May 2017

Written by WISDOM on . Posted in Newsletters

Calendar for WISDOM and Other Interfaith Events  
March through June, 2017
Exploring Our Religious Landscapes
Immersive Experiences in Religion and Culture
for Adults
See flyer below
Wednesday, May 10th, 7:00 PM
Five Women Five Journeys Presentation
St. Hugo of the Hills Catholic Church
2215 Opdyke Rd., Bloomfield Hills
contact Paula Drewek at
Wednesday, May 17th, 8:00 PM
Showing of the film “Hummus: The Movie”
Berman Center, 6600 W. Maple Rd, West Bloomfield
See Flyer Below
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 Flyer below!

The 19th Annual Lenore Marwil
Detroit Jewish Film Festival
Hummus: The Movie
Wednesday, May 17th at 8:00 PM
Berman Center
6600 W. Maple Rd., West Bloomfield, MI
WISDOM will be sponsoring this movie. 

Sunday, October 15th
5:00 PM – 8:30 PM
36520 W. 12 Mile Road
Farmington Hills, MI 48331
Displays/Vendors, Dinner, and Delightful Entertainment
$50 per person
$75 for a display/vendor table

Jewish-Hindu musician sings about Allah in new album for kids
Musician Ben Lee in 2009. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons/Guido van Nispen
(RNS) Here’s a great idea for an album: Get an Australian-born, Jewish-raised, Hindu singer-songwriter with a penchant for banana yellow suits and essential oils and have him sing songs about Islam for kids.
And here it is – “Ben Lee Sings Songs About Islam for the Whole Family,” the newest release from guitarist and singer Ben Lee.
“As my spiritual pursuits became more central to my life, my music naturally became an extension of these interests,” Lee says on his website, where he lounges in yellow and hawks essential oils. “My music has often been both an exploration and a diary of my attempts to open my own heart and mind.”
And that exploration has taken him from his native Sydney, Australia, where he attended a Jewish day school and started singing in a teenage punk band. At the ancient age of 18, he moved to New York, where he first dabbled in Taoism. On a trip to India, he explored Hinduism, and he now follows a guru.
He is best known for his 2005 album “Awake is the New Sleep,” which had several top 40 hits in Australia. 

The new album was initially part of a larger project to explore world religions on several albums. But President Trump’s travel ban and the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. prompted Lee to bring out a solo album about Islam first.
“All of this stuff started to happen with the travel ban, and I thought, you know what? Now’s the moment,” Lee told The Guardian. “And if you let these moments go past and you don’t stand up, then they slip away. This album is not a hardcore piece of activism. I’m standing up for ambiguity and poetry.”
All proceeds from the new album will benefit the American Civil Liberties Union.

Metro Detroit churches, synagogues 
become sanctuaries for immigrants
Concerned about the government crackdown on immigration, congregations in Michigan consider becoming sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants
At Central United Methodist, a historic Protestant church in downtown Detroit, the pastor is considering using its large gym to house undocumented immigrants fearing deportation. At First United Methodist Church in Ferndale, members are looking at ways to install showers for immigrants who might live there.
And at the Birmingham Temple, a Jewish synagogue in Farmington Hills, the board voted unanimously last month to be a sanctuary congregation, calling the move “a flag of resistance to bigotry.” Inspired by faith, diverse congregations across metro Detroit are looking for ways to become sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants who fear deportation as the U.S. ramps up immigration enforcement under President Donald Trump.
“In Scripture, it says you were a stranger, and you welcomed me – that’s what Jesus said,” said the Rev. Jill Zundell, senior pastor at Central United Methodist Church, citing a Biblical verse from the Book of Matthew. “We have to look at the higher law.”
From Farmington Hills to Ferndale to Detroit, some churches and synagogues have already declared themselves as sanctuary houses of worship, offering to help immigrants and house them if necessary. For them, acts of civil disobedience are sometimes needed when the overall system is unjust, said their faith leaders.
But other faith leaders are not fully committed to the cause of providing sanctuary for immigrants just yet. Some are discussing the issue with their members, and are wary of taking on an issue that they fear could expose them to legal action.
About 50 church leaders gathered on a Saturday last month at the UAW Local 600 hall in Dearborn to find out how to become sanctuary churches, and the legal ramifications of that designation.
The inspiration comes from the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s, when churches took in undocumented immigrants     fleeing war in Central America. The Department of Justice under  President Ronald Reagan prosecuted some church members for their activism, a precedent that worries some churches.
At Central United Methodist Church in Detroit, which sits next to Comerica Park, Zundel said their large gym  and a fourth-floor room could be used to house undocumented immigrants. The church has been contacted by two undocumented families seeking refuge. They also are currently housing a family of six from an African country fleeing political persecution who came on visitors visas and have applied for political asylum.

WISDOM Holds a Special Evening Called Family Treasures
On Sunday, March 12th, WISDOM board members came together to pilot a new program called Family Treasures. They presented objects passed down within their families representing something important to their faith or cultural tradition.  Here are some photos of the treasures. (If your congregation or organization is interested in hosting a Family Treasures program for your group, contact WISDOM!!)
Ayesha Khan shared her special jewelry from India.

Delores Lyons shared her buddhas!

Trish Harris displayed her collection of rosaries
and gave us the history of the rosary in the Catholic church.

Gail Katz shared her family’s Shabbat candlesticks
that originally came from the Jewish community
 in Russia in the 1800’s.

Bobbie Lewis brought a spice box
made from a gourd that is used in the Jewish Havdalah service
 at the end of the Sabbath.

Janelle McCammon brought the family’s special dreidle
that is used during Chanukah to play a special holiday game.

Uzma Sharaf brought a very special lotus flower. The calligraphy on the lotus flower (Arabic script) are attributes of God, There are 99 attributes of God that should be manifested in our interaction with others such as mercy, love, and compassion. 

Zaman founder has terse words for Trump,
a hand for refugees
Every time President Donald Trump talks about his immigration ban, Najah Bazzy winces knowing any proclamations will reverberate through the community of people she is helping at Zaman International.
Bazzy, a 56-year-old mother and grandmother, also is a nurse from Dearborn whose family moved to Michigan in 1885. Her father served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.
She founded the organization – known originally as Bayt Al Zahra  (Arabic for house of hope and light) – in 1996. The name was changed to Zaman in 2004. Bazzy, who is Muslim,  helps immigrants and refugees through Zaman, which is based in Inkster. Her clientele – mostly women, often with children –  face tough times. Many don’t have a roof over their head, or money for food. Her organization is a lifeline.
“We are the anchor for our clients living under $12,000 (annually) or who end up homeless or hungry,” she said. “We stabilize by providing  food, clothing, shelter, then we bring them back for goal setting, work with them to get out of the cycle of poverty, and keep them with us for up to two years,” Bazzy said.
I talked with Bazzy after we taped “Michigan Matters,” airing at 11:30 a.m.  today on CBS 62. She and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson traded terse words on Trump’s immigration ban and the need for it. Bazzy said her clients are from across our region – 22 cities locally. And the come from many different countries, too.
“Thirteen percent of our clients in 2016 were refugees from Syria, but many are double refugees having fled from the Gulf War in Iraq and since the fall of Saddam Hussein to Syria as refugees and then from Syria to the refugee camps again for several years until they reached the USA,” she said. Lately, her job has also included holding the hands of her clients amid Trump’s tough words on immigration.
“It’s been painful to see them arrive to their new home country and hear the president talk about Syrian refugees like they are all terrorists,” which they are not, she added. “One (client) said her daughter, son-in-law and children were in Jordan and had received their status to come to America. They were at the airport when the ban happened and were not allowed to board. ” “The family is now split up in other countries,” she added. Since its inception, her organization has helped more than 180,000 people locally with its various services.
Bazzy quit her nursing job and began helping women in dire situations
 by collecting furniture, food, clothes and providing shelter
In recent years, her organization has expanded to include non-Muslim women from  Detroit and Inkster and surrounding communities
Over the past five years, Zaman has helped many thousands through many volunteers and community partners like Ford.
“We are in tremendous need of financial donations to keep up with the amount of clients we are seeing,” she said. “In addition, we need a new roof, we have buckets everywhere and finding a donor to help with this would be amazing. Our food pantry always needs food, and community clothing drives are critical.”
Most of her clients today are women who have been “abandoned, abused, divorced, widowed. If there is a man in her life, she is often the caregiver because of a disability or chronic/terminal illness he has. We also see families with children who are severely disabled and these moms really, really struggle.”
She added: “We give them hope. We give them a sense of self, dignity, honor. We believe in them, and because we do, they learn to believe in themselves. We give them confidence.”
To help more people, Bazzy recently hired Michele Ureste, a former supervisor for West Bloomfield Township, as its new chief development officer. “A donor sponsored her hiring,” Bazzy explained.
“I knew we needed a one-stop client service experience to serve the basic needs (of our clientele),” she said. “With our Hope for Humanity Center,  we can now give our clients more dignity because they now have more choice about the food they eat, the clothes they wear, and the furniture and housewares they want.” She said she was inspired in her work by Eleanor Josaitis, the late cofounder of Focus: HOPE. Bazzy toured Focus: HOPE as a teenager and was struck by its incredible work. Bazzy is making an impact in her own way. Knowing a  job is paramount to escaping poverty, Bazzy added vocational training at her facility.

Single mothers living in poverty struggle every day to make ends meet,” she said. Bazzy envisions Zaman expanding to satellite locations elsewhere, maybe Flint, and other places. And she’d like to become a national advocate for the women and families she and Zaman International help. “We are all working to create a culturally congruent organization that has the ability to build human potential and break down barriers in a real way,” she said.
Carol Cain can be reached at 313-222-6732 or She is senior producer/host of “Michigan Matters,” which airs at 11:30 a.m. Sundays on CBS 62. See Matt Simoncini, Brooks Patterson, Denise litch and Najah Bazzy on today’s show.

 3 Muslim American Style Bloggers on How They’re 
Using Fashion to Break Stereotypes
Glamour Fashion
Being Muslim in America-especially in 2017-isn’t easy. By most accounts, hate crimes against Muslim Americans are on the rise, and the current administration seems laser-focused on instituting immigration policies that would disproportionately target Muslims. Still, in spite of that-or maybe because of it-there are a number of hijab-wearing women shattering stereotypes of both the often misunderstood traditional veil and their culture in general, while using fashion to do it.
Nura Afia, a beauty vlogger, was hired as a CoverGirl ambassador last year, the company’s first to wear a hijab, and Halima Aden sported a hijab during a beauty pageant and went on to walk the runway during New York and Paris Fashion Weeks in February

And then there’s the rise of the hijab-wearing fashion blogger and Instagram star, who makes it a point to showcase that wearing one doesn’t mean giving up on personal style, nor does it signify oppression. Three of these women shared with Glamour how they’re using clothing to break stereotypes, along with the very personal reasons they’ve decided to wear a hijab.
Read the rest of this article at:

Jews, Muslims, Indian Americans join hands against hate crimes
From Interfaith Goodnews
People from the Jewish, Muslim, and Indian American communities gathered on the steps of Tifereth Israel Synagogue in northwest Washington and stood in solidarity against rising hate crimes in the US.
“This is about having peace throughout all communities and religions and races,” said Rochelle Berman, who was present at the event on Friday night. The slogan “We Stand Together Against Hate” was held high above the crowd at the top of the synagogue’s steps, reported WJLA news portal, an ABC Television affiliate.
“There should be no discrimination based on race, or gender or skin colour,” said a woman.
This year discrimination across the country fuelled vandalism, bomb threats and murders, such as Indian American Srinivas Kuchibholta who was shot and killed during a Kansas hate crime.
“There are just a lot of challenges out there that basically unity is going to bring us all together,” said another attendant.
Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla was shot dead while another Indian Alok Madasani was injured in Kansas last month in an apparent hate crime.
An Indian-origin girl was racially abused on a train by an African-American man in New York on February 23.
A 43-year-old Indian-origin store owner, Harnish Patel, was shot dead outside his home in Lancaster County, South Carolina earlier in March.
A Sikh man, Deep Rai, an American citizen, was also fired upon in a racial attack earlier this month.
Also, there has been a rise in anti-Semitic threats and vandalism across the country, which included bomb threats at 90 Jewish community centres and the desecration of cemeteries in several US states last month.

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.


WISDOM is a Non-Profit Organization. Get involved with WISDOM!

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!