WISDOM Newsletter – August 2011

Written by WISDOM on . Posted in Newsletters

THE WISDOM WINDOW

AUGUST 2011

WISDOM

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 Contact bookfairmama@comcast.net for more information.

Friday, August 26th

See Article below about a visit to Temple Israel in West Bloomfield for a learning opportunity about Judaism, the first in a series of visits to House of Worship!!

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, 1355 Oakman Blvd., Detroit.

12:30 – 1:15 PM Check in and assignments

1:30 – 2:00 PM Kick off

2:00 – 4:00 PM Community Service Projects

4:00 – 5:15 PM Refreshments and interfaith/intercultural dialogue.

Registration will be through United Way. More information to come!! Contact Gail Katz, gailkatz@comcast.net

Wednesday, September 14

WISDOM Film Discussion Group will kick off with Dr. Parvinder Mehta of Wayne State University, leading a discussion of the movie “Arranged.” The movie is about a friendship between an Orthodox Jewish women and a Muslim women who meet as first year teachers in a public school in Brooklyn, NY. 6:30 PM – 9:00 PM at the Birmingham Community House, in partnership with the Diversity Task Force, 380 S. Bates St., Birmingham, 48009, cookies and coffee served!! Contact Sheri Schiff to register, sheritschiff@gmail.com

Thursday, October 27

“Flowers Aren’t Enough,” an event to educate women and teenaged girls about abusive relationships. Sponsored by the National Council of Jewish Women (Greater Detroit Section) and Temple Israel Sisterhood, and supported by WISDOM. The program will begin at 7:00 PM at Temple Israel, 5725 Walnut Lake Road, West Bloomfield. For more information contact NCJW at 248-355-3300.

Sunday, December 4

“Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus” – an interfaith panel program, sponsored by the Interfaith Leadership Council, will be held in conjunction with the Rembrandt exhibit from 2:30 pm – 6:30 PM at the Detroit Institute of Art. There will be a charge for this event. Contact Gail Katz at gailkatz@comcast.net More information to follow!!

Thursday, December 8

Make an interfaith beaded jewelry bracelet with Nomi Joyrich, owner of the Franklin Bead Works. Program will run from 4:00 – 7:00 PM at Unity of Farmington Hills 32500 West 13 Mile Road, Farmington Hills, 48334. Program for Friends of WISDOM!! There will be a charge for this event for the materials and for a light supper!! More information to follow!!

Sunday, December 11

Kids Against Hunger Project – Community Service project to package dry meals for the hunger in Metro Detroit and abroad – at the Rush Trucking Warehouse 38500 Van Born Road, Wayne, MI 48184. 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM. Contact Gail Katz at gailkatz@comcast.net

 

Friday, August 26th

Shabbat Under The StarsVisit Temple Israel as part of our

WISDOM Houses of Worship Series.

Learn about Judaism through a tour from 6:30 – 7:15 PM

and a beautiful outdoor Shabbat service from 7:30 – 8:30 PM.

Temple Israel is located at 5725 Walnut Lake Rd., West Bloomfield.

Contact Gail Katz at gailkatz@comcast.net for more information.

We will be meeting at a restaurant

near the temple for dinner prior to the tour.

 

  

 

Check out the stories of the WISDOM Women

at the Bay View Association in Northern Michigan!

 

http://www.readthespirit.com/friendship-and-faith/2011/7/14/wisdom-women-invited-to-bring-their-diversity-into-americas.html

 

 

Check out this article in the Huffington Post – Why Include Interfaith Children in Interfaith Dialogue?

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-katz-miller/why-include-interfaith-ch_b_893526.html

 

Check out this article “Choosing to Wear the Muslim Headscarf!!

 

http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Choosing-to-Wear-the-Muslim-Headscarf

Check out Odyssey Networks short video-clips:

 

1) Rabbi Irwin Kula “Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life”

 

http://www.odysseynetworks.org/video/odyssey-networks/rabbi-irwin-kula-embracing-the-sacred-messiness-of-life

 

2) Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf on “Interfaith Harmony”

 

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

 

3) The Rev. Richard Cizik on “The Role of Interfaith Dialogue”

 

http://www.odysseynetworks.org/video/odyssey-networks/the-rev-richard-cizik-on-the-role-of-interfaith-dialogue

 

4) Anju Bhargava founder of the Hindu American Seva Charities

 

 http://odysseynetworks.org/video/odyssey-networks/anju-bhargava-an-interfaith-journey

 

 

Interfaith Worship Provides Education, Understanding

Detroit News, July 12, 2011

 

(See article below about a similar interfaith service held at the Washington National Cathedral)

 

Faith Shared

From left to right, Yousif and Younes’ father, Younes Makki, Yousif Makki, the Rev. Terri Polarksi, Gail Katz, and Eide Alawan

 

Imagine a worship service, the primary Sunday morning service in a Christian church, that begins with a nine-year-old Arabic boy offering the Islamic Call to Prayer, followed by a woman lighting candles on a table set with bread, wine and grape juice and offering the Jewish prayers that begin the Sabbath worship, followed by an Episcopal priest offering the collect of the day.

 

So began the interfaith service held this past weekend at Christ Episcopal Church in Dearborn. The service included portions of Muslim, Jewish and Christian worship, honoring each tradition in the process. Beginning with each tradition’s call to prayer and worship, the service continued with readings from and reflections on the sacred texts of the Torah and the Gospels, plus a reading from the Qu’ran which was chanted in Arabic and translated into English. Gail Katz, Co-Founder of WISDOM (Women’s Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach in Metro Detroit) and member of Temple Israel in West Bloomfield, brought her family’s Sabbath candlesticks, and after lighting the Shabbat candles, she blessed them in Hebrew and welcomed everyone to a beautiful interfaith service.

 

Yousif (Joseph) Makki, a member of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, chanted the Muslim Call to Prayer, and his brother, Younes (Jonas) explained the meaning of the Arabic prayer in English.

 

Gail also shared the “”Parashah” of the week – the Torah portion read that week in synagogues all over the world. Reading from Numbers Chapter 16:1-35, Gail explained the story of Korach, the organizer of a rebellion against Moses and Aaron, and reflected on our personal struggle as human beings between our “inner Moses” and our “inner Korach.” Younes followed the sharing of the Torah portion with a reading from the Qu’ran. Prayers over a meal were offered by each tradition, and the bread, wine and juice were shared among the gathered congregation.

 

The Rev. Terri Pilarski, priest and rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Dearborn, was the creative force behind Dearborn’s “Faith Shared” service. Each component of the worship offered the comparable element from each tradition – Muslim, Jewish and Christian. The only unusual aspect of the service was that the various elements were woven into a typical order for a Sunday morning worship service in the Episcopal Church. Not every Jewish or Muslim worship experience would include all of these elements in one service, although they are each a component of faithful practice in the life of a Jew or Muslim.

 

Dearborn, Michigan, home to the largest Islamic community in the United States, is a unique community that honors it’s diversity and lives with sincere hospitality and compassion between the people of this city. While this worship service was a first for the community, it is just one example of the many ways that Jews, Christians, and Muslims work together for the good of all.

Hearing each other’s prayers and learning about our diverse faith traditions are ways to move forward to break down our cultural, ethnic and religious segregation, which is so pronounced in Metro Detroit. The more we learn about the faith-based practices of our neighbors who might dress differently, eat different foods, and speak different languages, the more we find our commonality as human beings and underscore our similar missions of unity, peace, community-building and mutual understanding.

In particular this was an opportunity for each of us to embrace the beauty of worship in other traditions, upholding that which distinguishes each and honoring our differences, while recognizing that all three traditions grow out of the God of Abraham. The purpose of this service, one of dozens nationwide inspired by the national Faith Shared project organized by the Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First, both based in Washington, D.C., was NOT to blend our diverse ways of worshipping God into one common service, nor was it an invitation to create one world religion.

It was decisively an opportunity to learn from one another and celebrate our differences while honoring our similarities. The June 26 date for this service coincidentally fell at the end of the 10th annual Worldviews Seminar, an educational opportunity open to all, held every year in the month of June co-sponsored by the University of Michigan and Christ Episcopal Church, in Dearborn. The seminar, taught by Professor Lucinda Mosher, includes lectures on world religions followed by site visits to local houses of worship.

The Rev. Terri C. Pilarski is rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Dearborn.

Gail Katz is co-founder of WISDOM and a member of Temple Israel in West Bloomfield.

Eide Alawan is spokesman for the Islamic Center of America in .

 

Check out this article about the Interfaith service at the Washington National Cathedral which promoted Religious Tolerance on June 26th, 2011

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/interfaith-service-at-washington-national-cathedral-promotes-religious-tolerance/2011/06/26/AGryCWmH_story.html

 

 

The World Views Seminar students from the University of Michigan at Dearborn Come to Temple Israel in West Bloomfield, Michigan on Friday, June 24, 2011 for a site visit to a Jewish House of Worship!!

 

Temple Israel 1

Above Temple Israel member Cindy Kandel takes out the holy Torah scroll for everyone to view. Below, Cindy unrolls the Torah scroll for everyone to get a close up look at the Hebrew script. In the photo below is Professor Claude Jacobs, the director of the World Views Seminar. The students also had the opportunity to take part in the Friday night Shabbat services in the sanctuary.

 

 

Temple Israel 2

 

 

.Interfaith Potluck Supper

The Interfaith Leadership Council hosted a vegetarian potluck dinner at Unity of Farmington Hills on Sunday, June 26th, with the intention of discussing what interfaith initiatives have happened in Detroit since 9/11, what has worked well, and where do we go from here!! From left to right are Bob Bruttell (Chair), Victor Begg, Michael Hovey, Gail Katz, the Rev. Barbara Clevenger, the Rev. Bob Hart, Paula Drewek, and Sheri Schiff.

 

WISDOM Gives a Scholarship to Universitiy of Michigan-Dearborn student for the World Views Seminar, June 2011.

Here is a beautiful response from that student!!

 

Dear WISDOM Women:

 

I am writing to thank you for affording me the opportunity to attend the 2011 Worldview’s seminar. It was a wonderful experience, enriched by the site visits and personal connections that were formed as well.

 

Being the only Muslim in the group, it was a pleasure to share my faith tradition on a more personal level with other students who had many questions.

 

This experience not only deepened my appreciated for the Metro-Detroit area, it also enhanced my understanding of other faith traditions. My main goal, was to be able to form personal connections to various communities and places of worship. As a newly licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I wanted to be able to have as many points of reference to understand my diverse families and couples who often pull from their spirituality to get through a difficult time.

 

 

For those who may be wondering who the scholarship went to, I would briefly share that I have a M.A. in Conflict Transformation and Peace-building and I’m a newly licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I have a new company called Family and Couple Therapy Center factcentermi.com and I have been doing interfaith work for 10 years.

 

I have been trying to take the worldviews seminar since 2003 when I was a freshwoman at U of M Dearborn. I’m delighted that this year I was able to do so and had the financial help to make it happen. Thank you again for helping to make this possible.

  

 

Peace

 

Nadia Bazzy

 

 

 

Detroit Muslims, Jews and Christians

join together in health-care drive.

 

An interfaith group of Muslims, Jews and Chaldeans teamed up on Tuesday. July 19th to provide health-care services to the working poor and those without medical insurance at the Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center in Detroit.

 

“We’re helping the people who show up to this clinic and fulfilling a need within the community,” said Robert Cohen, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Detroit.

 

 

“We’re also trying to build trust and build relations between the Jewish and Muslim communities in the city.”

 

 

The Interfaith Health Fair was organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Detroit and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan and ran for four hours on Tuesday afternoon.

 

Around 100 doctors, nurses, social workers and medical students performed standard medical screenings, took blood samples, recorded patients’ medical histories, and provided them with guidance on any necessary follow-up, through a one-onone consultation with a physician.There are approximately 68,000 Jews living in the Detroit metropolitan area and anywhere between 150,000-200,000 Muslims.

Victor Ghalib Begg, chairman emeritus of the Council of Islamic Organization for Michigan, said that it was crucial for the Muslim and Jewish communities to have good relationships.

“We live with the Jewish community as neighbors, our doctors work together in hospitals and our kids go to school together. This initiative is helping provide an important service to people who have no medical insurance but it’s also bringing our communities closer together – Muslim, Jewish, suburban and inner-city,” said Begg Tuesday’s health-care fair was the second such event, the first having taken place in November last year.

The two community organizations have worked together on previous projects such as a Christmas Day initiative dubbed “Mitzvah Day,” in which Jewish volunteers – joined in recent years by members of the Muslim community – have stood in for Christian communityservice workers on Christmas Day to allow them to take a break on the holiday.

“This health fair is part of an ongoing effort to make our community more inclusive,” Begg said. “Our communities appreciate the work we do to bring the communities together and we need more good news like this.”

“We’re hoping this kind of message will be delivered in Palestine and Israel because we want to be an example to others further afield,” he said.

The volunteers also included a number of medical professionals from Detroit’s 125,000-strong Chaldean community, an eastern Christian denomination of the Catholic Church.

As with all Muslim-Jewish ties, Cohen explains, relations are strained because of the conflict in the Middle East and the general support of each community for their co-religionists.

“So we’re not trying to solve the conflict or even engage in difficult conversations.

We are so far apart in the way we look at the conflict there’s almost no common ground, but yet we live together side-by-side in this city and it’s a good idea to get to know your neighbors.

Interfaith Health Fair
Pakistani Women at Interfaith Health
Robert Cohen (Jewish Community Relations Council) and Victor Begg (Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan) stand with women from the Pakistani Women’s Association that prepared meals in the soup kitchen for the patients!!
Michigan Department of Civil Rights

Launches a New Public Service Campaign

 

When it comes to the places Michiganders interact with each other – where we live, work, learn and cross paths in the world – there’s no compromising on basic fairness. This important message is at the heart of a new public service campaign launching from the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. WISDOM co-founder, Shahina Begg, was invited to take part in the Department’s series of public service announcements that began airing on radio and tv on July 19.

“I am not an actor by any means, but I was excited when I received the invitation,” said Begg. “The Only Fair is Fair message is important to get out there, and it represents core values that we’ve held at WISDOM from the beginning. Also, as a Muslim, the very notion of civil rights for all people irrespective of color, race, religion or economic status is the core element of my Islamic faith.”

 

Take a look at the PSA and pass the word on! Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lge0X5f0NHE

 

New Documentary about Muslim youth and the Koran

entitled “Koran By Heart.”

 

 

When I was in Aspen last week, I saw the documentary “Koran By Heart” and I thought it was a very remarkable film, and presented a balanced view of Islam, grabbing at your heart strings through the filming of young Muslim children. See the blurb about the film below. This film will be aired on HBO on Monday, August 1st at 9:00 PM EST. There was also an article about the film director Greg Barker in the Saturday, July 30th NY Times. See link below. (Gail Katz)

 

“Once a year, the brightest kids from across the Islamic world head to Cairo for the world’s oldest and most prestigious Koran-reciting competition. They must not only repeat randomly selected passages down to the last perfect syllable, but also perform to the highest standards of “tajweed,” ancient rules governing melody and rhythm. This lively film follows three extraordinary 10-year-olds: Nabiollah, from Tajikistan, has never attended school; Senegalese Djamil, an imam’s son, carries the weight of his village’s expectations; Rifdha, from the Maldives, is exceedingly bright and one of the few female competitors. Through the eyes of his three young subjects, acclaimed filmmaker Greg Barker provides a compelling and colorful glimpse into the many faces of contemporary Islamic culture.”

 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/30/us/30religion.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=koran%20by%20heart&st=cse

 

For World Cup Host Germany, Diversity Is the Goal

Gordon Welters for The New York Times

Muslim girls can wear head scarves, forbidden in international play, in German youth leagues.

Fatmire Bajramaj, a star midfielder, is the lone Muslim player on Germany’s women’s national team, which is seeking a third consecutive World Cup title.
Read this article at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/sports/soccer/for-host-germany-in-womens-world-cup-diversity-is-the-goal.html
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 – July 2011

Written by WISDOM on . Posted in Newsletters

THE WISDOM WINDOW

JULY 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 Contact bookfairmama@comcast.net for more information.

Friday, August 26th

Visit Temple Israel as part of our WISDOM Houses of Worship Series. Learn about Judaism through a tour from 6:30 – 7:15 PM and a beautiful outdoor Shabbat service from 7:30 – 8:30 PM. Temple Israel is located at 5725 Walnut Lake Rd., West Bloomfield. Contact Gail Katz at gailkatz@comcast.net for more information. We will be meeting at a restaurant near the temple for dinner prior to the tour.

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, 1355 Oakman Blvd., Detroit.

12:30 – 1:15 PM Check in and assignments

1:30 – 2:00 PM Kick off

2:00 – 4:00 PM Community Service Projects

4:00 – 5:15 PM Refreshments and interfaith/intercultural dialogue.

Registration will be through United Way. More information to come!! Contact Gail Katz, gailkatz@comcast.net

Wednesday, September 14 or Wednesday, September 21

WISDOM Film Discussion Group will kick off with Dr. Parvinder Mehta of Wayne State University, leading a discussion of the movie “Arranged.” The movie is about a friendship between an Orthodox Jewish women and a Muslim women who meet as first year teachers in a public school in Brooklyn, NY. Date and venue should be firmed up soon.

Thursday, October 27

“Flowers Aren’t Enough,” an event to educate women and teenaged girls about abusive relationships. Sponsored by the National Council of Jewish Women (Greater Detroit Section) and Temple Israel Sisterhood, and supported by WISDOM. The program will begin at 7:00 PM at Temple Israel, 5725 Walnut Lake Road, West Bloomfield. For more information contact NCJW at 248-355-3300.

Sunday, December 4

“Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus” – an interfaith panel program, sponsored by the Interfaith Leadership Council, will be held in conjunction with the Rembrandt exhibit from 3:00 – 7:00 PM at the Detroit Institute of Art. There will be a charge for this event. Contact Gail Katz at gailkatz@comcast.net

Thursday, December 8

Make interfaith beaded jewelry with Nomi Joyrich, owner of the Franklin Bead Works. Program will run from 4:00 – 7:00 PM at the Farmington Hills Public Library and will include a light supper. There will be a charge for this event.

Sunday, December 11

Kids Against Hunger Project – Community Service project to package dry meals for the hunger in Metro Detroit and abroad. Venue and time to be determined.

 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.

Why Interfaith Dialogue Doesn’t Work — And What We Can Do About It

By Rabbi Eric Yoffie – President, Union for Reform Judaism

I have been participating in interfaith dialogue as a rabbi and Jewish leader for more than 30 years, and most of the time it just doesn’t work.

Most of the time — and it is painful for me to admit this — it is terribly boring. Most of the time there is a tendency to manufacture consensus, whether it exists or not. Most of the time we go to great lengths to avoid conflict. Most of the time we cover the same ground that we covered last month or the month before. And far too often we finish our session without really knowing the people across the table and what makes them tick religiously.

And most of we time we are satisfied with mouthing a few noble, often-repeated sentiments. Thus, we affirm the importance of mutual understanding, tolerance and dialogue; we assert that all human beings are created in the image of God; we proclaim that despite our differences, all of our traditions preach love of humankind and service to humanity. Nothing is wrong with these sentiments, of course; in conceptual terms, I believe in them all. But if we don’t dig beneath the surface and focus on substance rather than rhetoric, they mean very little.

The result is that most of the time, interfaith discussions are simply excruciating, irrelevant to me and to the world around me. Why then have I been so involved for so many years?

The reason is that very occasionally, something extraordinary happens: One of these conversations changes me, binds me to my colleagues, advances my understanding of myself and others, and adds texture and depth to my own religious beliefs and convictions.

In thinking back on these moments, it seems to me that there are three things that make for a “good” dialogue and that turn tiresome interfaith conversations into meaningful religious moments.

First, meaningful dialogue happens when the conversation turns to our religious differences. Platitudes are set aside when, as representatives of our faith traditions, we cease to be embarrassed by the particular; when we put aside the search for the lowest common denominator that most often characterizes — and trivializes — our discussions; and when we recognize that absent a clear affirmation of who we are, how we are different and what we truly believe, all our conversations are likely to come to nothing.

Second, interreligious exchanges become compelling when my colleagues and partners give expression to their religious passions. I am drawn in when they share with me their deepest beliefs and strangest customs, no matter how radically other they are from my own. And the sharing of religious passions should lead to passionate debate, in which we struggle with the really hard questions: What happens when conflicting beliefs lead to conflicting interests? What do we do about those areas where differences cannot be bridged and must be dealt with?

Third, interreligious dialogue truly touches us when we can discuss what we all know to be true but what we rarely say: that, in some ways at least, we all believe in the exceptionalism of our own traditions. We all tend toward the conviction that there are some elements of our religious beliefs and practice that stand above and apart from what other religions offer, and it is liberating when we are able to acknowledge this and then explain why we think that way, without apology but open to the honest reactions of those around us.

Other high points come from those moments when we all say what it is about our own traditions and communities that we don’t like and then talk frankly about why that it is so. And I am always delighted when we stop focusing on talk and start planning to work together — and really mean it.

As I said, these things happen rarely. I, like others around the interfaith table, am often sitting there just going through the motions, distracted by other things and caught in the same old patterns and clichés that predominate in these settings. Still, from time to time, we find a way to speak from the heart. When we do, God’s presence — variously felt and differently experienced — creates an atmosphere of faith, partnership and common purpose in the room. For those rare moments, I will continue to make the effort, without regrets.

 

  • Congregation Beth Ahm in West Bloomfield Dedicates a Bible Garden!!
  • People of all faiths along with gardening enthusiasts gathered on June 5, 2011 at 11:00 am for the dedication of the Louis and Fay Woll Memorial Bible Garden, Michigan’s largest and most meticulously designed Bible Garden. Located on the campus of Congregation Beth Ahm, 5075 West Maple Road in West Bloomfield, the dedication and public opening included tours of the Garden which illustrates many biblical and botanical themes.

    This unique Bible Garden not only reflects various biblical stories but is also comprised of actual plant and tree species noted in the Bible. Visitors will experience a series of themes including the Garden of Eden, Abraham and Sarah’s Tent, Parting of the Red Sea, and the giving of the Hebrew Bible at Mt. Sinai. The many species of plants, flowers, and trees included in the Garden are identified by both their biblical references and botanical names. A visit to the Woll Memorial Bible Garden concludes at a replica of the Western Wall, the remnant of the Old Temple and one of Judaism’s holiest sites, in Jerusalem.
    Dr. Douglas Woll, the visionary for the project, said his parents were the inspiration for the Bible Garden.

    “I wanted to honor the memory of my parents by creating something of beauty, of spirituality, of renewal, and of celebration, which could be connected to the unending living link of the Jewish people,” Woll said. “Designing and building a Bible Garden, with the major themes and plants from the Hebrew Bible, seemed to be a perfect combination of things that are wonderful about Judaism, the Jewish people, and my parents. They lived by the principles of kindness, caring, education and generosity, ” he said.

    The Louis and Fay Woll Memorial Bible Garden is a place for inner reflection, education, and social and community gatherings. It is a place to understand and appreciate the beauty and continuity of nature and its connection to the Jewish people and to the Divine.
    The Woll Memorial Bible Garden is open in the spring, summer, and fall from sunrise to sunset. Guided visits can be arranged by calling 248.851.6880 and visitors may come at their convenience for self guided tours. The public may also visit the Garden on the internet at wollbiblegarden.org.

    • Phone:(248) 851-6880
    • Email:dgoodman@cbahm.org

     

Check out Odyssey Networks short video-clip featuring Diana Eck, head of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University, and Kathryn Lohre, discuss “Common Ground in the Midst of Differences.”

http://odysseynetworks.org/video/odyssey-networks/diana-eck-kathryn-lohre-common-ground-in-the-midst-of-differences

Another Odyssey Networks video that speaks to each of us working so hard in the interfaith world!!

http://odysseynetworks.org/video/odyssey-networks/rev-otis-moss-iii-understanding-faith-through-jazz

Another video to see about Interfaith is

“Honorouring Diverse Beliefs in Our Communities: A Conversational Toolkit”

A Himar Productions Ltd.

http://vimeo.com/22148547

From the Baha’i World News Service

BORDEAUX, France, 31 May 2011
Summit Moderator His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel Adamakis, Co-President of the Council of Churches of France, told participants that they were face-to-face not just as religious leaders but as representatives of humanity, speaking with one voice to the leaders of the G8 and G20 countries. That voice was heard in a unanimously agreed statement drafted at the meeting and later presented to the Secretary General of the G8. In addition to recommendations on five major themes - reforming global governance, the macro-economic situation, climate change, development, and investing in peace - the statement called for representatives from the African continent and the Middle East to be included in the G8 and the G20 meetings.

“We - leaders of diverse religious communities throughout the world - re-commit ourselves to working together across religious lines for the common good and with governments and other partners of good will. We remain convinced - each in accordance with the teachings of their tradition - that justice, compassion and reconciliation are essential for genuine peace,” the statement said. Two Baha’i delegates gathered with Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Shinto, and Sikh colleagues, as well as members of interfaith organizations at the Religious Summit in Bordeaux to deliberate on matters related to the agendas of the G8 Deauville Summit and the G20 Cannes Summit, scheduled for 3-4 November 2011.

TWO) Iran’s human rights violations: international condemnation spreads

GENEVA, 26 June 2011 (BWNS) - The worldwide outcry against the persecution of Iran’s Baha’i community has been joined by the Chilean Senate, a Muslim Senator in Canada, and prominent Indian organizations. The latest calls - for an end to both the imprisonment of Iran’s seven Baha’i leaders and the continuing detention of 12 staff and faculty members of the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) - have coincided with the sending
of a message to the Baha’is of Iran by the Universal House of Justice.
The letter, written in Persian and dated 17 June, dismisses as “baseless” and “absurd” statements by the Iranian authorities that the Baha’i community’s effort to educate its young members is “illegal.” It also upbraids those in Iran who, it says, have shunned true Islamic values,
the laws of their land, and the nation’s proud history of learning and
knowledge, and have allowed themselves - based on ignorant religious prejudice - to deny young citizens of their higher education.

“Unjust detention”
In Chile, the Senate has unanimously asked President Sebastian Pinera to
“strongly condemn” Iran for its “rigorous and systematic persecution of
Baha’is.” In a resolution approved unanimously on 15 June, the Chilean Senate specifically mentioned the arrests last month of BIHE faculty and staff, objecting to the “unjust detention of those individuals.” The Senate noted that, “since 1979 the government of Iran has systematically
denied higher education to young adherents of its largest non-Muslim religious minority, the large Baha’i community of 300,000 believers.
“The government also has sought to suppress the efforts of the Baha’is to
establish their own initiatives, including the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE).”

YOUTH ASCENDING –

RAISE A JOYOUS SHOUT!

Lift up the youth of Metro Detroit

in prayer and song at an exciting interfaith service

 

SUNDAY, JULY 17,2011

St. Peter Claver Catholic Community

13305 Grove St

(6 Mile Rd. and Schaefer)

Detroit, MI 48235

Potluck lunch and social hour 2:00 – 3:00pm

Meet and greet, fun and food

Worship service 3:00 – 4:00pm

Youth choirs and bands from all over the Metro Detroit area

For further information contact:

Rabbi Dorit Edut, 248-543-4255

Organized by DION (Detroit Interfaith Outreach Network)

FAITH SHARED

A Project of Interfaith Alliance
and
Human Rights First

Tensions around Islam in America have erupted throughout the country in the past year, leading to misconceptions, distrust and in some cases violence. News stories on the rising tide of anti-Muslim bigotry and violence abound, with graphic and often searing images of the antagonists, the protagonists and the battlegrounds where they meet. All too often, media coverage simplistically pits Muslims against would-be Qur’an burners, neglecting any substantive representation of where the majority of Americans actually stand: a shared commitment to tolerance and freedom. We are committed to ensuring that the storyline changes dramatically in 2011 by helping to create an environment of mutual understanding and respect for each other’s faith traditions.

Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First offer the Faith Shared event as a way to engage faith leaders on the national and community levels in interfaith events intended to highlight respect among people of different faiths. Through photos, video clips and print coverage distributed around the world, we are looking to display visual images that reflect the mutual respect that is shared by so many Muslims, Christians, Jews and other Americans, standing together as a strong counterpoint to the negative images that have dominated the domestic and international news.

The Goals

This project will create opportunities across the United States for faith communities to strengthen ties with each other. We will counter the misperception, including in the Arab and Muslim worlds, that the United States is a nation defined by the widely covered images of the marginal few who would burn a Qur’an, rather than by a proud and longstanding tradition of religious freedom, tolerance and pluralism. In communities across the United States, this project will not only serve as a model for tolerance and cooperation and promote local faith leaders as champions of such, but it will also create a concrete opportunity to build and strengthen working ties between faith communities moving forward.

Will You Join Us In Faith Shared?

Faith Shared asks houses of worship across the country to organize events involving clergy reading from each other’s sacred texts. An example would be a Christian Minister, Jewish Rabbi and Muslim Imam participating in a worship service or other event. Suggested readings will be provided from the Torah, the Gospels, and the Qur’an, but communities are encouraged to choose readings that will resonate with their congregations. Involvement of members from the Muslim community is key. We will also provide suggestions on how to incorporate this program into your regular worship services. And we will assist local congregations in their media and communications efforts.

While there is a strong preference for all of the events to happen on the same day, a number of congregations held interfaith services in January and February giving us wonderful examples of how communities can come together in support and fellowship. We will be posting photos, sample programs and audio files from theses services.

Faith Shared will collect images and videos from these events to use in our efforts to spread this message of respect and understanding from America.

For More information go to www.faithshared.org

The Gift of the Upanayanam

A Hindu Bar Mitzvah? One mother considers her son’s upcoming initiation into the study of the Vedas.

By Padma Kuppa, June 08, 2011

I am going to remember this as the year of the upanayanams. Not only is it the year in which my son’s upanayanam will be performed, it is the first time I will be attending so many, both in the U.S. and in India. While many sacred sacraments, called samskaras, exist for Hindus this one is the initiation of a young boy into one of the profoundest prayers of the Hindu people: the Gayatri or Savitri mantra. This provides the boy the right to pursue wisdom through the study of the Vedas, and is a compound word: upa means “near,” nayanam is “to send.” Before the upanayanam, a boy is still a child. Once his upanayanam is complete, the boy or vatu is supposed to stay with a guru, live a life of regulation, pray three times a day, and spend a good part of his time in acquiring knowledge, particularly from the Vedas, the Hindu scriptures. I have been explaining to friends and colleagues that this is my son’s “Hindu Bar Mitzvah.”

Under Jewish laws, children are not obligated to observe the commandments but they are encouraged to do so as much as possible to learn the obligations they will have as adults. At the age of 13 (12 for girls), boys become obligated to observe the commandments. The words “Bar (or Bat) Mitzvah” actually mean the “son (daughter) of commandment,” and the purpose of the Jewish commandments is to keep one’s life focused on family, community, and a relationship with God. The bar mitzvah ceremony formally, publicly marks the assumption of that obligation, to form binding contracts, to testify before religious courts, and to marry. The popular bar mitzvah ceremony isn’t needed to confer these rights and obligation; it doesn’t make you Jewish.

Similarly, having an upanayanam doesn’t make one a Hindu. To bring in a Christian analogy, it does, however, mean one is born-again. The vatu (a word describing the boy)receives life-through a physical body-from his parents: this is the first birth. While living with the guru after the upanayanam, the guru imparts knowledge of the scriptures and gives him a life of jnana: this

My mother knew that my son and I wanted to know more about what is involved in the ceremony, so she emailed us a list of steps involved. These include: punyahavachana (preparation of the surroundings, the time), prayaschittam (redemption), and performance of the other jaata karmas (life sacraments, such as naming ceremony) that the boy had from birth to now. She explained that the priest who conducts the ceremony will also make my son step on a stone, to tell him that whatever he will be doing from now on-either in doing his duty justly, in leading a disciplined life, or in fulfilling his wishes or desires rightly-he should be like a rock with a firm mind.

I also did some research and landed at Hinduism Today.  I was happy to know that this is not a ceremony to exclude, that young boys of all backgrounds are initiated into study of the Vedas.  My son and I discovered that Rama, the avatar of Vishnu, also had an upanayanam, and that there are several other words to denote it: janoi (Gujarati/Hindi), poonal (Tamil), Brahmopadesam (Sanskrit), vodugu (Telugu).

Just as a bar mitzvah is called to read the Torah during the Jewish ceremony, a vatu is being initiated into the sacred Vedic mantra, the Gayatri. Literally, Gayatri means that which protects him who chants it. He must then perform sandhyavandanam thrice daily, an exercise to quiet the mind and render it fit for meditation on the highest truth epitomized by the Gayatri. Since the Gayatri mantra is meditation on the Sun (as god), the priest or guru will take him to show him the sun and other stars.

The initiate is also invested with a sacred thread, a reminder of his connection to that which is holy and sacred. The sacred thread is the yajnopaveeta and is symbolic of the trinities found within the Hindu tradition: Brahma, Vishnu, Siva; Saraswati, Lakshmi, Parvati; Father, Mother, Supreme Spirit; Teacher, Scriptures, Inner-self. There are three cotton threads prepared in a special way and placed across the vatu’s neck and chest from left to right (there are variants to this depending on occasion and ritual) and worn daily.

During the ceremony, the vatu also takes a vow of celibacy, and seeks alms and blessings, beginning with his mother and father-this step is the Bhikshakaranam. This is done symbolically today, since parents continue to support their children after the event. This ritual is done to imbibe the virtue of humility-the end result is much like the Jewish event-lots of presents!

But the most important gift of the upanayanam is the Gayatri mantra itself; the translation here is from the late Sathya Sai Baba’s site (which also has a fount of information on the Gavatri).

We contemplate the glory of Light illuminating the three worlds: gross, subtle, and causal. I am that vivifying power, love, radiant illumination, and divine grace of universal intelligence.

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.

 

An Effort to Foster Tolerance in Religion

Eboo Patel helped the White House develop its Interfaith and Community Service Challenge.

By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
Published: June 13, 2011 in the New York Times

CHICAGO – For a guy who is only 35 and lives in a walk-up apartment, Eboo Patel has already racked up some impressive accomplishments.

A Rhodes scholar with a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, he has four honorary degrees. His autobiography is required freshman reading on 11 college campuses. He runs a nonprofit organization – the Interfaith Youth Core – with 31 employees and a budget of $4 million. And he was tapped by the White House as a key architect of an initiative announced in April by President Obama.

Mr. Patel got there by identifying a sticky problem in American civic life and proposing a concrete solution. The problem? Increased religious diversity is causing increasing religious conflict. And too often, religious extremists are driving events.

He figured that if Muslim radicals and extremists of other religions were recruiting young people, then those who believe in religious tolerance should also enlist the youth.

Interfaith activism could be a cause on college campuses, he argued, as much “a norm” as the environmental or women’s rights movements, as ambitious as Teach for America. The crucial ingredient was to gather students of different religions together not just to talk, he said, but to work together to feed the hungry, tutor children or build housing.

“Interfaith cooperation should be more than five people in a book club,” Mr. Patel said, navigating his compact car to a panel discussion at Elmhurst College just west of downtown Chicago, while answering questions and dictating e-mails to an aide. “You need a critical mass of interfaith leaders who know how to build relationships across religious divides, and see it as a lifelong endeavor.”

Until Mr. Patel came along, the interfaith movement in the United States was largely the province of elders and clergy members hosting dialogues and, yes, book clubs – and drafting documents that had little impact at the grass roots.

For the rest of this article, please go to:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/14/us/14patel.html

Check out this article on Women in Religious Peacebuilding!!

http://www.usip.org/publications/women-in-religious-peacebuilding?utm_source=Parliament+Newsletter&utm_campaign=188de9ddd5-Newsletter_18_Women_Peacebuilders&utm_medium=email

INTERFAITH HEALTH FAIR
Interfaith Health Fair will be held on July 19th, 2011, in cooperation with the HUDA Clinic, the Muslim Center, the Chaldean community and the Jewish Community Relations Council.

Please email

Dr. Zahid Sheikh at zahid43207@msn.com

or

Dr. Muzammil Ahmed at mahmed@ispu.org

if you would like to volunteer either as a medical professional or to help with the CIOM sponsored soup kitchen that day.

Volunteer registration: http://interfaithhealthfairvolunteers.eventbrite.com/

Client registration: http://interfaithhealthfairclients.eventbrite.com/

 

A Taste of Asia – China, Philippines, Japan, India, and More!!

Come and enjoy the cuisine, culture, and diversity of Asia through an exotic dining experience! The evening will feature two surprise performances. Travel to each station to taste fine foods from various Asian countries.

SATURDAY, JULY 16, 2011 3pm-6pm

17356 Northland Park Ct.

Southfield, MI 48075

Admission is FREE for all CAPA (Council of Asian Pacific Americans) members and $25 for new members. All current members should bring at least one other new member.

Please send your RSVP to amykoehler@capa-mi.org by

Monday, July 11, 2011

Registration opens at 2:30pm

Philippine American Community Center

“What In the World Is Ovarian Cancer and Why Didn’t I know About It?”

Very few of us can answer that question.

On Thursday September 1 at 7:30 P.M. Temple Israel will host a panel of ovarian cancer survivors and caregivers who will discuss the myths, facts, symptoms and risk factors of the disease.

These dynamic women who have “walked the walk” of hearing those dreaded words “you have ovarian cancer” will talk about their lives, how the cancer affected them and those around them, and how they have gone on to live their lives to the fullest.

This year 22,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer and 15,000 will die. Those numbers have not changed in the thirty years since the American Cancer Society declared war on cancer. We want those numbers to change as we raise awareness and education of this dreaded disease.

Though once referred to as “The Silent Killer”, this disease is anything but quiet. Our goal is to increase the number of survivors as we raise awareness and education of this dreaded disease.

The outstanding women who will speak are a part of the Survivors Teaching Students program that is sponsored by the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance which is based in Washington D.C. The program was originally formulated to speak to third year medical students, however, it (the program) is so successful that the group speaks to residents, nurses, nursing students, p;physician’s assistants as well as social workers.

Now it is time to raise awareness and educate the women of our community – women of all faith traditions – about ovarian cancer.

We urge you to make a reservation for this highly educational and informative evening by calling the Temple Office at: 248-661-5700.

 

Elaine Greenberg

Midwest Regional Coordinator,

Survivors Teaching Students,

Saving Women’s Lives

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 ListBECOME 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 – 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

 

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.