WISDOM Newsletter – August 2016

Written by WISDOM on . Posted in Newsletters

Calendar for WISDOM and Other Interfaith Events  
Sunday, August 7th
Bazaar at the Bharatiya Temple in Troy
See Flyer Below
Thursday, August 18th
6:00 PM – 8:30 PM
A Coming Together of the Jewish & Chaldean Communities
See Flyer Below
Thursday, August 18th 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Five Women Five Journeys
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
500 Renaissance Center (Tower 500), Detroit
Windsor Conference Room
Contact Gail Katz for more information
Sunday, August 28th 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Michigan Jewish Food Festival at Eastern Market in Detroit
Invitation is for people of all faith traditions!
Exploring our Religious Landscapes
August through November
See Flyer Below
Five Women Five Journeys
Sunday, September 25, 2016
3:30 PM – 5:30 PM
Holy Cross Episcopal Church
40700 W. 10 Mile Rd., Novi
Uncovering Our Sacred Texts
September 18th 3:30 – 6:00 PM
at the Mata Tripta Ji Gurdwara Sahib in Plymouth
See Flyer Below
Interfaith Amigos – The Power of Interfaith Dialogue
An Imam, a Pastor, and a Rabbi address why interfaith dialogue is so important!
Thursday, September 22nd 11:00 AM – 8:30 PM
Alpena Community College and Alpena High School
See Flyer below!
Kirk in the Hills Fall Seminar Series
October 7th through October 9th
Featuring Amy-Jill Levine, guest lecturer.
Friday, October 7th – Keys Lecture and Dinner 6:30 – 8:00 PM
“How Jews and Christians Read Scriptures Differently”
Saturday, October 8th at Congregation Shir Tikvah in Troy
10:00 – 11:30 AM.  Special sermon and services
Saturday, October 8th 2:00 – 5:00 PM at Kirk in the HIlls
Sunday, October 9th 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM Jesus in his Jewish Context
More information coming soon!!
Sunday, October 23 12:30 PM – 2:45 PM (includes lunch)

Five Women Five Journeys
at First Presbyterian Church of Royal Oak
529 Hendrie Blvd, Royal Oak, MI 48067
Contact Maryann Schlie

If you are planning on coming, please bring an appetizer or dessert for our potluck!! 

Hazon Detroit is proud to announce their first annual Jewish Food Festival taking place on August 28, 2016 from 11 AM-4pm at the historic Eastern Market in Detroit! The Jewish Food Festival will provide a unique celebration engaging the local Jewish community and people of many faith traditions. It is a day for area foodies, rabbis, restaurateurs, chefs, farmers, educators, entrepreneurs, vegans, and omnivores to come together to explore the interplay of food, sustainability, Jewish traditions, and contemporary life. The Hazon food festival will develop and deepen diverse Jewish community connections and relationships while participants learn more about Jewish tradition, food, and sustainability.

Three WISDOM Members gave the keynote address at the 62nd annual meeting of the National Association of the Congregational Christian Churches, held right here in metro-Detroit this year.
From Left to Right
Gigi Salka, Trish Harris, Rev. Mimi Biedron, Padma Kuppa
WISDOM is a non-profit interfaith organization, and its acronym is quite a mouthful: Women’s Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach in Metro-detroit. But our message is simple. We are women who are leaders in our own ethnic and religious communities, but realize it is import to reach out across all that divides us, to build relationships – to build peace, one friend at a time.
Trish Harris, one of the founders, Gigi Salka and Padma Kuppa (former Board members) were invited to present a session about WISDOM at conference at the request of Rev. Mimi Biedron (whose friendship with us “WISDOM sisters” goes back a long time). We attempted to bring more than a decade of WISDOM’s efforts to build a more pluralistic society to an audience of several hundred from around the country, all in less than an hour. Our joint keynote really tied in to the theme of the NACCC Conference, Who is Your Neighbor? (Luke 10:29), and the audience was able to obtain copies of “the WISDOM book,” Friendship and Faith. Trish, a Roman Catholic, Gigi, a Muslim, and Padma, a Hindu, were able to explain the who, what, why of WISDOM’s efforts respectively in each of our speeches, explaining our mission statement as we did so.
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.
Here is Part One –
Trish Harris on WHO is WISDOM: The Beginnings of WISDOM as a Way to Build Peace.
I’m here this afternoon to share the story of a small group of women who came together 10 years ago and have been prodding Detroit’s interfaith consciousness ever since. At first, I believed that Gail, a Jew, Shahina, a Muslim and I, a Roman Catholic Christian met by chance, but now I clearly see God’s hand in our meeting, our friendships and in the foundation of WISDOM (Women’s Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach in Metro Detroit.)
The most difficult thing about putting today’s remarks together was how to distill and communicate a meaningful message from 10 years of lived and shared experience in the space of 10 minutes….quite a challenge, but here we go…
Detroit is blessed with a degree of diversity not found in many places in our country. The diversity is mostly due to the influx of different populations settling here as a result of the availability of jobs in the auto industry. If I wanted to enumerate the different ethnicities, and nationalities that have made Detroit their home, it would be a lengthy list, suffice it to say that you would be hard pressed to name an ethic group or nationality not represented in Metro Detroit.
What is diversity? … How have you personally experienced diversity? … And probably most importantly, what do you believe about diversity? In that examination of belief, have you ever really thought about why God didn’t create us all the same? He certainly could have if he had wanted to…. Is there a reason and purpose to our creation in different sizes, shapes, colors and creeds? … Perhaps, just perhaps, God created diversity as a divine teaching tool for you and me, that in grappling with the challenges and joys of diversity we can grow in our love and understanding of each other and the God that created us.
WISDOM has used our faith in a higher power and relational skills, which seem most prevalent in women, to increase acceptance, understanding and respect among people of difference and to provide a safe space for encounter, where friendships can begin and be nurtured between individuals and faith communities.
Over the last ten years, WISDOM, an entirely volunteer nonprofit, has produced or sponsored 172 programs of various types, ie. (House of Worship visits, movie and book discussions, public forums on critical topics, Life cycle programs, programs based on race or faith tradition, and programs on women’s issues.) We have used community service programs as a way to gather together people who would not normally come in contact with one another, and jointly do “good” for the community by, feeding the hungry, improving the environment, and helping our school children. We have partnered with public schools, colleges, hospitals, senior centers, houses of worship, other nonprofits, faith affiliated organizations, individuals and businesses. WISDOM has presented at Harvard, at NAIN – the North American Interfaith Network conference, the World Views Seminar at University of Michigan, and at the Islamic Association of North American conference in Chicago. We have received the Hindu American Foundations “Friend of the Community Award “for our support and encouragement that the Hindu Community has a seat at the interfaith table in Metro Detroit, and will receive in October, the IFLC – Interfaith Council of Metro Detroit, Interfaith Leadership Award for significant and sustained efforts at building interfaith bridges of understanding and relationship among individuals and faith communities.
WISDOM has provided Detroit, diverse but segregated (mainly due to “white flight “to the suburbs) a powerful, positive model of women from different faiths working for the common good of the whole community. We have developed and implemented both educational and community service programs to both increase the intellectual understanding of different faith traditions and encourage the growth of personal relationships. If the truth be known, the biggest impact and change in the community has occurred not through an understanding of other’s belief systems but through getting to know each other as women and human beings… the biggest changes have come through changes in our “hearts” not our “heads”.
What started as three women meeting for coffee and then for dinners to talk about the possibility of bringing women together to learn about their differences but also discover their common humanity ,continues to stand as a constant reminder of what is possible through commitment, and faith in God, and in each other.
One of the things that have kept going has been working together on programs and projects. A primary project was the writing of our book “Friendship and Faith” which took us over a year of time and tears to bring to fruition. In its birthing, we were changed, we grew more cohesive as a group, surprised at our ability to create a book and more comfortable with taking on new challenges and succeeding.
“Friendship and Faith” creates a window into the daily lives and faith worlds of women from different faith traditions; it is an intimate glimpse into a very personal world usually reserved for good friends and family. This book extends the reach of WISDOM’s message of the importance of relationship and empowerment to places we will never physically go and to people we will never meet, except for our images created on the printed page.
This book dealing with the crossing of boundaries and building bridges of understanding and respect, is being made available to you by your host committee.Friendship and Faith and the bibliography in your conference information packet, may be helpful in starting your examination of both “Who is My Neighbor” and your own interfaith journey.
Another project that was integral in keeping us together and moving us forward was the development of the  Five Women/ Five Journeys Program, which Gigi will speak to you about along with some Myths and Challenges in interfaith work.
I would like to conclude my portion of the presentation by sharing a simple story and asking you a question.
Whenever anyone begins a new endeavor into unknown territory, we all are challenged by myths, stereotypes but most of all, by our own fears.  In this analogy, the unknown territory is represented by a boiling pot of water.  Let’s talk about three possibilities.  There are people who are like eggs. When you drop an egg into boiling water, it hardens and toughens and becomes inflexible. Other people are like carrots. When you drop a carrot into boiling water, the carrot gets mushy and soft and loses its backbone. But some people are like beans… coffee beans. When you drop a coffee bean into the boiling water it shares its essence and transforms the water around it.
Which one will you be, the egg, the carrot or the coffee bean in your journey of reaching  out to people different than yourself … “How deep is your heart and how wide is your embrace?”

Confident Pluralism – the Center for Public Justice
An excerpt from an edited version of the 2016 Annual Kuyper Lecture delivered at Baylor University on June 10, 2016, by John Inazu is an Associate Professor of Law and Associate Professor of Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis:
Confident pluralism allows genuine difference to coexist without suppressing or minimizing our firmly held convictions. The goal of confident pluralism is not to settle which views are right and which views are wrong. Rather, it proposes that the future of our democratic experiment requires finding a way to be steadfast in our personal convictions while also making room for others to disagree. Instead of shutting down or avoiding those with whom we disagree, confident pluralism suggests that we allow space for meaningful difference and, with it, the opportunity for persuasion.
Read the complete article here:
Advisory Board member Padma Kuppa blogs regularly at Patheos.com – she recently was part of the Patheos Public Square on Faith and the Election. Read other perspectives here.
If there is no respect for diverse viewpoints, if there is a binary that says, when I win, you must lose, we lose pluralism. For civil discourse, both before and after an election, the ability to hear, accept, and blend multiple viewpoints is critical. An inclusive pluralism is an essential requirement of faith and religion that is required in politics and elections. Without these  we cannot elect leaders who ensure that all perspectives are considered, that we can come together after the election, where all the electorate has a place at the table. Faith and religion also teach us humility – that no single individual, single party or single faith has all the answers to the challenges of our times – and that we must elect leaders who can work together to find solutions.
Read her complete blog here:

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 Paula Drewek at Drewekpau@aol.com .


 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.

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!