to hug children had to hand people sandwiches, but we are doing our best to partner with them in their holy work on the ground,” said Lader.
It’s taken years for the Jewish and Muslim faiths to work hand-in-hand.
“The Jewish, Muslim relationship in our community is something we cherish and it is an initiative we work on regularly, it is been about building trust and building relationships, and partnerships,” Kurzmann said
But they can’t do it alone. Both sides are hoping others can chip in and help people who need it. For more information check out Temple-Israel.org/helpFromAfar
a neo-Nazi group and its “armed branch,” the first time the country has classified white supremacists that way.
Blood and Honour and Combat 18 were labeled terrorist entities last Friday, joining about 60 groups that include al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and the Islamic State. Under the designation, the groups could have their assets seized and organizations that aid in the terrorist activities would be subject to criminal penalties. The Canadian government described Blood and Honour as “an international neo-Nazi network whose ideology is derived from the National Socialist doctrine of Nazi Germany” and referred to Combat 18 as Blood and Honour’s “armed branch.”
Blood and Honour was founded in England in 1987 by Ian Stuart Donaldson, the lead singer of a hate rock band. The group takes its name from the slogan of the Hitler Youth movement, and its chapters and associated groups have carried out murders and bombings throughout the world. In 1998, four members of a Tampa, Florida chapter of Blood and Honour killed two homeless men in that state, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. In February 2012, members of Blood and Honour and Combat 18 firebombed a building in the Czech Republic that housed mostly Romani families. Canada’s terror designation comes as the country appears to be ramping up its fight against terrorism and extremism.
Also Friday, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) cited right-wing terrorism as a threat to the country’s national security and said it was increasing resources to understand it. On Wednesday, Canada announced initiatives to crack down on terrorist and violent extremist content online. The government committed up to $1 million for a platform to help companies detect and remove extremist content. It also said it would hold a youth summit on countering online extremism, with input from companies like Twitter, Microsoft, Facebook and Google.
Approximately 100 members of the interfaith community gathered in June at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn to discuss how the actions they take locally, even if it is as perceiveably small as having a conversation with a neighbor of a different faith background, can have a lasting ripple effect globally.
President Raman Singh opened the afternoon with organizational updates, including the expansion of the organization’s cornerstone program: Religious Diversity Journeys. In the coming academic year, RDJ will expand its reach to even more seventh graders in the Detroit Metro area starting in the 2019-2020 academic year. The organization this year will also be hosting a healthcare webinar to discuss health issues that span across the faiths, launch a podcast centering on local issues of faith, and relaunch its website.
Board member Dan Buttry, who has traveled the world on peace-making missions to increase dialogue and harmony across the faiths, and boasts about how he lives in the ethnically and religiously diverse city of Hamtramck, told the gathering there is much work to be done in decreasing the darkness in the world by increasing the ripples of light and hope in his keynote address. Buttry said right now, the world is engaged in a multi-front struggle today between religious extremism on the one hand and understandings of religion and faith that build the community where we love our neighbors whoever they are on the other.
In spite of all the attacks on faith groups – from Pittsburgh to San Diego to Sri Lanka to New Zealand, Buttry said we have an opportunity to make a global impact every time a member of one faith acknowledges that the purpose of another faith and their own faith is not for war, violence and killing but in how well we treat each other.
“Extremism and violence isn’t the main face of religion. In fact, most of us would say that’s definitely not the true face of our faith.
All these major religions as well as smaller religions have profound teachings about how we live together, how we love our neighbor, how we build community where justice and peace can flourish.”
Buttry concluded his address by giving participants questions for food for thought.
The InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit named Rev. Stancy Adams as its new chairperson. Rev. Adams has served as a minister and religious educator in metropolitan Detroit since 2004. She is associate minister and director of Christian education at Russell Street Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit. Rev. Adams succeeds Robert A. Bruttell, who will serve as the InterFaith Leadership Council’s vice chair. Three other officers will continue in their current roles: Raman Singh as president; Jaspal Neelam as treasurer; and Rev. Dr. Daniel Buttry as secretary.
In 2011, Stancy was ordained by Rev. Dr. DeeDee M. Coleman at Russell Street Missionary Baptist Church; where she serves as an Associate Minister and Director of Christian Education. In 2017 she graduated from Ecumenical Theological Seminary (ETS) with a Master of Divinity
degree. While attending E.T.S., she served two years as President of the Student Council.
Adams is the spiritual advisor for Seasons of Life Ministry and assistant secretary of the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity.
She served as Vice-President on the Board of Directors for the Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength (M.O.S.E.S.), a non-profit social justice and leadership development organization known for its grassroots work with Detroit area’s churches, mosques, temples and synagogues. It is also known for its efforts in advocating for the most marginalized segments of the population. In 2014, Adams with MOSES and other grassroots activists questioned why the City of Detroit was suddenly enforcing an ordinance that prohibited organizations from feeding the homeless in downtown Detroit, particularly in the area deemed for the new Redwings hockey stadium.
Adams is a Chaplain at Beaumont-Botsford hospital in Farmington, Michigan. She established a “Brown Bag” bible study in the workplace in 2003, at Deloitte & Touché, with the purpose of leading souls to Christ.
She has developed many institutes, bible studies and workshops for youth, women, young adults and teachers, as well as city and state government agencies, including: “Takin’ it to the Streets;” “Exemplary Service;” Youth Training and Etiquette; Teaching Techniques; and “Preparing for Success.” Her passion and gifts in ministry lie in teaching and providing Pastoral Care; serving others especially women and young adults. She said the ministry provides a “No judgment” space
while sharing and learning more about the love of God and assisting them in building a relationship with Him and each other.
(The Washington Post)
Religion in school can be complicated.
So teachers went to class.
School was out – and now it was time for the teachers to be quizzed.
More than two dozen Montgomery County public educators furrowed their brows as the questions flashed on the screen. “Which is not one of the Ten Commandments?” More than half of them got it wrong. Then: “What was the religion of Maimonides?” Ten guessed that the sage was Buddhist; seven guessed he was Mormon. Six got the correct answer: Jewish. “When does the Jewish Sabbath begin?” popped up. Again, wrong answers – many of the teachers guessed Saturday. (It’s Friday night.)
“See?” one teacher muttered. “This is why I’m taking this class.” In Montgomery County, these teachers say, the religious diversity of their students often astounds them. Students ask for days off for Diwali and share stories with classmates about celebrating Eid. To educators who aren’t familiar with religion, the multitude of traditions can be overwhelming. That’s where this summer course comes in. For six days, Montgomery teachers of all grade levels tour some of the Washington area’s religious institutions, from a Muslim mosque to a Sikh gurdwara to a Jewish synagogue. They meet with experts who teach them about the difference between Catholic and Protestant, Sunni and Shiite, atheist and agnostic. They also discuss the thorny question of whether public school teachers should even be talking about religion at all.
The conversations among participants in the course, offered for county school employees who need continuing education credits, are a far cry from the discussions about religion in public schools unfolding elsewhere in the country. In many places, the idea most in vogue right now is teaching the Bible, not the wide variety of religions studied in Montgomery’s course.
Thanks to a coordinated effort by evangelical activists, 10 state legislatures considered laws this past year encouraging public schools to teach the Christian Bible as an important work of literature and influence on history. These Bible classes, which have withstood court scrutiny in the past, are popular offerings at high schools in many states, despite critics who say teachers might far too easily violate the First Amendment by promoting a religious message as a devotional truth.
Many schools that teach the Bible are located in some of the most heavily Christian areas of the country. While Montgomery County schools don’t ask about families’ religions, they have boasted that students come from more than 157 countries and speak 150 languages at home. About 72 percent are students of color. In the summer course, which concluded this week, three of the educators raised their hands to say they had taught students who wear topknots traditional to Sikh boys; others said they had supported students who were fasting during Ramadan. Stacey Wahrman, an English teacher, said John F. Kennedy High School in Wheaton has become far more diverse than it was when she started teaching there 20 years ago. Wahrman said she needed the primer on religious basics to help walk her students through some of the texts they read in English class, which make more sense to kids who learn how to decipher the religious references. The secret marriage vows that lead to the fatal events of “Romeo and Juliet,” for example? “It’s something they have a hard time wrapping their heads aroun
As a teacher, Wahrman said she needs to better understand her students’ religions. “I feel less comfortable, and it’s one thing I’m hoping this class will help me with, discussing evangelical Christianity,” Wahrman, who is Jewish, said on the first day of the course. She recalled reading the play “A Raisin in the Sun” with students. When some students said, based on a character considering an abortion, “She’s going to hell,” Wahrman felt she didn’t have the religious knowledge to respond confidently.
That’s the type of conversation Christopher Murray, who teaches this course, wants to help teachers get through appropriately. This was the 10th time he taught a teachers’ course on religion, whether as a summer intensive or a 15-week night course during the school year.
Murray is simply a religion nerd. On visiting the many houses of worship that he takes the teachers to throughout the week, he says: “It’s kind of my Disney World.”
Before leaving last year for the private Catholic school Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in search of smaller class sizes and other perks, Murray taught social studies at Walter Johnson High School for 13 years – including an elective course on world religions. When Murray asks the teachers questions about how they can legally teach religion in their schools, most say the subject is murky to them. Several say they believe it’s illegal to teach a class on religion, although it’s not – about half of Montgomery County’s high schools offer such an elective, according to Murray. When Murray says public school teachers can’t lead prayers, according to the Supreme Court, several teachers are surprised. (“Oops,” says one teacher, admitting she has led students who share her Muslim faith in prayer at school before.)
Teachers need this sort of training, argues Diane Moore, director of Harvard University’s Religious Literacy Project, because religion inevitably comes up in their classrooms.
“There are rarely opportunities for teachers themselves to be trained in the academic study of religion, to be able to teach those hot-button, volatile issues well,” Moore said. “The key, and it’s not that profound, is to give teachers … tools to teach religion in a responsible and constitutionally sound way.” Moore’s program at Harvard also provides that training for teachers – although slightly differently. She said she wouldn’t recommend Murray’s approach of bringing teachers into houses of worship, since seeing one example of the practice of a particular faith might cloud their understanding of faith communities that are in fact highly diverse.
But for Joanna Fellows, a theater and film teacher at Seneca Valley High School in Germantown, the whirlwind tour of Washington-area congregations was deeply informative. At a visit to an Episcopal church, one of the final stops of the week-long tour, she revealed she had been gleaning a lot of theology. Her theater class is often a refuge for students struggling with their sexuality, she said. When she talks to parents, they sometimes say their religious beliefs lead them to condemn homosexuality. Now, Fellows is rehearsing an answer steeped in what she has learned in one tour after another: “In Sikhism, they say the creator and the creation are one. In the Torah, we have this idea that God made us in His image. In Buddhism, you have a central concept that there is beauty and there is value in all life,” she said. She said she knew almost nothing about these faiths before this week. She was raised Catholic and has identified with no faith since her teens.
Murray, the leader of the course, also grew up Catholic and then became nonreligious.
He always told his students on the first day of his world religions class that throughout his survey of faith traditions, he wouldn’t tell them what he himself believed in now. They could guess on the last day.
After taking the class, they hardly ever guessed correctly.
The answer? After making a careful study of the world’s religions, Murray eventually converted to Judaism, his wife’s faith, before their second son was born. “It fit all my moral and progressive views,” he says. “I liked the questioning.” He keeps encouraging fellow teachers to ask more questions, too.
Turban-tying services boom
as young Sikhs embrace heritage
(from The Guardian)
At the height of wedding season, Jagdeep Singh Grewal professionally ties the turbans of four or five grooms a day. He is up before sunrise and often returns home long after dark. While the weddings can blur into each other, one incident has stayed with him.
On a cold October morning in 2018, Grewal arrived at the groom’s house at 5am. The groom’s mother pointed to a picture of a man wearing a turban and asked him to mimic the style. As he got to work, stretching out the fabric, then stitching and tying the turban, Grewal was taken aback by how emotional the groom’s mother and uncle became. The family were moved by the groom’s resemblance to the man in the photo, who Grewal later learned was the groom’s father – a former soldier in the Indian army who had died. “I could relate to it because my dad isn’t around and it was a tough moment,” Grewal says.
The 32-year-old runs Pagh Vala, a turban-tying service in London, with his friend and business partner Barinder Singh Bath. Theirs is part of a growing industry of bespoke turban-tying services in the UK, driven in part by younger members of the Sikh community displaying increasing pride in their roots and the rise of Bollywood stars such as Diljit Dosanjh bringing turbans into the spotlight.
“It’s all about connecting people with their culture and heritage,” Grewal says. “We’ve become more westernised and we don’t know how to tie turbans. And it’s good we have embraced the western culture, but we should remember who we are.” “It used to be family members who tied the groom’s turban, but now you can hardly find a family member to tie a turban,” says Sukhvir Aujla, who runs Tying my Turban, a business based in Wolverhampton, with her husband Taranvir Dhanda.
It’s not just turbans either. There are services for brides who want their saris pinned or gele headwraps professionally tied. Tokunbo Oluderu, a sales associate at Finetex Creatives, which sells fabrics for African headwraps and offers a wrapping service in London, says: “When we opened the shop, we saw a lot of people who came to buy a headwrap, but didn’t know what to do with it.”
While the Highland store, based in London, largely hires and sells kilts to its customers, it is becoming more common to have to show customers how to correctly wear their outfits. “We have people who come here who say their grandad is a McDonald or something like that and they have not worn kilts before,” the sales assistant Monica Zalapicz explains. “We show them how to put the kilt on, which side to wear the kilt pin, and which tartan is most appropriate to their family clan.”
Pete Singh, 39, the founder of Turban Pro, says: “Everyone wants to look good. It’s the main part of the outfit and your face is going to be in pictures, so you have to get the turban right.” He adds that he often works with “diva” grooms who are quite fussy about styles and shapes.
Dr Jasjit Singh of the University of Leeds, who studies religious and cultural transmission, says: “Community elders thought that the younger generation would move away from their heritage, but what we’re seeing is an increasing interest in understanding one’s roots.”
Naroop Jhooti, 38, a London-based photographer and co-author of the book Turbans and Tales, says: “Forty years ago, wearing the turban meant you couldn’t get the job, or could face racial abuse, so the older generation would wear black and didn’t want to be noticed. They wanted to be able to fit in. But times are definitely changing. The younger generation are taking more pride in how their turbans look.”
Singh agrees there is a greater pressure on migrants to conform in the 1960s, but “those born and bred in Britain now are comfortable to say they are British and wearing a turban doesn’t make them any less so. They are less prepared to compromise on their identity.”
Business owners welcome the enthusiasm for professional turban tying, but add that the religious connotations should be respected. Gucci was recently heavily criticised for selling a headpiece resembling a turban.
Kully, 30, who didn’t want to give his last name, hired Turban Pro for his wedding last year, saying he wanted it to look right and respect his culture. It was the first time he had worn one. “It really hurts your head and gives you a headache,” Kully says laughing, but adds that he really enjoyed wearing it. “Everyone complimented it, even the priest,” he says. It was the reaction from his dad, who has worn the turban his whole life, which he savoured the most. “He just looked at me and said: ‘Wow.'”
Singapore is set to welcome its first female president, hijab-wearing Muslim woman named Halimah Yacob.
In 2016, Singapore’s parliament decided that the post of president will be reserved for a candidate from a particular racial group if no one from that group has been president for five continuous terms, or 30 years. That meant that this year’s election was reserved for someone from Singapore’s minority Malay community. The last time Singapore had a Malay president was in 1970.
“A contest would have added to her legitimacy,” Tan said.
Although Yacob is set to make history for Singapore as a hijab-wearing woman, the city-state still has bans against hijabs in some government schools and public sector jobs. According to Reuters, Yacob hasn’t often spoken publicly about this ban.
On Monday, Yacob said that she believes the President’s role is to act as a “unifying force.”
“Obviously there is work that I have to do, but the most important thing for me is I would like Singaporeans to work together with me,” she said, according to Channel News Asia.
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