WISDOM Newsletter – November 2015

Written by WISDOM on . Posted in Newsletters

Calendar for WISDOM and Other Interfaith Events  

Thursday, November 12
8:00 PM
Jewish Community Center Annual Book Fair
Presentation by Anthony David of An Improbably Friendship
See flyer below!
Tuesday, November 17
6:30 PM – 9:00 PM
A Showing of the film “Ocean of Pearls”
(see flyer below)
The Community House
380 South Bates, Birmingham
6:30 PM – 9:00 PM
Four dates in November
The Passenger – an Opera about the Holocaust at the Michigan Opera Theatre
See flyer below and join us for this coming together of Metro Detroit to fight hate and prejudice!!
Sunday, December 6th
4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Five Women Five Journeys
First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham
1669 W. Maple Road, Birmingham, MI
For more information contact MaryAnn Schlie at maryann_schlie@hotmail.com

Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Five Women Five Journeys
Unity of Livonia
28660 Five Mile Road
Livonia, MI 48154
For more information contact MaryAnn Schlie at maryann_schlie@hotmail.com


This uniquely important opera about the Holocaust reminds us of man’s potential for inhumanity to his fellow man, while standing as a glowing testament to the resolve of the human spirit.  Being performed by Michigan Opera Theatre in the 70th anniversary year of Auschwitz’s liberation, the company will honor Holocaust victims and survivors, and other cultures that have faced genocide. Michigan Opera Theatre invites robust participation from diverse groups to engage in an educational discourse about the importance of remembering genocide and addressing it in our own times.  Together we will examine the power of art and music to promote understanding and combat evil. Check with the Michigan Opera Theatre for tickets 313-237-7464.

(Women’s Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue
 and Outreach in MetroDetroit)
The Race Relations & Diversity Task Force
 The Baldwin Public Library in Birmingham

are sponsoring the showing of the film
Followed by discussion by Jaspal Neelam
The wife of Sarab Neelam, the producer

At The Community House
380 South Bates
Birmingham, MI 48009

On Tuesday, November 17th
6:30 PM – 9:00 PM
No Charge

(Parking in the lot near the Baldwin Library on Chester Street)

Amrit Singh is of two worlds, but belongs to neither. A turban-wearing Sikh, he has lived his life in North America out of sorts and out of place, cast adrift at an uneasy crossroads between East and West. But when he is offered a prestigious position as a transplant surgeon in a Detroit hospital, the young doctor sees it as a opportunity to start fresh. He struggles to be the man he believes he is and at the same time the person he wants to be. His ambitious pursuit of success, however eventually leads to tragedy and it is only in defining his singular identity that he finds peace.



631 W. Fort Street
Detroit, MI 48226

We Welcome Clergy and Religious Leaders
To Lead Us in an Interfaith Prayer for World Peace!!



If you are Clergy or a Religious Leader planning to attend,
please contact Gail or Meredith
  gailkatz@comcast.net   248-978-6664
Meredith.skowronski@gmail.com 248-250-4157

Temple Israel Sisterhood members had an incredible day at the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church Women’s Day celebration on Sunday, September 27th.  They heard the Rev. Dr. Gina M. Stewart give a sermon about Gideon from the book of Judges who was chosen by God to free the Israelites from the oppression by the Midianites and the Amalekites.  Very powerful and energetic sermon and service!!  It was great for all 8 of the Temple Israel Sisters to be recognized by Hartford from the altar, and to be greeted non-stop by so many friendly faces, as well as to be treated to a delicious lunch!  Temple Israel Sisterhood looks forward to their next joint interfaith event together, which will be the Freedom Seder at Temple Israel on April 5, 2016!  

From left to right in the back row is Sharie Gladner, Linda Mickelson, Gail Katz, Renee Gerger, Debbie Levin, and Pat Baer.
In the front row is Janet Gilyard (Hartford Women United President), Charmaine Johnson, Wendy Kohlenberg (Temple Israel Sisterhood President) and Susan Singer.


Pope Francis Makes Surprise Stop
 To Bless Jewish Unity Sculpture
By Dotty Brown (in The Forward)

Nearly 50 years after the Vatican officially proclaimed Jews free of guilt in the killing of Jesus, Pope Francis made a surprise change to his schedule on the final day of his U.S. tour to convey his own message of respect for the Jewish people. In an unannounced event, the pontiff stopped Sunday to bless a sculpture commissioned by the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia that repudiates a centuries-old anti-Semitic image. At his side, was Rabbi Abraham Skorka, his good friend and literary collaborator, who had flown in from Buenos Aires, to be the keynote speaker at the dedication of the work, which took place on Friday. The Pope and the rabbi had clearly cooked up the idea of this stopover in advance. They have done a lot of plotting together since they forged a bond over both matters of the spirit and of sport, some 16 years ago in their hometown. Even though it’s been a half-century since Vatican II and the famed Nostra Aetate, countering centuries of anti-Semitism has been a priority for the pontiff, and Rabbi Skorka.
The sculpture ‘Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time’ on the campus of St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia was created to counter centuries of anti-Semitic imagery in Catholic art.
One of Pope Francis’s early interviews was with an Israeli news crew, and Rabbi Skorka helped set it up. The Pope’s first trip abroad as pontiff was to Israel. Rabbi Skorka, who is Rector of the Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano in Buenos Aires, accompanied him. Rabbi Skorka says he also had a hand in the meeting last year between then-president of Israel Shimon Peres, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and Pope Francis at the Vatican.
Rabbi Skorka called these gestures by Pope Francis, “a sign of his commitment to the Jewish people and even to Israel.
“Having me in many opportunities with him is a message for the Jews and for Christians as well, ” said Rabbi Skorka in an interview. “Our friendship is a paradigm of what has to be the great relationship between Jews and Christians.” That the two should share a moment at the new sculpture on the campus of St. Joseph’s University as the pontiff blessed it with holy water is another example of both their friendship and their shared commitment to bridging their distinct religious beliefs. Titled “Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time,” the sculpture is of two women seated next to each other, much like two sisters. One holds a book, the other a scroll, and they are looking at each other’s sacred texts in mutual respect. (Nostra Aetate means ‘in our time.”) The work was designed to counter a medieval motif depicting the triumph of Christianity over Judaism. In the ancient sculptures, found in churches all over Europe, the Christian “Ecclesia” stands proudly, wearing a crown, while the defeated “Synagoga,” is blindfolded by a serpent, her staff broken, her tablets slipping from her hand. The pedestal of the new sculpture bears a quote from Pope Francis, “There exists a rich complementarity between the Church and the Jewish people that allows us to help one another mine the riches of God’s word.” The work, by sculptor Joshua Koffman, is the result of a pioneering collaboration between Catholic and Jewish organizations in Philadelphia that started in 1967, two years after the Vatican’s declaration. Among the Institute’s partners are the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. “The sculpture was to mark the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate,” said Philip A. Cunningham, co-director of the Institute. “It took several decades for a new dialogue between Jews and Catholics to get moving. We had to learn to talk with each other,” he said, adding, “This new relationship of learning and enriching one another is embodied in the relationship of Pope Francis and Rabbi Skorka.” Asked in an interview by the Forward on Sunday morning if he would make a public appearance with his old friend, Rabbi Skorka, who was headed through a barrage of security to lunch with Pope Francis, coyly shrugged. But he did talk about some of the theology they share, namely their admiration of Abraham Joshua Heschel, who saw in the teachings of the early prophets, such as Isaiah, a contemporary call to social action a well as the importance of looking to mankind for the face of God. “Heschel’s thinking has a lot to do with my own thinking and the way of thinking of Francis,” said Rabbi Skorka. “This generation of prophets taught us in a very special way that the way to approach God is first and foremost to honor human beings.”
“It was not a coincidence,” he said, that Pope Francis “mentioned Thomas Merton in his speech to Congress. “Merton, a Catholic writer who died in 1968, was a social activist who reached out to other religions.” A brief encounter during a reception line in Argentina had first sparked the relationship between the two high-ranking clerics. Then Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a fan of the soccer team San Lorenzo, knew that Rabbi Skorka supported the ever-losing River Plate. When the Rabbi approached, the Archbishop ribbed him, saying that River Plate was going to be “chicken soup.” Rabbi Skorka quipped back something that perhaps should not have been said in a holy place. From then, their dialogue took off and in 2010, they co-authored the book “On Heaven and Earth,” in which they debated more than two dozen subjects, including the devil, divorce, globalization, poverty and the Holocaust. They also shared their views on anti-Semitism. Rabbi Skorka pushed Bergoglio on his opinion about opening the Vatican documents under Pope Pius XII, to understand the Church’s role in World War II. In the book, Bergoglio responds, “What you said about opening the archives relating to the Shoah seems perfect to me. They should open them and clarify everything. Then it can be seen if they could have done something… We do not have to be afraid of that. The objective has to be the truth.” Pope Francis has yet to open the archives, but Rabbi Skorka is convinced he will. “What he says is what he thinks and what he does. If he said that the archives must be open, okay, give him the time. It’s a very sensitive point, which means it’s not so simple. There are thousands of documents. Who’s going to analyze them?” But having watched his friend take measures as Pope “to correct everything he considered as incorrect in the church… I suppose he will realize this issue as well.”

An Open Letter from an Israeli to her Muslim Uber Driver
By Hannah Greenwald

As I walk out of my SAT and turn on my phone, I see that four more Israelis have been stabbed. This has become our sad new normal. I then proceed to order an Uber taxi home. Within a minute, I get a text message saying that my driver, Mohammad is on his way. Mohammad, he must be Muslim, I thought… Maybe as an American Israeli, I should have hesitated, it wouldn’t really be unwarranted, would it? Regardless of the driver’s religion, I’m a 5 foot tall, 17 year old girl, getting into a taxi alone with a stranger. Instead though, I was optimistic – I’d just started taking Arabic, and was hoping to strike up a conversation with my driver. What actually happened during my journey home however, far exceeded my expectations. As I got in the car, Mohammed asked me where I was coming from. I told him that I had just taken the SAT.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know what that is. I’m not so educated, I’m not from this country.” he said in his strong accent and broken English.
This was my in.
“Where are you from?” I asked.
“Really? I actually just started learning Arabic.”
He smiled. “Kif halak?”
Sitting in Arabic class the first day, just a few short weeks ago, my teacher explained why it’s so important for us, as Jews especially, to learn Arabic. He explained that the Muslims are a humiliated people, and by learning their language, we are showing them that we do care. Hearing this, I was skeptical, to say the least. They don’t seem humiliated at all to me, I thought. What did I know…
“I actually don’t speak much Arabic. We speak Persian. But I know a little bit from the Quran.” he said.
He was clearly very intrigued by me. It didn’t take long for it to come up that I also speak Hebrew.
“So you’re Jewish?” he asked.
“I am.” I responded without hesitation.

Before I knew it, we were discussing Shabbat, the Messiah, the Torah, and the Quran. He was so fascinated by everything I was saying, and so uninformed about Judaism. He asked me about our Shabbat and why we celebrate it. I explained to him that it’s because God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, so we do the same. He really liked this story and thought that was a very good reason. We agreed that neither the Quran nor the Torah ever says to kill anyone, and that only radicalists do such things. When he told me that Jesus was the Christian’s messiah and David was the Jews’, I corrected him.
“David wasn’t our messiah. We’re actually still waiting for the messiah.” I explained.
“Really? So are we! So what happens when the messiah comes?” He was so excited.
“Well he wakes up all the dead people and there’s supposed to be peace.”

Here we were, a Muslim and a Jew innocently discussing our own religions, and answering each other’s questions, without any prejudices. He was surprised by how many similarities there were between our religions, and so was I.  And then he opened up to me even more.
“You know I expected America to be the greatest place in the world… That’s what we all think back home.”
“Yeah, I know. Israelis think that too… It’s not so great is it?” I said.
“No, it isn’t. I actually prefer Afghanistan. Yes, we have our security problems, but we love each other. Back in Afghanistan, a person can work and feed their family. Here I work, and I can’t even feed myself.”
“Yeah America’s just another place…”
“And here, people think we’re all terrorists. When they see my name, Mohammad, they don’t want me to drive them.”
And at that moment my heart broke for him and his people.
“Why do you want to learn Arabic, anyway?” he went on to ask.
“Because I don’t think you’re all terrorists.” I responded.
He smiled.
I smiled.
And just like that, we’d bridged the gap in understanding  that was beginning yet another war in Israel as we spoke. I will always remember Mohammad, the Uber driver who opened up to me  and reminded me that we’re all just people. And I hope Mohammad, a Muslim who previously knew nothing about Jews, good or bad, will always think of us Jews fondly.

Internationally renowned Iranian director,


has made available to the

general public his award-winning film,

The Gardener.

Filmed in the Baha’i gardens on the slopes of Mount Carmel and in the outskirts of the fortress city of Acre, it is an exploration of religion, reflected in a dialogue between father and son. The two characters represent the differing views of two generations. For the father, played by Makhmalbafhimself, religion possesses a profound power. While that power has been used for destructive ends, Makhmalbaf argues that it has also been channeled towards peace, forgiveness, and love – and can be again. “I want to know why some religions lead to violence and why others don’t,” he tells his son in the film. The son, played by Makhmalbaf’s own son, Maysam, argues that all religions eventually lead to oppression and violence. What ensues is a rich exploration of the theme. The film which was premiered at the Busan International Film Festival in Korea has won best documentary at the Beirut International Film Festival. It has received extensive media coverage across the globe. The New York Times describes the film as “an intimate, discursive inquiry into religious belief”.  Referring to what it called “The grammar and discourse of this unusual film”, the popular Indian daily, The Hindu, called it “simultaneously rational, intelligent, poetic, and above all intensely civilised”. With more than 20 feature films to his name, Makhmalbaf has won over 50 awards and been a juror in over 15 film festivals. Until this week,the film, which was made in 2012, had been available only in festivals around the world and in selected screenings. Watch the film at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIR3QAkIKT8 .   To read the article online,view photographs and access links:http://news.bahai.org/story/1075 

Please take a look
at the following blogs
 by Padma Kuppa
about the Hindu festival
 of Navaratri

Celebrating Shakti – Embracing Diversity of Belief


Vijaya Dasami – Embracing the Divinity Within


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!