WISDOM Newsletter – June 2011

Written by WISDOM on . Posted in Newsletters

THE WISDOM WINDOW

JUNE 2011

WISDOM

Thursday, June 30th, Friday, July 1st, and Wednesday, July 6th – WISDOM and Interfaith at the Bay View Association in Petoskey, MI. See flyer below for all the details!!

Friday, August 19th, Five Women Five Journeys for the Auburn Hills Senior Services, 12:30 PM, City of Auburn Hills, 1827 N. Squirrel Rd., Auburn Hills, MI

Sunday, September 11th, Acts of Kindness (A-OK) Detroit, Community Service Projects for Adults, young adults, and teens. Event will be held at Focus Hope in Detroit. Schedule of events will be posted in the near future.

WORLD VIEWS SEMINAR ON
AMERICAN RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY
COMING SOON!!
 
JUNE 20-25, 2011
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN-DEARBORN
 
Enroll in this class for a six-day experience-based seminar designed to introduce you to foundational information about the beliefs and practices of several of the world’s religions.
Learn about Baha’i, Buddhism, Chinese and Japanese Traditional Religions, Christianity, First Peoples and Native Traditions, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism.
 
For registration, cost and more information contact
Sharie Beard
University of Michigan-Dearborn
(313) 593-4925

 

SAVE THE DATE
AND JOIN US FOR A SPECIAL COMMUNITY LECTURE THAT WILL EXPLORE
RELIGIOUS PLURALISM AND INTERFAITH RELATIONS.
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN-DEARBORN
MONDAY, JUNE 20, 2011
6:00 PM 1030 CASL BUILDING
THE EVENT IS FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
“WHY WE NEED TO TALK – NOT SIMPLY TOLERATE:
A LESSON FOR LIVING IN A RELIGIOUSLY PLURAL WORLD”
PRESENTED BY
R. GUSTAV NIEBUHR
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, DEPT OF RELIGION,
SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY
Co-sponsored by the University of Michigan-Dearborn
Worldviews Seminar
and the Center for the Study of Religion and Society.
For more information contact Claude Jacobs: cfj@umd.umich.edu
or Sharie Beard: sbeard@umd.umich.edu
Jewish and Chaldean Women’s Social Action Initiative

Host Their First Meeting at the Shendandoah Country Club

in West Bloomfield on May 3, 2011

 

(See Jewish News article that follows!!)

 

Jewish Chaldean May 3rd cinner

The Co-Chairs of the event are (left to right) Gail Katz, Ann Antone, Jeannie Weiner, and Sathab Ousachi

 

Jewish Chaldean May 3rd dinner photo 2

Sonya Kory (Chaldean) and Ellie Slovis (Jewish) get to know one another at this coming together event.

 

Women United

Chaldean-Jewish women’s event

centers on plight of Iraqi Christians.

Robin Schwartz| Contributing Writer for the Jewish News

Chaldeans who arrive here in the U.S. face

countless challenges – financial support,

education, employment, family separation,

language barriers, immigration issues and

so many other challenges.

– attorney Sathab Ousachi

 

The persecution of Iraqi Christians has made headlines around the world. Last October, a high-profile church attack in Baghdad killed 58 people; militants stormed Our Lady of Salvation Syriac Catholic

church and blew themselves up during a Sunday mass. More than 100 people were taken hostage and dozens were injured. In the wake of the ongoing bloodshed, violence and unrest, thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled, leading to an influx of refugees right here in Metro Detroit. Our area is home to more than 120,000 Chaldeans – the largest Chaldean population in the United States.

“Chaldeans, as a small minority group, are suffering torture, massive church bombings and slayings, oppression, forced religious conversion, murder, kidnappings, rapes and more [in Iraq],” says Sathab Ousachi of West Bloomfield, an immigration attorney, executive board member of the

Chaldean Federation of America and an active member of several other local Chaldean organizations. “To date, the existing Iraqi government has been unable to protect this minority group.” Ousachi is a keynote speaker along with Ann Antone, a longtime community activist and retired social worker, at an invitation-only Chaldean-Jewish women’s event on May 3. The gathering at Shenandoah Country Club in West Bloomfield is the first event sponsored by the Chaldean and Jewish Women Social Action Initiative, part of the Chaldean-Jewish Building Community partnership. About 40 women (20 from each community) who may not have been exposed to each other before were selected to attend and learn more about the plight of Iraqi Christians. “Chaldeans who arrive here in the U.S. face countless challenges – financial support, education, employment, family separation, language barriers, immigration issues and so many other challenges,” Ousachi continued. “We are working closely with the Department of State and our local congressional leader to help advocate on behalf of this vulnerable class. Both communities can identify with the plight of these people and work to empower women of faith/ culture to overcome these obstacles.”

 

Interfaith Leadership

 

Gail Katz, LeeAnn Kirma and Jeannie Weiner, all of West Bloomfield, organized the inaugural women’s event. Katz is president and co-founder of WISDOM (Women’s Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach in Metro Detroit); Weiner is a past president of the Jewish Community

Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit. Both are retired teachers.Kirma is president of Chaldean

American Ladies of Charity, a humanitarian organization. She’s also an analyst at Ford Motor Company and owner of LuLu’s Mosaics, a hobby she turned into a business. While Kirma and Weiner co-chair the overall social action initiative, all three women share a passion for uniting

people of different backgrounds, cultures and religions.”This effort is an effort to really sustain the community,” Weiner explained. “I think it’s extremely important to meet new people and work with

them on issues that matter to all of us in Southeast Michigan. It’s always fun to find you have similarities with people you didn’t know you had a lot in common with.” Katz, who taught English as a second language for many years in the Berkley School District, already feels a close connection to the Chaldean community. Many of her students, both adults and children, were Iraqi Christians.

“I’m so excited to see Chaldean and Jewish women coming together,” she said. “We have coexisted for such a long time; and there are so many similarities in our communities and our challenges.

“We share so much, we live in the same space, and we need to sit down and break bread together and get to know our neighbors. We’re so fabulous at taking care of our own; but it takes a little bit of extra effort to cross divides and learn about the neighbor living right next door.” As the women unite here in Michigan, thousands of miles away, U.S. troops remain on the ground in Iraq. They’re scheduled to withdraw from the region at the end of the year as part of a December 2008 security

pact; but there has been talk of our forces remaining beyond their scheduled departure if invited.

While the future in Iraq is uncertain, the women believe Iraqi Christians and Jews in our community will have a brighter future if they break down barriers and stereotypes, foster friendships and understanding, and begin an open dialogue. A plan for social action that will assist families in both communities will eventually be developed and coordinated together. “It’s wonderful to see two communities who have been living side by side for decades come together to better understand one another and the challenges we each face,” Kirma said. “Our communities are pretty awesome;

and our women are stellar,” added Antone. “Who better to bring a better understanding of each other? A few women working together can be quite powerful; just think of what can be accomplished!”

 

Five Women, Five Faiths, One Community

By: Dennis Archambault, 5/5/2011
There is something about women getting together to talk. They relate. They bond. And when they cross cultural and faith traditions, something special happens: They act.

Five years ago, Trish Harris, a Catholic, met Shahina Begg, a Muslim, at a performance of The Children of Abraham, a musical play that traces the connection between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the conflict between them, and the possibilities of reconciliation. Harris said to Begg, “It would be kind of nice to do something instead of ‘The Children of Abraham’, what about The Women of Abraham?

“Funny you should mention that,” Begg responded. “I have a Jewish woman and a Protestant woman who had contacted me and they’re interested in doing the same thing. We’re going to have coffee next week. Do you want to have coffee?”

That led to the founding of Women’s Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach (WISDOM), with members representing eight faith traditions committed to building relationships and making the community a better place.

The group has conducted education and service programs, and most recently published Friendship & Faith, a book featuring personal accounts of the women. ReadtheSpirit.com, which published the book, offers installments online at FriendshipandFaith.com.

Some of the women featured in Friendship & Faith have appeared on panel discussions called “Five Women, Five Journeys,” recently offered at St. Hugo’s of the Hills Catholic Church in Bloomfield Hills. Sofia Begg Latif, one of the writers and performers of The Children of Abraham, spoke at the St. Hugo’s event, moderated by Harris.

Latif, the daughter of Indian immigrants Shahina and Victor Begg, grew up in a Hindu/Muslim household in Bloomfield Hills. That allowed her to appreciate the religious diversity of Southeast Michigan, one of the more diverse regions in the nation – and one of the most polarized. In her account in Friendship & Faith, Latif reflects on family gatherings involving Hindus and Muslims. Her mother’s family is Hindu and her father’s Islam. (Shahina Begg converted to Islam.)

“Both believe strongly in their faith,” recalls Latif, now a Dearborn Heights resident. “There would be debate back and forth then they would come together. It was never something that interfered with our family relationships. There was theological disagreement, but that was an understood aspect of our lives. We could see the commonalities [between family members]. We lived the commonalities in the interaction with each other and the relationships that my parents fostered. The faith lines didn’t prevent me from having strong relationships with people of other faiths.”

WISDOM has produced 67 programs – 16 of them “5 Women, 5 Journeys.” The programs range from a women-only Habitat for Humanity Build and other service projects to community, interfaith education, and advocacy activities. The activities draw upwards of 300 people. “5 Women, 5 Journeys” has been presented at a variety of venues – Andover High School, Birmingham; Macomb Community College and University of Michigan Dearborn; a Bloomfield Hills senior community center, and various houses of worship.

The St. Hugo’s program employed a new element, according to Harris. “Normally we have theatre seating…you’re normally sitting with your friends. You listen to the panel; have questions and answers, then leave.” St. Hugo’s program was organized by an interfaith committee of people who hadn’t met before, seated participants at roundtables with people of different faiths, and followed with dialogue. The program was well-received and may lead to a service project, Harris says.

“If you think about it, there aren’t many opportunities for Christian women to sit down with Muslims, or Jews to sit down with Muslims,” adds Harris. “What would it be like to sit on a committee with Muslim women when I’ve never met one before? More people probably met Jewish women before, but not a whole lot. We tend to operate in our own circles. One of the goals of WISDOM is to get outside our own group of family and friends… in a safe and sacred environment.”

Women, she says, have a way of coming together and solving problems that is different from men. “Women seem to have – in most cultures – this gift for relationship. This is what’s key. A problem comes up and you want to resolve it. Most of the time the men will sit at the table and they will immediately attack the problem as they see it. The women will talk and build some kind of connection between each other. Then they will approach the problem. Building those connections and those relationships greatly improves the chances that the problems will be resolved.”

The future holds a generational challenge for WISDOM: Will they be succeeded by the women of Latif’s age?


“We haven’t found the sweet spot in terms of how to relate (to younger women),” admits Latif. “There isn’t a lot of youth within the leadership. That’s something that will have to change. There have been examples of WISDOM holding events at universities.”

WISDOM held a recent event at the University of Michigan Dearborn which drew a large crowd, notes Latif. “At some of the community service events you’ll see younger women that are there for the day. They may have young kids and the kids are in school, they have a few hours in the afternoon to volunteer. … For young women in high school and college there is lot of interfaith activities under way. It’s not always under the banner of an interfaith organization. It’s usually working toward a cause, whether it’s social justice or improving the inner city. WISDOM partners with those organizations and you have a larger showing. In terms of young mothers with children, evening gatherings like this might be difficult for them to come.”

For WISDOM women, many of whom pushed to achieve “firsts” for their gender in society, forming WISDOM was as much a statement of their generation as their commitment to interfaith relationships. Harris, the first woman to work in management at Ford’s Detroit Tractor Operations, concurs that succession poses a series concern for the organization.

“It’s very obvious to all of us on the board when we gather – it hits you right in the face: You know that if we’re going to continue we have to be successful in cultivating younger people’s interest in what we’re doing,” she says, adding that WISDOM added some younger members to its board this year.

“When women are out in the work world – and a lot of them are in the work world and have family responsibilities – to get them to devote significant time to something like this…is a real challenge. We are a totally volunteer organization. We have no paid staff. Anything that gets done gets done by one of us. It’s difficult to get people who are younger or just starting their careers.”

Younger women still have the need and desire to engage in interfaith work, and they need to differentiate their relationships from men, notes Latif. “There’s something about being in the same environment with men, and being able to communicate and bond in a different way [with women]; it’s having those fraternal relationships that brings out different aspects of person’s personality. I haven’t studied this, but you can see fraternities and sororities in college and the deep bond that forms between people in society when you’re sharing your innermost thoughts.”

Latif believes there’s commonality among a lot of women in WISDOM, that they have navigated the challenges of living in an America that doesn’t always accept their faith. Regardless of what their religion is, they all have struggled to raise their children in a less than open environment. “Those commonalities will remain will remain in the next generation as well.”

One thing is for certain; women of all ages drink coffee together, form relationships, and get things done.


Dennis Archambault is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to Metromode, Model D and Concentrate. His previous article was Chaldeans And Jews: Building A Common Community

WISDOM HOLDS ITS ANNUAL DINNER AND
INSTALLATION CEREMONY
ON WEDNESDAY, MAY 4TH, 2011
Annual Dinner 1
Gail Katz, one of the Co-Founders of WISDOM, is presented with the Founder’s Award
for all her work with WISDOM, by Trish Harris, another Co-Founder of WISDOM
annual Dinner 2
The Three Co-Founders of WISDOM, Shahina Begg, Gail Katz, and Trish Harris
annual dinner 3
Board members and guests at the WISDOM Annual Dinner and Installation Ceremony
at Peabody’s Restaurant in Birmingham
Gail and Paula
Gail Katz, outgoing president of WISDOM and Paula Drewek, incoming president
Centuries-Old Atrocity Casts a Lingering Shadow

By Doreen Carvajal (New York Times, May 10, 2011)

 

Majorca photo

PALMA, MAJORCA – The old stones of the historic quarter of the Spanish island of Majorca are worn smooth with secrets ignored by most tourists that pour into this city from cruise liners on the sparkling Mediterranean.

Rarely do visitors come with missions as precise as Joseph Wallis and a small contingent of Orthodox rabbis from Israel: To touch the smooth sandstones of a 14th-century synagogue turned into a Roman Catholic church. To offer a special 15th-century version of the Kaddish, a prayer for the dead that was once forbidden under threat of death and was delayed for 320 years.

They gathered Thursday for a memorial, the first by a local regional government in Spain, to confront a dark legacy of buried memories. Jews, who secretly practiced their forbidden religion during the Inquisition, were burned here in Gomila Plaza in a “bonfire of the Jews” in May 1691, and the descendants of Jews who converted were subject to discrimination that flourished even into the 20th century.

It was “our worst sin,” said Francesc Antich, regional president of the Balearic Islands, who stopped short of issuing an apology for the killings of 37 people, three of them burned alive, including Rabbi Wallis’s ancestor, Rafael Valls. “Memory opens wounds, but also helps to serve justice. The time has come to close these wounds that have bled generation after generation.”

Discrimination remained so strong in Majorca that many of the converts’ descendants, known locally as chuetas, still remember a schoolyard rhyme in the 1960s mocking the surnames of 15 families targeted by the Inquisition, or adults who shunned them for friendship and marriage. They also recall the customs of elderly chuetas who traced their fingers along the stone remnants of the former synagogue and surreptitiously kissed their fingertips.

“There was fear, always fear,” said Bernat Pomar, 78, a retired violinist. “Behind the curtains, we were afraid. Chuetas are special because the community of Majorca shaped us.”

Pomar was one of the 15 names in the childhood taunt. Others included Pico, Aguiló and Miró, the family name of the artist Joan Miró, who died here in 1983.

“When I was young they called me many insults because children were cruel,” Mr. Pomar said. “Today it has changed, but it has not been forgotten.”

Majorca, largely isolated until the tourist boom reached it and the other Balearic Islands in the late 1960s, developed into a wary preserve for descendants of Jews who protected themselves by making public professions of Catholic faith, marching in brotherhoods for Easter processions and carving crucifixes in stone in the warren of the island’s Jewish quarter. The extensive family trees of descendants are intertwined because they married among themselves, scorned as marriage material by old Christian families.

With the arrival of floods of tourists from different countries, the island culture started to change, but a modest synagogue did not open in the center of Majorca until the 1970s and remains so low key that local taxi drivers say they have never heard of Comunitat Israelita de Mallorca, which is set back on a side street and protected by a special parking barrier.

Today, chuetas intermingle and marry among other Majorcans, but there is still a wariness tied to the history and culture of Spain, where surveys through the last 10 years have ranked it among European countries with the highest anti-Semitic opinions. A 2008 Pew Global Attitudes survey found that 46 percent of Spaniards viewed Jews unfavorably – then the highest negative rating in Europe – though since there has been some improvement.

A study issued last year by Casa Sefarad-Israel, an agency of the Spanish Foreign Ministry founded in 2006 to promote good relations with Spanish Jewry and Israel, found that negative views had dropped to 34.6 of the Spanish population. The figure was still high, though, and the anti-Semitic views tended to concentrate among Spaniards with left-of-center political leanings.

Diego de Ojeda, director of Casa Sefarad-Israel, said many Spaniards had never met Jews, noting that some of his own friends knew about Hanukkah, for example, from watching an episode of the U.S. television show “Friends.”

“Majorca is very specific because it is the only part of Spain where there is a community that is directly descended from Jews, which has remained distinct since others would not marry them, up until two generations ago,” he said. “There are other groups that are trying to dig back into their Jewish past in Spain, but in this case the descendants of this community are something very distinct, so this memorial could only have taken place in Majorca.”

Some of the chuetas are trying to reclaim the religion of their ancestors from three centuries ago, an effort nurtured by Shavei Israel, a private group that offers support and education to descendants of Jews who converted in Spain and a number of other countries, including Portugal, Italy, Poland, India and China. The organization has also unsuccessfully pushed the cathedral in Majorca for the return of two gilded Jewish rimmonins, ritual finials from 1493 displayed in a church showcase.

“I am not here for my personal story,” said Rabbi Wallis, who with Shavei’s founder, Michael Freund, traveled to Majorca three months ago to press for an apology and a memorial on the 320th anniversary of the 1691 massacre.

“We asked the government for a memorial so the chuetas know they no longer need to be afraid to be a Jew,” said Rabbi Wallis, who since his arrival found people related to him in the silver jewelry district, where some chuetas have maintained family shops since the 17th century.

Rabbi Wallis, 64, who was born in Israel and raised in New York, is the son of two Holocaust survivors from the Dachau camp. His father, he said, remembered an old family Bible, lost during World War II, with the name of Rafael Valls at the top of the list of ancestors with birth and death dates that listed him as burned at the stake.

On Thursday, his voice cracked with emotion as he read a special 15th-century Kaddish that was composed in the Netherlands specifically for victims of mass burnings with a blank space to insert names.

Rabbi Nissan Ben Abraham, who was raised Catholic and later converted to the dismay of his chueta father, a Majorca shopkeeper, read aloud the names of the 37 victims of the 1691 public execution, including the name of his own ancestor, Catalina Terongi. She was burned alive next to Rabbi Wallis’s ancestor, Rafael Valls, and urged him, according to meticulous Inquisition records, to ignore his burning clothes and not to give up and renounce his own faith.

As the rabbi, whose family name is Aguiló, worked through the names, he declared a victim with the same last name as Bernat Pomar, who sat in a back row and simply nodded. The night before, the retired violinist had celebrated a small party with the visiting rabbis from Israel to mark his return to Judaism. At 78, he had undergone surgery for circumcision and finally had told his secret to his grown children this week.

 

Praying for Peace: Open my eyes to God’s diversity

Sixteen women prayed together for peace-without ever meeting-and they created this prayer for the whole world. They followed John Philip Newell’s call in Praying for Peace and each contributed lines beginning with the words, “Open my eyes to …” Collected here, they form a litany that we invite the world to pray with us.

The women began their notes invoking God in many ways and by many names. Feel free to open your own version of this prayer with an invocation from your tradition.

Open My Eyes to God’s Diversity

By the women of WISDOM

Open my eyes to …
Peaceful things in life.
Songs of peace.
Seeds of understanding.
Goodness in all people.
The spirit of each human being I encounter today.

Open my eyes to …
The world around me.
Needs around me.
Outer appearances that can mislead.
Dangers of injustice and misunderstanding.
People we need to understand.
The hunger and thirst of our sisters and brothers.

Open my eyes to …
The larger world.
The value of women everywhere.

Open my eyes to …
All the people God loves.
All the species God cares about on this earth.
The beauty and abundance of God’s creation.

The grandeur of God’s creation in every person, place and thing.

Open my eyes to …
Love around us.
The face of God in those we meet.
The Divine source of goodness in all peoples.
The Good that is available everywhere.
The power of forgiveness.

Guide me so that I don’t stand idly by.
Guide me to help according to Your will.
Guide me to know the difference between what I want and what I need.
Dispel the delusion that someone else is responsible for my community, my nation and my world.
Open my eyes to this new day and free me from the limitations of yesterday.

Open my eyes to …
The warmth of interfaith gatherings that build respect and understanding.
The potential in each of us to cross divides and build new friendships.

Open my eyes to …
God’s diversity.

SPECIAL THANKS TO Shahina Begg, Jean T. Booms, Paula Drewek, Elaine Greenberg, Patricia Harris, Mares Hirchert, Motoko Huthwaite, Gail Katz, Susan Lalain, Sofia Latif, Cassandra Mudloff, Anne Nachazel, Brenda Naomi Rosenberg, Betsy Ross, Sheri Schiff, Debra Seehaver and Debbie Valencia.

Please help us with Friendship and Faith!

As readers, we welcome you to contribute your own stories of cross-cultural friendship. (NOTE: There are helpful tips under “We’d like to publish your story”)

You can help in many ways! Purchase our book “Friendship and Faith,” which is packed with dozens of stories by women about their real-life experiences with cross-cultural friendships. Bookmark this page-or subscribe via the link in upper right. If you’re on Facebook, please click the “Recommend” button below to share this story with friends.

 BAY VIEW 2011 SUMMER PROGRAM

ABOUT INTERFAITH INTERACTION

Bay View Association of the

United Methodist Church

Petoskey, MI

THURSDAY, JUNE 30th WISDOM WOMEN INTERFAITH PANEL

7:30 – 9:00 PM Voorhies Hall (No Charge)

 Five Women of different faith traditions

(Baha’i, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim)

share their journeys

 

FRIDAY, JULY 1st COFFEE AND CONVERSATION

WITH THE WISDOM WOMEN

9:30-11:00 AM Evelyn Hall (No Charge)

 

FRIDAY, JULY 1st EXPLORING THE EMERGING INTERFAITH

MOVEMENT

1:00 – 2:30 PM Loud Hall, Room 13

$10 members/ $12 others

Gail Katz (WISDOM Co-Founder)

Deb Hanson (Interfaith Chaplain)

 will offer their perspectives

and experience in the Interfaith Movement.

Explore how Interfaith Interaction and Celebration

are affecting today’s world!!

 

WEDNESDAY, JULY 6  FRIENDSHIP AND FAITH:

THE WISDOM OF WOMEN CREATING

ALLIANCES FOR PEACE

A BOOK DISCUSSION

1:00 – 2:30 PM Loud Hall, Room 12

$10 members/$15 others

After having had the opportunity to

meet several of the contributors to WISDOM’s book,

Friendship and Faith, you will now have the chance

to share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences

with others.

 

 

Room in the Military for Atheist Chaplains??

By Rabbi Brad Hirschfield

 

Contrary to the old adage, there really are atheists in foxholes, and in many other places in the US military. It should come as no surprise that military, like the rest of America, includes atheists and secular humanists among its ranks. More surprisingly perhaps, is a request which some of them are making.

A number of atheists and secular humanists currently serving on active duty are asking for chaplains to serve their needs. No, they have not undergone conversions, “seen the light”, or any such thing. They are asking for trained professionals to provide support and counsel based on their own non-religious tradition, much as other chaplains draw on religious traditions to do the same.

I hope the Pentagon responds favorably, not only for the good of those making the request, but for the good of military and for the good of religious freedom in America. While small in number (about 10,000 out of 1.3 million personnel), there are many good reasons to embrace this request.

For starters, the military does its utmost to provide for the spiritual and emotional needs of all men and women in uniform, and has always known that professionals charged with that primary mission, chaplains, are a vital part of the process. Whether they believe in God or not, people have existential dilemmas, emotional needs and spiritual struggles. They may not turn to God for answers, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need and deserve support to find the answers they need. That’s what Chaplains do, and that’s why there should be at least one from the secular tradition.

Some may object to the notion that secularism or atheism is a “real” tradition. But once we go down that road, why not get rid of Jewish or Muslim chaplains since, according to some Christian belief systems, they are as empty and misguided as atheism and secularism? And to be clear, that question is rhetorical.

The military engages chaplains based on their ability to serve the needs of those in uniform, not on the basis of the Pentagon’s sense of which traditions are true and which are not. The measure of successful military chaplaincy is not theological correctness or the number of converts made, it is the number of people served. On that basis, there must be room for a secular chaplain in the US military.

Interestingly, the presence of secular or atheist chaplains would also force secularists and atheists to be a bit more candid about the fact that theirs is every bit as much a faith, as are the belief systems of the believers with whom they serve. Like classical believers and religionists, atheists and secularists make a decision about the world based on what works in their lives.

They have similar needs, need similar professional help and support, and can no more know that they are right than believers can. Members of each camp construct complex arguments to “prove” the correctness of their respective conclusions, but in reality both believers and non-believers are doing their best to make sense of their lives and the world in which they live, and each has found a different way of doing it. The presence of atheist chaplains could help both groups to see that and end their endless and pointless bickering about which side is right.

 

Finally, the inclusion of atheist chaplains in the US military would be a reminder to believers and non-believers alike about a fundamental commitment made by military chaplains – one from which all religious leaders could learn. The issue is not which tradition the chaplains calls upon, but their ability to use their chosen tradition to serve BOTH those most closely affiliated with their own tradition, AND those who are not. That should be the mission of all faith leaders, even when they do not agree about matters of faith, or even about what it might mean to be of service to those in need.

 

What all clergy should agree upon is the notion that if those they are meant to serve do not experience themselves as being served, then those doing the serving – the chaplains or other religious leaders, have failed to achieve their mission. And since all traditions have some sense that they are meant to serve beyond their own membership, the real test of successful service lies with those outside of one’s chosen faith or non-faith.

Military chaplains try and meet that mission every day and the inclusion of atheist chaplains will only aid in achieving the mission more fully by all members of the military, believers and non-believers alike!!

 

CATHOLICS AND JEWS:

WITNESS TO DIGNITY OF HUMAN BEING

 

VATICAN CITY, 12 MAY 2011 (VIS) – Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received a delegation from B’nai B’rith International, (“Sons of the Covenant” in Hebrew), the oldest Jewish service organization in the world. It was initially founded in New York City in 1843.

 

The Pope expressed his appreciation for B’nai B’rith’s “active participation” in the meeting of the International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee, held in Paris at the end of February on this 40th anniversary of dialogue between the two religions. “What has happened in these forty years must be seen as a great gift from the Lord and a reason for heartfelt gratitude towards the One who guides our steps with his infinite and eternal wisdom”.

 

“The Paris meeting affirmed the desire of Catholics and Jews to stand together in meeting the immense challenges facing our communities in a rapidly changing world and, significantly, our shared religious duty to combat poverty, injustice, discrimination and the denial of universal human rights”.

 

The Holy Father emphasized that “one of the most important things that we can do together is bear common witness to our deeply-held belief that every man and woman is created in the divine image and thus possessed of inviolable dignity. This conviction remains the most secure basis for every effort to defend and promote the inalienable rights of each human being”.

 

Recalling a recent conversation between delegations of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, Benedict XVI stated that, on that occasion, “stress was laid on the need to promote a sound understanding of the role of religion in the life of our present-day societies as a corrective to a purely horizontal, and consequently truncated, vision of the human person and social coexistence”.

 

“The life and work of all believers”, he concluded, “should bear constant witness to the transcendent, point to the invisible realities which lie beyond us, and embody the conviction that a loving, compassionate Providence guides the final outcome of history, no matter how difficult and threatening the journey along the way may sometimes appear”.

 

 

Jewish and Muslim leaders join forces to combat xenophobia

Russian and Ukrainian Jewish and Muslim leaders meet in Kiev to discuss rise in Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia as part of month-long European efforts to heighten awareness and fight racism, extremism and discrimination.

By Shlomo Shamir from Haaretz.com

80 leading Jewish and Muslim leaders from across Ukraine and Russia met in Kiev
on Thursday May 12, pledging to work together to fight a rising cascade of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in the two countries.

 

In the first-ever “Muslims and Jews United Against Hatred and Extremism” conference held in the Ukrainian capital, community leaders from both countries heard chilling accounts of discrimination and abuse.

 

Conference participants spoke of the beating and harassment of Muslims and Jews in the two former Soviet republics, desecration of Muslim and Jewish cemeteries and bombings as well as other attacks on communal institutions of the two faiths.

 

The leaders pledged to work together to combat forces of extremism and hate and to put pressure on their local authorities to take a more assertive stand in fighting perpetrators of Islamophobic and anti-Semitic attacks.

 

Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU) and vice president of the World Jewish Congress, hailed the historic event in Kiev, commenting; “The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, together with our partners, is gratified to be standing in support of joint actions by Muslims and Jews in the former Soviet Union and across Europe.

 

He added that the meeting’s “purpose is to make clear that Jews and Muslims will be there for each other if either is being unfairly attacked, and will stand united in support ofprinciples of democracy and pluralism that will ensure a decent future for all Ukrainians and Russians.”

 

The Kiev conference was sponsored by the Ukrainian Jewish Committee and the Institute of Human Rights and the Prevention of Extremism and Xenophobia under the leadership of the noted Member of Parliament and business leader Oleksandr Feldman, in cooperation with FFEU.

 

80 Muslim and Jewish leaders from across Ukraine and Russia participated in the historic conference.

 

The Kiev conference was one of nine Muslim-Jewish events being held in countries in Europe during the month of May in commemoration of Europe Day.

 

Events opposing racism, extremism and prejudice against Muslims and Jews are being held in Britain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, in addition to the Ukraine throughout May, and are sponsored by FFEU, the World Jewish Congress, European Jewish Congress, World Council of Muslims for Interfaith Relations and the Muslim-Jewish Conference.

 

The events will culminate in Brussels on May 30, when top Jewish and Muslim leaders are to present a joint declaration to European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, committing to “resolve to work together to counter efforts to demonize or marginalize either of our communities. Bigotry against any Jew or any Muslim is an attack on all Muslims and all Jews. We are united in our belief in the dignity of all peoples.”

In the event that you did not have the chance to view “Flip Clips” on Channel 56 recently, you can watch a sample of these Jewish teen videos by going to the following website:

 

http://www.dptv.org/ondemand/special/flipclips.shtml

 

This is a project supported by the Jewish community to connect Jewish teens to their Judaism by assigning them the task of interviewing a Jewish adult and capturing what made them successful and connected to their faith!!

Donation will allow Claremont School of Theology
to train rabbis, imams!!
By Larry Gordon, Los Angeles Times
May 16, 2011
Gift from David and Joan Lincoln will add training programs for Muslim and Jewish clergy at the Claremont Shool of Theology, a United Methodist seminary.
Leaders of the Claremont School of Theology will announce Monday the gift of $40 million from an Arizona couple to help expand the Christian divinity institution into a university that will include training for Jewish and Muslim clergy.

The donation from David Lincoln, a Claremont trustee, and his wife, Joan, is the largest ever to the 126-year-old theology school, which enrolls about 240 students in master’s and doctorate programs in religion and counseling. The couple also gave $10 million to the school last year. The contributions will help the school transform itself into an unusual multifaith institution, to be named the Claremont Lincoln University in the couple’s honor, with enrollment expected to grow to about 600 over the next decade, officials said. The new university will offer interfaith degree programs and serve as an umbrella for three units: the existing Claremont School of Theology, which will continue to train students from its United Methodist base and other Christian denominations, and new divisions that will train rabbis and imams.

Those new units will be affiliated, respectively, with the Academy for Jewish Religion, California, a non-denominational rabbinical school based in Westwood, and the Islamic Center of Southern California, a mosque in Koreatown.

Jerry Campbell, Claremont School of Theology president, said the three divisions will control their own religious educations while collaborating in other areas. The Lincoln funds will help hire faculty, provide scholarships, improve the home campus in Claremont and develop online teaching tools linking the schools and allowing students to take classes from around the nation and the world, said Campbell, who is a United Methodist minister.

“It’s important for us that the participating partners maintain their own brands. We are not blending or merging. We are only looking for understanding, respect and the possibility of collaboration,” he said, adding that Buddhist, Hindu and other religions may join later. Campbell said he and the Lincolns want the schools to generate interfaith solutions for such social issues as homelessness.

A plan proposed last year to train Christian, Muslim and Jewish clergy in one college upset the United Methodist Church, which has sponsored and provided funding to the seminary since its founding. The tripartite structure was created to quell the controversy; the Christian unit alone will receive money from the church.

David Lincoln, a trustee of the theological school since 2003, is a Caltech-trained aerospace engineer and inventor who successfully invested in mining, technology and real estate. Joan Lincoln, a graduate of Scripps College in Claremont, is a ceramic artist and former mayor of Paradise Valley, Ariz., where the couple live.

“We believe the outcome of this kind of education will be tolerance and respect among religions,” David Lincoln said in a statement.

 

Christians, Muslims, Jews to Share

Sacred Texts

By Bob Allen
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
WASHINGTON (ABP) – Christian clergy across the country will organize readings from the Quran and other sacred texts Sunday, June 26, as part of an initiative to counter anti-Muslim bigotry and negative stereotypes of Islam.

Announced in a telephonic press conference May 17, Faith Shared: Uniting in Prayer and Understanding is a project of the Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First.

 

Welton Gaddy

“The anti-Muslim rhetoric that has pervaded our national conversation recently has shocked and saddened me,” said Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, a religious freedom organization that seeks to unite diverse faith voices against extremism.

Gaddy, an ordained Baptist minister, is also pastor of preaching and worship at Northminster Church in Monroe, La., one of 50 congregations in 26 states recruited so far to invite Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders to read each other’s sacred texts in order to send a message both in the United States and Arab world.

Contrary to highly publicized anti-Islam statements from some U.S. Christian leaders, Gaddy said churches involved in the Faith Shared project “want to read each other’s scriptures instead of burn them.”

Tad Stanke of Human Rights First, a human-rights advocacy organization with offices in New York and Washington, said tactics that show disrespect for Muslims hurt the reputation of all Americans and make it harder for the U.S. to speak with authority on human-rights issues in the Arab world.

Washington National Cathedral will serve as anchor congregation for the June 26 scripture readings.

“Few things are more important for the future of our world than to respect, to honor and to commit ourselves to the well-being of every person,” said National Cathedral Dean Sam Lloyd. “As Americans and people of faith, we must use our great traditions to come together for mutual enrichment and understanding.”

By coming together to read from and hear each other’s sacred texts, organizers believe Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy will model respect and cooperation in ways that create concrete opportunities to build and strengthen working ties between their faiths.

“This initiative is good for religion and good for our nation,” Gaddy said.

Information about how to organize a service and a list of participating churches can be seen at www.FaithShared.org.

 

Check out this Odyssey Network video featuring Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf speaking about Interfaith Harmony and featuring Metro Detroit’s Muslim community!!

 

http://odysseynetworks.org/video/odyssey-networks/imam-feisal-abdul-rauf-interfaith-harmony

Malick’s ‘Tree of Life’ is award-winning

film on prayer

from David Crumm, Readthespirit.com

Review of ‘Tree of Life,’ a startling spiritual meditation
Opens in NYC and LA May 27; coming to other cities soon

Coming to the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor on June 17th!!

In the press coverage so far of director Terence Malick’s triumph at the Cannes film festival with “Tree of Life,” reporters seem uneasy about a central theme of Malick’s masterpiece: Prayer. Rather than write about Malick’s fascinating, mystical, speculative exploration of what most Americans would simply call “prayer”-journalists, so far, have been focusing on typical Hollywood news about the movie. And there’s so much Tinseltown buzz in this 138-minute movie that it’s easy to be distracted:

  • There are perpetual auras surrounding the movie’s stars: Brad Pitt and Sean Penn.
  • Then, there’s this shock: “Tree of Life” is a major feature film with so little traditional storyline that it’s more of a poem than a traditonal plot.
  • The film’s epic sweep includes stunning scenes of distant galaxies and digital recreations of dinosaurs roaming our planet-in addition to a family’s tiny back yard in 1950s Texas. It’s a head-snapping journey.
  • Then, there’s the reclusive personality of director Terence Malick who has refused to give interviews since the 1970s and is so shy that he didn’t show up at Cannes to pick up the top prize.

That’s enough to keep TMZ humming-without ever mentioning this masterpiece’s central theme: Prayer. Beyond Hollywood gossip mongers like TMZ, even serious film critics don’t seem willing to contemplate such a fine-arts approach to prayer. In the current New Yorker magazine, film critic Richard Brody stumbles his way through a very long review of the film before finally trying to grapple with the prayer theme in this awkward way:

Almost all the folks in “The Tree of Life” devote more time to murmurs, cries, and whispers, confided to us from the prison of their own heads, than to conversing with their fellow humans, and, while the result will sound to some like a prayer, others may find it increasingly lonely and locked, and may themselves pray for Ben Hecht or Billy Wilder to rise from the dead and attack Malick’s script with a quiver of poisonous wisecracks. “Brother” and “Mother” are the first things that we hear, followed, not long after, by the plea: “What are we to you?” This is uttered by the mother, although it could equally have come from the lips of Job.

Apparently, it’s impossible to call a prayer-“a prayer”-in the pages of the New Yorker and take it seriously. And, if the prayer theme in this movie actually is a prayer theme-well, then the New Yorker review wants us to know that many sophisticated viewers will hate that idea.

The truth is: The vast majority of Americans say they pray on a regular basis and prayer is a vital part of their lives. For most of us-and for honest saints like Dorothy Day and Mother Teresa-prayer isn’t a process of automatically pushing Divine buttons. Prayer often is angry, frustrating or-to borrow form Brody’s review-real prayer often is a cry “from the prison of our own heads” and often feels “lonely and locked.” If you doubt that truth, then just read more about the prayer lives of saints like Day and Teresa.

The film opened at the Cannes Film Festival in France on May 16, where it won the coveted Palme d’Or-a prize that heralded other masterpieces, including “Taxi Driver” and “Apocalypse Now.” That same day, the film’s distributors were previewing the film here in the U.S. for a handful of newspapers and online magazines, including ReadTheSpirit. We were specifically invited to a screening to judge how “the religious community” might feel about this movie.

The answer is: Most of the religious community will LOVE this film and will discuss it in small groups, sermons from pulpits, pastors’ newsletters and in a wide range of religious media. The problem, at this point, is: Most religious leaders haven’t even heard of the film.

How do I know that religious response? This week, I conducted one of our in-depth interviews with the famous advocate of contemplative prayer, Richard Rohr. (We’ll publish the Rohr interview in about two weeks, focusing on his new book Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.) In the interview, I briefly summarized this movie review for Rohr, who responded: “Oh! From what you’re telling me, I’m eager to see this. What you’re describing reminds me of Mother Teresa’s dark night of the soul, which surprised so many people when they learned about it in her writings. Journalists had trouble dealing with Mother Teresa’s dark night, as well.”

The plot of this film-what plot there is-involves the tragic death of an adult son in that Texas family headed by Brad Pitt. Some media reports say that Malick himself suffered the suicide of a brother many years ago and this film is the most autobiographical of all his cinematic works. Perhaps that’s true. In any case, after news of the son’s death in the opening minutes of “Tree of Life,” we hear prayers over and over again. We hear various characters in various settings crying out to-well, crying out to Something larger than their own life. I would call that Something “God” in many scenes of the film. I would call one sequence very much a vision of “Heaven.”

But, the whole point is: You should see the film yourself and ponder the images, the faces, the voices-listen to the cries that arise across the generations of this family. This truly is a masterpiece-deserving of Cannes’ top honor. The film opens in “limited release” today. You’ll have to watch for this movie to arrive in your part of the United States. You may have to drive farther than normal to see this movie.

Yes, Islam is a religion

By Leonard Pitts, Jr. Detroit Free Press, Friday, May 27, 2011

 So, it turns out Islam is a religion. Imagine that.

Granted, this would be considered self-evident by most of us, but it has been a matter of great controversy in the Tennessee town of Murfreesboro, where 17 people went to court last year to prevent a group of Muslims from building a mosque — on their own land.

The need to defend this fundamental right was only one of the ordeals visited upon the Muslims of Murfreesboro, who have also faced threats, vandalism and arson. As recently, vividly illustrated in “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door,” a troubling CNN documentary, the antagonists here are a clownish band of bigots scared witless by the prospect that a new mosque will be built in their community by a congregation that has already worshiped there for 30 years.

The 17 had contended Muslims have no constitutional freedom to worship because Islam is not a religion. So the statement at the top of this column represents not just self-evident truth, but an actual recent ruling by an actual judge in an actual court. Seriously.

Chancellor Robert Corlew, the aforementioned actual judge, was obliged to verify that Islam — which has survived 14 centuries and claims a billion and a half adherents — is a religion.

As reported in the Daily News Journal of Murfreesboro, in throwing out most of the plaintiff’s case, Corlew also dismissed claims that “Kevin Fisher, an African-American Christian, would be subject to being a second-class citizen under Shari’a law; Lisa Moore would be targeted for death under Shari’a law because she’s a Jewish female; Henry Golzynski has been harmed because he lost a son fighting in Fallujah, Iraq, by insurgents pursuing jihad as dictated by Shari’a law.”

Maybe you’re tempted to turn away in disgust. Yield not to temptation. We need to see this. This is what it looks like when a country loses its mind.

It looked like this in Germany in 1938 on Kristallnacht, in Rwanda in 1994 when the Hutus savaged the Tutsis, in America in 1942 when the Japanese were herded behind barbed wire.

My point is explicitly not that Muslims face mass vandalism, genocide or internment. Lord only knows what they face. Rather, my point is that the psychological architecture of what happened then is identical to the psychological architecture of Murfreesboro now. Once again, we see people goaded by their own night terrors, hatreds, need for scapegoats, and by the repetitive booming of demagogues, until they go to a place beyond reason.

And in that place inevitably lies a dark night of malice, destruction and awful deeds that seem like good ideas at the time. When it passes, like a fever, we — the doers and those who simply observe — are left shivering in a cold dawn as reason reasserts itself, wondering how barbarism overtook us, what broke loose inside us, and vowing that it will never happen again. Never again.

Me, I don’t fear Muslims. I fear Muslim extremists. I fear extremists, period. And that group in Murfreesboro, make no mistake, are extremists.

Against their extremism, I find bitter succor in the inevitability of that cold dawn. Yes, there will come a morning after. But first we must learn how dark this night will be.

LEONARD PITTS JR. is a columnist for the Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla. 33132. Write to him at lpitts@miamiherald.com .

Five Women Five Journeys: How Different Are We?
WISDOM Women together

This unique WISDOM program features personal stories of women of different faith traditions – how their childhood impacted their beliefs today, what the challenges are for women in their faith tradition, what parts of their religion are misunderstood, how reaching out to someone from a different faith has enriched their lives.
To inquire about a Five Women Five Journeys Program for your organization, contact Elaine Schonberger at bookfairmama@comcast.net or Paula Drewek at Drewekpau@aol.com .
Check out the latest story about a friendship that crosses religion, race, or ethnic boundaries at www.friendshipandfaith.com.
Email Gail Katz at gailkatz@comcast.net if you have a personal story for the friendshipandfaith.com website!!
LINKS THAT YOU CAN USE FOR MORE INFORMATION!!

1) Go to http://www.readthespirit.com/religious-holidays-festivals/ for fascinating information about upcoming Religious holidays that your neighbors of different faith traditions may be celebrating!!

2) Go to http://www.readthespirit.com/were-making-news/ for a listing of all the articles written about the WISDOM Book Friendship and Faith: the WISDOM of Women Creating Alliances for Peace.

Go to our WISDOM websites at www.interfaithwisdom.org

Read our interfaith story of the week from our book Friendship and Faith,

and find the link to buy the book at

Amazon at

Contact Information

 

Gail Katz gailkatz@comcast.net
phone: 248-978-6664

 

Join Our Mailing List 

BECOME A FRIEND OF WISDOM! Click on this link to go to the WISDOM website (right side of home page) to print out form to support WISDOM.

WISDOM Newsletter – May 2011

Written by WISDOM on . Posted in Newsletters

THE WISDOM WINDOW

 

MAY 2011

WISDOM
WISDOM Calendar of Events

 SEE WISDOM’S WEBSITE FOR MORE DETAILS!!
 
Wednesday, May 11th
Five Women Five Journeys sponsored by the AAUW (American Association of University Women) at Plum Hollow Country Club, 21631 Lahser Rd., Southfield, 1:00 PM
Thursday, June 30th through Friday, July 1st
Five Women Five Journeys at the Bay View Association, Petoskey, MI.  Thursday evening 7:00 PM, Friday morning, Meet and Greet the WISDOM Women.
YOU ARE INVITED TO WISDOM’S
ANNUAL FRIENDS RECEPTION!!
MAY 15TH, 3:00 – 5:00 PM
TROY COMMUNITY CENTER
ROOM 304
3179 LIVERNOIS
TROY 48083
 
If you are a Friend of WISDOM (a financial supporter) or would like to learn more about WISDOM, please join us at our annual Friends reception.
 
Our WISDOM program will give you an opportunity to meet the WISDOM Board and other Friends of WISDOM in an informal atmosphere.  There will be appetizers and desserts, drawings for door prizes, and an opportunity to purchase WISDOM’s book entitled “Friendship and Faith: The WISDOM of Women Creating Alliances for Peace.”
 
Our Friends are an integral partner in everything we do.  Together we have provided food for the needy, backpacks to homeless children, and we have engaged the community on topics of common interest – most recently interfaith discussions on angels in religion and how faith communities are dealing with the lack of clean water worldwide.  Together we have challenged stereotypes and prejudice by sharing our stories – either in print with our WISDOM book, on our website www.friendshipandfaith.com, or in person at our signature presentation “Five Women Five Journeys.”  Most of all, we have empowered women through the friendships we have nurtured and the hearts and minds that we have opened.
 
If you are interested in joining us please contact Padma Kuppa by email at padma.kuppa@gmail.com no later than May 9th.
 
The Women of the WISDOM Board look forward to meeting you!!
 
 
 

Frankel Students Welcome

Catholic Students to Class

Members of the Diversity Club at Gabriel Richard Catholic High School in Riverview joined Diversity Club members at Frankel Jewish Academy on Thursday in West Bloomfield.

By Timothy Rath (West Bloomfield Patch, April 8, 2011)

Some high schools host programs designed to help students get to know one another. The Frankel Jewish Academy Diversity Club took that a step further Thursday when it hosted students from Gabriel Richard Catholic High School of Riverview to help all the teens get to know others of a different faith.

“When we leave and go into college, it’s important to know that you can find similarities and relate with others,” said Frankel club president Anna Eisenberg, 18, of Birmingham. “This way, we get a feel of their religious aspect. They come here and do the same. It’s a way for us to connect as religious-based schools and make friends.”

Eisenberg said she helped found the Diversity Club three years ago with Lisa Gilan, FJA director of student life, and that Gabriel Richard students had been coming to FJA for “a couple of years prior” to founding the club. Gilan said participation within the exchange program this year is as high as ever.

“This is the third time that we’ve gotten together this year – we went to the Holocaust Memorial Museum (in Farmington Hills) last fall, and we visited their campus last fall as well,” said Gilan. “As kids graduate and we bring in different classes, we’re seeing an increase in participation in both this (exchange) program and the Diversity Club.”

Cheryl Knapp, campus minister at Gabriel Richard, confirmed that interest in her school’s Diversity Club is on the rise as well. “Some of the kids here today aren’t members of the club, but they want to be next year, and they asked if they could come,” she said.

Sixteen students from Gabriel Richard came to study Thursday at FJA in eight classes, including Israel advocacy, Bible, Talmud, Hebrew language and ethics. The classes were spread out between two periods, and students from both clubs joined each other for lunch.

Eisenberg, a senior who has been accepted to Emery University (GA) and the University of California Los Angeles, said having Gabriel Richard students visit her class was an experience as interesting as her visiting their campus last fall.

“I went to a theology class at Gabriel Richard, and they asked me questions, and I told them my feelings, and it was interesting to have that kind of perspective,” she said.

“It was definitely interesting to hear them discuss Israel,” Eisenberg said. “A class like Hebrew language isn’t necessarily as engaging, but a class like Israel advocacy is, in my opinion, not just relevant to Jewish kids.”

At lunch, students publicly exchanged different questions they had written pertaining to faith and culture of Judaism and Catholicism. Gilan said the question-and-answer session was especially important to the program, in order to bring more attention to the differences and similarities between the two groups.

“They can easily connect on a teenage level in class in terms of interests, but we want them to connect deeper – religious traditions or family life or maybe where our things differ, and how the two intertwine,” she said.

“We don’t want to isolate ourselves within the Jewish community,” Gilan said. “We want to learn about other cultures.”

WORLD VIEWS SEMINAR  ON
AMERICAN RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY
COMING SOON!!
 
JUNE 20-25, 2011
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN-DEARBORN
 
Enroll in this class for a six-day experience-based seminar designed to introduce you to foundational information about the beliefs and practices of several of the world’s religions.
Learn about Baha’i, Buddhism, Chinese and Japanese Traditional Religions, Christianity, First Peoples and Native Traditions, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism.
 
For registration, cost and more information contact
Sharie Beard
University of Michigan-Dearborn
(313) 593-4925

 

Join the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding for their 2011 Spring Reception and Conversation on

IMMIGRANTS AND URBAN AMERICA:

PARK 51, PLURALISM, AND POLITICAL COURAGE

SATURDAY, MAY 14, 2011

ARAB AMERICAN NATIONAL MUSEUM

(13624 Michigan Ave., Deaborn 48126)

4:00 – 5:30 PM Registration, Networking & Museum Tour

5:30 PM Program begins with Fatima Shama

(Fatima Shama was appointed by Mayor Bloomberg as Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs in 2009. Prior to her appointment, Ms. Shama served as the Senior Education Policy Advisor in the Mayor’s Office. Ms. Shama

has worked for a number of community-based organizations in the City including serving as Executive Director of the Greater Brooklyn Health Coalition, managing the Urban Horizons program at the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation in the Bronx.)

Purchase tickets online at www.ispu.org or eventregistration@ispu.org or call 734-578-6088

The Baha’i Holiday of RIDVAN – submitted by Paula Drewek, WISDOM Incoming President.

The Revelation born in Tehran’s dungeon in 1853 was proclaimed to friends and followers in the Najibiyyih Garden outside of Baghdad during Baha’u’llah’s sojourn there from April 21 to May 2, 1863. This proclamation is celebrated by Baha’is as the 12-day Festival of Ridvan, meaning Paradise. Paradise is evoked as the Time of religious renewal rather than a specific place.  Baha’u’llah writes:

“This is the Day whereon the Ocean of God’s mercy hath been manifested unto men, the Day in which the Day Star of His loving-kindness hath shed its radiance upon them, the Day in which the clouds of His bountiful favour have overshadowed the whole of mankind.  Now is the time to cheer and refresh the down-cast through the invigorating breeze of love and fellowship, and the living waters of friendliness and charity…”  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings, 7)

It represents the spiritual springtime when God’s ancient Faith is renewed once again and assures humanity of a divine order to the universe and the renewal of the Eternal Covenant with humanity. “The universe which Baha’u’llah discloses to our minds is uplifting, wonderful and glorious.  It discloses the sovereignty of God and His purpose in creating man.  It makes science and religion equal partners in every man’s philosophy…and prescribes the parameters of human conduct and the mores of God’s Kingdom on this earth.” (Hoffman, Baha’u’llah, 31-32)

 Let us step back in time to those seminal events in 1853 and witness the birth of this revelation in Baha’u’llah’s own words “through which darkness hath been turned into light.”  “As to the dungeon in which this Wronged One and others similarly wronged were confined, a dark and narrow pit were preferable. Upon Our arrival We were first conducted along a pitch-black corridor, from whence We descended   three steep flights of stairs to the place of confinement assigned to Us. The dungeon was wrapped in thick darkness, and Our fellow prisoners numbered nearly a hundred and fifty souls: thieves, assassins and highwaymen. Though crowded, it had no other outlet than the passage by which We entered. No pen can depict that place, nor any tongue describe its loathsome smell. Most of these men had neither clothes nor bedding to lie on. God alone knoweth what befell Us in that most foul-smelling and gloomy place! “(Baha’u’llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, 19)

“During the days I lay in the prison of Tihran, though the galling weight of the chains and the stench-filled air allowed Me but little sleep, still in those infrequent moments of slumber I felt as if something flowed from the crown of My head over My breast, even as a mighty torrent that precipitateth itself upon the earth from the summit of a lofty mountain. Every limb of My body would, as a result, be set afire. At such moments My tongue recited what no man could bear to hear. “(Ibid. 22)

“One night, in a dream, these exalted words were heard on every side: “Verily, We shall render Thee victorious by Thyself and by Thy Pen. Grieve Thou not for that which hath befallen Thee, neither be Thou afraid, for Thou art in safety. Erelong will God raise up the treasures of the earth — men who will aid Thee through Thyself and through Thy Name, wherewith God hath revived the hearts of such as have recognized Him.” (Ibid. 19)

As to the vehicle of continuing revelatory experiences in that Black Pit, Baha’u’llah writes:

“While engulfed in tribulations I heard a most wondrous, a most sweet voice, calling above My head. Turning My face, I beheld a Maiden — the embodiment of the remembrance of the name of My Lord — suspended in the air before Me. So rejoiced was she in her very soul that her countenance shone with the ornament of the good pleasure of God, and her cheeks glowed with the brightness of the All-Merciful. Betwixt earth and heaven she was raising a call which captivated the hearts and minds of men. She was imparting to both My inward and outer being tidings which rejoiced My soul, and the souls of God’s honoured servants.  Pointing with her finger unto My head, she addressed all who are in heaven and all who are on earth, saying: By God! This is the Best-Beloved of the worlds, and yet ye comprehend not. This is the Beauty of God amongst you, and the power of His sovereignty within you, could ye but understand. This is the Mystery of God and His Treasure, the Cause of God and His glory unto all who are in the kingdoms of Revelation and of creation, if ye be of them that perceive. This is He Whose Presence is the ardent desire of the denizens of the Realm of eternity, and of them that dwell within the Tabernacle of glory, and yet from His Beauty do ye turn aside. “(Baha’u’llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts,  5)

“Baha’u’llah kept these experiences to Himself and would not reveal His true station for some time to come.  Meanwhile, His enemies continued to plot His demise.”  (Bowers, God Speaks Again, 32)

Thus  we turn to Baghdad, Iraq for the events that occasion this most holy of Baha’i Festivals.  The Najibiyyih Garden is situated on the East bank of the Tigris River.  “There He received guests from every walk of life who came from the city to pay their respects and to beg Him to stay.”  (God Speaks Again, 56)  He was being exiled yet again by order of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire to its capital of Constantinople.  A few of his companions and family would accompany Him but those who would be left behind were disconsolate.   To a small group of followers gathered in this garden, Baha’u’llah disclosed that He was the One fortold by the Bab, (His Forerunner) the “One Whom God would make Manifest”.  The majority of the world’s peoples were oblivious of this announcement and the series of events it would set in motion.  And we have little information on the circumstances that occasioned it.  However, the eyewitness accounts of Nabil (author of The Dawnbreakers) described those days in the garden:

“Every day ere the hour of dawn, the gardeners would pick the roses which lined the four avenues of the garden, and would pile them in the centre of the floor of His blessed tent. So great would be the heap that when His companions gathered to drink their morning tea in His presence, they would be unable to see each other across it. All these roses Bahá’u’lláh would, with His own hands, entrust to those whom He dismissed from His presence every morning to be delivered, on His behalf, to His Arab and Persian friends in the city… One night, the ninth night of the waxing moon, I happened to be one of those who watched beside His blessed tent. As the hour of midnight approached, I saw Him issue from His tent, pass by the places where some of His companions were sleeping, and begin to pace up and down the moonlit, flower-bordered avenues of the garden. So loud was the singing of the nightingales on every side that only those who were near Him could hear distinctly His voice. He continued to walk until, pausing in the midst of one of these avenues, He observed: ‘Consider these nightingales. So great is their love for these roses, that sleepless from dust till dawn, they warble their melodies and commune with burning passion with the object of their adoration. How then can those who claim to be afire with the rose-like beauty of the Beloved choose to sleep?’ For three successive nights I watched and circled round His blessed tent. Every time I passed by the couch whereon He lay, I would find Him wakeful,

and every day, from morn till eventide, I would see Him ceaselessly engaged in conversing with the stream of visitors who kept flowing in from Baghdad. Not once could I discover in the words He spoke any trace of dissimulation.”(Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha’u’llah v 1, p. 275)

On the day of His departure from Baghdad, the agitation of the citizenry is described by an eyewitness:  “”The great tumult, associated in our minds with the Day of Gathering, the Day of Judgment, we beheld on that occasion.  Believers and unbelievers alike sobbed and lamented.  The chiefs and notables who had congregated were struck with wonder.  Emotions were stirred to such depths as no tongue can describe, nor could any observer escape their contagion.”  Baha’u’llah departed the city on a red roan stallion, the finest his devotees could purchase for Him, as throngs  gathered to bow their heads and even kiss the stirrups of his horse.  He dispensed alms on his way, was ferried across the Tigris and addressed the people with these final words:

“O My companions, I entrust to your keeping this city of Baghdad in the state ye now behold it, when from the eyes of friends and strangers alike, crowding its housetops, its streets and markets, tears like the rain of Spring are flowing down, and I depart.  With you it now rests to watch lest your deeds and conduct dim the flame of love that gloweth within the breasts of its inhabitants.”

 

During the 12 days of Ridvan (pronounced Rizvan) the first, ninth, and twelfth days are holy days for Baha’is on which work is suspended.  Celebrations are held in Baha’i communities featuring talks, readings, dramas and music commemorating these events. In addition, local spiritual assemblies are elected annually on the first day of Ridvan and national leadership councils (spiritual assemblies) are elected during this twelve-day period. 

NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER IS ON MAY 5TH!! 

Join the Troy-area Interfaith Group

As they celebrate together!!

“Prayer: It’s In Every One of Us”

Thursday, May 5th at 7 PM

at Troy First United Methodist Church

6363 Livernois, Troy, 48098

(North of Square Lake, West side)

A goodwill offering will be taken to benefit Red Cross International Relief efforts, and Troy People Concerned.  Refreshments after the program. You are welcome to bring snacks to share, but please arrive at least 15 minutes before the program begins if you are bringing food.

 
Jewish Historical Society Led a Bus Tour of Four Historic Detroit church Buildings That Were Formerly Synagogues on Thursday, April 7, 2011
by Gail Katz, WISDOM Co-Founder
I was fortunate to be one of the passengers on a Jewish Historical tour through Detroit on April 7th to view The Church of God in Christ Bailey Cathedral (formerly Congregation Adat Shalom), New Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church (formerly Congregation B’nai David), St. Paula A.M.E. Zion Church (formerly Congregation B’nai Moshe) and Clinton Street Greater Bethlehem Temple of the Apostolic Faith (formerly Congregation Shaarey Zedek).
I was quite taken with the Judaica still present in the stones of the walls, the doors and the pulpits in the sanctuaries, along with the stained glass windows.  The juxtaposition of the Jewish symbols next to the Christian crosses and images of Jesus tugged at my heart strings as a devoted interfaith activist.  I thought I would share some of the photos with the readers of the WISDOM WINDOW!!
Bailey Cathedral
  Judaica from the Bailey Cathedral
Jewish Theological 1
Christian and Jewish symbols side by side
Jewish Theological 5
  The Jewish star in the ceiling of one of the historical churches
Jewish Theo 6
  Crosses in the windows of the Bailey Cathedral juxtaposed to the Hebrew lettering that says Beit HaKnesset Adat Shalom (Adat Shalom Synagogue) in the next photo.
If you are interested in this fascinating tour, contact the Jewish Historical Society at 248-432-5517 or info@michjewishhistory.org
Freedom Journeys

Freedom Journeys

by Rabbi Arthur O. Waskow and

Rabbi Phyllis O. Berman

Special to the Jewish News

This book related the themes of Passover to our own modern-day

struggles – from the climate crisis and environmental destruction to corporate greed and personal arrogance.

If a pharaoh fell in the Red Sea but nobody told the story, did it actually happen? No.

If no pharaoh fell in the Red Sea, but we told the story for 3,000 years, did it actually happen? Yes. Is it still happening? Yes. To people brought up in the modern mode of focusing on cold, hard facts, these responses may seem ridiculous. Either something happened, or it didn’t. But suppose we can find no evidence beyond the Bible that our ancient stories of Exodus and wandering in the wilderness actually happened the way we have learned them? Shall we throw them out? Or is there some profound value for our generation in retelling the story of Exodus, of Sinai and of Wilderness? The two of us concluded that there is indeed deep wisdom in reframing and retelling the story, and that is why we wrote Freedom Journeys: The Tale of Exodus and Wilderness Across Millenia (Jewish Lights;$24.99), paying especially close attention tothe transformative roles of women and ofecological upheavals that have often beendownplayed in previoustellings of the story.Modern historians andarcheologists have so far

found little evidence outside the biblical text that the Exodus ever happened, yet the story lives, more powerful than its factuality, because it speaks to deep strands of arrogance, fear, despair and courage in the human process. Far beyond the Jewish community, it has influenced not only the religious traditions of Christianity and Islam, but also the life of black America and many modern secular liberation movements rooted in class, nation, culture and gender. It has even influenced efforts to free and heal the Earth from destructive exploitation. The pharaoh motif invoked in news coverage of the recent Egyptian upheaval that overthrew Hosni Mubarak was certainly due not only to geographic accident, but also to the nature of tyranny and popular resistance. And the issues are not only macropolitical, but apply also to the spiritual and psychological struggles of individual human beings confronting their own “internal pharaohs,” when one aspect of the self takes over the whole person, twisting and perverting a person’s humanity by turning other facets of the self into slaves that yearn for freedom and full integration.

As T. S. Eliot wrote, “April is the cruelest month, mixing memory with desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.” Mixing memory with desire – weaving together our memory of the past with our hope for the future, a profound description of the intertwining of Exodus with Passover, Passover with Palm

Sunday, Moses with Martin Luther King, Jr. “Mixing memory with desire” is what the biblical account of Exodus does by weaving together the description of the Exodus itself as a moment in the utter present – hope and desire turned into action – with detailed instructions of how to celebrate that transformative moment, remembering it through festivals far into the future. Looking at the world today, we see the whole human race, the whole planet in a crisis that reminds us of the archetypal tale of Pharaoh and the Ten Plagues, which were ecological disasters brought on by Pharaoh’s arrogance, stubbornness and brutality. Today it is the arrogance of some powerful human institutions that, according to an overwhelming majority of the world’s climatologists, oceanographers and epidemiologists, is leading to the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere heating up in a way that is already disrupting climate patterns and

is likely to bring about radical changes in polar and high-mountain ice, ocean levels, droughts, crops and distribution of disease. These predictions warn of huge movements of new kinds of refugees, deepening

the gulf between the extremely rich and the desperately poor, and could lead to the widespread collapse of many governments. In short, to what the Torah calls “plagues.” But the echo of the Exodus story does not stop there. The ancient story sows the seeds of hope as well. A new community was born at Sinai

and tested in many experiments during the trek in Wilderness. Today, we are seeing the seeds sown for new forms of grass-roots community that curve across our globe. So we believe that whether the story of Pharaoh, the Exodus and the Wilderness “actually happened” or not, our present situation calls us to relearn and rethink the story. It calls upon us to learn in order to act.

Rabbis Arthur Waskow and Phyllis Berman

BAY VIEW 2011 SUMMER PROGRAM

ABOUT INTERFAITH INTERACTION

Bay View Association of the

United Methodist Church

Petoskey, MI

WISDOM Faces

THURSDAY, JUNE 30th   WISDOM WOMEN INTERFAITH PANEL

7:30 – 9:00 PM         Voorhies Hall

Five Women of different faith traditions

(Baha’i, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim)

share their journeys

FRIDAY, JULY 1st COFFEE AND CONVERSATION

WITH THE WISDOM WOMEN

9:30-11:00 AM         Evelyn Hall

FRIDAY, JULY 1st EXPLORING THE EMERGING INTERFAITH

MOVEMENT, 1:00 – 2:30 PM Loud Hall, Room 13

Gail Katz (WISDOM Co-Founder) and Deb Hansen

(Interfaith Chaplain) will offer their perspectives

and experience in the Interfaith Movement. Explore how Interfaith Interaction and Celebration are affecting today’s world!!

 Cover of WISDOM Book

 

WEDNESDAY, JULY 6, FRIENDSHIP AND FAITH:

THE WISDOM OF WOMEN CREATING

ALLIANCES FOR PEACE

A BOOK DISCUSSION

1:00  – 2:30 PM    Loud Hall, Room 12

After having had the opportunity to meet several of the contributors to WISDOM’s book, Friendship and Faith, you will now have the chance to share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences

with others.

WISDOM – Women’s Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue

and Outreach in MetroDetroit

www.interfaithwisdom.org             www.friendshipandfaith.com

Every community has a filmmaker …

Every community has teens it wants to engage …

Every teen wants to be heard …

Flips Clips gives a teen a voice!

The future of the Jewish community lies in its ability to meaningfully connect Jewish teens to southeast Michigan. Building on the positive acclaim of the documentary, Detroit Remember When: The Jewish Community, award winning film-makers Sue Marx and Allyson Fink Rockwell, Detroit Public TV and the Federation’s Alliance for Jewish Education joined forces to create a short film project  – Flip Clips.

Flip Clips transformed teens into modern day storytellers. It was designed to connect Jewish teens with their Detroit Jewish heritage, focusing on family and community, and ultimately encouraging them to plant their roots in the Detroit area.  Twenty -six teens participated, and the project was funded by community philanthropists, with major funding coming from the DeRoy Testamentary Foundation and the Stephen H. Schulman Millennium Fund.

Flip Clips airs on Detroit Public TV on Sunday, May 15th at 2:30pm. Its movie debut is Sunday, May 22nd at 2:30pm at the Lenore Marwil Film Festival at the Berman Theatre for the Performing Arts on the JCC W. Bloomfield Campus.

For more information contact Dana Loewenstein at dloewenstein@dptv.org   248 – 305-3721

Solidarity

700 surround Islamic Center to protest Terry Jones’ rally plans

BY NAOMI R. PATTON
DETROIT FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER 

Friday, April 22, 2011 

Some of the interfaith clergy – Muslim, Christian, and Jew – stood hand in hand, others stood linked arm in arm, silently surrounding the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn in solidarity this afternoon. With them stood about 700 people, members of the InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit, members of the clergies’ congregations, and

supporters. Standing around the perimeter of the Islamic center, their mission was to protest Florida pastor Terry Jones’ plan to hold a rally Friday afternoon outside the Islamic

Center mosque. Jones, known for burning the Q’uran – the Muslim holy book – a month ago as a protest against Islam was nearby at a Dearborn courthouse as Wayne County prosecutors and Dearborn police argued to make Jones pay a bond to cover the cost of

 security for the Dearborn rally. The vigil began at 5:15 PM and ended five minutes later. As the vigil came to a close, Islamic Center Imam Sayed Hassan Al-Qazwini said the Muslim community was “indebted to our Christian friends who have showed us absolute support.” “Terry Jones, he is not representative of the Christian community … Terry Jones is speaking for himself only,” Al-Qazwini said. “This is bigotry and we condemn his
bigotry.” Al-Qazwini and other Islamic Center officials also directed the Muslim
community to attend a peaceful protest at 4 p.m. Friday at the Dearborn Civic Center,
away from the mosque “so as to avoid any confrontation.”

Before the vigil, the InterFaith Leadership Council hosted a nearly one-hour “Vigil for the Beloved Community” program inside the Islamic Center.  A sign outside the large banquet hall read: “Pastor Terry Jones Does Not Speak on Behalf of Christians.” Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly Jr. and U.S. Rep. John Dingell,  a Dearborn Democrat, attended the event, along with the heads of Islamic, Christian and Jewish organizations.

Archbishop Allen Vigneron of the Archdiocese of Detroit also attended the event.  “We have an opportunity to show the nation and the world that it is possible for peoples of many different faiths to respect one another and to foster mutual understanding,” said Vigneron, who also spoke at the program.  The various speakers received frequent rounds of applause and standing ovations as they spoke in support of the Muslim community.

(End of Free Press Article)

 Solidarity at the mosque

The Rev. Dan Buttry and the Rev. Ken Flowers helped to organize the InterFaith Leaderhip Council solidarity rally at the Islamic Center of America on Thursday, April 21st!

David Crumm, publisher of Friendship and Faith and

creator of ReadTheSpirit.com

needs your help.

 

Below is David’s request!!

 

We are putting together a prayer from our many religious traditions, but we’re not using any of the traditional prayers.
We’re putting together a prayer in which each line begins, “Open my eyes to …”
We want a wide range of women to write 1 line — or 1 sentence beginning with those words.
No more than 1 sentence.
Please, email this back as soon as possible.

 

Send your prayers beginning with “Open my eyes to … “

 

to david.crumm@gmail.com

 

Community Volunteer Fair

Sponsored by Huron Valley’s celebration of

the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

National Day of Service.

www.HVMLKDay.org

Milford High School

Saturday, May 14th

12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m

Keep Huron Valley a reflection of the Beloved Community; where people of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds work together to create beautiful and safe neighborhoods! Join us on May 14!

Animal and humanitarian groups, beautification, maintenance, and outdoor clean-up projects for people of all ages! Opportunities for volunteering with dozens of local non-profit and charity organizations! This is your chance to help make a difference!

 THE MUSLIM UNITY CENTER

INVITES YOU TO ITS SEVENTH ANNUAL OPEN HOUSE

 

SUNDAY, MAY 1ST FROM 10:00 AM TO 5:00 PM

 

LEARN ABOUT ISLAMIC BELIEFS, VALUES, HERITAGE

(PRESENTATIONS AT 11:00 AM AND 2:00 PM)

 

LEARN FROM YOUR MUSLIM NEIGHBORS

 

HUMMOUS RECIPE FROM SCRATCH

CALLIGRAPHY BASICS

AUTHENTIC RUG IDENTIFICATION

COMMUNITY SERVICE EFFORTS

(GEMS AND ZAMAN INTERNATIONAL)

 

WIN COOL PRIZES

 

1830 WEST SQUARE LAKE ROAD

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, 48302

CONTACT US

248-857-9200

Openhouse@muslimunitycenter.org

GIGI SALKA, WISDOM EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBER

RECEIVED THE DIVERSITY CHAMPIONS AWARD

AT THE BIRMINGHAM COMMUNITY HOUSE

ON THURSDAY, APRIL 28, 2011

 

CONGRATULATIONS
GIGI!!
Gigi and her mother at the Diversity Champions Breakfast

Gigi photo 1

 

and below Gigi and her father

 

Gigi photo 2

 

Five Women Five Journeys: How Different Are We?
 WISDOM Women together

This unique WISDOM program features personal stories of women of different faith traditions – how their childhood impacted their beliefs today, what the challenges are for women in their faith tradition, what parts of their religion are misunderstood, how reaching out to someone from a different faith has enriched their lives.
To inquire about a Five Women Five Journeys Program for your organization, contact Elaine Schonberger at bookfairmama@comcast.net or Paula Drewek at Drewekpau@aol.com .
Check out the latest story about a friendship that crosses religion, race, or ethnic boundaries at www.friendshipandfaith.com.
Email Gail Katz at gailkatz@comcast.net if you have a personal story for the friendshipandfaith.com website!!
LINKS THAT YOU CAN USE FOR MORE INFORMATION!!

 1)  Go to http://www.readthespirit.com/religious-holidays-festivals/ for fascinating information about upcoming Religious holidays that your neighbors of different faith traditions may be celebrating!!

2)   Go to http://www.readthespirit.com/were-making-news/ for a listing of all the articles written about the WISDOM Book Friendship and Faith: the WISDOM of Women Creating Alliances for Peace.

Go to our WISDOM websites at www.interfaithwisdom.org

Read our interfaith story of the week from our book Friendship and Faith,

and find the link to buy the book at

Amazon at

 
Contact Information

 

Gail Katz gailkatz@comcast.net
phone: 248-978-6664

Join Our Mailing List

BECOME A FRIEND OF WISDOM!  Click on this link to go to the WISDOM website (right side of home page) to print out form to support WISDOM.

WISDOM Newsletter – April 2011

Written by WISDOM on . Posted in Newsletters

THE WISDOM WINDOW

 

APRIL 2011

WISDOM
 

 WISDOM Calendar of Events

 SEE WISDOM’S WEBSITE FOR MORE DETAILS!!
 
Wednesday, May 11th
Five Women Five Journeys sponsored by the AAUW (American Association of University Women) at Plum Hollow Country Club, 21631 Lahser Rd., Southfield, 1:00 PM
Thursday, June 30th through Friday, July 1st
Five Women Five Journeys at the Bay View Association, Petoskey, MI.  Thursday evening 7:00 PM, Friday morning, Meet and Greet the WISDOM Women.
INTERFAITH ARTICLES OF INTEREST

 

Here are two articles about interfaith interaction between the

Muslim and Jewish Communities.

 

1)  Please go to the following website to read about what’s going on in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

http://www.jewishexponent.com/article/22536

 

2)  The Following article describes interfaith initiatives in Dayton Ohio among the Abrahamic Faiths.

http://www.jewishdayton.org/page.aspx?id=235745&utm_source=MPACnews&utm_campaign=70eb0d058d-WD-2011-Is-Here&utm_medium=email

 

3)  This article describes the joint efforts between the Hindu and the Jewish communities of Houston, Texas!!

 

http://jhvonline.com/local-event-promotes-hindujewish-solidarity-p10396-96.htm

 

4)  How about a practical example of “Loving Your Enemy!!”

http://www.freep.com/article/20110325/NEWS05/103250361/1001/NEWS/Metro-Detroit-Muslims-hoping-welcome-controversial-Florida-pastor

3rd Annual International Conference on
Religion, Conflict, and Peace:”
Walking The Talk to Compassion and Harmony


April 8-10, 2011
Henry Ford Community College
Dearborn, Michigan USA


A Multi-disciplinary, Multi-cultural Conference

an Official Partner and Event of
the Charter For Compassion
and
the Parliament of World’s Religions

Sponsored by:
Common Bond Institute,
Co-Sponsored by:
Pathways To Peace, Henry Ford Community College,
International Humanistic Psychology Association,

Endorsed by over 100 universities and organizations internationally

Full Conference Details at:
www.cbiworld.org/Pages/Conferences_RCP.htm
(copy & paste address into your browser)

~ Registration is Open All ~


We Invite You To:
an inclusive, interactive 3-day public forum promoting Inter-religious and Intra-religious dialogue to explore the challenges of Extremism, Intolerance, Scapegoating, and Islamophobia, and the promise of Reason, Understanding, Compassion, and Cultural Harmony.

JOIN over 45 Presenters and Facilitators as we explore:
  1)  The mutual dilemmas of religious ignorance, extremism, intolerance, negative stereotypes, prejudice, demonization and dehumanization, scapegoating, and fear of “the other,” that lead to toxic divisiveness, polarization, and social paranoia, including the current example of Islamophobia and it’s impact on the Muslim community,
and
  2)  The promise of personal engagement through dialogue and practical applications in nurturing a shared consciousness of peace – and in doing so promoting the religious experience as a healing remedy rather than problem.

FORMAT:
An outstanding, diverse gathering of presenters for 3 Days of keynotes, workshops, panels, dialogue groups, live global links, film showings, social/cultural events, exhibits, multicultural community, and rich networking for collaborative action beyond the conference.

  ”It does not require that we be the same to be appreciative of, at peace with, and secure in our relationships with each other; only that we be familiar enough with each others story to share the humanity and trustworthiness that resides in each of us.”

LOCATION:    Henry Ford Community College
5101 Evergreen Rd., Dearborn, MI. USA

SCHEDULE:
  Fri. April 8, 10:00 am -to- Sun. April 10, 2:30 pm
       (On-site Registration opens 8:30 am)


FOR DETAILS on Proposals, Program, Registration, Fees, Program Ads, Exhibits, and previous conference Proceedings CONTACT:

Common Bond Institute
Details at Website:www.cbiworld.org
Steve Olweean, Conference Coordinator
12170 S. Pine Ayr Drive, Climax, MI 49034 USA
Ph/Fax: 269-665-9393    Email: SOlweean@aol.com

A PARTNERSHIP OF FRIENDSHIP

BY NIRAJ WARIKOO

FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

Despite their differences, Metro Detroit’s Chaldean and Jewish communities have much in common. They share cultural roots in the Middle East with ancient language – Hebrew and Aramaic – that are related.  Many have run small businesses.  As Jewish store owners moved out of Detroit, Chaldeans often replaced them. And today, a major Chaldean center, Shenandoah Country Club, sits in West Bloomfield across from Temple Israel, a large synagogue.

“But they don’t really know each other as well as they could or should,” said Arthur Horwitz, publisher of the Detroit Jewish News.

So to help forge and enhance ties, Horwitz and Chaldean ldeaers developed the Building Community Initiative last year.  It is being funded with more than $150,000 from business, government and academic sponsors.  The initiative continues to grow with program aimed at drawing the groups together at community events – from teen forumns to cultural tours and business workshops.  The next major event in May is to feature a discussion in West Bloomfield about women’s issues in Jewish and Chaldean communities.

As a result of the initiative, Chaldeans are working to set up a fund that will finance start-up businesses in metro Detroit.  The idea stems from a meeting last year with Jewish business leaders at TechTown at Wayne State University.

In May, the program plans to publish a supplement to the Detroit Jewish News and the Chaldean News four times a year.  It will feature stories about the joint events and others in the communities – from holidays to food to politics.  The partnership has led to closer friendships, business ties and greater understanding.

“We have a lot more in common than differences,” said Martin Manna, co-publisher of the Chaldean news, which launched in 2004 with Horwitz’s help.  Before, “we really didn’t understand each other’s cultures.”

The emerging ties between the two communities have extended to othger projects as well.  A separate program aims to create a Chaldean community group to help uninsured patients; it’s modeled on a similar effort in the Jewish community, Porject Chessed, in West Bloomfield.  The Jewish community is providing mentoring.  Through their interactions, both sides have found things that bind them.  Mary Romaya, 66, a Chaldean who lives in Farmington Hills, grew up in northwest Detroit a block away from a synagogue.  Romaya is part of an arts and cultural committee with the initiative that has featured architectural tours of Chaldean and Jewish centers.

“We both have vibrant active communities,” Romaya said.  “This can only make the communities stronger.”

Chaldean News and JN

Detroit Jewish News publisher Arthur Horwitz, left, of West Bloomfield and Chaldean news co-publisher Martin Manna of Bloomfield Township flip through a compilation of the content from their publications that helped launch the Building Community Initiative.

The Women’s Social Action Initiative is bringing Jewish and Chaldean women together on May 3rd from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM at the Shenandoah Country Club in West Bloomfield for a “Getting To Know You” light supper.  On this evening the Jewish and Chaldean women will begin learning about each other with the goal of developing a joint social action project to benefit both communities.

Two prominent local Chaldean women will speak about the issues facing local Chaldeans and the disturbing situation for Christians in Iraq.  The keynote speakers for the evening will be Sathab Ousachi, an immigration attorney with the firm Ellis Porter, and a board member of the Chaldean Chamber of Commerce, and Ann Antone, who serves on the Executive Boards of the Chaldean American Ladies of Charity and the Chaldean Federation of America.

For more information contact Gail Katz at gailkatz@comcast.net

For the last several years, the Circle of Light and Hope, one of the Interfaith Encounter Association’s 37 ongoing dialog groups, has been discussing a very wide range of religious topics at our monthly meetings and retreats. Meetings take place in either the Gush Etzion or Har Gilo/ Beit Jalla area in Jerusalem, Israel, with retreats being either at the Everest Hotel near Har Gilo or at the Austrian Hospice in the Old City of Jerusalem. Recently, subsequent to the attack on a Mosque in the town of Beit Fajar, it was decided to discuss the idea of “Sacred Space” in each religion. At the end of this meeting, several of the Muslim members of the group asked if it might be possible for them to visit a synagogue at some point. Several of the group’s Jewish members, including myself, are members of Kehilat Yedidya in Baka, a Modern Orthodox synagogue which is both geographically convenient (walking distance from the Bethlehem checkpoint) and which regularly welcomes groups of non-Jewish visitors. So with warm encouragement from the synagogue’s leadership we decided to arrange a visit.

The group of 6 Muslim members of the Circle of Light and Hope arrived at about 3:30 PM, about an hour before the Sabbath began, in order to meet with the Jewish members who were present and spend a little bit of time learning about the structure and content of the Kabbalat Shabbat (Receiving the Sabbath) prayers. They were also given copies of the entire Kabbalat Shabbat prayer and much of the Maariv (evening) prayer in both English and Arabic. While we were studying the text of the prayers and customs/actions related to the prayers together, Drs. Yehuda Stolov and Taleb al-Hariti, the Muslim co-chair of the group, were interviewed by reporters from an Italian TV station. We then joined the synagogue members for a lovely, melodical and very peaceful Kabbalat Shabbat service.

The impact this visit had on all of us truly cannot be overstated; indeed it may have been the first time that Palestinian Muslims were welcomed into an Orthodox synagogue. We sincerely hope to be able to arrange more such visits to each other’s houses of worship in the very near future, in order to continue to break down walls of misunderstanding and build trust, friendship and respect.

Submitted by Rabbi Bob Carroll

 

 Stand Together: Rabbis Speak out against Islamophobia– Posted by Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster.

Ever since the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States, hatred and discrimination against Muslim Americans has been growing. Over the past year, the rhetoric has only gotten louder and more violent. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights protects the freedoms of religion, speech, and assembly. These are also essential American values. Yet across the United States today, we see attempts to prevent the construction of mosques, laws outlawing Sharia law, and the vilification of our Muslim neighbors and friends as un-American. Jewish historical experience remembers that not too long ago, we too were the victims of suspicion and hatred based on our religion and ethnicity. The actions of the few should not condemn the many, and every religion has its teachings both of violence and of peace. Jewish tradition demands that we remember the heart of the stranger, because we were strangers in the land of Egypt. If one minority can be singled out for congressional hearings or restrictions on places of worship, anyone can be.

These are not American values. These are not Jewish values. It is time to Stand Together and speak out against Islamophobia.

Rabbis For Human Rights – North America is part of the growing chorus of interfaith voices speaking out against anti-Muslim bigotry. We believe that prejudice toward Muslims was a contributing factor that led to U.S. acceptance of torture. We have become a member of “Shoulder-to-Shoulder: Standing with American Muslims; Upholding American Values,” a coalition of 23 religious organizations that are engaged in efforts to end anti-Muslim bigotry.

To view a series of videos from rabbis and rabbinical students explaining why Islamophobia is against Jewish values, go to http://www.rhrna.org/?p=1648. We encourage you to watch them and to share them with your community. We also encourage you to create your own video and upload it to YouTube tagged “rabbisagainstislamophobia.” We want to hear from you in your own words why bigotry against Muslims is wrong.

 

Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster

 Exploring the Easter Vigil

in the Roman Catholic Tradition

By Trish Harris

(WISDOM Co-Founder and Vice-President)

 

The Easter Vigil is known as the “Mother of All Vigils.” Its character is unique in the cycle of the liturgical year.  With a rich display of symbols, rites and readings, the church in worship expresses her faith in the mystery that brings her into being.  This special night is a four-fold celebration: Service of Light, Liturgy of the Word, Liturgy of Baptism and the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist.

 

St. Hugos of the Hills Catholic Church is offering a program on April 5th in the Parish Hall from 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM to explore the history, symbolism, rites and sacraments included in the Easter Vigil. There will also be an opportunity to attend the Easter Vigil on April 23rd at 8:00 PM in the church.  The Easter Vigil will last between two and three hours, depending on the number of people being baptized or confirmed.  While it would be helpful to attend the April 5th program, it is not a prerequisite for your attendance at the Easter Vigil.  There is no charge associated with the class or the service.  Registration is required!!

 

Please contact me if you wish to attend either or both.  I just need the name(s) of anyone wishing to attend.  You may register by emailing me at tharrismsq@att.net, or by calling me (Trish Harris) between 10 AM and 10 PM at 248-335-0964.

 

St. Hugos is located at 2215 Opdyke Road, Bloomfield Hills 48304 (between Woodward Avenue and Hickory Grove).

 

 

POPE’S INSISTENCE JEWS

DID NOT KILL JESUS BEING LAUDED

New book will aid in fight against anti-Semitism

By Catholic Online  3/6/2011

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

“Jewish groups and leaders worldwide welcome the clear declaration from Pope Benedict XVI that the Jewish

“My fervent hope is that your clarity and courage will strengthen the relations between Jews and Christians throughout the world and help promote peace and reconciliation for generations to come,” Netanyahu wrote in a letter. …”

people are not collectively responsible for the death of Jesus. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he will offer his “deep appreciation” to Benedict for his “forcefully rejecting … a false charge that has been a foundation for the hatred of the Jewish people for many centuries.”

Member, Muslim Writers Guild of America

Posted: February 21, 2011 07:13 PM

 A Muslim, a Christian, a Sikh and a Hindu Walk into a College Dorm Room … and Discover World Peace

So the story begins like this. Four students, an Ahmadi Muslim, a Protestant Christian, a Sikh and a Hindu are crammed into a tiny dorm room at Princeton University. Each comes out three days later, having discovered the solution for world peace. Yeah, seriously.

 

Last weekend, Princeton University hosted the 5th Annual Coming Together Interfaith Conference (CT5), a conference designed to counter a growing threat to our humanity: the gap in interfaith relations. While there were far too many inspirational attendees to mention, adherents from virtually every faith participated. There was Tom the Confuscist, who also happened to be a brilliant stand-up comedian. There was Cameron, the aspiring Christian Minister and Emily, an atheist with a zeal for humanity. There was Muhammad, a Muslim from Wake Forest with an incredible voice for Quranic recitation, and Irteza from Stanford, with a talent for Bengali music. Who can forget David, an Orthodox Jew who passionately sang G-d’s praises during Shabbat, and Connor, who sang about his love for the Pope. Silent but profound was Sunil the Buddhist-Hindu, and due credit to Rahul, a devout Hindu who coordinated an excellent presentation on spirituality in action.

But it’s the American spiritual inaction that defined the ultimate need of the CT5 event. As a nation we have become so accustomed to letting people tell us what to believe, that we all too rarely seek knowledge ourselves.

For example, at the CT5, I delivered a presentation on religious extremism that deliberately pushed people out of their comfort zones and forced them to think for themselves. The presentation asked non-Hindu’s to defend Hinduism in light of last year’s terrorist attacks perpetrated by “Hindus” on Christians. It asked Muslims to defend Judaism in light of devout “Jew” Baruch Goldstein’s 1994 massacre of 29 Muslims as they worshiped. Non-Christians were asked to defend Christianity in light of the Lord’s Resistance Army and their campaign to establish a “Christian” government in Uganda based on the Ten Commandments, through murder, rape and maiming. Non-Muslims were asked to defend Islam in light of the much reported terrorist activities of the “Muslim” Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

 

 

The result: while non-Christians defended Christianity quite well, for every other religion, there was an honest struggle. Lesson learned? Christianity was well defended because every single non-Christian in the room knew a Christian personally. Everyone had a Christian neighbor, co-worker, classmate, even family member. And this interaction was more powerful than the vitriol spewed from the likes of the KKK and WBC. Meanwhile, all too many had never met a Hindu on a personal level. Few had interacted with Jews, and even fewer had ever truly engaged a Muslim.
And on a national level, this precisely is where all too many individuals put up a guard and refuse to proceed. “It’s not my responsibility to reach out” is the most common objection. If [minority group here] is [positive attribute here] then they should come tell me at my [comfort zone here]. “Sure,” I reply, “But when was the last time you invited them in?” And if your reason for not inviting them in is the 30 second fear mongering clip you saw on [sole news channel here], then you’re not only part of the problem, but you’re a major reason why the problem persists.

 

One of the highlights of CT5 was an engaging lecture by Dr. Eboo Patel, a prolific writer and President of Interfaith Youth Core. Dr. Patel points out that in the late 19th Century, the Know Nothing Party, a political party that rose to power through fear and propagation of an imminent Catholic takeover, elected 75 members to Congress to proudly push their anti-Catholic agenda. In the mid-20th century, 47 percent of American college students surveyed proudly declared that they would never dare share a dorm room with a Jew. And now, in the early 21st century, we have the maniacal fear of Moozlums and their imminent shariah-enthralled domination of America. How else can you explain the 12 states (13 if you include Oklahoma) who have actually proposed anti-Shariah legislation? It took over half a century for Americans to break free of the shackles of religious bigotry and paranoia of Catholics and Jews, respectively. Do we really want to go another 50 years with Muslims?

Prophet Buddha taught that “The superior man acts before he speaks, and afterwards speaks according to his action.” St. Francis of Assisi wrote to “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary, use words.” Prophet Muhammad declared, “He who is not grateful to his fellow man, is not grateful to God.” Do we see a theme emerging? Until and unless we engage in actual interaction with our fellow man, and stop speaking when we have no actual personal experience, we resign ourselves to a fate of internal dissension and destruction. If you are a Christian, call a mosque and attend their Jummah service. If you are a Jew, call a Gurdwara and learn from the wisdom of Guru Nanak. If you are Hindu, attend a Catholic Mass at your local church. If you are Muslim, attend a Shabbat service at your local synagogue. Whoever you are and whatever you do, don’t do nothing.

This interfaith action is what the attendees of the CT5 Conference did last weekend. And guess what? No one lost their faith, but everyone joined a powerful movement to fight back against the cancers of bigotry and extremism that are threatening our humanity. And in joining this movement, they just might achieve world peace. Yeah, seriously.

 

 

 

The Interfaith Movement Deepens
by Philip Goldberg

Interfaith Minister

author of ‘American Veda: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West’

March 9, 2011

 

Last week I attended the festive opening of the Guibord Center at St. John’s Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles. Founded by the Rev. Dr. Gwynne Guibord, former Officer of Ecumenical and Interreligious Concerns for The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, the center’s mission is “to bring people together, to challenge assumptions, unleash The Holy and affirm the faith that transforms the world.”

Now, I have been to lots of interfaith programs that brought people together, challenged assumptions and affirmed faith. What got my attention was “unleash The Holy.” That and the tag line that follows the center’s name in its literature: “Religion Inside Out.” These were hints that an aspect of religion that had been virtually absent in interfaith gatherings — in Western religion in general, truth be told — was being affirmed. I refer to the inner experience of the Divine that has, historically, been associated with mysticism but is really the beating heart of every spiritual tradition.

When I’m asked why I became an interfaith minister, I usually say that I have commitment issues. It’s only a half joke. As a spiritual pragmatist, I’ve drawn from the wise ones of every tradition, and also from atheists, humanists and scientists. But I have often been disappointed with the interfaith movement. In the past, many gatherings resembled the setup to a bad joke: a priest, a minister and a rabbi walk into the room. A few clerics would expound on some topic from the perspective of their own traditions, usually comparing their beliefs, doctrines and rituals, or their positions regarding social problems. To their credit, the representatives would treat one another with dignity, and they would occasionally combine forces to take a stand on a pressing social issue or roll up their sleeves to tackle a local or national problem. But I would invariably leave feeling that the assembly wasn’t wide enough and the probing wasn’t deep enough. Where were the Buddhists and Hindus and Sikhs and Toaists? What about the pagans and the Wiccans and the indigenous peoples? And why no discussion of transcendence, let alone the sharing of practices toward that experience?

In short, I hoped to see the day when interfaith grew into something more like trans-faith, where people would come together not just to understand their differences, but to teach each other how to merge in the ultimate unity. As the great Christian mystic Thomas Merton wrote in 1967, “genuine ecumenism requires the communication and sharing, not only of information about doctrines which are totally and irrevocably divergent, but also of religious intuitions and truths which may turn out to have something in common.” Instead of just “polite diplomatic interests in other religions and their beliefs,” Merton called for us to tap “the inner and ultimate spiritual ‘ground’ which underlies all articulated differences.”

Over the years, I have seen a discernible trend toward that ideal. It was spurred largely by the growth of pluralism and mass communication; religious diversity is not only vastly broader in range than it was just a short time ago, it is also impossible to ignore. And much of that diversity consists of people from Eastern traditions whose attitude toward diversity is best expressed in the now-familiar verse from the Rig Veda: “Truth is One, the wise call it by many names.”

It was, therefore, with guarded optimism that I attended the Guibord Center inaugural. After sitting for two hours on a hard wooden pew, I stepped into the brisk, windswept afternoon with a sense of delight and buoyancy. Interfaith is coming of age, I thought. I had heard statements, prayers and invocations from an array of religious leaders, including a couple whose traditions I’d never heard of. And my spirit had been stirred by Buddhist chanters, Hindu bhajan musicians, Sikh singers, the Cathedral choir and a sublime trio consisting of a Jew, a Protestant and a Muslim — a kind of Three Tenors for the soul. There was even a meditation period, led by someone from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living Foundation. The only thing missing was representation from the “spiritual but not religious” cohort or someone like Greg Epstein, the humanist chaplain at Harvard. But such expansion can’t be far off.

That this event was held at the seat of an Episcopal diocese makes it seem especially significant. In truth, such gatherings are increasingly common. The growing depth and widening breadth of American spirituality seems inexorable. But since nothing is really inevitable, we all need to work at it, so it will seem inevitable to future generations when they look back at this period of religious history.

 

 

Tefillin photo

The “Tefillin Scare” on Alaska Airlines

By Rabbi Brad Hirschfield

Were the three men wrapping themselves in leather straps and mumbling in a foreign language on Alaska Airlines Flight 241, a security threat or were they Orthodox Jews preparing to pray in their tefillin, — amulets bound to the arm and head as part of traditional Jewish weekday prayer rituals? It was the latter, though the fact that the crew went into a high alert and locked down the flight deck for the duration of the flight, suggests that this is a story about security as well.

It’s not surprising that neither the crew, nor apparently anybody else, knew what was going on when the men began to put the small boxes attached with leather straps, on both their arms and foreheads. Although the ritual is rooted in the words of Deuteronomy 6:8, Bind them as a sign upon your arm, and as a symbol on your forehead, and was popular so early on that we have tefillin from the time of Jesus, it is unlikely that more than 10% of Jews currently engage in this practice with any regularity.

That being the case, it’s just not something with which lots of people are going to be familiar. That, and the fact that one does look pretty odd while wearing tefillin. I am one of the 10%, and I still know how “weird” I must look when I put them on in airports or on flights, except for those going to Israel!

So my concern is not that people don’t understand this practice, or that they may stare when they see me, or even that the three men on Flight 241 got hassled. My concern is that such ignorance and the inconvenience associated with it, while totally acceptable among people in general, is not acceptable among those who are responsible for security on an aircraft.

The case of Alaskan Airlines 241 reminds us that while tefillin are not a security threat, ignorance is. That the entire plane went into lockdown, that law enforcement resources on the ground were used both while the flight was in the air and after it landed, and many other needless, wasteful and distracting measures were taken to combat a non-threat, is itself a weakness in our security system.

Understanding is a primary weapon in the fight against terror and potential terror threats. The absence of understanding in this case, in cases of Muslims who simply wanted to engage in their prayer rituals, and so many other cases in which airline personnel had no idea how to distinguish between a genuine threat and an unusual practice, is troubling.

I fly a great deal, more than 100 flights a year, and appreciate the importance of airline security. I also appreciate that, as the announcement reminds us at the beginning of each flight, the crew is their “primarily for our safety”. Well, if that is the case, they have a great deal to learn about what constitutes a threat and what does not. And if it’s not their responsibility to understand what they are seeing, at the very least, someone on the ground, someone at the TSA, FBI, of Homeland Security, should be able to tell them when they ask.

I don’t believe this was a case of Anti-Semitism, as I am sure some will charge. Nor do I believe it is necessarily Islamophobia when Muslims get hassled for their practices. I do believe however, that when such things happen because those charged with keeping us safe lack the basic information and understanding which could keep things calmer and safer, we have a problem – one which we need to fix.

As travelers, we must accept a variety of more exhaustive searches which are designed to keep us safe. And just as we must accept new levels of inconvenience as we travel, those charged with keeping us safe must accept responsibility for learning more and understanding more about those they keep safe, about what does and what does not constitute a threat, etc.

Security is a partnership in which each of the partners must be more understanding – we, of the complexity of the job assumed by security personnel and airline workers, and they, of the complexity and diversity of the lives of those they protect.

Cokie Roberts
Below is the link to a very interesting audio recording and article about the interfaith Passover Haggadah written by Cokie Roberts (Christian) and her Jewish husband Steve.
WISDOM and the Bloomfield Township Public Library host “Water, Women, and WISDOM” on March 17th!!
Dima El-Gamal (Board Member of WISDOM) and Connie Silver, (Asst. Department Head of the library) work together to run the WISDOM event.
In the second photo are the four presenters on the lack of clean water, and how that impacts women and children globabally and locally.  They are Marcia Buck (Christian faith), Najah Bazzy (Muslim faith), Jan Katz (Jewish faith) and Amrutha Sakaray (HIndu faith).
Water Women and WISDOM 1
Water Women and WISDOM 2
 

How some Christians observe the Holy Week as explained by Rev. Linda Northcraft, minister of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Royal Oak, Michigan

 

Holy Week is the time for Christians to understand the significance of the life of Jesus Christ, not only in the context of his time and culture but also his presence now. In the fourth century, pilgrims initially traveled to Jerusalem to commemorate each day of the last week of Jesus’ life. Pilgrims visited the original locations to worship and follow the liturgies celebrated at that time. During Holy Week, we become pilgrims as we journey vicariously to Jerusalem to spend the last days of Jesus’ with the liturgies we celebrate each day. The drama of Jesus’ death unfolds each day and reaches its climax on Good Friday. Then the waiting begins for the resurrection of our Lord. To participate each day in liturgies enables us to understand more fully the meaning of God’s gift of the resurrection. Our worship allows us to live in the moment of Jesus’ life.

Holy Week begins with Palm Sundayand Jesus’ triumphalentrance into Jerusalem. This is theday of the parade with Jesus on adonkey and people greeting himwith palms waving in joy andpraise. We enact this scene with the children distributing palms. The reading of the Passion Gospel is a major aspect of the worship of this day. On Wednesday we observe the Office of Tenebrae. This service originated in monasteries during the Middle Ages when monks combined the reading of the psalms of two major times (Matins and lauds). Tenebrae literally means darkness. Our worship includes chanting by the choir, the reading of psalms, scripture and other spiritual writings with intervals of extinguishing fourteen candles. At the end of the service, the Christ candle remains and is hidden to signify Christ’s death. A loud noise is made to acknowledge the pain and grief of the world. This is a solemn service which sets the tone for therest of Holy Week.

Maundy Thursday means new commandment. Onthis day in an upper room in Jerusalem,Jesus instituted his newcommandment of love and servanthood by washing the disciples’feet. At the same time, whilecelebrating the Passover Seder,Jesus instituted the remembranceof the Last Supper (what we todayrecognize as Holy Eucharist).Then Jesus went to the Garden

of Gethsemane to pray with his disciples. It was while he was there that he was arrested and brought to trial. As part of our eucharistic celebration this evening, we consecrate enough bread and wine for the Good Friday reserved sacrament and process it to the chapel to place in the ambry (the niche in the wall on the church side of the altar). We end this service by stripping the altar as a reminder that Jesus was stripped of clothes and laid bare before the world. As the service ends, people go to the chapel to begin the Night Watch, which is lighted by the ambry light and candles. On Good Friday we observe the crucifixion of our Lord, which is why the veneration of the cross is the focal point of our liturgy in the afternoon. Scripture tells us that it was in the afternoon that Jesus died on the cross. All of the reserved sacrament is consumed on this day to represent the death of Jesus. On Holy Saturday, after sundown, we begin our watch, our Easter Vigil for the breaking light of the Resurrection Of The Christ. This service begins in Resurrection Garden with the lighting of the Easter fire, which we use to light the Paschal (Easter) Candle. This candle is lighted throughout the Great Fifty Days of Easter. On this night, the first part of the service is by candlelight only and through scripture we hear the saving acts of God’s relationship with humanity. When the individual candles are extinguished and altar candles are lighted there is a Great and JoyfulNoise. Everyone is encouragedto bring noise makers tojoin in as we begin our firstcelebration of Easter and theResurrection. This joyful celebration of Easter always begins with new bread and new wine for the first Holy Eucharist of Easter.

 

Have a wonderful Easter Holiday to all of our Christian friends!!

 

 

 

 Five Women Five Journeys Brings

Together Four Houses of Worship!!

 

 

WISDOM, under the leadership of Trish Harris, brought together over 200 congregants from four Bloomfield Hills houses of worship to hear the Five Women Five Journeys panel on Wednesday, March 24th in the parish hall at St. Hugo’s of the Hills Catholic Church.  Along with St. Hugos were attendees from the Muslim Unity Center, Kirk in the Hills Presbyterian Church, and Temple Beth El.  Both before and after the panel presentation the people who were present at the event were seated at interfaith tables and dialogued with each other under the guidance of a facilitator assigned to “break the ice.”   The evening’s event was highly successful and inspirational.

 

St. Hugos

Victor Begg (far left) joins the clergy that attended the WISDOM event. Next to Victor ar Msgr. Anthony Tocco, Rev. Norman Pritchard, Rabbi Dan Syme, and Imam Achmat Salie

 

St. Hugos 2

The Five Women Five Journeys Panelists are (from left to right)

Paula Drewek (Baha’i), Sophia Begg Latif (Muslim), Motoko Huthwaite (Christian), Gail Katz (Jewish), and Padma Kuppa (Hindu).

 

High School Teens of the Abrahamic Faith

Come Together to Learn and Dialogue With Each Other

 

Thursday, March 24, 2011 about 70 Muslim, Christian, and Jewish High School Teens came together at the West Bloomfield Jewish Community Center (JCC) for an evening of learning about each other’s Faiths and a chance to dialogue with each other and break down myths and stereotypes about each other.  This event was named “Face To Faith.”

 

The mastermind behind this wildly successful event was Andover High School Junior, Josh Morof, a member of the Jewish Youth Organization called BBYO, which meets at the Teen Center at the West Bloomfield JCC.  Josh had been a participant in a previous panel of Jewish and Chaldean teens, and was inspired by that event to work on giving teens of the Abrahamic Faiths the opportunity to dialogue with each other as well.  He contacted Jared Rothberger, Program Director for BBYO, and explained his idea, and Jared contacted Gail Katz, President and Co-Founder of WISDOM (Women’s Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach in MetroDetroit) and Board Member of the Interfaith Leadership Council to meet with Josh, Jared, and interested high school teen, Ilana Woronoff.  Gail, a retired public school teacher and diversity club sponsor, was extremely excited to counsel the teens on how to put this project together. They came up with a plan to gather about 20 to 30 to represent each of the three faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – at the JCC. The program would consist of an imam, a rabbi, and a pastor, who would speak with the group of assembled high school teens about Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, and then following the clergy would be a panel of a Christian, Jewish, and Muslim teen to address pointed questions.

 

And the teens flocked into the Jewish Center that night!! They sat at interfaith tables and discussed “What’s in a Name?” with each other – what does your name mean and where does it come from?  After the initial introductions of the teens at the assigned tables,  the Reverend John Judson, pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham spoke about four basic principles of Christianity, one of them being the Golden Rule.  The Rabbi Aaron Bergman from Congregation Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills went over some basics about the Jewish calendar with the teens.  Imam Achmat Salie, head of the Islamic Studies Department at Oakland University, outlined some of the basic tenets of Islam.  Following the clergy, the teen panel addressed questions that were asked them by Gail Katz, who served as moderator.  Josh Morof, the Jewish teen who brainstormed this event and congregant at Adat Shalom, Sean Mueller, a junior at Groves High School and an ordained Elder in the Presbyterian Church, and Tahas Khalil, a junior at Andover High school who took two years of his life to memorize the entire Koran, answered questions such as “How has your religion impacted your high school years?” and “What misunderstandings and stereotypes have you personally experienced or witnessed?”

 

The teen audience as well as the dozen adults present in the hall were most attentive to the personal stories and advice given by these three articulate teens. Following the panels, the teens were invited to partake of some Jewish pastries – “Hamentoshen” – which are triangular desserts that are traditionally made for the Jewish holiday of Purim, which had recently been celebrated in the Jewish community.  The teens took their goodies to their interfaith tables, and had further dialogue with each other about the oppotunities available for them to cross boundaries and to interact with people of other faiths.  They discussed how to create such opportunities, such as “Face To Faith” and what plans might be down the road for another get together.  The teens were then treated to a visit to the Teen Center and had a chance to hang out together while playing video games, ping pong, or just eating dessert and chatting.  The adults, in the meantime, talked about their occupations, their ethnic background, and shared some information about their faith traditions.

 

What struck Gail Katz, as she prepared to go home, and said her goodbyes to the teens downstairs in the Teen Center, were the hugs that the kids were giving their new found friends – and along with the goodbyes were the wishes to definitely “do this again!!”  It was an incredibly inspiring evening – one filled with hope that our youth will make a difference in breaking down the hate and fear that fills our world!!

 

BBYO was quite diligent in collecting everyone’s names and email addresses, and another interfaith gathering will be in the works soon!!

 

 

Abrahamic Teens at the JCC

Abrahamic Teens 2

Interfaith tables of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Teens

 

Abrahamic Teen Panelists

Tahas Khalil, Sean Muelle, and Josh Morof – the Teen Panelists

 

Abrahamic Clergy

The Clergy Panelists – Imam Achmat Salie, Rabbi Aaron Bergman, and the Rev. John Judson

 

Abrahamic folks with dessert

Face to Faith in action!! – two Muslim participants tasting the Jewish pastries called “Hamentoshen!”

 

WORLD VIEWS SEMINAR  ON
AMERICAN RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY
COMING SOON!!
 
JUNE 20-25, 2011
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN-DEARBORN
 
Enroll in this class for a six-day experience-based seminar designed to introduce you to foundational information about the beliefs and practices of several of the world’s religions.
Learn about Baha’i, Buddhism, Chinese and Japanese Traditional Religions, Christianity, First Peoples and Native Traditions, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism.
 
For registration, cost and more information contact
Sharie Beard
University of Michigan-Dearborn
(313) 593-4925

 

About 300 people of varying religious and ethnic backgrounds gather in Farmington Hills to mark the new year of the Iranian and Bahá’í calendars.

By Timothy Rath of the West Bloomfield Patch

Although small in number, the passionate group of West Bloomfield residents adhering to the Bahá’í Faith joined with about 300 other community members of varying religious and racial backgrounds to celebrate Naw-Ruz on Friday night. Roxana Panah, 48, of West Bloomfield, joined with her two daughters Olivia Baylerian, 16, and Adriana Baylerian, 14, in a celebration at Glen Oaks Country Club in Farmington Hills, where musical performances by jazz pianists, flutists, and drummers were marked by speeches describing the faith and prayer chants in English, Farsi and Spanish. “It’s so inspiring, it always is. Especially in a bigger setting, it’s interesting, because we don’t have congregational prayer in our faith, so it’s nice to share prayers in a bigger group because it’s rare for us,” said Panah, a lawyer working in Bingham Farms.

Naw-Ruz (“New Light” in Persian) is the name of the New Year in Iranian calendars and Bahá’í calendars, as well as one of nine holy days for adherents of the Bahá’í Faith worldwide. Naw-Ruz, which was officially celebrated March 21, marks the end of the Nineteen Day Fast, a period in March during which observers adhere to a sunrise-to-sunset fast, which is one of the greatest obligations of the Bahá’í Faith, Panah said. Work is suspended for a day to ring in Naw-Ruz, which marks the beginning of the month of Bahá. Panah pointed out that the celebration Friday brought together Bahá’ís from all over Metro Detroit and Ontario, in addition to many who were neither of Iranian descent nor believers in the faith.  “You start over. That really speaks to me. A new beginning is just like every year, developing and maturing even more beyond our years,” said Olivia Baylerian, a sophomore at Detroit Country Day School. “The Bahá’í goal is to bring unity to everyone. Especially at school, you don’t really see unity,”  Panah said that unlike the American holiday of New Year’s Day, typically marked with new year’s resolutions of individual change, adherents to the Bahá’í Faith  celebrating Naw-Ruz are guided by the Seat of the International House of Justice in Haifa, Israel, to make change with goals of community peace in mind. “We get letters from the International House of Justice and they address, specifically, Naw-Ruz, its meaning, and what kinds of things we can do in our individual faith in the upcoming year, strengthen our communities, within the Bahá’í basis, and within each other, and how we can make each other better in our communities,” she said. “It’s about being active and spreading a message of tolerance.” According to Panah, the West Bloomfield representation of the Bahá’í Faith is too small to allow for a required, nine-person spiritual assembly, making for the necessity of celebrating en masse or visiting friends’ houses outside of the area. Homayoon Missaghi, a West Bloomfield resident who originally immigrated from Iran 20 years ago, pointed out that visiting other Bahá’í at their homes plays right into the tenets of Naw-Ruz. “It’s the start of the new year at the start of spring, so we clean the house, then we ask people to come visit us and return the visit,” said Missaghi, a lifelong observer of the Bahá’í Faith. “It’s new life. It’s rejuvenating. If I feel depressed, I come here and I see all these small kids who I’ve known since they were very small. I see them running around and having a good time and that makes me happy.” In addition to live musical performances, the country club also hosted a DJ who spun pop music well into the night. People representing different age groups from infants to the elderly danced, in addition to people of different homelands, ethnicities and religions. Panah said offering a wide range of diverse adherents to the Bahá’í Faith is actually a core tenet of the faith, pointing to Bahá’í prayers, which mention core tenets of Christianity, Islam and Judaism as examples. “We believe in all of the religions and that the essence of all religions is one in the same,” she said. “The prayers can be said in any language, but personally, coming from a Persian background, the Naw-Ruz chant in Farsi took me to a higher level. It was uplifting, about love, newness, faithfulness, and kindness. That’s what I needed.” Missaghi said that although in the Bahá’í Faith, religious history is understood to have unfolded through a series of divine messengers, including most recently the founder Bahá’u’lláh, the lack of a clergy figure makes community especially important. Bahá’í law outlawing the consumption of alcohol made for a child-friendly atmosphere at any Bahá’í event, Missaghi said. “We believe that everyone is the same here, whether you’re young or old or believe in Bahá’í or not,” he said. “To be able to celebrate with everyone in my faith is so uplifting for me, and alcohol and drugs are just not good for you anyway. It’s easy to stay away when you have your family all around you.”

Five Women Five Journeys: How Different Are We?
 WISDOM Women together

This unique WISDOM program features personal stories of women of different faith traditions – how their childhood impacted their beliefs today, what the challenges are for women in their faith tradition, what parts of their religion are misunderstood, how reaching out to someone from a different faith has enriched their lives.
To inquire about a Five Women Five Journeys Program for your organization, contact Elaine Schonberger at bookfairmama@comcast.net or Paula Drewek at Drewekpau@aol.com .
Check out the latest story about a friendship that crosses religion, race, or ethnic boundaries at www.friendshipandfaith.com.
Email Gail Katz at gailkatz@comcast.net if you have a personal story for the friendshipandfaith.com website!!
LINKS THAT YOU CAN USE FOR MORE INFORMATION!!

 1)  Go to http://www.readthespirit.com/religious-holidays-festivals/ for fascinating information about upcoming Religious holidays that your neighbors of different faith traditions may be celebrating!!

2)   Go to http://www.readthespirit.com/were-making-news/ for a listing of all the articles written about the WISDOM Book Friendship and Faith: the WISDOM of Women Creating Alliances for Peace.

Go to our WISDOM websites at www.interfaithwisdom.org

Read our interfaith story of the week from our book Friendship and Faith,

and find the link to buy the book at

Amazon at

 
Contact Information

 

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WISDOM Newsletter – March 2011

Written by WISDOM on . Posted in Newsletters

THE WISDOM WINDOW

MARCH 2011

WISDOM
 

 WISDOM Calendar of Events

 SEE WISDOM’S WEBSITE FOR MORE DETAILS!!
 
Thursday, March 17th
6:15 PM Community Forum entitled “Water, Women, and WISDOM” –  Panel Discussion for Women’s History Month!! – Topic will be about Water – and how the lack of clean water impacts women and children worldwide!! 6:15 – 8:30 PM at the Bloomfield Township Public Library on Telegraph and Lone Pine in Bloomfield Hills.  Open to the Public!!  See Flyer in this newsletter!!
Wednesday, March 23rd
Five Women Five Journeys hosted by St. Hugo of the Hills, 2215 Opdyke Rd., Bloomfield Hills, in conjunction with Temple Beth El, the Muslim Unity Center and Kirk in the Hills Presbyterian Church all of Bloomfield Hills.  7:00 PM.
Wednesday, May 11th
Five Women Five Journeys sponsored by the AAUW (American Association of University Women) at Plum Hollow Country Club, 21631 Lahser Rd., Southfield, 1:00 PM
Thursday, June 30th through Friday, July 1st
Five Women Five Journeys at the Bay View Association, Petoskey, MI.  Thursday evening 7:00 PM, Friday morning, Meet and Greet the WISDOM Women.
Christians Embrace a Jewish Wedding Tradition

New York Times, Saturday, February 12, 2011

By SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN

In a San Antonio chapel last August, after reciting their wedding vows and exchanging their rings, Sally and Mark Austin prepared to receive communion for the first time as husband and wife. Just before they did, their minister asked them to sign a document. It was a ketubah, a traditional Jewish marriage contract.

The Austins’ was not an interfaith marriage. Nor was their ceremony some sort of multicultural mashup. Both Sally and Mark are evangelical Christians, members of Oak Hills Church, a nationally known megachurch. They were using the ketubah as a way of affirming the Jewish roots of their faith.

In so doing, the Austins are part of a growing phenomenon of non-Jews incorporating the ketubah, a document with millennia-old origins and a rich artistic history, into their weddings. Mrs. Austin, in fact, first learned about the ketubah from her older sister, also an evangelical Christian, who had been married five years earlier with not only a ketubah but the Judaic wedding canopy, the huppah.

“Embracing this Jewish tradition just brings a richness that we miss out on sometimes as Christians when we don’t know the history,” said Mrs. Austin, 29, a business manager for AT&T. “Jesus was Jewish, and we appreciate his culture, where he came from.”

Beyond its specific basis in Judaism, the ketubah represented to the Austins a broader concept of holiness, of consecration. “We wanted a permanent reminder of the covenant we made with God,” Mrs. Austin said. “We see this document superseding the marriage license of a state or a court.”

Such sentiments have been reshaping the market for ketubot (the plural in Hebrew) in the past decade. Michael Shapiro, an observant Jew from Toronto who sells artistic ketubot through the Web site ketubah.com, said he had seen the non-Jewish share of his customers rise from zero to about 10 percent. He is forming a spinoff site, artvows.com, that concentrates on non-Jewish consumers.

While evangelical Christians like the Austins make up part of that niche, Mr. Shapiro said, the concept of marital sanctity they expressed is one he hears from many gentile buyers.

“There’s an idea of this being significant and lasting, a nod to something greater at work in a couple having come together,” he said in a telephone interview. “For some, it’s about God and faith. For others, it’s almost a sense of a miracle. In Jewish terms, we have the Yiddish word bashert, for ‘meant to be, intended for each other.’ ”

The decade of non-Jews discovering the ketubah coincides with three relevant social trends: the rise of Christian Zionism, the growth of interfaith marriage, and the mainstreaming of the New Age movement with its search for spirituality in multiple faith traditions. As a result, an increasing number of gentiles have taken up Judaic practices: holding a Passover Seder, eating kosher food and studying kabbalah, the Jewish mystical movement.

“A lot of these things are grass-rootsy,” said Prof. Jenna Weissman Joselit, a historian at George Washington University, who has written extensively on Jewish popular culture. “They have to do with the growing popularity of intermarriage – openness, pluralism, cultural improvisation. And for those who are more religiously literate, they add another level of authenticity or legitimacy.”

What makes the ketubah boom among non-Jews more striking is that even for Jews the present concept of a ketubah – simultaneously a work of fine art and a religious document – took centuries to develop and spread.

The earliest known version of a Jewish marriage contract dates to the fifth century B.C. in Egypt. Roughly 1,000 years later, during the Talmudic period in Palestine and Babylon, a formally codified version of the ketubah emerged.

And in its original form, far from declaring marriage as an everlasting bond, the ketubah largely served to protect a wife’s right to financial support in the event of a divorce, which under traditional Jewish law is entirely a husband’s decision. To this day, the standard Orthodox ketubah still contains language requiring a divorced man to pay his ex-wife “200 silver zuz.”

Sephardic Jews, though, wrote ketubot with specific provisions for each marriage. And, of more enduring aesthetic importance, they began to illustrate the documents elaborately with images and calligraphy. With the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, refugees carried that artistic tradition to Italy, Germany and Holland, where the decorative ketubah began to seep into Ashkenazi culture.

But the style never reached into the Eastern European heartland of Jewry – which itself was the source of most of America’s Jewish immigrants – and by the mid-20th century the ketubah was back to where it had started as a document of religious law to be signed and stowed away.

All that suddenly changed with the “Jewish counterculture” of the 1960s, a movement by young Jews to participate in worship actively rather than just follow a rabbi, and to create their own prayers, liturgies, ceremonies and ritual objects, very much including ketubot.

By now, the ketubah is such a standard part of American Jewish life that even the new National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia exhibits and sells them. Next month the Jewish Museum in New York will mount a major show of ketubot.

“You have an interest in a beautifying ritual and you have disposable income,” said Sharon Liberman Mintz of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, who is curating the Jewish Museum exhibit. “There’s both the wherewithal and the interest. Now you’d hang your ketubah on the wall. In the past, you’d just keep it in a safe or something like that.”

As for Sally and Mark Austin, they Googled their way to

ketubahtree.com, selected a version with the image of a flowing river, and chose one of several texts from the Reform Jewish movement. After their wedding day, they hung it over their bed.

“One of the characteristics of a covenant,” as Mrs. Austin put it, “is a tangible sign. And this piece of paper, this beautiful piece of art, is the sign of our covenant.”

Religious understanding

Jewish-Muslim initiative comes to University of Illinois at Chicago

On February 7, 2011, a conference about the roles of Jewish and Muslim women in their communities was held at UIC’s Stevenson Hall on 701 S. Morgan St. in Chicago. This conference, “Changing Roles?: Women in Traditional Jewish and Muslim Communities,”  attempted to discuss and examine Muslim and Jewish women’s traditional roles in context with modernity, women’s rights, and progressivism.

“In both Islam and Judaism there’s a sense that one’s relationship [to God] is [through religious] law,” said Samuel Fleischacker, Professor at UIC, director of Jewish Studies, and the organizer of this conference. Fleischacker says that there is a tension for these women between wanting to stick to traditional religious laws, and taking up leadership positions in their communities, and in turn breaking into Western society.

“There’s a lot of deference to the past.” These women want to show certain respect to the way things were done before.

Religious law is considered a “good thing,” said Fleischacker. The Halacha (Jewish Law) and the Sharia (Islamic Law) are a part of the all encompassing practice of both religions.

Religious requirements like Muslim women covering their hair, and Jewish women covering their hair after they get married are just some of the issues modern women face today. Leadership in their communities is another. Can Muslim women lead prayer? Can Jewish women become rabbis?

Leadership, women’s dress, prayer, and women’s education are all issues that wiwere covered in the conference. The introductory session, “General Issues: Change in Sharia and Halacha” featured one speaker from the Muslim perspective, and one from the Jewish perspective. Fleischacker emphasized that one of the aims of this conference was bringing Muslim and Jewish women together. He said that Jews and Muslims don’t know much about each other, in general due to some tensions between both communities.

“I don’t think Jewish and Muslim women know each other.” This conference was an attempt to ‘look ahead,’ and start a conversation with both sides. Since it is a part of the “Jewish/Muslim Initiative” at UIC, the conference aimed to have speakers discuss their current positions in the area of their womanly and religious rights.

The “Jewish/Muslim Initiative” is a Postdoctoral Fellowship that enables applicants to teach through a Jewish-Muslim lens at UIC.

“I think all of them [the speakers] are committed to their tradition, and their communities,” said Fleischacker.

Tova Hartman, and Najeeba Syeed-Miller spoke about “General Issues: Change in Sharia and Halacha.” Tahera Ahmad, Marcia Hermansen, and Erin Leib Smokler spoke about “Specific Issues I: Dress; Study and Teaching” and Ruth Balinsky, Hina Azam, and Deborah Klapper spoke about “Specific Issues II: Leadership; Prayer.”

The conference was “an attempt to explore issues and spark a conversation that would go on.”

3rd Annual International Conference on
Religion, Conflict, and Peace:”
Walking The Talk to Compassion and Harmony


April 8-10, 2011
Henry Ford Community College
Dearborn, Michigan USA


A Multi-disciplinary, Multi-cultural Conference

an Official Partner and Event of
the Charter For Compassion
and
the Parliament of World’s Religions

Sponsored by:
Common Bond Institute,
Co-Sponsored by:
Pathways To Peace, Henry Ford Community College,
International Humanistic Psychology Association,

Endorsed by over 100 universities and organizations internationally

Full Conference Details at:
www.cbiworld.org/Pages/Conferences_RCP.htm
(copy & paste address into your browser)

~ Registration is Open All ~


We Invite You To:
an inclusive, interactive 3-day public forum promoting Inter-religious and Intra-religious dialogue to explore the challenges of Extremism, Intolerance, Scapegoating, and Islamophobia, and the promise of Reason, Understanding, Compassion, and Cultural Harmony.

JOIN over 45 Presenters and Facilitators as we explore:
  1)  The mutual dilemmas of religious ignorance, extremism, intolerance, negative stereotypes, prejudice, demonization and dehumanization, scapegoating, and fear of “the other,” that lead to toxic divisiveness, polarization, and social paranoia, including the current example of Islamophobia and it’s impact on the Muslim community,
and
  2)  The promise of personal engagement through dialogue and practical applications in nurturing a shared consciousness of peace – and in doing so promoting the religious experience as a healing remedy rather than problem.

FORMAT:
An outstanding, diverse gathering of presenters for 3 Days of keynotes, workshops, panels, dialogue groups, live global links, film showings, social/cultural events, exhibits, multicultural community, and rich networking for collaborative action beyond the conference.

  ”It does not require that we be the same to be appreciative of, at peace with, and secure in our relationships with each other; only that we be familiar enough with each others story to share the humanity and trustworthiness that resides in each of us.”

LOCATION:    Henry Ford Community College
5101 Evergreen Rd., Dearborn, MI. USA

SCHEDULE:
  Fri. April 8, 10:00 am -to- Sun. April 10, 2:30 pm
       (On-site Registration opens 8:30 am)


FOR DETAILS on Proposals, Program, Registration, Fees, Program Ads, Exhibits, and previous conference Proceedings CONTACT:

Common Bond Institute
Details at Website:www.cbiworld.org
Steve Olweean, Conference Coordinator
12170 S. Pine Ayr Drive, Climax, MI 49034 USA
Ph/Fax: 269-665-9393    Email: SOlweean@aol.com

Children of Peace 1

 The Chidllren of Peace singing “We are Children of Peace!!”

Interfaith Clergy 

The Rev. Sandra K. Gordon, Imam Achmat Salie, The Rev. Rod Reinhart, The Rev. Kenneth Flowers, Rabbi Jen Kaluzny, and Rabbi Marla Hornsten on the Bimah or Temple Israel to say the Interfaith Pledge for World Peace!!

Ben Falik

Ben Falik, receiving the World Sabbath Peace Award, from the Rev. Rod Reinhart, founder of the World Sabbath.

January 30th, 2011 was the Twelfth Annual World Sabbath at Temple Israel in West Bloomfield.  This wonderful interfaith service grew out of concerns raised by wars that had been raging around the world – in Serbia, Kosovo, Ireland and the Middle East. The Rev. Rod Reinhart  decided to underscore the message that God was a God of peace, and in spite of all the differences and disagreements among religious groups, the central message of all faiths was that we are all called upon to build a world of tolerance and justice.  So Rod created and proclaimed that the World Sabbath would be an interfaith holy day of peace among all religions, races, ethnic groups and nations. The Rev. Reinhart took this idea to Father Ed Mullins at Christ Church Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills, and Father Ed felt called upon to make Christ Church Cranbrook the host and center of the World Sabbath Interfaith Holy Day, starting in the year 2000.  In 2004 the Reverend Rod Reinhart moved to Chicago, and Gail Katz, a West Bloomfield interfaith activistand President of WISDOM (Women’s Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach in MetroDetroit), took over as the chair person of this event, and along with the efforts of the World Sabbath Committee, the message of the World Sabbath has spread throughout Metro Detroit.  Because of Gail’s background as a elementary and middle school teacher and diversity club sponsor, she felt the committee needed to change the focus of the World Sabbath from the clergy giving the calls to prayer for world peace, to participation of our community’s youth and young adults. The World Sabbath is nowheld on the last Sunday afternoon in January with a Jewish young adult blowing the shofar, a Muslim youth chanting the Muslim Call to Prayer, followed by middle school, high school and college youth giving additional prayers for world peace from many other religions – Jain, Buddhist, Baha’i,  Zoroastrian, Christian, Hindu, Native American, Sikh, Quaker, and Unitarian faith traditions for example.  In addition the World Sabbath features musical offerings – choirs, bands, dance groups, and chantings that reflect the individual language, culture and tradition of the many religions that are represented at the World Sabbath.  Attendees have been enchanted by Hindu dancers, Yiddish Klezmer music, Jain songs, Sikh Shabads, Christian Dance ensembles, and Arabic elementary school drummers.  To Gail Katz the highlight of every World Sabbath is the inclusion of third through sixth graders who decorate white cotton banners with their ideas about World Peace.  These banners are stapled to pieces of basswood to make flags that the children proudly display as they march in the processional into the sanctuary.  These banners are then sewn into a Children of Peace Quilt (three of them have been completed so far) which are proudly displayed at the World Sabbath services.  The Children of Peace, the youth, and the young adults who participate in the Peace Prayers and the musical offerings bring their friends and family to the World Sabbath, and the event has grown immensely – so big that the sanctuary at Christ Church Cranbrook, where the first ten World Sabbath Services were held, is no longer large enough. The World Sabbath now travels each year to a new venue.  This past January 30th, 2011 the World Sabbath was held at Temple Israel in West Bloomfield – the first time in a Jewish house of worship.

The mission of the World Sabbath is to teach our diverse population in Metro Detroit that the work of building a community of justice, equality, respect and peace is a calling that we all share – all of us, no matter what our faith tradition might be. But most important to Gail Katz is the fact that the World Sabbath is impacting our children, our teens, and our young adults.  The Twelfth Annual World Sabbath began with the beautiful Yiddish melodies of Kidz Klez, a band made up of Jewish middle and high school students.  The World Sabbath processional included close to 100 children of eleven differentfaith traditions, proudly waving the peace banners that they decorated themselves. These children came up to the Temple Israel bimah, andsang the song “We Are Children of Peace” led by Temple Israel’s Teen T’filah Team under the direction of Cantor Michael Smolash. You could see the hope and the tears in the eyes of the adults in the congregation!!

Ben Falik, co-founder of Summer in the City, an initiative that involves our young people as volunteers, was the 2011 recipient of the World Sabbath Peace Award.  About 30 clergy and religious leaders of many faiths were invited to participate in this year’s service, and were all called up to read the InterfaithPledge together about building a world of tolerance, justice, faithfulness, and peace, a pledge that the committee hopes will be a wonderful role model for our youth.The World Sabbath concluded with the clergy of Temple Israel – Rabbi Josh Bennett, Rabbi Jen Kaluzny, and Rabbi Marla Hornsten – passing the World Sabbath Banner and the Peace Scarf on to next year’s hosts of the Thirteenth World Sabbath to be held on January 29, 2012 – the Rev. Kenneth Flowers and the Rev. Sandra K. Gordon of the Greater New Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church of Detroit.  This Twelfth Annual World Sabbath at Temple Israel was a happening filled with hope!!

 

SCHOOLS SAY THE SIKH RELIGIOUS DAGGER IS OKAY!!

The Plymouth-Canton school district has opted to allow Sikh students to wear a small, religious dagger to school.

The decision reverses a ban put in place in December after a fourth-grade boy at Bentley Elementary School in Canton was found with a dull 3- to 5-inch kirpan, a dagger that is a religious symbol baptized Sikh males are expected to carry.

In Sikh tradition, the kirpan represents a commitment to fight evil.

The principal initially let the boy keep the kirpan, but the school board instituted a ban because of concerns from parents and conflicts with the district’s prohibitions against bringing weapons to school. Under new guidelines, kirpans meeting certain criteria will be allowed for Sikh students.

“While our school district is committed to providing a safe learning environment for all of our students, we must also balance the rights of students to express and practice their religion. In light of the strict scrutiny standard applied by Michigan courts in determining whether an individual’s right to freely exercise his or her religion has been violated, the district will amend its blanket restriction against wearing the kirpan in school,” according to a note the district sent to parents on Friday.

School district officials met Sunday with the Sikh community at a gurdwara, a Sikh religion center, in Canton. They listened to the community’s concerns and learned about the Sikh faith, said district spokesman Frank Ruggirello Jr.

Earlier, the district had received letters from three national Sikh groups expressing their concerns about any ban on kirpans.

Regarding the school’s policy, Ruggirello said: “I’m confident we got a good plan for the community … I think we found a happy medium.”

In the note to parents, the district set out several rules allowing students to wear kirpans:

· Any kirpan worn at school should be sewn inside a sheath in such a way that the blade cannot be removed from the sheath.

· The blade of the kirpan is restricted to no more than 2 1/4 inches. This would take the object outside the scope of the Revised School Code’s definition of a knife constituting a dangerous weapon.

· The blade of the kirpan must be dull.

· The kirpan should not be worn on the outside of the clothing and should not be visible in any way.

Read the article in the Detroit Free Press February 5th about the Sikh faith and its challenges in the United States!!

http://www.freep.com/fdcp/?1296909507434

 

Muslim Students Association

 

 

Water Women and WISDOM

Teenage Interfaith Diversity Education Conference —

Boston, Massachusetts

Interfaith Action’s Youth Leadership Program presents the fifth annual Teenage Interfaith Diversity Education (TIDE) Conference.  The TIDE Conference is organized and led by teens who wish to spread pluralism, increase the impact of teenage voices, and have their presence felt as a positive force in the global community.  The three-day conference is planned by fifty high school students of diverse religious and cultural backgrounds, and held at Northeastern University over Memorial Day Weekend, May 27-29, 2011.  The goals of the conference are to train teens to communicate respectfully and use their skills in discussions about highly charged issues; develop leadership and facilitation skills; and foster bonds and lasting friendships among the youth in attendance. Conference attendees will participate in workshops, dialogues, and other activities throughout the weekend that allow them to discover more about themselves and their understanding of personal identity; learn about the beliefs and identities of others; and make their voices heard.  By the end of the weekend, teens will gain the skills needed to break down religious and ethnic barriers while becoming leaders in their communities.  Adults working with teens have the opportunity to attend a parallel but separate adult track at the conference.

Many of the conflicts that occur across the world are a result of cultural misunderstandings and a lack of tolerance and leadership. Participation in the TIDE Conference is one leap towards a more harmonious and peaceful world, led by strong individuals who have fostered their skills as teens!

The TIDE Conference has been officially designated as a Post-Parliament Event by the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR).  The conference is sponsored by Interfaith Action, Inc. in collaboration with the Brudnick Center for the Study of Violence and Conflict at Northeastern University.

More information about the conference and how you can register is available at

www.ifaction.org <http://www.ifaction.org/> .   Outside groups and individuals may submit workshop proposals to showcase their work during the Sunday track of the conference.  All proposals are due by April 1, 2011.  More information about this opportunity may also be found on Interfaith Action’s website.

Please contact Jason Smith, Youth Program Director, athttps://ui.constantcontact.com/rnavmap/em/ecampaign/Jason@ifaction.org

with any further questions or requests for additional information.

Angels and Apsaras: Common Ground?

As I began to reflect and do research on the topic of angels in the Hindu tradition, I began to wonder if I had done the right thing. What common ground could I find for angels and Hinduism?

By Padma Kuppa, February 03, 2011

Recently, I was invited to participate in an interfaith event entitled Angels in Religion. This WISDOM community-wide meeting featured artist Lisa Berman, who talked about her sculpture of an angel that was placed in a Catholic cemetery, and what she, a Jewish woman, had learned about angels in the Torah as she crafted this angel. Lisa’s presentation was followed by a panel discussion of angels in Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. The event was open to everyone and was free of cost. As I began to reflect and do research on the topic of angels in the Hindu tradition, I began to wonder if I had done the right thing. What could I say that was relevant, and what common ground could I find for angels and Hinduism?

As the only non-Abrahamic representative on the panel, I wanted to share concepts from the Hindu tradition, with a hope that my sharing would clear up some of the common misconceptions, and possibly find some universality out of the particularities of our beliefs and practices. While accepting the invitation to participate in the panel, I mentioned to Gail Katz, the President of a non-profit women’s organization whose board I sit on, that I took the opportunity since interfaith dialogue is so often these days construed to be between the Abrahamic faiths. For the last five years and more, I have been inserting the word ‘Shanti’ into the “Salaam, Shalom, Peace” used in the interfaith landscape here in metro-Detroit. Because of the contentious nature of current relationships between these faith communities, I thought that including my bit of Eastern philosophy into our Western understanding of angels would help broaden the focus. It was also an opportunity for me to research my own tradition, starting with the translation of the word “angel” into my mother tongue (Telugu) as well as the language of my scripture (Sanskrit). And listening and learning of others’ faith always deepens my own. After all, as Mahatma Gandhi said in Young India (19 January 1928)… our innermost prayer should be … a Hindu should be a better Hindu, a Muslim a better Muslim, a Christian a better Christian.”

I started my research with dictionary definitions of the word “angel”: one of a class of spiritual beings; a celestial attendant of God. In medieval angelology, angels constituted the lowest of the nine celestial orders. So I knew I had to go further; ‘medieval’ brings up a primarily Christian image. A second definition-a conventional representation of such a being, in human form, with wings, usually in white robes-reminded me of how I have been trained to imagine angels. Despite growing up in the Northeastern U.S., though, I always thought the apsara Menaka in the picture books I read looked like an angel-Menaka, a celestial nymph, descended from the heavens to leave her infant Shakuntala in the ashram of a sage.

Yet another definition of angel-a messenger, esp. of God-was one that my Hindu WISDOM “sisters” suggested, i.e., that of the divine messenger, Sage Narada. (The “sister” is something we call our Friends and Board members of WISDOM.) And this last definition-an attendant or guardian spirit-led me in the final minutes of my ten-minute presentation to expand on the concept of Ishta Devata. Deva, devata are both words that mean God, who, for a Hindu, can be without form, of many forms, or an infinite form. And so, the God with form can be worshipped and prayed to in the form of a cherished deity, the Ishta Devata. Hindus havemurtis -representations of the devas and devatas-in temples and in shrines or altars in their homes. In bhakti marga, the path of devotion, a Hindu chooses an Ishta Devata for contemplation and worship, supplicating the devata for deliverance (from ignorance) and protection, sort of like hoping that an angel is watching over you.

I spoke to a fully engaged audience of almost sixty, after Lisa’s enlightening and touching presentation on how she and another artist created a beautiful bronze angel who would watch over those who lay in their final resting places in a Catholic cemetery. Then, I was “the other” as I listened to clear scriptural references and quotes about angels from the Bible and the Quran, from my co-panelists-a Japanese American Christian and a Muslim who emigrated from the Middle East, who narrated the story of Mary and Joseph from the Islamic scripture.

The evening concluded with a short question-and-answer session, and someone asked about the Angel of Death-is he considered good or bad [from our various perspectives]? The highlight of the evening for me was the way my WISDOM sister Dima’s eyes lit with recognition when I responded, “The Hindus consider Yama, the God of Death, to be neither good nor bad-only just.” Perhaps angels or apsaras were watching over us, bringing us to the place where we can create common ground.

Padma Kuppa is a writer, IT professional, community activist,wife, and mother working to build a more pluralistic society within a Hindu and interfaith framework. You can also read her blog A Balancing Act, at padmakuppa.blogspot.com. The views represented in this column are not a reflection of the views of any organization of which she is a part.

THE WISDOM BOARD AND THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF JEWISH WOMEN

STUFF BACKPACKS TOGETHER ON SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 6TH

TO HELP HOMELESS CHILDREN IN OAKLAND COUNTY WITH

MUCH NEEDED SCHOOL SUPPLIES

Backpacks 1

backpacks 2

Jewish piano prodigy plays benefit concert for Iraqi Christian refugees.

Ethan Bortnick, who came to Michigan three years ago to entertain at an event celebrating the local Chabad organization, returns to entertain at an event raising funds for the Adopt-aRefugee Family program benefiting displaced Iraqi Christians.

The concert, 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 18, at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, is part of the “Ethan Bortnick and His Musical Time Machine” tour. The piano serves as the time machine leading audiences on musical journeys featuring classical, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and other types of selections.

“It doesn’t matter what religion people are or what skin color they have,” says Ethan, 10, whose talents are extended to many charitable organizations. “We have to help.

“I know how important it is for refugees not to be forgotten. My family came from Ukraine and were refugees. I will do my best to make the concert amazing so that more families can be helped.

“I’m writing a song with both words and music for the organization. I learn about a program and how it works and then write a song.
I stay at the piano figuring it out.”

Ethan, appearing at ease being interviewed by Jay Leno or Oprah Winfrey, showed a musical interest that his parents, Hannah and Gene Bortnick, didn’t take seriously when the entertainer was 3 years old.

“I listened to Baby Einstein CDs and asked my mom and dad for piano lessons,” recalls Ethan, who last summer became the youngest musi cian with a PBS concert special. “I had a toy keyboard and was able to play a Mozart piece that I had heard.

“My mom and dad weren’t watching while I was at the keyboard and asked who was playing. When I said it was me, they said, `You’re getting a piano!’” The youngster got national attention with the help of neighbors, who contacted the Jay Leno staff.

Cameron Diaz, appearing on the same initial program, suggested the boy to her agent.

Ethan, who plays by ear and extends his knowledge with two private teachers, attends Jewish day school in Florida. While he is on the road, he takes along assignments and connects with the classroom through Skype.

“Basically, I’m a regular kid who plays a little piano,” says Ethan, already thinking about his bar mitz vah and whether it can take place in Israel, where his mother lived before coming to the U.S. “I love to play video games with my brother, read, go to school and eat.”

Ethan’s commitment to community was inspired by his brother, Nathan, 5, who had heart surgery at a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. Ethan, who wrote a song for the network and performed at an organization event, also joined music’s biggest names as the young est member of the all-star “We Are The World 25 For Haiti” recording.

“My goal is to help a lot of people,” Ethan says.

 

Ethan Bortnick performed Feb. 18, at the Royal Oak Music Theatre

Asian Indian event
Five Women Five Journeys: How Different Are We?
 WISDOM Women together

This unique WISDOM program features personal stories of women of different faith traditions – how their childhood impacted their beliefs today, what the challenges are for women in their faith tradition, what parts of their religion are misunderstood, how reaching out to someone from a different faith has enriched their lives.
To inquire about a Five Women Five Journeys Program for your organization, contact Elaine Schonberger at bookfairmama@comcast.net or Paula Drewek at Drewekpau@aol.com .
Check out the latest story about a friendship that crosses religion, race, or ethnic boundaries at www.friendshipandfaith.com.
Email Gail Katz at gailkatz@comcast.net if you have a personal story for the friendshipandfaith.com website!!
LINKS THAT YOU CAN USE FOR MORE INFORMATION!!

 1)  Go to http://www.readthespirit.com/religious-holidays-festivals/ for fascinating information about upcoming Religious holidays that your neighbors of different faith traditions may be celebrating!!

2)   Go to http://www.readthespirit.com/were-making-news/ for a listing of all the articles written about the WISDOM Book Friendship and Faith: the WISDOM of Women Creating Alliances for Peace.

Go to our WISDOM websites at www.interfaithwisdom.org

Read our interfaith story of the week from our book Friendship and Faith,

and find the link to buy the book at

Amazon at

 
Contact Information

 

Gail Katz gailkatz@comcast.net
phone: 248-978-6664

Join Our Mailing List

BECOME A FRIEND OF WISDOM!  Click on this link to go to the WISDOM website (right side of home page) to print out form to support WISDOM.

WISDOM Newsletter – February 2011

Written by WISDOM on . Posted in Newsletters

THE WISDOM WINDOW

 

FEBRUARY 2011

WISDOM
 

 WISDOM Calendar of Events

 SEE WISDOM’S WEBSITE FOR MORE DETAILS!!
 
Tuesday, February 1st
Five Women Five Journeys Presentation to Tenth and Eleventh Graders at Andover High School in the Bloomfield Hills School District!!
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 6TH
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM   WISDOM Board meets and greets women from the National Council of Jewish Women at lunch and then we jointly stuff backpacks with school supplies.  Backpacks will go to homeless children in Oakland County.
Thursday, March 17th

6:15 PM Community Forum entitled “Water, Women, and WISDOM” –  Panel Discussion for Women’s History Month!! – Topic will be about Water – and how the lack of clean water impacts women and children worldwide!! 6:15 – 8:30 PM at the Bloomfield Township Public Library on Telegraph and Lone Pine in Bloomfield Hills.  Open to the Public!!
Wednesday, March 23rd
Five Women Five Journeys hosted by St. Hugo of the Hills, 2215 Opdyke Rd., Bloomfield Hills, in conjunction with Temple Beth El, the Muslim Unity Center and Kirk in the Hills Presbyterian Church all of Bloomfield Hills.  7:00 PM.
Wednesday, May 11th
Five Women Five Journeys sponsored by the AAUW (American Association of University Women) at Plum Hollow Country Club, 21631 Lahser Rd., Southfield, 1:00 PM
Thursday, June 30th through Friday, July 1st
Five Women Five Journeys at the Bay View Association, Petoskey, MI.  Thursday evening 7:00 PM, Friday morning, Meet and Greet the WISDOM Women.
 
 

WISDOM holds Community Forum about “Angels in Religions” on January 20th at the Bloomfield Township Library.

Angels two

Lisa Berman speaks about the angel that she crafted and about Angels in Judaism.

Angels one

 

Mazan Tayyen, Motoko Huthwaite, and Padma Kuppa speak about angels in Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism at the WISDOM Angels in Religions event

 

Padma Kuppa

Padma Kuppa

Columnist

Padma Kuppa is a Hindu American and community activist working for social justice and understanding. Born in India, she arrived in the U.S. to start kindergarten in 1970 on Long Island. When she completed tenth grade, her family returned to India where she finished college and experienced living in a mainstream Hindu culture. She returned to NY in 1988 to go to grad school and then got her greencard. After getting married and having two kids, she (and her family) moved to Troy, Michigan in 1998. She is a founding member of the Troy Interfaith Group as well as the Bharatiya Temple’s Outreach Committee. She is a member of the Hindu American Foundation’s Executive Council and the newly formed Hindu American Seva Charities. Her work with WISDOM, Women’s Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach in Metro-detroit, exemplifies how forming friendships is the way to build peace and promote pluralism. Her faith has been strengthened and deepened through her personal experiences and struggles, while her interest and search for more knowledge and understanding of Hindu philosophy is a family tradition. Whether she works as IT project manager, writer, or diversity consultant, being a mom is the most important! You can also read her blog A Balancing Act, at padmakuppa.blogspot.com. The views represented in this column are not a reflection of the views of any organization of which she is a part.

Our Hindu Inheritance

Whether yoga is considered Hindu or not, religious or spiritual, its beauty is the universality of its application, and it is what people make it.

 

A couple of summers ago, my children and I-lovers of sci-fi and fantasy fiction-were reading the second book of the Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini. We have found so much Hindu philosophy in that genre-C. S. Lewis (Aslan’s “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name.”), J. K. Rowling (Dumbledore’s “It is our choices … that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”), to name two. It was no surprise that we found the same in this second book about Eragon’s adventures.

From the elf known as the Mourning Sage, Oromis, or Togira Ikonoka, Eragon learns to do the Rimgar, or the Dance of Snake and Crane, a series of poses that the elves developed to prepare their warriors for battle, and to meditate in the forest glades of the elven kingdom, Ellesmera. Rimgar reminded us of yoga, with its four different levels, based on flexibility and strength, and the first actions-to bring the hands from the side to above the head, followed by bending down, touching the ground with the palms, and jumping back.

What also didn’t surprise us is the Japanese-sounding name (Togira Ikonoka) given to Eragon’s Master, rather than linking the yoga-like exercise to the geographic region where it originated and continues to be practiced over the centuries. Our inheritance, as Hindus-those whose faith has been classified as the religion Hinduism in the Western world-has often been denied us. I recently questioned David Crumm, a journalist, about this quote from his ReadtheSpirit.com site: “The term ‘Vedanta’ refers to spiritual movements that stem from the ancient religious traditions of India.” As I said to David, Vedanta-a combination of veda (the Sanskrit word used to identify the body of Hindu scriptures) + anta (end)-is, through this statement, somehow separated from the Hindu faith tradition from which it is derived. We can extend this denial of Hindu origins to yoga, a Sanskrit word, with its simplest meaning, “union.” Yoga’s common connotation in the community I live in-a suburb of metro-Detroit striving to come to terms with its religious and cultural diversity-represents a form of exercise known as hatha yoga. In fact, a few local churches even offer “Christian yoga.”

As David’s response to my question stated, what we mean by Hindu is complex. Dictionary.com has various definitions for the word “faith,” but one that highlights the complexity of being a Hindu is: “a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.” What happens when the system of religious belief is itself so complex that it defies the term “religion”? (Again, from dictionary.com-“a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.”) The fundamental set of Hindu beliefs consists of statements and ideas at opposite ends of the spectrum-take Nirguna and Saguna Brahman (god without any form and god with many beautiful forms). Many Hindus I know say “I am not religious, I am spiritual,” and often I am questioned about my Hindu advocacy-“Who or what is a Hindu?”

In my treasure trove of Hindu scriptural texts is a book from my father: Swami Prabhavananda’s translation and commentary on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, a Hindu scripture and foundational text on yoga. In this book and in the Bhagavad Gita, yoga comes to mean a form of spiritual union with the Supreme Spirit. Patanjali’s aphorisms and the Gita, while they may require translation and commentaries, still point to the simple fact that the various forms of yoga-karma, bhakti, jnana, dhyana, etc.-guide someone who follows the Hindu faith to The Truth as described by the Rig Veda phrase “Ekam Sat.” So, while the concept of yoga is rooted in Sanatana Dharma, yoga requires sadhana-practice-which is something anyone can do, according to their religious tradition.

This leads me to the recent debates-around the world and across the religious landscape-about whether or not yoga originates from Hinduism. This discourse seems to have become a challenge to those who do not embrace the plurality of belief systems, that there are multiple valid pathways to God, and that the world is changing. To compare Eastern and Western ways of thinking is, as Swami Prabhavananda says, “neither fair nor valid.” So, whether yoga is considered Hindu or not, religious or spiritual, its beauty is the universality of its application, and it is what people make it. As I told my children, whether the acknowledgement of yoga’s roots is missing or misleading, it is still our Hindu inheritance.

INTERFAITH ARTICLES OF INTEREST

 

Here are two articles about interfaith interaction between the

Muslim and Jewish Communities.

 

1)  Please go to the following website to read about what’s going on in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

http://www.jewishexponent.com/article/22536

 

2)  The Following article describes interfaith initiatives in Dayton Ohio among the Abrahamic Faiths.

http://www.jewishdayton.org/page.aspx?id=235745&utm_source=MPACnews&utm_campaign=70eb0d058d-WD-2011-Is-Here&utm_medium=email

 

3)  This article describes the joint efforts between the Hindu and the Jewish communities of Houston, Texas!!

 

http://jhvonline.com/local-event-promotes-hindujewish-solidarity-p10396-96.htm

 

 

 

The language of interfaith conversation

Mindful interfaith language expresses our common humanity, builds relationships of respect and trust, and pursues peace

By Larry (J.W.) Windland

 

The journey into interfaith conversation is not unlike a journey around the world. Instantly we are connected with diverse cultures, customs and concepts. Just as when visiting distant lands we may pick up a phrase book to learn how to facilitate basic communication, a simple phrase book for interfaith conversation may be helpful. The following is not so much a Glossary of Interfaith Words but rather possible chapter headings if such a book actually existed.

Mindful vocabulary

One parlance of interfaith language is Mindful Vocabulary. A church is not a synagogue. A synagogue is not a masjid (mosque). A masjid is not a gurdwara (Sikh house of worship). Using the correct term indicates that you have taken the time to become at least basically aware of the conversation partner’s faith tradition. But interfaith language can be very confusing. Perhaps instead of faith-specific terms, faith-neutral terms may serve better. For example, “house of worship” is a term that fits most traditions and communicates what you intend to say without calling an apple an orange. Because some traditions such as Native spirituality or Baha’i do not necessarily have a traditional “house” of worship, the term “place of worship” may be even more suitable. Developing a type of informal, all-purpose Interfaith Glossary is a helpful exercise that heightens an awareness of the words we use and dissolves the presumption that “everyone is just like me.”

Mindful respect

A second suggestion for interfaith conversation is the language of Mindful Respect. Learning simple greetings is an expression of respect and honour for another’s tradition and culture. Examples include Namaste (Hinduism), Shalom (Judaism), Asalaam Alaikum (Islam), Sat Sri Akaal (Sikhism). You’ll find diverse greetings interesting to learn and fun to use. Mindful respect in interfaith conversation is not only about what you might want to say but also what you might not want to say. Avoiding offensive or judgmental terms requires the language of mindful respect. Instead of referring to a particular ritual or event as “strange” or “weird,” use terms like “unfamiliar to me” or ” different than I have seen before.” Using the language of mindful respect communicates a sense of dignity and worth toward the dialogue partner.

Insider-outsider language

A third suggestion for interfaith conversation is Mindful Use of Insider/Outsider Language. Every faith tradition has its own lexicon. Sikhs know well what is meant by kangha, Muslims know wudu, Buddhists know tanha, Jews know aliyah. However, each faith tradition may be unfamiliar with the language of the others. In order to be understood in interfaith conversations, it helps to be mindful that you are speaking to an “outsider” who may not know your faith’s vocabulary. Using straightforward outsider definitions: “small wooden comb” (kangha), “ritual washing” (wudu), “selfish craving” (tanha), “going up to read the Torah” (aliyah) insures that you will more likely understand as well as be understood.

Gentle commitment

A fourth suggestion for interfaith language is Mindful Gentle Commitment. Interfaith conversation does not mean hiding or temporizing one’s own strongly held beliefs. Indeed the best interfaith conversation is between faithful commitments. It is often through the shared commitments of dialogue partners that beliefs are mutually enhanced and enriched. Such sharing can be done – indeed, must be done – in the language of gentleness that is not exclusive, arrogant or patronizing. When a Jew proclaims that the messiah has not yet come, a Christian will disagree; when a Christian proclaims that Jesus is the Christ, a Muslim will disagree; when a Muslim proclaims that Mohammed is the seal of the prophets, a Mormon will disagree; and on and on.

The language of interfaith conversation calls us to be mindful that our commitments are just that, our commitments, and not the commitments of others. We share commitments so that we may understand one another, not that we may convince or convert one another. Perhaps two helpful words to add to our interfaith phrase book are “for me.” The messiah has not yet come, for me. Jesus is the Christ, for me. Mohammed is the seal of the prophet, for me. The language of gentle commitment in interfaith sharing clarifies other people’s beliefs as well as our own.

Interfaith language, like any other language, includes both speaking and understanding. A more mindful language is just one of many tools to make this possible. As you engage in interfaith conversation you will no doubt think of many other chapter headings for a phrase book of mindful interfaith language. Such language expresses our common humanity, promotes civility and builds relationships of mutual respect and trust. Such language pursues peace.

Debbie Friedman, Jewish songwriter and performer, dies at 59

Debbie Friedman is credited with bringing a more folksy, sing-along style to American congregations.  (Photo courtesy of Limmud/Flickr)

 

Article from the New York Times, January 11, 2011

By Margalit Fox

 

Debbie Friedman, a singer and songwriter whose work – which married traditional Jewish texts to contemporary folk-infused melodies – is credited with helping give ancient liturgy broad appeal to late-20th-century worshippers, died on Sunday in Mission Viejo, Calif. She was 59 and lived in Laguna Woods, Calif.

The cause was complications of pneumonia, said Jerry Kaye, a family spokesman. Ms. Friedman, who continued performing in public until the end of her life, had been ill for the past two decades with a chronic, often debilitating and never definitively diagnosed neurological condition.

One of the brightest stars of the Jewish music world, Ms. Friedman was called “the Joan Baez of Jewish song,” as the Jewish newspaper The Forward wrote in 1995. She was known for her clear, strong voice and for the intense spiritual conviction with which she sang as she accompanied herself on the guitar.

She recorded more than 20 albums, which together have sold half a million copies. Among them are “Miracles & Wonders,” “Renewal of Spirit,” “You Shall Be a Blessing” and “The Water in the Well.”

Ms. Friedman’s compositions encompass not only modern settings of traditional Hebrew liturgy but also songs for which she wrote original English lyrics. Regularly sung by congregants in Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative and some Modern Orthodox synagogues (as well as in some Christian churches), they are widely credited with having revitalized worship for a generation of postwar American Jews.

To an extent, her work also made its way into the mainstream marketplace. Her music appears on the video “Barney in Concert,” on which the purple dinosaur sings her setting of the Hebrew alphabet for children; her lyrics have been featured on a line of Hallmark cards. In live performance, Ms. Friedman sang on some of the world’s most storied concert stages, including Carnegie Hall.

In 2007, Ms. Friedman joined the faculty of the School of Sacred Music at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, where she taught Reform rabbinical and cantorial students; she later taught at Hebrew Union College’s Los Angeles campus.

Her appointment was striking for two reasons: first, because she was a largely self-taught musician who did not know how to read music, and second, because her work – inclusive, progressive and strongly feminist – was perceived as a threat to established cantorial tradition when she began her career in the early 1970s.

Deborah Lynn Friedman was born on Feb. 23, 1951, in Utica, N.Y., to parents who belonged variously to Conservative and Reform synagogues. When she was a child, the family moved to Minnesota, and she grew up in St. Paul.

As a teenager, she was enraptured both by Jewish and folk music; she taught herself to play the guitar from the records of Peter, Paul and Mary, and her music would be likened to theirs.

After high school, Ms. Friedman worked briefly on an Israeli kibbutz before returning to the United States.

“One night I went to synagogue, and realized, sitting there, I was bored,” she told The Los Angeles Times in 1995. “I realized the rabbi was talking, the choir was singing and nobody was doing anything. There was no participation.”

Not long afterward, an original melody came to her, and as an experiment, she set to it the words of “V’ahavta,” a prayer drawn from Deuteronomy that commands Jews to love God.

“I sang it with some high school kids, who sang it arm in arm, crying and singing,” Ms. Friedman told Lilith magazine in 1995. “They were looking for a spiritual avenue of their own.”

With that, Ms. Friedman had found her calling; her first album, “Sing Unto God,” a collection of Sabbath songs, was released in 1972.

While some rabbis and cantors welcomed her music as a democratizing force, others saw it as a subversive breach of time-honored tradition, in which the cantor was typically white-haired, always male and usually vocally imposing and the congregants were passive listeners.

By contrast, Ms. Friedman’s music emphasized audience participation. (At her concerts, she encouraged audience members to sing along; many also danced in the aisles.) It centered on themes like healing, a concern that stemmed partly from her years of chronic illness. (Her most famous song is a setting of “Mi Shebeirach,” a Hebrew prayer for the sick.)

Many of her English lyrics concerned the empowerment of women and other disenfranchised groups, stemming, her associates said on Monday, from the quiet pride she took in her life as a gay woman.

Ms. Friedman is survived by her mother, Freda, and two sisters, Cheryl Friedman and Barbara Egli.

She was the subject of a documentary film, “A Journey of Spirit,” which followed her from 1997 to 2002.

If Ms. Friedman never attained the vast crossover success of Amy Grant, the Christian pop singer with whom she was often compared, it did not seem to bother her. In an interview with The Palm Beach Post in 2004, Ms. Friedman recounted her response to a music-industry executive who accused her of being just a big fish in a small pond.

“I’m not a fish,” Ms. Friedman replied.

3rd Annual International Conference on
Religion, Conflict, and Peace:”
Walking The Talk to Compassion and Harmony


April 8-10, 2011
Henry Ford Community College
Dearborn, Michigan USA


A Multi-disciplinary, Multi-cultural Conference

an Official Partner and Event of
the Charter For Compassion
and
the Parliament of World’s Religions

Sponsored by:
Common Bond Institute,
Co-Sponsored by:
Pathways To Peace, Henry Ford Community College,
International Humanistic Psychology Association,

Endorsed by over 100 universities and organizations internationally

Full Conference Details at:
www.cbiworld.org/Pages/Conferences_RCP.htm
(copy & paste address into your browser)

~ Registration is Open All ~


We Invite You To:
an inclusive, interactive 3-day public forum promoting Inter-religious and Intra-religious dialogue to explore the challenges of Extremism, Intolerance, Scapegoating, and Islamophobia, and the promise of Reason, Understanding, Compassion, and Cultural Harmony.

JOIN over 45 Presenters and Facilitators as we explore:
  1)  The mutual dilemmas of religious ignorance, extremism, intolerance, negative stereotypes, prejudice, demonization and dehumanization, scapegoating, and fear of “the other,” that lead to toxic divisiveness, polarization, and social paranoia, including the current example of Islamophobia and it’s impact on the Muslim community,
and
  2)  The promise of personal engagement through dialogue and practical applications in nurturing a shared consciousness of peace – and in doing so promoting the religious experience as a healing remedy rather than problem.

FORMAT:
An outstanding, diverse gathering of presenters for 3 Days of keynotes, workshops, panels, dialogue groups, live global links, film showings, social/cultural events, exhibits, multicultural community, and rich networking for collaborative action beyond the conference.

  ”It does not require that we be the same to be appreciative of, at peace with, and secure in our relationships with each other; only that we be familiar enough with each others story to share the humanity and trustworthiness that resides in each of us.”

LOCATION:    Henry Ford Community College
5101 Evergreen Rd., Dearborn, MI. USA

SCHEDULE:
  Fri. April 8, 10:00 am -to- Sun. April 10, 2:30 pm
       (On-site Registration opens 8:30 am)


FOR DETAILS on Proposals, Program, Registration, Fees, Program Ads, Exhibits, and previous conference Proceedings CONTACT:

Common Bond Institute
Details at Website:www.cbiworld.org
Steve Olweean, Conference Coordinator
12170 S. Pine Ayr Drive, Climax, MI 49034 USA
Ph/Fax: 269-665-9393    Email: SOlweean@aol.com

OPEN HOUSE

Gurdwara Sahib Hidden Falls

40600 Schoolcraft

Plymouth, MI  48170

(northeast corner of Schoolcraft and Haggerty)

February 6, 2011

11:30 – 1:30

(Sikh religious service* and community lunch)

R.S.V.P.

Raman Singh rsingh65@comcast.net  313-492-7314

Jaspal Neelam neelamjk@comcast.net  248-765-4998

*during a Sikh religious service we cover our heads, remove our shoes and sit on the floor (if physically able).  Please dress appropriately and comfortably.  We will provide head coverings or you can bring your own scarf

Coptic Christians are Neighbors

by Abdul Malik Mujahid

President Sound Vision, and Chair Council for a Parliament of World Religions

Posted: January 7, 2011

 

I was horrified to read about the New Year’s Day bombing that killed 21 worshipers at the Coptic Christian Saints Church in Alexandria, Egypt. I join Muslim scholars around the world who have roundly condemned this act that directly contravenes Islamic teachings.

“Muslims are not only obligated not to harm Christians, but to protect and defend them and their places of worship,” said Imam Ahmed Al Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, in response to the attack.

Tense relations between people of different faiths are not limited to this horrific incident. Nor are they reserved to Egypt. Around the world, we are witnessing deadly extremism as well as intense conflict, whether the weapons are hateful words or bombs and guns.

Too often, religion is misused as an instrument for division and injustice. This betrays the very ideals and teachings that lie at the heart of each of the world’s great traditions. Religious and spiritual traditions shape the lives of billions around the world in wise and wonderful ways. They offer a platform for community building, not only within individual faiths, but across faiths as well.

The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions traces its roots to the first parliament that took place in Chicago almost 120 years ago. From the start, its aim has been to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities. As well, the Council aims to foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions to achieve a just, peaceful, and sustainable world.

Over the years, the interfaith movement has initiated dialogues and nurtured relationships between people of varying faiths. In doing so, it has provided a framework for expressing many visions of a just, peaceful and sustainable future. In the process, religious and spiritual communities have discovered a shared commitment to ethical principles and engaged in seeking the common good.

This modern interfaith movement is taking root all across the world. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has established his own interfaith foundation; Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has found interfaith dialogue a crucial aspect of living in an interdependent world; last August, when a few Christian homes were attacked in Pakistan, the leader of the most conservative Islamic party in Karachi stood with Christians and Hindus protesting against this crime; when the Coptic Church was attacked on January 1, Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb, head of Al Azhar, visited the Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III to express his solidarity. Students at Al-Azhar University also organized a protest rally in solidarity with Egyptian Copts.

These are just some ways that religious and spiritual communities around the world are working together for greater harmony. They don’t make the news headlines, since change for the good takes years and years of hard work, cooperation, exchange, trust-building, and community-building. In contrast, a car bombing takes just seconds to quickly put more than a dent in such cooperative relations.

Yet, an ongoing commitment to the ideal of interreligious and spiritual harmony cannot and is not shaken by incidents like the January 1 bombing in Egypt. On the contrary, they can and should strengthen our resolve and commitment to work together at a more serious level.

Religions can and have lived together for centuries in various parts of the world, despite years of conflict — whether it was Christians, Muslims, and Jews in Spain or Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Sikhs, and Muslims in India. America is our latest, beautiful example of interreligious harmony and coexistence. We are a nation in which faith communities, despite continuing problems and tension, can generally live and work together free of communal violence and instability.

The question of why there are increased attacks on Christians is a legitimate one, which requires a separate discussion about war-terrorism nexus. War continues to produce evil justifications by violent extremists for attacking Christian neighbors. This connection is evident since Al-Qaeda in Iraq had threatened Egyptian Christians recently by publishing a list of churches in Egypt on their website.

Muslim countries have a responsibility to protect their minorities, as do all other countries. No international conflict, no “clash of civilizations” thesis, no thought of a million dead Iraqis or the civilians killed by American drones in Pakistan, the occupation of Palestine or Afghanistan lessens this responsibility. That conversation is independent of the rights of neighbors to freely practice their faith and pursue their lives.

This is where the interfaith movement must continue to strengthen itself to connect neighbor with neighbor as individuals, not as objects of some distant foreign policy.

We must learn the forgotten lessons of being your brother’s keeper. And we must also learn from Prophet Muhammad, who said: “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbor what you love for yourself.”

 

On this same topic you might also like to read the following article:

 

Egypt’s Muslims attend Coptic Christmas mass, serving as “human shields”
Muslims turned up in droves for the Coptic Christmas mass Thursday night, offering their bodies, and lives, as “shields” to Egypt’s threatened Christian community

 

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/3365.aspx?utm_source=Parliament+Newsletter&utm_campaign=8ddb9e63ac-Newsletter_11&utm_medium=email

“For the Next Seven Generations”

A Film about 13 Indigenous Grandmothers, coming to Ann Arbor on February 19th

 

In 2004, thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers from all four corners, moved by their concern for our planet, came together at a historic gathering, where they decided to form an alliance: The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers. This is their story. Four years in-the-making and shot on location in the Amazon rainforest, the mountains of Mexico, North America, and at a private meeting with the Dalai Lama in India, For the Next 7 Generations follows what happens when these wise women unite. Facing a world in crisis, they share with us their visions of healing and a call for change now, before it’s too late. This film documents their unparalleled journey and timely perspectives on a timeless wisdom.

 

This film is coming to Ann Arbor at the Interfaith Center for Spiritual Growth www.interfaithspirit.org on February 19th, 2011 at 8:00 PM.

 

THE NIAGARA FOUNDATION CORDIALLY INVITES YOU TO THE

ANNUAL DINNER OF ABRAHAMIC TRADITIONS

Thursday, February 10, 2011

6:30 PM to 9:00 PM

Detroit Marriott Southfield

27033 Northwestern Highway

Southfield, MI 48034

THEME: Strengthening Family Life Today: Resources and Wisdoms

within the Abrahamic Traditions

 

Kindly RSVP by going to michigan@niagarafoundation.org

 

Priest races against time to record Nazi killings

Father Patrick Desbois, who is in Hong Kong this week, is racing against the clock to uncover the hidden atrocities of the Holocaust before it is too late.

Although the slaughter of six million Jews and people of other minority groups by the Nazis in the second world war are widely known, there is little known about the Nazi unit that shot hundreds of thousands of Jews and Roma gypsies in the former Soviet bloc from 1941 to 1944.

The French Catholic priest, 55, has uncovered mass graves in Poland, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, where at least 1.6 million Jews were shot by the Nazis.

He is in Hong Kong this week to speak in Asia for the first time about his painstaking work. Last night, he spoke at the Jewish Community Centre at a ceremony to commemorate UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is today.

He said he aims to raise awareness about the genocide and mass murder hoping to prevent these atrocities from happening again.

“For me, genocide is a disease of humanity,” he said. “If you do not recognise a disease you cannot treat it.”

The goal of Desbois’ organisation, Yahad-In Unum, is to uncover all mass graves in Eastern Europe, and collecting witnesses’ testimony is key. The group has filmed 1,760 witnesses testifying about the shooting of Jews and Roma.

“When I began, people told me: `It’s impossible what you do, Father, because it was a secret. There were no witnesses’,” Desbois said. But, he said: “I’m sorry, there are witnesses everywhere.”

Desbois said some witnesses had been relieved to finally tell stories which had haunted them for nearly a lifetime.

One witness, who was a non-Jewish teenager during the war, said she was forced to walk barefoot on the corpses to compress them into mass graves. She never told anyone about this.

“And she told me: `Suddenly all my schoolmates arrived because they were Jews, and I had to walk on them like the others’,” he said.

Time is against Desbois and his team, who must trawl through German and Soviet archives, visit remote villages to interview witnesses and complete research.

“We want to finish before the witnesses die,” he said. “It’s a short-term challenge. The witnesses are between 75 and 90. They were teenagers during the war, and they want to speak before they die.”

In Hong Kong yesterday, he admitted being apprehensive about whether his findings would be meaningful to an Asian audience. But after the first few days of lecturing students, his fears have subsided. Their sensitive reactions and insightful questions have been a welcome surprise. “It gives me great hope to arrive in Hong Kong and find teenagers who are concerned,” he said.

He said genocide has occurred unexpectedly at many times and places.

The Germans were highly educated and cultured, their genocide of the Jews “unthinkable”, Desbois said.

Rwanda’s genocide in 1994 was just as unexpected. “Everybody was Catholic, both sides had the same religion, same condition, all blacks. Who could imagine a tribe could absolutely try to exterminate another tribe?”

The 1937 mass murder in Nanking by the Japanese against the Chinese is an event that Desbois has used as a reference during his talks to students.

“It was nearly the same methodology used by the Japanese in Nanking that was used by the Nazis in the Soviet Union: to shoot everybody,” he said.

 ISNA-CIOM Diversity Forum (The Muslim Observer, January 14-20, 2011)

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Founder and CEO of American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA) and the Park 51 Project, and renowned Professor Dr. Sherman Jackson, addressed the Detroit and surrounding communities at the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan (CIOM) Diversity Forum Banquet.  The banquet took place on Saturday, January 15th.

The banquet served as the first time Imam Feisal addressed the Muslim community, follwoing the eruption of protests against the building of Park 51, an Islamic community center in New York City.  Imam Feisal and Dr. Sherman Jackson addressed how Detroit and North American Muslims can overcome racial, ethnic, and sectarian divisions within their own community to develop a solid foundation to represent Islam to the larger interfaith community and overcome obstacles such as the Park 51 or Murfreesboro, TN controversies.

Imam Feisal is a tireless advocate for uniting the Muslim community through respect of diversity, continued outreach, and improved understanding, regardless of creed, nationality, or political beliefs.  Imam Feisal established ASMA in 1997 as the first Muslim American organization committed to bringing Muslims and people of other faiths together through policy, culture, current affairs, and academia.  He has received much attention in the past year for his part in the development of Park 51, an Islamic community center in downtown New York City, and his commitment to bringing the diversity of Muslims into the fold of American culture.

Dr. Sherman Jackson is a leading professor and scholar on matters of Islamic law and race relations in America.  Presently, he is Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Visitng Professor of Law, and Professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Michigan.

“At a time when heated debates – such as the building of local Islamic schools, community centers, and places of worship – erupt across the nation, it is important that we do not allow the hate-mongers to divide and conquer the rights of our American Muslim community.  We must overcome our own internal divisions to seek strong relationships with our interfaith partners, he said.” 

Both Imam Feisal and Dr. Jackson are known for their commitment to overcoming divisions of race, creed, and religious beliefs!!

Krista Tippett Coming to the Birmingham Community House on February 15th

 

Metro Parent Magazine and WDET Workforce Development Education and Training (Diversity Health Institute)  are proud to present Spirituality and Parenting…a Conversation on Wisdom and Learning for the Modern Family featuring Sylvia Boorstein at The Birmingham Community House, February 15, 2011 at 7:00 p.m.  Krista Tippett is the host of Speaking of Faith, a weekly radio show carried on many public radio stations around the United States.

Speaking of Faith is a radio show covering topics related to human faith in the broadest sense. Krista Tippett,  author of Speaking of Faith and Einstein’s God and host of On Being, a radio program based on the questions of humanity and ancient traditions of the human spirit, will be leading a discussion with Sylvia Boorstein, author of Happiness Is an Inside Job.

Five Women Five Journeys: How Different Are We?
 WISDOM Women together

This unique WISDOM program features personal stories of women of different faith traditions – how their childhood impacted their beliefs today, what the challenges are for women in their faith tradition, what parts of their religion are misunderstood, how reaching out to someone from a different faith has enriched their lives.
To inquire about a Five Women Five Journeys Program for your organization, contact Elaine Schonberger at bookfairmama@comcast.net or Paula Drewek at Drewekpau@aol.com .
Check out the latest story about a friendship that crosses religion, race, or ethnic boundaries at www.friendshipandfaith.com.
Email Gail Katz at gailkatz@comcast.net if you have a personal story for the friendshipandfaith.com website!!
LINKS THAT YOU CAN USE FOR MORE INFORMATION!!

 1)  Go to http://www.readthespirit.com/religious-holidays-festivals/ for fascinating information about upcoming Religious holidays that your neighbors of different faith traditions may be celebrating!!

2)   Go to http://www.readthespirit.com/were-making-news/ for a listing of all the articles written about the WISDOM Book Friendship and Faith: the WISDOM of Women Creating Alliances for Peace.

Go to our WISDOM websites at www.interfaithwisdom.org

Read our interfaith story of the week from our book Friendship and Faith,

and find the link to buy the book at

Amazon at

 
Contact Information

 

Gail Katz gailkatz@comcast.net
phone: 248-978-6664

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WISDOM Mission Statement

To Provide concrete modeling of women from different faith traditions working together in harmony for the common good.
To Empower women to take a more active role in furthering social justice and world peace.
To Dispel myths, stereotypes, prejudices and fear about faith traditions different from our own.
To Nurture the growth of empathy and spiritual energy that result from our projects and interfaith dialogue.