WISDOM Newsletter – March 2014

Written by WISDOM on . Posted in Newsletters


In this issue
WISDOM Calendar
Birth and Coming of Age Across the Faith Traditions
Unity in Diversity dinner
Women in Islam
Besa the Promise at the Holocaust Memorial Center
An Interfaith Cleanup
NAIN Save the Date
Religious Diversity Journeys for Seventh Graders
The 2014 World Sabbath
How Religion is Passed Down Across Generations
Local UU Church hires full-time rabbi
Five Women Five Journeys
Friendship and Faith

Calendar for WISDOM and Other Interfaith Events


Sunday, March 9th

3:30 PM to 6:00 PM at St. John’s Episcopal Church

26998 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak

Birth and Coming of Age Across the Faith Traditions

A Panel Discussion Sharing and Comparing

Religious Rituals and Practices

Cost $10.  To register to go www.detroitinterfaithcouncil.com

See Flyer Below!


Friday, March 14th

U of M Dearborn Muslim Students’ Association

Unity in Diversity Dinner

Featuring WISDOM Women as speakers

See flyer below for details!


Saturday, March 15th

Women in Islam

6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

IONA (Islamic Organization of North America) Mosque in Warren

28630 Ryan Rd. Warren MI 48092

Speakers are:

Imam Steve Elturk, Najah Bazzy, Parwin Anwar

For more information see flyer below or email Parwin at pqanwar@hotmail.com or call her at (586) 268-8784


Thursday, March 20th

6:00 – 9:00 PM

Face to Faith high school teen event

Birmingham Unitarian Church

Theme is Social Action across the faith traditions

38651 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills, MI

contact Gail Katz

gailkatz@comcast.net for more information


Thursday, April 3rd

Showing of the film Besa: The Promise

At the Holocaust Memorial Center

Orchard Lake Road in Farmington Hills

See Flyer Below!


Sunday August 10th through Wednesday August 13th

NAIN (North American Interfaith Network) Conference

Wayne State University

August 10th through 13th

See Save the Date Flyer Below





“Birth and Coming of Age

Across the Faith Traditions

A panel discussion sharing and comparing

 Religious Rituals and Practices

Our interfaith panel will include:

Jewish: Professor Howard Lupovitch, Director of the Cohn-Haddow Center for Judaic Studies

Muslim: Najah Bazzy, Transcultural Nurse and Clinical Specialist

The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints: Ed Barberis, Former Bishop

Hindu: Padma Kuppa, Board member of the Hindu American Foundation

Roman Catholic: Brother Al Mascia, Song and Spirit Institute for Peace


Sunday, March 9 3:30 PM – 6:00 PM

St. John’s Episcopal Church

26998 Woodward Avenue, Royal Oak, MI 48067

(corner of Woodward & 11 Mile Road)

Cost $10 per person.  Light refreshments available.


To register, please visit the IFLC website


And click on the EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS tab on the top of the homepage.

Questions?  Contact the Rev. Bob Hart at 248-546-1255 ext. 2. You can also pay at the door!!  This discussion is the third part of a series about life cycle events across faith traditions.


Students take a Journey into Judaism!

“Even I learned a lot and I was raised in a Jewish household!”


The curiosity was contagious last month as questions from students and parents resounded at Temple Israel where Rabbi Josh Bennett, along with Rabbis Jen Kaluzny and Arianna Gordon, immersed us in Jewish faith traditions and put common misconceptions and misunderstandings about Judaism to rest.


“Not all Jewish men wear Kippas but for those that do, many refer to them by another name, the Yarmulke”.


The second in our series of six Religious Diversity Journeys this year, the Judaism Journey, from the start, promised to give our students and parents the opportunity to learn, explore and engage their senses within the Jewish faith and customs.


Long-time interfaith activist, Rabbi Josh Bennett, captured the minds of the students as he introduced the “pendulum of Judaism”- an interactive and open discussion of the origins and beliefs of the 3 major branches of the Jewish faith.  In a fascinating presentation that ranged from the origins of orthodox Judaism to the formation of the Reform and Conservative movements, we were held captive by Rabbi Bennett’s energy and charisma.


Rabbi Gordon and Rabbi Kaluzny graciously gave their morning to us leading tours through Temple Israel, facilitating a hands-on discussion of ritual items and artifacts common to the Jewish faith and answering a multitude of questions from our eager student participants.


They also enthralled us by opening the Ark of the Covenant and showcasing the sacred Torah scrolls inside.  Students were amazed to learn that “Each scroll costs between $60,000-$100,000 and takes at least a year to write- and they are written by one person all from memory!” As Rabbi Bennett shared,  “If you were to unwind them theY could be as long as half a football field!”


Following a Mediterranean lunch donated by Temple Israel, our energetic students and interested parents learned traditional Jewish line dancing and circle dancing in the Temple atrium!  It was a wonderful day of exploration and understanding as the community at Temple Israel embraced us as their students, answered our multitude of questions and openly shared their customs and traditions with us!  As one parent stated, “Even I learned a lot and I was raised in a Jewish household”!


The Religious Diversity Journeys program began eleven years ago within six Oakland county schools as a way for students to develop a better understanding of the faiths of their classmates, teachers and community.  One day each month, December – June, select students visit different houses of worship in the metro-Detroit area where they are exposed to the traditions and customs of that faith, are given the opportunity to inquire and ask questions and partake in a meal with members of the community.   For more information on the Religious Diversity Journeys Program or to inquire about your school districts participation within the program, please contact Meredith Skowronski at meredith.skowronski@gmail.com.

The 2014 World Sabbath at
Hartford Memorial Baptist Church

The 2014 World Sabbath was a wonderful coming together for prayers, music and dance for world peace at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit on Sunday, January 26th.  Despite the snow and the cold, most of the participants, the parents, the teachers, the committee, and the public were able to make it to the church for this celebration.


The World Sabbath began with the gathering music of God’s Gifted Hosts, the Hartford teen choir.  At 4:00 PM the World Sabbath processional marched into the sanctuary. The World Sabbath Committee, the Peace Award honorees, the attending clergy and religious leaders, the peace prayer participants, the dance and music participants, and over 100 Children of Peace paraded down the center aisle and found their seats.  Rev. Charles Christian Adams gave everyone a warm welcome from the pulpit with the words “Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere!”


Justin Applefield from Temple Israel kicked off the World Sabbath with the blowing of the shofar (ram’s horn), the Jewish wake-up call from spiritual slumber that Jews hear on their high holy days.


 Then Hassan Awada, from the Muslim American Youth Academy, gave the Muslim Call to Prayer.


Prayers for peace were given from the Baha’i, the Native American, the Jain, the Sikh and the Quaker faiths.



The Hindu Temple Rhythms, splendid in their beautiful costumes and make-up, danced in the front of the church sanctuary.


Both the Cherubic Choir (Hartford’s younger children’s choir), the Teen Tefilah Team from Temple Israel, the Spectrum Singers, and the Maples Elementary School Drummers performed from the pulpit with their musical talent and beautiful voices.



Rev. Rod Reinhart, the founder of the World Sabbath, presented Josh Morof, founder of the high school interfaith teen initiative called Face to Faith,

and Rabbi Dorit Edut, founder of the Detroit Interfaith Outreach Network (DION, with the World Sabbath Peace Awards.


All of the clergy and religious leaders in attendance read together an interfaith pledge and a prayer for people around the world involved in conflict.



Minister Charmaine Johnson, from Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, came up to the pulpit with Hazzan Daniel Gross, cantor from Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills, to pass on the traditional peace banner to the next host of the World Sabbath, which will be at Adat Shalom on January 25th, 2015!!



The highlight every year for Gail Katz, World Sabbath Chairperson, is the assembling of the Children of Peace – this year children of Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Baha’i, Hindu, Quaker, Native American, Mormon, and Jain faiths – who came up to the pulpit with their peace banners depicting their own ideas of world peace – and sang together the song “We Are Children of Peace.”  The mission of the World Sabbath is to impact our youth and our young adults with the idea of becoming diversity heroes, heroes that will help to increase respect and understanding in Metro Detroit.


The World Sabbath concluded with the singing of “Let There Be Peace on Earth” and everyone waved multi-colored banners to represent our diversity.  Folks congregated downstairs in the Fellowship Hall for the After-Glow.  The flags that the Children of Peace made were collected for the construction of the sixth Children of Peace quilt, quilts that can be displayed at peace events or at house of worship in the Detroit area. Three of the former peace quilts were on display, in addition to an interfaith mosaic tile project consisting of tiles made by the Children of Peace and assembled by Mary Gilhuly of the Song and Spirit Institute for Peace in Berkley.


This was the fifteenth annual World Sabbath celebration, an event that gives us hope that we are helping to usher in a new era of peace, tolerance, and respect for cultures and faith traditions from every corner of this earth, but mostly present in our wonderfully diverse Metropolitan Detroit community.





To read the entire article go to:




Vern L. Bengtson came from a religious family – to put it mildly.

“My dad was a minister of the Evangelical Covenant Church,” Professor Bengtson, who teaches social work at the University of Southern California, said from his home in Santa Barbara this week. “He had nine brothers and sisters, and all were staunch Evangelical Covenant Church people. I had 33 cousins on my father’s side, all staunch Evangelical Covenant Church people.”

In 1963, after college at a school sponsored by his historically Swedish denomination, Professor Bengtson entered graduate school at the University of Chicago. There, he was an oddity in two ways. All of a sudden, most of his peers were irreligious. And while he happily took cues from his parents, his classmates didn’t trust anyone over 30.

To a graduate student, this state of being the odd man out suggested a research question: Why do some young people adopt their families’ views, while others, especially in the ’60s, strike out on their own?

In 1969, shortly after being hired at U.S.C., Professor Bengtson began a study of 350 families, whom he interviewed regularly until 2008. In some families, he interviewed four generations. In all, his respondents were born in years spanning 1878 to 1989.

Professor Bengtson’s project yielded more than 200 articles, many focused on aging and intergenerational conflict, topics on which he has become an expert. Now, at last, he is ready to draw some conclusions about religion, the issue that got him started.

In “Families and Faith: How Religion Is Passed Down Across Generations” (Oxford; $29.95), written with two colleagues, Professor Bengtson argues that families do a pretty good job of passing religious faith to their children. More interesting, for those who fret about children leaving the fold – that is, clergy members and parents everywhere – Professor Bengtson has theories about why some children keep the faith while others leave.

According to Professor Bengtson, parents have as much hold as ever on children’s souls. “Parent-youth similarity in religiosity has not declined over 35 years,” from 1970 to 2005, he writes. Denominational loyalty is down – kids feel free to ditch the Baptists for the Presbyterians – but younger generations are no less likely to inherit core beliefs, like biblical literalism, the importance of church attendance or, for that matter, atheism.

As to why some children follow their parents, spiritually speaking, Professor Bengtson’s research confirmed some common-sense assumptions. For example, it helps if parents model religiosity: if you talk about church but never go, children sense hypocrisy. And intermarriage doesn’t help. If you’re Jewish (or Mormon, Catholic, etc.), and want your child to share your religion, it helps to marry someone of the same faith.
Go to the following website for the rest of this interesting article:



Local UUs first to hire full-time rabbi


TRAVERSE CITY – The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Grand Traverse believe they may be the country’s first UU fellowship to call a rabbi as their full-time spiritual leader.Rabbi Chava Bahle of Suttons Bay was selected by a 144-5 vote to become the congregation’s third “settled” minister. She will be installed in the fall, replacing interim minister Cassandra Howe.



“It is with immense joy that I accept the call,” a tearful Bahle told the congregation after the vote that followed her Jan. 26 guest service. “Thank you, search committee, for being on the vanguard.”


Bahle is an ordained rabbi in Jewish Renewal and an ordained Maggid, a Jewish inspirational preacher and story teller. She has long been known in the region for her commitment to interfaith collaboration and her belief that people from diverse backgrounds can benefit from the insights of other traditions.

Besides founding Congregation Ahavat Shalom in Traverse City to  meet the needs of area Jewish and inter-cultural families, she was the first non-Christian summer minister in residence at the Bayview Association of Harbor Springs. Locally she guest preaches at many churches of other faiths, co-officiates at interfaith weddings, and teaches world religions and other courses at Northwestern Michigan College.


She plans to continue as rabbi emeritus of Chicago’s Congregation Makom Shalom and the Chicago Interfaith Family School via Skype.

Bahle is respected by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Grand Traverse for her guest preaching, teaching and life cycle events over a period of nearly 20 years, said John Hoffmann, president of the search committee. She also worked with the congregation on community projects related to gay discrimination.

“When she’s come in the past, we usually have a full house,” Hoffmann said. “She has quite a following. People like to hear her. She combines humor and intellect and emotion. She’s pretty unique in many ways.”


The search committee first reached out to Bahle more than a year ago to see if she’d be interested in leading the membership of about 200, Hoffmann said. After a series of talks ranging from exploratory to serious, the group recommended her to the congregation for a week of “candidating” Jan. 19-26.

“One of our mandates was to do a survey and workshops to see what the congregation wanted. We developed a profile. It became clear that what we were looking for turned out to be what we already had,” he said.

Calling a rabbi to serve is unusual but not a “significant stretch,” said Keith Kron, transitions director for the international Unitarian Universalist Association. Some of the faith’s 1,000 or so congregations are led by laymen, others by UU ministers or ministers of other faiths.


“We are open to a diverse range of theologies and I think (in Traverse City) you have a congregation that was very comfortable with the theology of this rabbi, who feels very close to a Unitarian Universalist’s sense of the world,” Kron said.

Many of the seven UU principles are closely aligned to principles of other faiths, including Judaism. They include a belief in the inherent worth and dignity of all, a commitment to justice, equity and compassion in human relations, and a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.

Hoffmann said the Grand Traverse congregation also was looking for a leader who would inspire and challenge the congregation, who would make it more visible by reaching out to the community, and who would offer “some sense of spiritual connection.”


“With UUs, that’s always tricky,” he added.

Bahle said she was honored and excited to be offered the opportunity, which was “deeply relational for us both.” She plans to commit to an ongoing course of education in UU history, theologies and other topics, but also will continue with her own Jewish education.


“The UU congregation will remain deeply committed to the Unitarian Universalist traditions. I will remain deeply committed as a Jewish individual and rabbi to my own traditions,” she said. “I believe that I can be a good and inspiring preacher and teacher and helper to the community. I also understand that my own Jewish practice will have to be met elsewhere. I do not intend to Judaise this congregation. Nor do I want to change who I am, because that is who they chose. I preach with my yarmulke and my prayer shawl, my Jewishness and Jewish identity, and I believe there are so many places where both religions meet.”

Bahle said she’ll focus on helping the congregation grow internally and assist in efforts to be an “incubator” for small-group ministry related to social justice, environmentalism, poverty, homelessness and other issues. She also hopes to bring a base of trust to the congregation, which has been in one form of transition or another for nearly 11 years.


“Externally, I would love to bring the incredible, powerful seven core principals of Unitarian Universalism to the community and greater world in a wonderful, loving dialogue-based way,” she said. “My highest hope is that this is a model for how the world could be. And that makes me happy.”

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 .

Check out the latest story about a friendship that crosses religion, race, or ethnic boundaries at www.friendshipandfaith.com.
Email Gail Katz at gailkatz@comcast.net if you have a personal story for the friendshipandfaith.com website!!


 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.

Go to our WISDOM websites at www.interfaithwisdom.org

Read our interfaith story of the week from our book Friendship and Faith,

and find the link to buy the book at

 Amazon at


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!