Calendar for WISDOM and Other Interfaith Events
Sunday, October 15th, 2017, 5:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Tenth Anniversary Celebration of WISDOM
North Congregational Church
36520 W. 12 Mile Road, Farmington Hills, 48331
See Save the Date Below
SAVE THE DATE!!
WISDOM’S TENTH ANNIVERSARY YEAR
Sunday, October 15th
5:00 PM – 8:30 PM
AT NORTH CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
36520 W. 12 Mile Road
Farmington Hills, MI 48331
Displays/Vendors, Dinner, and Delightful Entertainment
$50 per person
$75 for a display/vendor table
Check out this YouTube video “Hijabi by Mona Haydar, Wrap my Hijab)
Clarkston students learn about
Judaism, Christianity, Islam
by Andrea Peck from the Oakland Press
Speakers Ranya Shbeib, April Cook and Gail Katz, (left to right), talked to Sashabaw Middle School students on Friday about world religions. (Andrea Peck/The Oakland Press)
Sashabaw Middle School students learned about world religions on May 5th. The students attended presentations given by representatives of three different religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
Speakers were Gail Katz of Temple Israel, April Cook of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Ranya Shbeib of the Muslim Unity Center. The students heard the presentations as part of their history class unit on world religions. Presenters talked about the history of their religions, how they are celebrated and common foods associated with their religions.
A second set of presentations on May 9 will include Nasy from Bharativa Hindu Temple, Josh Plucinski from Still Point Zen Buddhist Center and Raman Singh from Gurdwara Sahib Ji Mata Tripta.
WISDOM Sisters Attend the Interfaith Iftar Dinner
at the Muslim Unity Center in Bloomfield Hills
on June 13th!
Paula Drewek, WISDOM past president,
spoke about WISDOM to the 200 guests
of many faith traditions
at this incredibly wonderful coming together!!
Supporters of Chaldeans and Iraqi immigrants
protest outside Federal Building
By Perry A. Farrell
Gail and Robert Katz Protest
Outside the Federal Courthouse
on June 21, 2017
About 1,000 protesters, some being bused in, gathered outside of the Federal building to give their support to Iraqi’s and Chaldean’s mistreated by the President Donald Trump administration as far as deportation. Homeland Security blocked off both sides of the streets as protesters, mostly dressed in black, held up signs and voiced their displeasure about the mistreatment of immigrants living in the United States. A Homeland Security officer said the streets would be blocked off until 6 or 7 p.m.
“We’ve had wonderful pot lucks together with Jews and Chaldeans,” said Gail Katz of West Bloomfield, who came to the protest with her husband, Robert. We’re planning a joint event at the newly opened Chaldean Cultural Center in West Bloomfield. “My husband and I really felt that we had to be down here. In a way we’re representing Temple Israel because I’ve been in touch with Rabbi Paul Yedwab about what’s been going on. He very much wanted to be here today.
“I’m horrified (by the treatment). Absolutely horrified. I really feel for the Chaldeans who have family members. The Muslim community is very uptight about what might happen to them. My mother was an immigrant. She came over from Poland. She went through Ellis Island. I really feel the pain that are lot of these people are feeling. It’s horrible what’s going on.”
Niraj Warikoo , Detroit Free Press
When a writing program for students started one day in March, the mostly Arab-American Muslim students from Huda School in Franklin gathered on one side of the room, while the mostly Latino and African-American students from Southwest Detroit Community School gathered on the other. But by the end of the writing workshop organized by One Earth Writing, the students were mixed together, working on stories, exchanging phone numbers and promising to keep in touch.
“Our programs are all about finding that commonality,” said Lynne Golodner, founder and CEO of One Earth Writing. “We may have our unique beliefs, but we respect one another and have a humanity that’s universal.”
As the mother of four teenagers, Golodner of Huntington Woods said she was looking for a way to help promote dialogue among youths at a time when their identities are forming. Started last year, One Earth Writing promotes writing among students through free workshops, in schools, and in an Ambassadors program where students apply to work with writers and other students. About 1,000 students have taken part in the effort since it started in early 2016, said Golodner.
Tonight, One Earth Writing is to hold its first fund-raiser and public event at the Maple Theater in West Bloomfield. It will celebrate its first class of student writer Ambassadors and feature a screening of the movie “Freedom Writers.” This year, One Earth Writing will hold workshops that pair new refugees in metro Detroit with student writers, said Golodner, who often works on refugee issues.
“One Earth Writing uses writing workshops as a way to connect teens from different races, faiths and socioeconomic origins, and we’re seeing a huge need for this in our current political climate,” she said. “We are all more similar than we realized.”
During the March workshop at Huda School in Franklin, the students were asked to “write a letter to the world telling what they need to know about them,” she said. Many wrote about how they felt there was prejudice against their groups.
“The Muslims were saying: ‘Just because I’m Muslim doesn’t mean I’m a terrorist,’ ” she said. “And many of the Latino students were writing: ‘I’m an American, don’t build a wall.’ ” Golodner said she hopes her program can bridge divisions during a tense time.
“I didn’t see it coming,” Golodner said of the tensions over the November election. “I didn’t see our country was so divided. And it really made me sad, because we’re all Americans. … I don’t think we can function as a society if we’re so deeply divided.”
Women form sisterhood to celebrate religious differences
By Sean Quinn on
Photo Courtesy of Sheryl Olitzky
Members of the Essex County chapter of Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom gather at a recent event. The nonprofit organization, founded by Sheryl Olitzky, has grown to more than 150 chapters that bring together Muslim and Jewish women to form bonds and combat intolerance
ESSEX COUNTY, NJ – A national organization dedicated to forming bonds between Jewish and Muslim women is looking to start a few new chapters in Essex County.
The Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom already has one local chapter, but co-founder Sheryl Olitzky said she wants to create two to four more in response to the demand the nonprofit has seen from area women. Olitzky said numerous Jewish women already have their names on the waiting list, though the organization would love to see more Muslim women become involved. And she certainly hopes they will, pointing out that having more women join means more barriers can be broken down between two faiths traditionally thought of as being opposed.
“When you care about someone, it’s really hard to hate them,” Olitzky told EssexNewsDaily in a May 5 phone interview. “My goal was to build these relationships all over the country between Muslim and Jewish women. That’s how we would not only change attitudes, perceptions and negative stereotypes toward each other in our community, but work to stop the hate we see that’s out there. And that’s exactly what we’ve achieved.”
Olitzky said the SOSS has allowed women in its 150 chapters throughout the United States and Canada to form strong friendships with people they might never have met otherwise. On top of that, she said these women are standing together against hate through means such as repairing desecrated synagogues and holding peace vigils. A recent gathering of New Jersey Sisterhood chapters in Chatham saw hundreds of members come together in response to President Donald Trump’s travel ban on several largely Muslim nations.
Clearly the organization has come a long way from the initial group of 12 women Olitzky gathered seven years ago. But the founder has never doubted the Sisterhood’s power. Olitzky, who started the nonprofit organization after seeing the effects of hate during a visit to Holocaust museums in Poland, said being part of the SOSS is simply “electrifying.”
“You’re there with the common goal of wanting to change the world,” Olitzky said. “You feel full of hope. You feel the positive energy when you realize that you share more in common with these women than with many women you have as your friends and you associate with. And you are sharing your stories, your concerns and your experiences in a format that you probably haven’t had a chance to (experience before).”
That format entails the following three aspects: socialization, social justice and dialogue. Socialization occurs through the celebration of holidays, while social justice involves doing charity work. Olitzky said each chapter supports a local cause in addition to helping less fortunate Christians around Christmas time as part of a national SOSS effort.
For dialogue, Olitzky said the Sisterhood provides a curriculum spanning everything from feeling like “the other” to raising children in the modern world to practicing one’s faith in the workplace. She said chapters are asked to wait two years before discussing Israeli-Palestinian relations so that all members will be more likely to listen to one another “with their heart as opposed to their ears.” When that time comes, she said the SOSS provides a curriculum for that topic alone to help guide the conversation.
Of course, the relationships between SOSS members are not limited to the context of discussing major issues during their monthly meetings. Hadiyah Finney, co-chairwoman of the existing Essex County chapter, said her members love to cook together and gather families together. In doing so, Finney said she has seen how similar everyone is despite their different religions. For instance, although she had never sat shiva, the Jewish ritual of mourning, when a Jewish member’s husband died and the member sat shiva, Finney said she was able to connect with her as someone who understands what it means to grieve.
Yet according to Finney, the friendships she has formed with the 15 other women in her chapter should not be defined by what they all have in common, saying their bonds go much deeper than that, to the point that she goes to her chapter for everything from recipes to life advice. And that is something any woman would want, she said.
“It provides so many different (benefits) when you develop a bond with a group of women,” Finney told EssexNewsDaily in a May 5 phone interview. “You just get so much inspiration from being with them, sharing in their experiences, sharing in their knowledge. I don’t think you can get that in another space.”
Fellow chapter member Miniimah Bilal-Shakir agreed that the group has truly lived up to its name as a sisterhood. Bilal-Shakir said she knows the women she has befriended through the organization would help her if she were ever in need, and she would do the same for them. In fact, she said she talks with one of the chapter members more frequently than her own sisters.
Beyond establishing those relationships, Bilal-Shakir said the SOSS has inspired her to speak out in favor of causes she supports. Whereas in the past she would simply become upset at what she saw on television, now she is willing to share her beliefs with others and take action. And she hopes other Jewish and Muslim women feel the same, considering President Donald Trump’s comments about Muslims and the recent bomb threats against Jewish community centers.
“It seems like things are flaring up,” Bilal-Shakir told EssexNewsDaily in a May 8 phone interview. “It’s important for us to stick together as two groups coming together as one. We need to support each other in the faith and in the things we do to make sure that there’s peace among us. Where people may talk negatively about you as a group, we need to make sure to bring out the positive.”
Finney also takes comfort in being part of the SOSS in today’s times. Though her faith has kept her from getting too upset by the president’s rhetoric, she said it is reassuring to be surrounded by friendly faces in the sisterhood.
“It helps to be in a space where you can say ‘There are likeminded people in the world,'” Finney said. “There are people who are fighting to make this a better place and to make our society comfortable and inclusive for everyone. And so having that space is a reminder that there is good in the world.”
Loving the World One Face at a Time
By Amy Morris-Young
I have been on Facebook for about 10 years. I started using the social media site to shamelessly spy on my then-teenaged youngest son, Duncan (now 25). His older sister, Chelsea (now 30), advised me with a jaded tone that if I really wanted to know what was going on with my kid, I should check out what he was doing on Facebook.
I imagine that sharing this lowdown gave Chelsea at least two thrills: she was able to “narc” on her brother, as well as once again “school” her square mother about what was hip and happening, technology-wise.
Just recently, Chelsea clued me in that Facebook is now considered basically passé by her generation; she and her peers now share the moments of their lives almost exclusively via Instagram and Snapchat.
Facebook, she said, seems to be primarily a communication tool for “old people,” meaning baby boomers like me, who use it to share photos of their adorable pets, grandbabies, delicious-looking and amazingly easy recipe videos and, of course, political opinions.
To combat the red and blue ranting, some of my Facebook friends have recently shared those “121 Things I Bet You Didn’t Know About Me” posts, lists of items such as “I have been skydiving. Yes. I have been in a hot air balloon. No.” And so on. They are supposed to be light-hearted and informative about folks we thought we knew everything about, and as a special side bonus, they slam no public figures or policies whatsoever.
So here is One Thing I Bet You Didn’t Know About Me: I am a “super-recognizer.”
That means once I see your face, I am biologically designed to remember it. You are unforgettable … to me.
My husband Dan and I were watching the news program “20/20” a couple years ago and saw a segment on face-blindness, or developmental prosopagnosia. It is a brain dysfunction that means someone not only cannot remember faces, they don’t recognize their own family and friends. Not their Mom, Dad, siblings, spouse, children, and sometimes not even themselves in a mirror. Everyone at every moment is brand new, literally a stranger.
At the end of the program, it said that Harvard planned to study folks who had the opposite of face blindness, what they called super recognizers, to research how their brains might function differently, with the ultimate hope of some kind of treatment to help those struggling in a world of perpetual strangers.
As the credits rolled, Dan turned to me and said: “Wow, that is so you. You never forget anybody! You should do this.”
So I did. I went to the Harvard Medical School Research website and filled out a questionnaire. Over the next few months, I received emails that contained tests to complete and send back. About a year later, a nice lady from the university named Sarah showed up at our front door here in Washington State. She spent a long weekend in our living room, taking me through test after test on her laptop computer.
At the end of those three days, Sarah packed up her gear in readiness for departure to visit “the four other super-recognizers” with whom she was working in the United States. The next one was in Florida. She was clearly excited that her next gig was in a warmer locale. It had rained the whole weekend.
Sarah eventually sent me a link to the study in which my data was incorporated, but I have yet to hear how it might be implemented to assist those who have face-blindness.
What I did learn was that not only do I never forget a face, my brain literally loves faces. Each and every one is a blessed artwork to me, revealing the arc of that particular life from infancy through maturity to being elderly. That is, if you are old, I can pick out your baby picture from a pile of photos – 100 percent of the time. Seriously. Yes, I agree; it is kind of spooky. My family now has documented evidence that I am an oddball.
One quick note: Just as having face-blindness does not in any way affect one’s intelligence – for example, the eminent neurologist and author Oliver Sacks suffered from prosopagnosia – being a super-recognizer in no way makes me a super-genius.
The half of my brain that is not stuffed with faces seems to be packed with completely useless song lyrics. If I don’t write it down, I can’t remember a phone number or what I need at the grocery store, and I have stopped counting the times each day I wander into another room, then stand there wondering, “Why on Earth did I come in here!?” In short, I seem to be a one-hit wonder.
Sarah told me this unique passion for faces originates in those first moments as a newborn, when we look at the faces of our caregivers and bond with the details of their eyes, their nose, their ears, their hair and forehead and eyebrows and chin. This is why a baby will cry if someone with different hair color holds them, but seems comfortable enough if the person even slightly resembles their parents. Like baby birds, we imprint those details, and they signify safety and survival. And hopefully, love.
Sarah also explained that face-recognition is a spectrum, and I happen to fall at the very far end, or about 1 percent of those tested.
This helped explain why I was never able to think of people as “us and them.” Since I was little, I never understood when grown-ups talked about “blacks and whites” or “commies and Americans.” I don’t identify people as groups, because I see each person as a distinct face. A baby. A mom. A dad. A brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandma, grandpa. A friend.
People of other ethnicities do not, as the saying goes, “all look the same to me.” I am only able to see what makes each one unique, face-wise. And somehow, in my head and heart, that immediately links to what makes them loveable.
I truly don’t mean to sound like a Coca Cola commercial here – some musical utopia of happy faces in a Woodstockian field of waving grain – but this is how my brain, and thus my body and spirit, relate to others. To me, there is no such thing as a “faceless horde.”
They say that no two snowflake are the same. Well, to me and my quirky brain, that goes for faces, too. When I met my identical-twin cousins, Sam and Jack, I knew right away who was who. Yes, they look nearly alike, but what jumped out at me first were their differences.
And here’s the intriguing part. What if this is how God sees us? What if this is a glimmer of how there can be billions of us humans, but each one of us is unique and special in God’s eyes?
Because, when I see your face, I not only file it for perpetuity, I instantly wonder about who loves you, from when you were born, and onwards. Because somehow, when I see you, I sort of immediately love you as a person, but only in a non-creepy, I-promise-never-to-stalk-you sort of way.
Just think about how much greater it must be for God, who unconditionally adores us, and who is also probably not so concerned about the stalking thing?
My husband says that I remind him of his Mom, in that “she never met a stranger.” He says she would get in line at the grocery store with a bunch of folks she had never met, and they would all come out of the other side of the check-stand as friends.
That is a great compliment, and I hope it is true.
What I do know is that my brain’s inability to see you as nobody means I always understand that you are somebody. Somebody to someone, if only to God. No matter who you are or what you do.
For example, I have long described myself a “bigot about bigots,” meaning I just don’t understand how people can be such haters. Even if I meet a white supremacist, full of righteous rage against many groups – including me, one of those “bleeding-heart liberal Catholics” – I don’t seem to be able to hate her back.
When I look at her face, I know what she looked like as a baby and what she is going to look like as an old person. She may not see me, because she seems to be only envisioning aspects of the group into which she lumps me, but I see her.
And sort of like Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, I also see the telltale signs of what her choices have done, will do, to her. I see that the only person she is hurting with her hate is ultimately herself. And all I wish for her is to find some compassion. For others, yes. But for herself, too.
Since hate has to be learned, I have to come to consider haters as having a type of acquired face-blindness. How hard must it be to see only strangers out there? How angry and lonely must that feel? How detached from that first moment when we looked up into a face that adored us, that wanted not only for us to survive but to thrive? And, perhaps even more distant from that most understanding and loving face, the doting visage of God?
I suppose it is not accidental that Facebook is called face-book. These are the faces of family and friends. These are the people I love and who love me back. And their pets. And their grandkids. And their recipes. And often, their politics.
In a time of great divides, it is comforting to me that we share this Book of Faces. So, regardless of what the cool kids are doing now, I am going to stick with it.
[Amy Morris-Young graduated from and taught writing at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.]
Menorah exhibit in Rome underlines positive Catholic-Jewish relations
At the center of the first joint exhibit between the Vatican Museums and the Jewish museum in Rome is the Magdala Stone, a large decorated stone block from a first century Galilean synagogue which has shed light on synagogue worship before the destruction of the Second Temple.
The Magdala Stone was found during the excavation of an synagogue on the site of what is believed to be Magdala, the hometown of Mary Magdalene. The 4.2 cubic feet limestone block may have been used as a bema, on which the Torah was read.
It is carved on four sides and its top with decorative symbols, most prominently the Menorah which was found in the Jewish Temple – a seven-branch menorah described in Exodus, distinct from the nine-branch menorah associated with Hannukah and the Maccabees.
The stone is the centerpiece of the exhibit “Menorah: Worship, History, and Legend”, shown simultaneously at the Jewish Museum and the Braccio di Carlo Magno Museum in the Vatican, located under the left colonnade in St. Peter’s Square.
The exhibit runs May 15-July 23 and includes roughly 130 pieces, including menorahs from various periods and depictions of them in paintings, sarcophagi, sculptures, and medieval and Renaissance drawings and manuscripts.
This is the first time the Magdala Stone has left Israel or been displayed publicly, and its presence at the Vatican is just “one more sign of the collapsing of the walls between Christianity and Judaism,” in the opinion of Fr. Juan Solana, L.C., General Director of the Magdala Project.
Fr. Solana told CNA that the stone’s presence at the exhibit marks not only an interreligious effort between the Vatican Museums and the Jewish museums in Rome, but also collaboration between Vatican City and the State of Israel.
“I know that it was a lot of work behind the scenes to make it happen,” he explained. “I think it really shows the importance of interreligious dialogue and especially dialogue and friendship between Catholics and Jews.”
Magdala “is very close to Capernaum, in the old area where Jesus preached and taught and performed many miracles,” Fr. Solana said. “So we believe that Jesus went to Magdala and eventually he went to the synagogue and preached there.”
While they can’t know for sure, it is even possible that Christ used the Magdala Stone himself to display scrolls of the Torah.
The town and synagogue were first discovered in 2009 during excavations in preparation for building a Catholic center in Israel. Stalled by the discovery of the site, the Magdala Center, as it is called, is still in the works.
“We found the whole town of Mary Magdalene,” Fr. Solana said; and the cherry on the top, so-to-speak, was the Magdala Stone.
There are seven synagogues known of from the period of Christ’s life and more or less 50 years before and after, but in no other synagogue have they found this kind of block, he said.
Archaeologists found a total of three stone blocks in Magdala: one from what was probably a school of the synagogue and one which had been reused as a chair of Moses, the place of authority from which the scribes and Pharisees interpreted the Jewish law. The Magdala Stone was at the center of the synagogue.
The stone is considered important for Judaism because Jewish scholars believe it marks a change within Judaism itself, brought about by the influence of Christianity, Fr. Solana explained.
This is because “Jesus destroyed the idea of the Temple as the center of Judaism,” he said, “and it was confirmed by the destruction of the Temple” in AD 70.
The Magdala Stone and the synagogue both pre-date the destruction of the Temple, which has been confirmed by coins found inside which range from AD 5 to 63 – the time of Christ’s life and the first generation of Christians.
Of course, this makes them very important pieces historically, Fr. Solana continued, explaining that the stone itself is a model of the destroyed Temple in Jerusalem. Covered in carvings of Jewish symbols, more even than the Temple itself, it also displays the oldest-known carving of a menorah in Israel.
Muslim Imam Consoles Jewish Woman and
Melts Heart of Mourning Manchester
A Muslim cleric and an elderly Jewish woman melted the heart of a grieving nation with their poignant embrace at the scene of the Manchester terror attack. Rachel Black, 93, and Sadiq Patel, an imam, came together in grief and worship on Wednesday at a memorial for the 22 people killed and scores wounded in the suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert.
“We’re all the same people. We bleed just like everybody else,” Black told Britain’s Channel 5 News.
“One thing we do definitely know is we’re in this together, we’ll get through this together,” Patel added.
The pair traveled to Manchester together from the gritty industrial town of Blackburn to pay their respects for the victims of the bombing, which has gripped Britain with grief and defiance.
In pictures from the scene, Black pushed herself up from a folding chair to lean on her walker and pray. Overcome with emotion, she was taken in hand by Patel. He helped her walk from the site and carried her chair.
“Renee’s 93. Jewish lady. I’m a Muslim man,” Patel said. “But at this moment in time faith doesn’t mean anything. We don’t know what to say, no words can actually express what we’re going through.
The two are members of Blackburn Darwen Interfaith Forum, a town group focused on mutual understanding.
Black is one of the few Jews in the town, which now has a large population of Muslims, mostly from south Asia.
The Manchester vigil they attended brought together representatives of Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Sikh communities in a show of defiance and unity. Even at 93, Black said she was determined to make her voice heard against hatred, terror, and violence.
“We came to pay our respect to the people who passed away and to hope that they never have anything like this again,” she said. “We try to bring people together and not matter about the colour or creed or whatever you are.
Muslim, Sikh and Hindu leaders gather together to condemn Manchester Arena atrocity
Muslim, Sikh and Hindu leaders gathered together in Fartown to condemn the terrorist attack in Manchester. Candles were lit at the Ahmadiyya mosque in Spaines Road, and a powerful message given out condemning the attack which left 22 people dead and more than 60 in hospital with 23 still in critical care.
Gurdeep Singh Kooner, general secretary of Fartown Sikh Temple, said: “The Sikh community condemns these brutal attacks of violence.
“We extend our prayers and deepest condolences to the families of the victims. Now is the time for communities to come together in care and compassion for each other.”
Kiran Bali, general secretary of the Hindu Society of Kirklees and Calderdale, said “Our healing prayers and thoughts are with all those affected by this horrific terrorist attack. “We deplore this criminal violence perpetrated by hatred and stand in solidarity to oppose extremist ideologies. “Let us redouble our efforts to strengthen the unity of our society based on a profound commitment to mutual respect, resilience and hope.”
Fatihul Haq, president of Ahmadiyya Muslim Association Huddersfield South, said “The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Huddersfield strongly condemns the barbaric attacks in Manchester Arena.
“Our sympathies and prayers are with the people of Manchester and all those affected. Such attacks and violence against innocent people can never be justified under any circumstances.”
And Sabhat Karim, regional missionary for the Huddersfield area, said of the victims: “Our heartfelt condolences go to those involved. May God have mercy on them. “This is the time when we need to get together and show solidarity.” He emphasised that it was important that “these attacks can never divide us in any way.”
Huddersfield Muslim group hoping to dispel misconceptions about the Quran. Munir Ahmed, president of Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, added: “I would like to echo what has just been said. Our heartfelt prayers and thoughts are with those people who have lost their lives. The Muslim community must stand up and condemn these actions.”
Children from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA) held a minute’s silence in memory of the victims as part of their three mile charity walk at the Baitul Tauhid Mosque in Huddersfield. The walk took place a day before many Muslims began the month of fasting. Four year old Zakariyya planned to walk the three miles for charity and set up a JustGiving campaign which raised over £240 in three hours. Money raised from the walk will go to support Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice in Huddersfield.