February 2018

Written by WISDOM on . Posted in Newsletters

Calendar for WISDOM and Other Interfaith Events 
 
Tuesday, February 6th 7:00 – 8:30 PM
Ask a Sikh at Temple Kol Ami, West Bloomfield
See Flyer Below!
 
Sunday, March 11th 4:00 – 6:00 PM
Nineteenth Annual World Sabbath at Christ Church Cranbrook
See Flyer Below!
 
Monday April 23rd 11:00 AM Temple Israel Sisterhood Luncheon
Five Women Five Journeys WISDOM Presentation
Contact Gail Katz for more information 248-978-6664

Fund Some Fun and Further WISDOM’s Mission
Available on Amazon, paperback $20, e-book $9.99. Books may also be purchased at any of our events.
Have you ever been to or sponsored a book signing? If not, here is your chance! WISDOM will come to your venue (home, place of business, house of worship etc.) to read from, and talk about our new book, Friendship and Faith, 2nd Edition. It is a very personal way to learn about the book, the authors, and have your book autographed onsite.
The program includes at least three of the authors reading from their stories, responding to audience questions and signing books. It requires the pre-purchase of a minimum of 20 books.
Your sponsorship of this program will provide a rather unique experience for your group, help spread the message of the power and potential of relationship in the process of change and transformation, and help fund WISDOM programs.
So Fund Some Fun and further WISDOM’s mission!
Contact Trish Harris at tharrismsq@att.net or 248 335-0964 for questions or to schedule a book signing.

Calcutta’s Synagogues Are a
 Tanmay Chatterjee

Once home to a sizable Jewish community founded by Iraqi Jews in the 18th century, Calcutta now has only twenty-three Jews. Yet three of the city’s historic synagogues, two of which were recently restored, are maintained by local Muslims. Tanmay Chatterjee writes:
At Magen David, built in 1884 and South Asia’s biggest Jewish prayer building, featuring a 165-feet-high steeple, Rabbul Khan represents the third generation of a family of “caretakers” hailing from the adjoining state of Odisha. At Nave Shalom, [Calcutta’s oldest synagogue], thirty-five-year-old Masood Hussain, also from Odisha, is the newest among the caretakers but never forgets to offer skullcaps to visitors.
“Miyazan Khan, my grandfather, worked here all his life and my father Ibrahim Khan served for 50 years,” says Rabbul Khan as he tends to some glass candelabra inside the prayer hall. . . . Don’t his friends and family object to his working at a synagogue? “Nobody ever uttered a word. We all live like family here,” comes a firm reply.
Muslims on the payroll of the Jewish trusts that run the synagogues practice their own faith and share a warm relationship with the people of the neighborhood in central Calcutta. At the Jewish Girls’ School on Park Street, the students Zeba Shamim, a Muslim, and Subhosmita Majumdar, a Bengali Hindu, feel proud to be part of a choir that sang Shalom Aleykhem at the Beth El synagogue, built in 1856, for the first time before members of the Jewish community who arrived from Israel and other parts of the world to witness the restoration. Israel’s ambassador to India, Daniel Carmon, figured among the guests.
Students from Elias Meyer Talmud Torah School, the Jewish boys’ school, also took part in the celebrations at Magen David synagogue. Oseh Shalom, a Jewish prayer for peace, was performed solo by a Muslim boy, Suharnuddin Ahmed. He was trained by his teacher, S. Nayak, a Hindu.

Detroit Public Schools Central District 
Invites Faith Groups to Volunteer

As the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) continues its vital work of restoring and rebuilding educational resources for Detroit’s 50,000 families with schoolchildren, Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti, is seeking stronger ties with the Detroit Metro area’s faith-based community to help in its efforts and is unveiling this week plans of creating a new initiative called the Faith Based Council.
District officials will present its strategic plan for Faith Based Council to focus on ensuring every Detroit Public School has a partner. Area houses of faith will have the opportunity to partner with nearby schools and work with families and children throughout the Detroit community.
The partnership between the faith-based community and DPSCD will provide a platform for congregation members from all houses of worship who want to make a difference supporting families right where they are. The district is seeking help and ministry in their work of ensuring the success of its students and is looking to local clergy to seek involvement from their congregations in assisting with students’ basic needs, academic support, volunteers and generally promoting the successes of students across the District. DPSCD will also provide training and support for a designated liaison to ensure a successful partnership with the schools.
To receive additional information please text/call Yolanda Eddins at313.674.1010 or email her at yolanda.eddins@detroitk12.org.

Area Mormons Mourn the Loss of Leader

Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died Tuesday at his home in Salt Lake City, Utah, according to a statement from the organization. He was 90. Funeral services for President Thomas S. Monson, leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be held in the Conference Center on Temple Square Friday, January 12, 2018, at 12:00 p.m. MST. The funeral will be open to the public ages 8 and older. A public viewing open to all ages will take place Thursday, January 11, from 9:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. in the Conference Center.
Born in Salt Lake City in 1927.  Monson served in the US Navy near the close of World War II, according to his church biography. After the war, he graduated from the University of Utah and started a career in publishing.
Monson became president of the church in 2008, and served in that capacity until his death. According to his obituary in the Washington Post, Monson became church bishop at the age of 22, the youngest church apostle ever in 1963 at the age of 36. He served as a counselor for three church presidents before assuming the role of the top leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in February 2008.
As president of the nearly 16-million-member faith, Monson was considered a prophet who led the church through revelation from God in collaboration with two top counselors and members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
The next president was not immediately named, but the job is expected to go to the next longest-tenured member of the church’s governing Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Russell M. Nelson, per church protocol.
Mormon Presidents serve for their entire life. When they die, an eight-step transition process takes place in choosing a new leader.  It starts with dissolving The First Presidency – the two most senior appointed advisors to the President.
During the transition between appointing Presidents, The Quorum of Twelve Apostles – a group of leaders and advisors regarded by Mormons as prophets and seers, assume Church leadership. They spend their time teaching and travelling around the world, addressing and encouraging large congregations of members and interested nonmembers, as well as meeting with local leaders.
Since the Church was formally organized on 6 April 1830, there have been 16 presidents, including President Thomas S. Monson.
“President Monson served as either a member of the Twelve Apostles, in the General Presidency or as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout my entire life,” said April Cook, IFLC Board Secretary and Area Assistant Director of Public Affairs, Michigan, LDS Church  “My church memories are filled with his wonderful kindness, his desire to do good and uplift, his efforts to serve and lead. I have often been inspired by him to be a better person and show loving kindness more readily.
“Monson said, ‘Unless we lose ourselves in service to others there is little purpose to our own lives.’ My efforts to make a difference as a board member of the IFLC and an advocate forJustServe.org have been influenced by words like these.” “His name forever will be linked to compassionate endeavors, service to others and a strong desire to help those who are helpless, nourish those who are weak and lift those who suffer various afflictions. He demonstrated that service most effectively on a one-to-one basis,” said Local Area Seventy, Elder Daniel F. Dunnigan.

The Rising Generation of Leaders
Reimagining the Interfaith Movement
by Tahil Sharma and Megan Anderson
(Article from the December Interfaith Observer)

Interfaith leaders counter-protesting at the Untied the Right rally in Charlottesville VG – Photo: Facebook
2017 has shaped the interfaith movement and clearly shown us the growing need for religious and secular pluralism and understanding. From clergy at the front lines of demonstrations against white supremacy and the drastic changes being made to the healthcare system, to community members standing against hatred through letter campaigns and fundraising, interfaith cooperation is becoming the social norm  during times of flagrant injustice. Yet interfaith organizers, educators, and bridge builders can only work for more united and resilient networks when they overcome the difficult task of being radically inclusive in their own movement.
We are at a moment in world history where collaboration across lines of difference is imperative to our survival. While interfaith gatherings strive for diversity and inclusion, many times they have a tendency to create homogeneous and monolithic communities that have an older age bracket, show themes of a common faith and ethnicity, and possess “tokens” of minority religious community members.
Although the interfaith movement is growing in number, we are not necessarily growing in inclusion. Often, both new and long existing interfaith groups do not reflect genuine diverse representation of people and communities imperative to the conversation. How often is the minority voice lost in interfaith protests against the increasing systemic oppression and discrimination against minority communities? How often are the innovative ideas younger generations are kept at arm’s length from “seasoned” activists or clergy in leadership positions? In some cases we are limited by the diversity of the context itself, but more often than not we simply don’t put enough intentionality into finding and welcoming these communities into the conversation.
In order for this groundswell movement to survive the ethical crises of our time, we must gather together our diverse journeys, stories, and wisdom as we commit ourselves to greater social action. Individuals and grassroots organizations around the world are already committed to the service required of our growing collective, but it’s time to take it to the next level and get everyone involved.
Now comes a coalition bringing these conversations to the forefront. Through the co-sponsorship of numerous diverse organizations, including The Interfaith Observer, Religions for Peace-USA, Shoulder-to-Shoulder, United Religions Initiative-North America, World Congress of Faith, the Interfaith Funders Group, the International Association for Religious Freedom and multiple faith communities, Reimagining Interfaith is being planned. Reimagining Interfaith is an event this summer focused on skill-building, networking, and organizing for grassroots activists and interfaith peacebuilders from around the world. It aims to bring us to the point where we can truly make our global interfaith community all-encompassing. This gathering will focus on the practical aspects of interreligious and intersectional encounters and equip activists with the skills to work across lines of difference, break down barriers, and create lasting relationships. Programming will be focused on five skill-building program areas: (1) Cultivating Welcoming Communities in the Face of Discrimination; (2) Community Organizing: Initiating and Sustaining Social Change Movements; (3) Staying “Woke”: Recognizing Privilege, Challenging Systematic Oppression; (4) Interfaith Organizing in a Changing Spiritual Landscape; and (5) Making a Movement: Building Skills to Bring Interfaith to the Next Level. There will also be a track for children and blocks of time set aside for open networking, dialogue groups, cultural activities, and participant-driven programming.
This is where you come in. We need you to be a part of the courageous leadership that will make interfaith work more powerful than ever before. We need you to teach us what we may not know about how the interfaith movement can be better. We are talking to all those who have felt uncomfortable or marginalized by our movement. We are talking to those who feel called to act against injustice. We are talking to the numerous religious, spiritual, and secular adherents who deserve to speak their truth to power.
And, we are talking to ourselves – the ones who need to listen, change, and empower new leaders.
Visit www.reimagineinterfaith.org and join us in this unique opportunity!

RIT professor launches table-top games to enhance people’s understanding of religion
Dec. 11, 2017
by Vienna McGrain
(Rochester Institute of Technology)
A team of interdisciplinary researchers, designers and developers led by Owen Gottlieb, an assistant professor of interactive games and media at Rochester Institute of Technology, has produced two first-of-their-kind table-top games that aim to promote and enhance the public understanding of religion and law.
The first two entries in the game series, Lost & Found and Lost & Found: Order in the Court – the Party Game, are available for purchase. According to Gottlieb, the games give players and educators a unique perspective of 12th-century Cairo and teach about medieval religious legal codes. Gottlieb says the purpose of the series is to change the discourse about religious legal systems, enhance people’s understanding of religion, improve discussion surrounding religious legal systems and increase awareness of the pro-social aspects of religious legal systems, including collaboration and cooperation.
“At a time when there is a great deal of divide in the country, as well as a lack of understanding of people’s cultures and what it means to be of a religious tradition that has a legal system, this competitive and collaborative game is one way to begin discovering how we might bridge the divide,” said Gottlieb, of the strategy game. “The legal systems that are being taught in this game are about governance, caring for your neighbors and building sustainable communities.”
In Lost & Found, players take on the role of villagers who must balance personal needs with the needs of the community, all while navigating medieval religious sacred law systems. The game centers on laws that help solve community problems and were handed down over hundreds and sometimes thousands of years of legal tradition. The initial model of the game teaches Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah, a medieval Jewish law code. In the future, the team plans to build out the game to incorporate Islamic and potentially other religious law systems.
“I first began thinking about developing games for the understanding of religious law back in 2011,” said Gottlieb. “I recognized the potential and studied this religious law in rabbinical school. While I was studying the texts, I even began to find agricultural illustrations that looked like a game board. The texts also used law cases and built hypothetical situations around them. You see, legal codes are based on rule-based systems, and games are based on rule-based systems. Upon close examination, the parallels are evident. Rather than focusing on arcane, hard-to-read texts in our teaching of these ruled-based systems, what if we made these law cases quickly tangible, engaging and engrossing through the medium of contemporary games?”
The second game in the series, Order in the Court – The Party Game, uses the party-game genre to have players compete by creating stories about possible reasons behind the formation of medieval laws. Played for humor, the game generates curiosity about the law and quickly moves players into discussing the possible reasons for and meaning of the laws.
The games, available at lostandfoundthegame.com, are distributed through RIT’s MAGIC Spell Studios. Lost & Found is available for $38.99 and is geared toward high school and college-aged students due to its level of strategic complexity. The second, Order in the Court – the Party Game, is available for $35.99 and is accessible for junior high students as well as older teens and adults.
The games are the result of nearly four years of research and development with help from graduate and undergraduate students, and faculty in RIT’s School of Interactive Games and Media and the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences. Professor Ian Schreiber of RIT’s School of Interactive Games and Media is core mechanics designer for the games. Gottlieb says the intricate details and architectural patterns drawn on the cards by RIT students are representative of 12th- century North Africa, and he views the games as teaching tools for universities, high schools, libraries and museums.
“Games are incredibly difficult to make,” added Gottlieb. “There were times when our development team, including visual artists, designers, historians and game developers, would work until midnight or beyond reading the laws and trying to figure out how to translate the laws into a playable game system. In terms of a board game that examines legal reasoning, legal thought, legal implications and even history, there are limitless opportunities for educators to adapt it to their curricula. An upcoming project for our team is drawing from research to develop curricula for these games.”
The project was developed in collaboration with the Initiative in Religion, Culture and Policy @MAGIC, housed within RIT’s Center for Media, Arts, Games, Interaction and Creativity (MAGIC). Gottlieb is the founder and lead research faculty of the initiative, which cultivates new research focused on games, religious literacy, the acquisition of cultural practices and the implications on policy and politics. Also credited in the production of both games are the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences and RIT’s Office of the Vice President for Research. The digital prototype version of Lost & Found was supported and funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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.

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WISDOM’s challenge is to bring together people from different faith traditions, ethnicities, races, and cultures in an atmosphere of safety and respect to engage in educational and community service projects. Let’s change our world through the positive power of building relationships!