Understanding Diverse Houses of Worship
Wednesday, April 17, 2013 10:00 – 4:00 PM
A Feet on the Street Bus Tour of Detroit
Suburban meeting location:
Southfield Public Library, 26300 Evergreen Road, Southfield, MI
Detroit meeting location:
Fisher Building Lobby, Stella International Cafe
3011 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit
9:00 AM Registration participants meet in lobby of Southfield Public Library
9:30 AM Bus departs from library for Fisher Building
9:50 AM Arrive at Fisher Building to pick up participants meeting there
10:00 AM Tour and presentation at Durga (Hindu) Temple with Shyama Haldar and Mira Bakhle
11:30 AM Visit to Clinton Street Temple with presentation by Pastor Shedrick Clark
1:00 PM Lunch, tour and presentation at Downtown Synagogue with Anna Kohn and Gail Katz, Co-Founder of WISDOM
2:30 PM Group processing and cross cultural skill building, led by Mira Bakhle and Linda Yellin
4:00 PM Return to Fisher Building, sign-out, Attendance Certificates; bus departs for Southfield Public Library
4:30 PM Bus arrives at the Southfield Public Library
Make Checks Payable to Linda Yellin, LMSW, 29260 Franklin Rd., Ste 117, Southfield, MI 48034
Fee: $109.00 all inclusive (6 CE Clock Hours certicate, program materials, lunch, snacks, museum admissions, bus)
For all of our Jewish and Chaldean friends, please read the flyer below and come to a potluck “coming together” at the ECRC Building in Bloomfield Hills where there will be fun dining on home cooked food, a program, Jewish and Chaldean music, and a collection of items to help those in need in both the Jewish and Chaldean communities. This event is sponsored by the Jewish/Chaldean Social Action Committee, a division of the Jewish News/Chaldean News Building Community Initiative!! See flyer below!
|National Day of Unplugging|
When: 6:22 p.m. Friday, March 1st until 6:24 p.m. Saturday, March 3rd, 2013
History: Loosely based on the Jewish Sabbath, this multi-faith observance began in 2010 as part of the national nonprofit Reboot’s Sabbath Manifesto.
What’s in the manifesto: Suggestions to rebalance and recharge every week by avoiding technology, connecting with loved ones, nurturing health, getting outside, avoiding commerce, lighting candles, drinking wine, eating bread, finding silence and giving back.
Davy Rothbart’s to-do list this weekend includes reading and walking along the Huron River trail. What it does not include is making calls, checking e-mail or texting. The 37-year-old from Ann Arbor is among the thousands of people across the U.S. who are expected to turn off their smartphones and other electronic devices for 24 hours to observe the National Day of Unplugging. Part of the Sabbath Manifesto, the campaign is designed to get people to slow down in an ever-increasingly hectic world, an idea inspired by that most un-Microsoft of documents, the Old Testament.
In short: God rested on the seventh day — and so should you.
And like the Jewish Sabbath, the National Day of Unplugging begins today at sundown, which is 6:22 p.m. in Detroit, according to event spokeswoman Tanya Schevitz. “For me, unplugging for the day is a way to remember how I interacted with the world before I had my smartphone stapled to my jawbone,” Rothbart said.
Rothbart, the founder of Found Magazine, has participated twice since the National Day of Unplugging (or NDU in — gasp! — Twitter parlance) began in 2010. This year, herecruited five to 10 people to participate.
“I’m surprised by how enjoyable it is, how peaceful it is, how rejuvenated you feel. It’s weird how transformative it is,” he said. “I don’t have the nuclear codes. … We don’t need to be constantly available to everyone in our lives. Sometimes, our jobs demand it, but it’s important to create space for our lives.”
One of the hotbeds of unplugged-ness is the sort of place where you’d expect the denizens to have the toughest time letting go — a college campus.
Eastern Michigan University journalism professor Christine Tracy is leading a campaign called Unplug EMU. Her students, including Aaron Dwenger, held a recruitment drive Wednesday. “I’m going to read, talk with people, have social contact,” said the 20-year-old junior from Woodhaven. “It seems interesting. It’s a change from normal life, instead of waiting for e-mails and text messages all day. …I’m doing it to see if I can. It seems like a challenge, because I stay plugged in all day to keep in contact with everyone.”
All this makes perfect sense to David Sitt, a psychology lecturer at Baruch College in New York, who coined the term “cell-ibacy” to describe what he thinks are vital recesses from today’s world. For example, he advises people to put their phones in brown paper bags during dinners with friends.
“Technology” is all about relationships and, at times, we have to create a boundary between us and the object of our relationship. The dopamine is waiting to be popped,” Sitt said, likening the rush of feel-good chemicals to that of a cocaine addict’s. “It’s all about the chemical rush, it’s all about the dopamine in the brain. …There’s a sense of joy, a sense of worth, a sense that someone out there cares about you via text, Facebook, Instagram. There’s inner joy. There’s an inner rush.”
From that comes the addiction.
But like the National Day of Unplugging organizers, Sitt doesn’t expect people to permanently turn the clock back decades. “I’m not saying a person should get rid of their phone forever and ever,” he said. “It’s unrealistic. You can’t do it. It’d be like getting rid of money, but if I can designate certain periods of my day or week when I’m on a break, it’ll enhance our overall state-of-life satisfaction.”
Not everyone likes the buzz-less buzz, though.
Jason Brown, owner of PublicCity PR, plans to continue to go full-force with all the technology he loves from his laptop, phone and iPad to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
“I will not be unplugging, not because I don’t think it’s a good idea. We should all take a day to breathe and relax, but client work comes first,” said the 41-year-old Beverly Hills resident. “We all have our own ways of unplugging. There are days for everything. There’s a National Cupcake Day.”
Contact Zlati Meyer: 313-223-4439 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ZlatiMeyer.
Temple Israel hosts Face to Faith Event
Thursday evening, February 28th, teens of many faith traditions came together at Temple Israel to dialogue and increase respect and understanding.Teens of the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Jain religions interacted with each other in a teen mixer.
Following the mixer the teens were treated to a pancake dinner – along with chocolate chips, whipped cream and fruit!
After dinner everyone was invited into the Temple Israel sanctuary to learn about Judaism.Nutan Shah, from the Jain Temple in Farmington Hills, explained to everyone that our next Face to Faith event would be held at the Jain Temple, and encouraged everyone to mark their calendars for Thursday evening, April 25th, for a very special learning experience about the Jain religion. Rabbi Josh Bennett then gave an introduction about Judaism, and spoke about the spectrum that many religions share – from very traditional and conservative on one end to very liberal and “reform” on the other end.Rabbi Bennett explained how Temple Israel is a more liberal congregation that has incorporated more traditional aspects of Judaism in recent years – such as incorporating more Hebrew in the prayer services.The teens then spread out over the sanctuary and had a chance to listen to some of the Jewish participants talk about the Torah scrolls, the holy ark, the eternal light, the Yartzheit board, and some of the ritual objects such as the candlesticks, the tallit (the prayer shawl), and the kippah (the head covering).
The teens and adults then moved to the other side of the temple to talk about the meaning of water in the Abrahamic Faiths.Rev. Amy Morgan and Rev. Matt Nickel talked about the importance of water and baptism in the Christian faith.Serene Katranji-Zeni spoke about the story of Hagar according to Islamic tradition and the importance of water as it relates to God in the Muslim faith in the context of purity, prayer, creation, and paradise. She shared with everyone a taste of zamzam – the holy water that comes from the well in Mecca that Muslims believe sprung at the time of Abraham. Rabbi Marla Hornsten spoke about the importance of the Jewish Mikvah, the special room in Temple Israel that contains a small pool with at least 200 gallons of pure rain water.As each of us got a chance to visit the Mikvah, we learned that immersion in the mikvah is a chance for women to purify themselves after their menstrual cycle. People converting to Judaism will immerse themselves in the Mikvah, and folks celebrating a very special occasion (like a marriage) may choose to immerse themselves into these special waters.
It was a very special opportunity for everyone to be able to ask questions to compare the meaning and usage of water across the three Abrahamic faiths- Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Our thanks to the Temple Israel clergy – Rabbi Josh Bennett, Rabbi Jen Lader, and Rabbi Marla Hornsten for all of their time, expertise, an assistance in making our Face to Faith event so successful!
Please join us on Thursday April 25th at 6:00 PM at the Jain Temple (29278 W. 12 Mile Road
in Farmington Hills) for our last Face to Faith event of the year!! More infomation coming soon!
The Interfaith Leadership Council Holds
and Interfaith Event about Healing
The Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit (IFLC) held an interfaith event entitled “Healing Across the Faith Traditions: Exploring the Role of Prayer, Music and Ritual in Spiritual Healing” at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Royal Oak on March 3, 2013. IFLC’s chair Bob Bruttell welcomed everyone and explained that the IFLC exists to fight against hate by standing up, speaking out and educating our community about our different faith traditions in order to experience “walking in one another’s shoes.”
The IFLC Education Committee – from left to right:
The Rev. Bob Hart, Gail Katz, Bob Bruttell, and the Rev. Barbara Clevenger
Rabbi Jen Kaluzny (clergy at Temple Israel and the Jewish Hospice and Chaplaincy Network) and Beth Greenapple, a Jewish musician, educator and activist, put together a very beautiful Jewish service with prayer and music to show that in Judaism no intermediary is necessary between you and God, and one must pray for strength as the patient and as the caregiver. Jews try to make sure that no Jew dies alone and that the Jewish community is available to help with healing. The name of the person who is ill is said aloud during the “Mishaberach” the prayer for the sick.
From left to right – Beth Greenapple, Gail Katz, and Rabbi Jen Kaluzny
Shama Mehta, currently training as a chaplain at Oakwood Health System, shared with us the nature of Hindu mantra healing and how she uses this with patients in the ICU. We also had the chance to close our eyes and experience meditation to the chanting of the “Ohm” and learned that “resonance” is what Hindu meditation is about – moving ourselves closer to God.
The Rev. Bob Hart, interim pastor at St. John’s Episcopal Church, shared with us the Christian healing song called “There is a Balm in Gilead” which makes reference to making the wounded whole and healing the sin sick soul. St. John’s organist Rob Styberski played this musical piece for all of us.Rev. Hart also shared with us the Christian practice of reading aloud the names of those who are ill every Sunday. He discussed how the sacrament is spiritual medicine, and how spiced olive oil is placed on the heads of people who are seeking prayers for the healing of mind, spirit and body. This oil is accompanied with the laying on of hands.
Samer Salka, a Muslim interventional cardiologist of Lebanese descent, made the comparison to the Christian ritual with the spiced oil to Mohammed wetting his finger with his lips, and putting his finger on the heads of the sick to offer them spiritual healing. The Muslim word for merciful – Rahman and compassionate – Rahim is very similar to the Hebrew word Rachamim, which comes from the word rechem, which means “womb.” Dr. Salka explained that in Islam, as in Judaism, there are no intermediaries between you and God. It is required that a Muslim must visit the sick. The names of the sick are also mentioned in the mosque during services.
Dr. Sameer Salka
Susan Tish, a Christian Science practitioner, has had a full time spiritual healing practice. Her job is to help people find healing through prayer. She spoke about Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, who battled with illness as a young woman, and studied the Bible stories about Jesus and how Jesus healed the sick. Susan spoke about the power of prayer is in the turning to God, not the lay leaders of the church, and every Wednesday evening her church holds gatherings where people reveal their testimonies of healing. Tony Nayback, who accompanied Susan Tish to our IFLC event, used her beautiful voice to sing the Christian Science “Mother’s Evening Prayer” which concluded the afternoon’s presentation.
Tony Nayback and Susan Tish
Handouts were available with healing prayers from many of the faith traditions that were discussed at this presentation. This presentation was the first in a series on life cycle events across the faith traditions. The next presentation will be on Sunday October 6th. Save the date! More information will be forthcoming!
The Parliament Blog
Pope Francis and Interreligious Relations
By Leo D. Lefebure
The new pope lighting the menorah
On March 13, 2013, the Conclave of Cardinals of the Catholic Church elected Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina as the 266th Pope, bishop of Rome, and successor to St. Peter. For the first time in history, the newly elected pontiff chose to be called Francis, a name with significant resonance for the poor and for interreligious relations.
In response to questions, Vatican spokesman Fr. Frederico Lombardi, S.J., clarified that the new pope chose this name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi. Francis was known as “Il Poverello” (the little poor one) because of his affection and concern for the poor and his simple lifestyle. These have long been hallmarks of the life of Cardinal Bergoglio, who abandoned the elaborate episcopal residence in Buenos Aires for a simpler abode and who used public transportation instead of a chauffeur. He has spoken passionately about the plight of the world’s poor as a scandal that cries to heaven.
Francis of Assisi also has a special significance for interreligious relations because he visited Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil at Damietta in Egypt during the Fifth Crusade, seeking peace in a time of conflict. It was to Francis’s hometown of Assisi that Pope John Paul II invited the leaders of the world’s religious traditions to come to pray for World Peace in October, 1986, an unprecedented gathering. Those familiar with Cardinal Bergoglio’s heritage as a member of the Society of Jesus noted that Francis was also the name of Francis Xavier, one of the first generation of Jesuits who brought the gospel to India, where he ministered to poor fisherfolk in the south and who later went to Japan and who died off the coast of China, hoping to visit that land as well.
Pope Francis has had deep experience in interreligious relations in Argentina. He co-authored a book with Rabbi Abraham Skorka, Sobre el Cielo y la Tierra (On Heaven and Earth, Buenos Aires: Sudamericana, 2011; e-book: Random House Mondadori, 2011). Regarding interreligious discussions, then-Cardinal Bergoglio wrote: “Dialogue is born from an attitude of respect for the other person, from a conviction that the other person has something good to say. It assumes that there is room in the heart for the person’s point of view, opinion, and proposal. To dialogue entails a cordial reception, not a prior condemnation. In order to dialogue it is necessary to know how to lower the defenses, open the doors of the house, and offer human warmth” (my translation).
The book is itself a model of interreligious dialogue. In the Foreword, Rabbi Skorka notes the risk that they were taking in sharing their personal exchanges with the public: “To transform the dialogue into a conversation with many, to bare our souls, accepting all the risks that this implies, but profoundly convinced that this is the only path of knowing the human, which is capable of bringing us closer to God.” At a later point in the dialogue, the rabbi comments: “If we arrive at an attitude of genuine humility, we will be able to change the reality of the world. When the prophet Micah wanted to give a definition of what it means to be religious, he said: ‘Do justice, love piety, and walk humbly with your God.'”
In response, Cardinal Bergoglio replied: “I am totally in agreement on the question of humility. It pleases me also to use the word ‘meekness,’ which does not mean weakness. A religious leader can be very strong, very firm without exercising aggression. Jesus says that the one who leads must be one who serves. For me, this idea is valid for the religious person of whatever religious confession. Service confers the real power of religious leadership” (my translation).
Pope Francis promises to be a forceful spokesperson for the poor, an eager and attentive partner in interreligious conversations, and a leader who reaches out to the entire world.
Jewish and Muslim,
Bonding Over Dieting
By DINA KRAFT
BROOKLINE, Mass. – Your mother-in-law fixes you a plate of food. Does she determine what you eat, and how much? So went the question, part of a nutrition-themed game inspired by “Family Feud,” during a meeting of a women’s weight-loss group here the other night.
Charlotte Badler, 23, lunged forward to answer. “What if you asked if you could wrap up the rest of it for tomorrow?” she offered, and then addressed an imaginary mother-in-law: “Because I would love to take it to lunch at work tomorrow.” “I love it,” cheered her teammate, Adebola Yakubu-Owolewa, 29. The two leaned in for a high-five.
Ms. Badler is Jewish; Ms. Yakubu-Owolewa is Muslim. They and eight other women – five Muslims and five Jews – meet on Tuesday evenings at a Boston-area high school for lessons and activities around healthy eating and self-esteem. The group is the United States introduction of Slim Peace, a nonprofit organization that brings Israeli and Palestinian women together around the universal theme of weight-loss support.
Yael Luttwak, a documentary filmmaker, founded the first group during the second Palestinian uprising, more than a decade ago, hitting upon a formula of using women struggling with their weight as a tool for Israeli and Palestinian connection. She was in a Weight Watchers group in Tel Aviv and wondered if the leaders at the time, Ariel Sharon, Israel’s prime minister, and Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian Authority president, might be more likely to talk peace if they tried to lose weight together.
When Ms. Luttwak, who made a documentary film about the first Slim Peace group, visited American Jewish communities to talk about her work, they told her they had problems in their own communities with anti-Muslim sentiment and anti-Israel sentiment, and it occurred to her that the Slim Peace model could be brought here. After a talk and screening of her film in Boston, she was approached by Emma Samuels, who said that she would like to help start such a group here and that she had just the partner to run it with: Aminah Herzig, a close friend and fellow dietitian who is Muslim. They now lead the Boston group, facilitating conversations on healthy eating and cultural differences.
The plan is to expand Slim Peace to four other American cities – Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Washington – all of which have significant Muslim and Jewish populations. Groups are open to members of other faiths, and in Detroit, for example, the organization will be reaching out to the city’s large Arab-American Christian community.
“We are not a peace-dialogue group and not a conflict-resolution group,” said Ms. Luttwak, 40, who now lives in Washington. “But we are bringing dialogue and exposure.” Mrs. Herzig and Mrs. Samuels said they were surprised by how quickly the women’s questions to each other revolved around their backgrounds and communities. “They were hungry for that,” Mrs. Samuels said. “Here we were talking about fiber, dairy and water intake, and they wanted to talk about religion.”
Mrs. Herzig, 30, and Mrs. Samuels, 37, confide in each other about work and motherhood and take turns bringing dinner on Slim Peace nights. For the recent session, Mrs. Samuels brought steamed broccoli and chickpeas in a curry sauce atop a bed of baby kale. The women swapped strategies for coping with cravings for food they find hardest to resist. “I find it semihelpful to go to a substitute like an 80-calorie cookie bar,” said Debra Wekstein, a 45-year-old lawyer who is Jewish. Hafsa Salim’s eyes widened under her brown hijab as she asked: “Do you really just eat one of those?” “Yes,” Ms. Wekstein said. “I buy the ones that are individually wrapped.”
Mrs. Salim, 28, a part-time human resources manager, has become close to a Jewish member of the group, Julie Bailit, 41, who works at a health care consulting firm. Each has invited the other to worship services, and they check in between meetings. Recently Mrs. Bailit was having a stressful day, and it was Mrs. Salim she reached out to, dashing off an e-mail, to which Mrs. Salim sent an empathic response. Mrs. Salim’s skirt skims the ground, and she covers her hair in public. “When people see me they think I’m superreligious, but I have my struggles,” she said. “I feel I’m put on this pedestal, and it’s hard to live up to that.” Mrs. Bailit told the group: “I had never spent any time with any Muslim people before this group. I feel like my whole life is Jewish.” She went on: “I’m really invested in my synagogue. I send my kids to a Jewish school. I hunger for diversity.”
Ms. Wekstein told of a Christian friend who asked if she was afraid attending these sessions. She replied that she was not. The friend, Ms. Wekstein recounted, went on, “But you would be more afraid if it was meeting with their husbands.”
“Yet another stereotype of Muslim men being violent,” said Anne Myers, 23, a Harvard divinity student who converted to Islam. “I hear it so many times, but it does not hurt any less.” They discussed the popular assumption that Muslims and Jews are incapable of getting along. “It’s insulting,” Ms. Myers said. “It’s not correct. I wish people didn’t think that way.”
They will continue to meet for monthly dinners at one another’s homes and possibly for workout sessions once their initial program ends. A recent meeting closed with each woman choosing one word to express how they were feeling. Words like “moved,” “joy” and “grateful” filled the quiet room. “Sameach,” announced Ms. Yakubu-Owolewa, her face lit by a wide smile. “It means ‘happy’ in Hebrew.”
By Steve Klaper
I am a bakhor, the Hebrew term designating a first-born son. Once upon a time, this was a big deal in Jewish (and other, tribal-based) communities; the first-born son got double the inheritance of all the other children, plus a variety of other perks. No doubt there are places in the world where this is still the case. In 21st century Jewish America, however, it doesn’t carry much weight any more. In fact, I can think of only two ritual activities that impact me as a bakhor – as a first-born Jewish son.One is the pidyon ha-ben ritual, wherein my father had to take me to the synagogue when I was 30 days old, and “redeem” me from the Temple and the High Priest – neither of which exist any longer, but to whom I was pledged as the most precious of my father’s “first fruits,” which, by law, belong to the Levites.He paid up. I came home. Tanks Gott. The other was enacted this morning, the morning before the first Passover seder. This is the day that we
bekhorim (pl) are obligated to fast, in recognition of and gratitude for being passed over by the angel of death, who slew the first-born of the ancient Egyptians (Tenth Plague!) We are released from this obligation to fast all day by participating in a short study session following morning worship at the local synagogue.I went to shul. I davvened. I had a bite to eat.
I mention all this because this morning is also the occasion of biur chametz, wherein every observant Jewish householder burns a token pile of crumbs signifying the leavened food products which may not be consumed during the week of Passover, and which we have thoroughly removed from our property. We collected those crumbs the evening before. Now comes the weird part. Yesterday was also Palm Sunday for our Catholic sisters and brothers. My wife, Mary – good Catholic that she is – went to church and got her new palm frond for the year. And what, you may ask, does one do with one’s old palm frond from last year? Why, you burn it, of course! Every year, right around the same time as I collect the crumbs of chametz, Mary gets her new palm. And I wake up very early on the morning before the first seder, go out on the back porch and – in accordance with both Talmudic and Canon law – dutifully burn my chametz wrapped in a palm frond. I have yet to meet or hear of any other family that embraces these dual customs. But the fragrance rises to heaven nonetheless.