Calendar for WISDOM and Other Interfaith Events
January through April 2017
Comparative Judaism Series
See Flyer Below
18th Annual World Sabbath
Sunday, March 5, 2017 starting at 4:00 PM
Temple Beth El, 7400 Telegraph Road, Bloomfield HIlls
See Flyer Below!
Sunday, March 12, 2017 5:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Potluck Family Treasures Show and Tell
Mulberry Square Club House, Bloomfield Hills
Deepen your understanding of different faith traditions by WISDOM women recounting their family stories related to a personal article of faith, practice, or tradition
Contact Paula Drewek at email@example.com
Thursday, March 30, 2017 11:00 AM
Tour of Zaman International followed by lunch!
26091 Trowbridge St., Inkster, MI
See Flyer Below!
March through June, 2017
Exploring Our Religious Landscapes
Immersive Experiences in Religion and Culture
See flyer below!
Thursday, April 13, 12-3 pm
Five Women Five Journeys Presentation
Oakland Community college
Highland Lakes Campus
7350 Cooley Lake Rd.
Waterford, MI. 48327
Wednesday, April 26, 7 pm
Five Women Five Journeys Presentation
St. John Fisher Chapel
3665 Walton Blvd.
Auburn Hills, Mi.
Wednesday, May 10th, 7:00 PM
Five Women Five Journeys Presentation
St. Hugo of the Hills Catholic Church
2215 Opdyke Rd., Bloomfield Hills
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
Please print out and sign the Resiliency Statement below and mail to the InterFaith Leadership Council at
10821 Capital Street, Oak Park, MI 48237!!
The IFLC is trying to collect as many signatures as possible to show our “Standing Together” during this difficult time
of increased prejudice and intolerance!
Teri Weingarden, WISDOM treasurer, at the Women’s March in Lansing on January 21st!!
The Forgotten Stories of Muslims
Who Saved Jewish People During the Holocaust
Even in the darkest times, there are heroes-though sometimes they may be the people we least expect. That’s the message a global nonprofit group hopes to spread Friday on Holocaust Remembrance Day, when it displays a small exhibit in a New York synagogue highlighting the little-known stories of Muslims who risked their lives to rescue Jewish people from persecution during World War II. Though the two religious groups are often presented in opposition, this exhibit is a reminder that they have also shared an important history of cooperation and mutual assistance. The tales include those of Khaled Abdul Wahab, who sheltered about two dozen Jews in Tunisia, and Abdol Hossein Sardari, an Iranian diplomat who is credited with helping thousands of Jews escape Nazi soldiers by issuing them passports.
The group also recognizes the Pilkus, a Muslim family in Albania who harbored young Johanna Neumann and her mother in their home during the German occupation and convinced others that the two were family members visiting from Germany. “They put their lives on the line to save us,” Neumann, now 86, told TIME on Friday. “If it had come out that we were Jews, the whole family would have been killed.”
“What these people did, many European nations didn’t do,” she added. “They all stuck together and were determined to save Jews.”
The collection of 15 stories shows how people organically came to protect one another, even in extreme environments of war and conflict, organizers said. “Those stories are very powerful together because they show a different side to humanity. It shows that we can have hope even at a time like the Holocaust,” said Mehnaz Afridi, a Manhattan College professor who specializes in Islam and the Holocaust.
Though the narratives are being exhibited on a day observed by remembering the past, they are also vital to remember in today’s world, “given the rise of hatred,” said Dani Laurence Andrea Varadi, co-director of I Am Your Protector, the organization behind the exhibit.
The New York City-based group encourages societies and people to stand up to injustices, and Varadi points as an example to the climate faced by many Muslims around the world and in the U.S. as an example of what can happen when a group of people are seen as a monolith rather than as individuals. Hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S. soared 67% in 2015 from 154 in 2014 to 257, the latest figures from the FBI show. During his campaign, President Donald Trump pledged to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country. Just this week, Trump’s administration announced new immigration plans, and the White House is expected to order that the U.S. temporarily stop issuing visas to people from several majority-Muslim countries.
“It makes people think it’s legitimate to hate,” Varadi said. “It is natural and normal to be scared and to think that we have to resist or fight, but we can also have a mechanism where we can catch ourselves and say, ‘OK, there are some people who might be problematic, and we can look at them one on one.'”
She added that the historic tales of courage show the impact that can be made when people protect targets of hate in climates of rising fear, suspicion and hatred. Varadi hoped the stories inspire others to follow suit.
“We can speak up, stand up for the other when we witness something, raise our voices in a peaceful, nonviolent way,” she said. “Whenever people think, ‘There’s nothing I can do. I cannot make a difference,’ this is the most dangerous thing to think because it is not true.”
The exhibit debuted in the headquarters of United Nations in Geneva a few weeks ago. I Am Your Protector will revive the display for a one-day commemoration event Friday at New York City’s Temple Emanu-El. However, organizers hope the stories have a lasting effect.
“I think history shows that people stand up for each other-and those were the ones who created change. And if there’s enough people who do that, then the whole reality changes,” Varadi said. “When communities come together with that mindset, whether it’s small or big, it becomes a huge force that can basically change the course of history.”
This Muslim Mom Was Targeted By Hate.
Her Neighbors Refused To Stay Silent
“We will show up, stand up,
and stand against any hateful act in our community.”
Rawd Saleh speaks at a rally in front of the Mason Community Center. An attempt to spread Islamophobia through an Ohio neighborhood backfired last weekend, resulting instead in numerous acts of love and solidarity. Ohioans have been rallying around Rawd Saleh, a 41-year-old mother of three from Mason, Ohio. Saleh came home from a weekend away to find out that flyers had been posted in houses in her neighborhood that falsely accused her family of having ties to terrorism. The anonymous “neighborhood terrorist warning” had Saleh’s name, address, photo, and even a map showing exactly where her house was located.
“It was an awful feeling for me, to know that someone out there thinks that my life and my children’s lives are not valuable at all, someone who would put my name and address out there for anyone who could possibly want to hurt us,” Saleh, who has lived in America for 35 years, told The Huffington Post.
But Saleh soon learned that this wasn’t a fight she would have to face alone. When Saleh’s neighbors found the notes in their mailboxes, they leapt into action, alerting the police and reassuring Saleh’s family that they supported her and her kids. Saleh told The Huffington Post that the neighbors have even pointed security cameras in the direction of her house in case anything suspicious were to happen.
“They reassured me that they were here for me and for my children,” Saleh said. “And that we’re in this together.”
But the support didn’t end there. As news of the flyers spread online, Saleh was contacted by two Ohioans, Sarah Martin and Cyndi Ritter, who offered to help. Within two days, the three organized a rally at the Mason Community Center. “I just started thinking about the women that wear hijab that are not as outspoken as me, or who haven’t been here for 35 years, and who don’t know their rights as Americans,” Saleh said. “The more and more I thought about it, I realized this really isn’t about me, it isn’t about Muslims. This is about hate. No one should have to go through something like this.”
Over 300 people, hailing from Mason and from other towns across Ohio, attended the rally on Sunday. They held signs, brought their children, and chanted their support for Saleh. Martin told The Huffington Post that she wasn’t expecting such a large turnout.
“Mason is a very diverse community but also a very conservative community so I was worried not many people would attend,” Martin said. “Once the event was created on Facebook, it just kept getting shared and people from outside the Mason community came to show support too.” Ritter was inspired to get involved after attending the Women’s March in Washington, D.C.
“The message we wanted to send to the community was that Hate would not be tolerated,” Ritter wrote in an email. “We will show up, stand up, and stand against any hateful act in our community.”
Saleh said was surrounded by support from the moment she joined the rally. It was “humbling” for her to see so many people she didn’t know come out to stand in solidarity.
“There’s so much negativity right now in our country, but there’s still so much goodness and kindness and people who are willing to help and stand up for what’s right and support those who are being targeted,” Saleh said.
The Mason Police Department told The Huffington Post that they have no information about who was responsible for the flyers, but that they’re conducting extra patrols in the area. The flyers were distributed a few days after President Trump signed an executive order targeting Muslim immigrants and refugees. The White House has denied that the order is a Muslim ban, although Trump has made it clear that Christians refugees would be prioritized over Muslims.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Ohio’s governor, John Kasich, agreed that Trump is right to be concerned about vetting refugees who enter the country. However, he criticized the confusion the executive order has created and the fact that it sends “a message that somehow the United States was looking sideways at Muslims.”
Saleh said she still feels nervous at home, since she’s not sure if anyone out there still has ill intentions toward her family. She’s had to warn her children to be extra vigilant, to lock doors and windows, and to keep the alarm system on. If she could speak to whomever distributed the flyer, Saleh said that she would forgive them. She hopes that the person will come forward soon. Saleh said that the outpouring of solidarity has given her hope.
“Out of this one hateful act, I’ve gained over 100 new friends. Neighbors who I usually wave to as I run by are actually coming over to get to know me, and I’m inviting them to have breakfast with me,” Saleh said. “The outcome has been the opposite of what this person wanted it to be.”
Sikhs open their temple doors to
Oroville Dam evacuees, and strangers came pouring in
RIO LINDA, Calif. – Each morning before the break of dawn, Nirmal Singh makes his way to a small stage at the Shri Guru Ravidass Temple adorned with roses and silk. There, the priest sits and reads prayers from a centuries-old Indian text to open the day.
It’s usually a quiet affair, with words spoken in Punjabi to an empty hall the size of a large backyard – a solemn start at the small Sikh temple that sees few people outside of weekend services.
But this week, Singh had company. Bodies shuffled under blankets in front of him. On Tuesday a Mexican couple and their kids woke up to his right, revealing the head scarves they wore in respect of Sikh traditions. In a nearby room, a black man was also was getting up to the sounds of prayer.
As tens of thousands fled low-lying regions on the Feather River this week amid warnings of flooding from the rapidly filling Lake Oroville, Sikh temples across in the Sacramento area opened their doors to evacuees.
“This is their home,” said Singh of this week’s visitors. “Our faith teaches us to help everyone. The poor, the hungry, it doesn’t matter who you are.
The danger of flooding has brought together hundreds of evacuees with a population that, although common in this part of the state, remains a mystery to many here and has sometimes borne the brunt of bigotry.
Sikhs in Sacramento, home to 10 temples and about 11,000 Sikh families, began putting out calls for supplies and volunteers on Sunday evening after 180,000 people living in communities downstream of Lake Oroville were given short notice for mandatory evacuations.
The crowds didn’t start arriving at Shri Guru Ravidass until the mayor of Sacramento posted a list late that night of temples that were set up as shelters. It was retweeted 2,500 times.
It was around then that Juan Carvantes was driving from Olivehurst, an evacuated area across the river from Yuba City. He spotted the tweet and came with his wife, two brothers, their wives and seven kids among them.
They arrived Sunday at the 24-year-old Shri Guru Ravidass Temple, a yellow stucco building with green trim on the eaves located north of Sacramento in Rio Linda. In this rural area, it’s not uncommon to see horses grazing in front of barnyards.
Cervantes had encountered Sikhs before; Yuba City is home to one of the most concentrated communities in the country and hosts more than 100,000 at its annual Sikh parade. But he had never stepped foot in a temple.
It’s been a learning process.
Cervantes almost forgot to take his shoes off when entering the prayer hall where the families slept. He dozed off each night with a blue baseball cap on his head, not just for warmth but to keep his hair covered while in sight of the Sikh holy book at the front of the room. He’s had to remember to always point his soles away from the stage where the book is kept. And he’s avoided eating meat on the grounds, trying to attune himself to the vegetarianism many Sikhs follow.
For the 38-year-old who picks fruit in the Central Valley’s farms, it’s also been a moment of humility – and connection he didn’t expect.
“These people are just like me,” said Cervantes, who shares a two-bedroom apartment with his wife and three kids back home. “I’m Catholic, but we have the same God. We have the same heart. The same hands.”
Kathy Flores evacuated late Sunday from the Yuba City area with her son and neighbor and found shelter in a small house next to the temple usually reserved for board meetings. There, she slept on blankets with 23-year-old Rafael and 30-year-old neighbor Samantha Simpson.
Because Flores came with a cat and a dog, she stepped in the temple only for food and to thank her hosts. In Indian culture, the closest most people come to having pets is keeping guard dogs.
“We were stuck in traffic for three hours and heard on talk radio that temples were open. This is the first one we hit,” said Flores, 66, who left nearly all her belongings behind at her apartment, save a few changes of clothes. “They’ve fed us. They’ve gone looking for dog food. I’ve even had some of their spicy curry.”
For the Sikhs of Rio Linda, where holy day festivals can bring more than 700 attendees but weekday prayers attract a handful at most, the acts of kindness are a religious calling. They’ve also hosted faces familiar to their own, with Sikhs fleeing flood-prone areas seeking refuge.
“Our temples – all temples – always have a rule of having an open-door policy to house and feed anybody. That’s one of the most important teachings of our guru,” said Raj Kumar Sood, a truck driver who is the temple’s board secretary. “But we’ve never seen a crowd like this.”
So on top of the usual industrial-size batches of rice, lentils, cauliflower and spinach volunteers cook for the prayerful each week, community members have chipped into add some American flare to their offers. A Sikh who runs a pizza shop closed it on Monday, directing his staff to make vegetarian pies, spaghetti and macaroni and cheese to donate to the temple. Variety packs of chips sat alongside stacks of bottled water in a dining hall. Cans of Dr Pepper were plentiful.
Sood hoped that, in an age when Sikhs are often maligned and attacked, non-Sikhs would look at “the good that we try to do and change their impression.”
Sikh communities in Yuba City and nearby Sacramento date back more than a century, when Punjabi communities who had settled in England began immigrating to California. Some of the first Sikhs in Yuba City helped build Southern Pacific Railroad, and the Yuba City-Marysville area has about 40,000 Sikhs today.
About half of the country’s 500,000 Sikhs are estimated to live in California, with the majority of those in the northern part of the state, including the Bay Area.
Members of the faith have been targets of abuse and violence since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, apparently mistaken for Muslims. Sikhs in Sacramento still recall Sept. 15, 2011, when a Sikh gas station manager in Meza, Ariz., was shot after a man said he wanted to “go out and shoot some towel heads” to get revenge against Osama bin Laden.
The community came together in mourning in 2012 when a white supremacist killed six Sikhs during a shooting rampage in Oak Creek, Wis. Two elderly Sikh men were killed in a drive-by shooting six years ago in nearby Elk Grove. The crime remains unsolved.
They’ve also faced challenges of a different sort.
The Rio Linda temple has been attempting for years to forge ahead with plans to replace its prayer hall with a new, 12,000-square foot building with golden domes, but has run into repeated complaints from neighbors who’ve shown up at community planning board meetings to oppose the project. Neighbors have said they’re concerned about parking and drainage, but temple members have wondered whether they’re more concerned about religion.
But in the Sikh faith, “you can’t expect people to do good to you only because you do good to them. It is not a trade,” Sood said. “But there is a balance that will naturally happen.”
On Tuesday, officials lifted mandatory evacuation orders for area south of the Oroville Dam, though residents were warned they could be forced to evacuate again.
A few hours after finding out he could go home to Olivehurst, Guillermo Cervantes said he would take his time in returning. He was hoping to avoid traffic, so he stayed back with his wife and kids after his older brother, Juan, left.
Inside the temple, with few evacuees remaining, C