A-OK DETROIT’S ANNUAL
WORKING SIDE BY SIDE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
TRANSFORMING 9/11 FROM A DAY OF MOURNING
INTO A DAY OF HOPE
SUNDAY SEPT. 9TH 2012
12 PM – 5 PM
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN-DEARBORN
SERVICE PROJECTS INCLUDE:
SORTING DONATED FOOD
GARDENING AND FARMING
PREPARING LUNCH BAGS
REGISTER NOW BY GOING TO:
For additional information, contact Ghida Dagher, 313.297.4531, email@example.com
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN- DEARBORN
ARTS & SCRAPS
GLEANERS FOOD BANK
KIDS AGAINST HUNGER
HENRY FORD COMMUNITY COLLEGE
INTERFAITH LEADERSHIP COUNCIL
NATIONAL NETWORK FOR
ARAB AMERICAN COMMUNITIES
Hundreds of volunteers are expected to gather in Detroit on Sept. 9 to pay tribute to 9/11 by transforming a day of loss into a day of service. The event is organized by Acts of Kindness – Detroit (A-OK), a group of some 20 local nonprofit and faith organizations dedicated to inspiring community spirit. This will be A-OK’s third annual community service day project.
In 2009, Congress designated September 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service to support efforts across the country. The designation was the culmination of an effort launched in 2002 by 9/11 family members and support groups, who sought a forward-looking way to honor 9/11 victims, survivors, and others who first-responders.
In Detroit, the effort brought together five groups in 2010 for a community service project that drew about 300 volunteers. The following year, on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, A-OK hosted one of the largest service days in the country, drawing more than 800 volunteers.
This year’s initiative will focus on food security and will take place at University of Michigan’s Dearborn campus from noon to 5 p.m.
It’s estimated that the rate of hunger in Detroit is more than double the national
average due, according to a Detroit Food System report.
The impact of 9/11 has motivated a new generation to get into the spirit of helping neighbors. Food security is a major issue in Michigan, particularly in metro Detroit, where almost 20 percent of homes find it difficult to provide enough food for family members,”said Ghida Dagher, advocacy & civic engagement specialist at ACCESS, a regional human services nonprofit that has been part of A-OK since it started. “So this is an opportunity for people to work side by side to make their community a better place by addressing a very real, very persistent problem.”
This year’s A-OK event will include three project areas: urban gardening, packaging food; and raising awareness through creative art projects. Food packages will be distributed to families, senior citizens and homeless individuals in throughout metro Detroit. Additional food supplies will be set aside for future disaster reliefs nationally.
Registration and sponsorship donations for this event are encouraged.
Kirk in the Hills Presbyterian Church is hosting the following lecture and inviting the interfaith community to attend, and join in the interfaith prayer service and reception that will follow!!
Here is the entire lecture series offered at
Kirk in the Hills!!
WISDOM Five Women Five Journeys Panel
Presented at Lakeside. the Chautauqua on Lake Erie in Ohio
on August 6th and 7th!!
From Left to Right are:
back row – Trish Harris, Raj Chehl, Shahina Begg
front row – Gail Katz, Paula Drewek, Fran Hildebrandt, and Rev. Sandra Gordon
Shahina Begg’s comments about our WISDOM visit:
This was the second time I made a presentation of Five Women Five Journeys at a Chautauqua community. The first one was in Petoskey, at the Bay View Association in June 2011. I had a different experience, in that people here had more time for asking questions, since it was a 2 day presentation. I felt that people were hungry for information or maybe because I was the Muslim panelist, they had more questions for me. I was fasting, because it was during Ramadan, and I do want to thank the Lakeside organizers for making my life so much easier. They were so hospitable and considerate. They made sure that I had a fridge and a microwave in my hotel room, so that I could have my meal in the morning at 4:30 am!!
Rev. Sandra Gordon’s comments:
Our experience at Lakeside Chautauqua was truly rewarding!! The audience listened intently as each one of us on the 5W5J panel shared from our different faiths on various topics. The interaction with the audience only emphasizes the importance of the work that WISDOM is doing!!
Gail Katz’s comments:
As we were driving to this Lakeside presentation, we got word about the shooting in the Wisconsin Sikh Gurdwara from the daughter of Raj Chehl, our Sikh panelist!! Acts of violence like this only underscore the importance of WISDOM’s work!!
Raj Chehl’s comments:
Another validation of how we are all ONE and deeply connected by our humanity, spirituality, and faith. As I was walking towards the pier on the heavenly moonlit night of Aug. 4, my attention immediately fell on a framed photograph of Mr. Frank Thompson with large bold words that grabbed me. The words “SERVICE ABOVE SELF” aligned perfectly with one of the main tenets of the Sikh faith. I knew that this was going to be a special weekend and it was! Sharing about our faiths and connecting with our friends at Lakeside Chautauqua resulted in a most valuable experience for the WISDOM sisters and our new friends at Lakeside. Five Women Five Journeys does it again!
Diverse Folks Join the
Jewish Historical Society’s
20-Mile Bike Ride Through Downtown Detroit
By Rabbi Dorit Edut
A perfect summer day dawned for the J-Cycle II on Sunday, Aug. 19, beaming rays of joy and excitement down on the almost 200 bikers of all ages and backgrounds assembled in Milliken Park. Senator Carl Levin, who helped to raise money for portions of the almost-complete Riverwalk, sent us off with words of encouragement, along with the highly-structured directions given by Harriet Saperstein from the Reconstructionist Congregation of Detroit, one of the sponsors. Organized for the second year primarily by the Michigan Jewish Historical Society ( www.michjewishhistory.org) the 20-mile route with 10 stops was intended to showcase some of the historical and contemporary sites where Jewish life in Detroit has existed and is finding new roots. What became obvious was how these places and the activities that occured there became an integral part of the development of this great city, blending into the overall fabric of the many different cultures and faith traditions that exist here.
One of the first stops that clearly showed this was the Elmwood Cemetery where the Jewish section is one small part of the larger grounds, designed by the same landscape architect who created New York’s Central Park. Here lie the ancestors of many of the major Jewish and non-Jewish families whose names alone tell us of their origins in a variety of European nations. Moving on to the present Waldorf ( formerly Ligget) School in Indian Village, where Native American names mark these streets, we heard the rhythymic sounds of choral singing of the Sunday morning services of a non-denominational church that prays here. In this stately enclave, designed by the Jewish architect Albert Kahn, generations of young and talented youngsters from mostly wealthy families studied and grew up to be leaders of communities in Detroit and elsewhere in our world.
A few blocks away we encountered a much different world – that of the Heidelberg Project – where the artistic contributions of contemporary artists like Tyree Guyton( spelling?) and others utilize the discarded items of urban decay in exterior collages that enliven the small, clapboard homes and front yards of this street. As we biked en masse through these neighborhoods, going via Eastern Market to Southwest Detroit, Spaulding Court, and Hart Plaza, people of many different backgrounds greeted us on their way to church, or preparing family barbecues, or doing their shopping – and we were buoyed by the friendliness and peacefulness we encountered on every block and intersection, even if only momentarily.
Among the riders I got to chat with were several who were not Jewish but were interested in what we were seeing and doing together on this day – including Bob Brutell, head of the Interfaith Leadership Council who regularly bikes around the Detroit area, and asked many questions about the Jewish history and connections to our city. One of the “sweeps” ( the ones who bring up the back of each group) was Justin, a non-Jewish young man who works at The Hub, a wonderful business of refurbishing and selling bikes, giving many to kids in Detroit, and teaching many Detroit teens how to repair bikes so they can possibly work at this enterprise,too. Part of the proceeds from the J-Cycle II are being donated to this worthwhile cause.
On our way back to the starting point, we also passed close to the Bonstelle Theater which was formerly Temple Beth El, other well-known churches on Woodward Ave, and by the red door and colorful windows of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue , one of the sponsors of this bike tour. This is the current meeting place for the Detroit Interfaith Outreach Network which has brought together people from city and suburban congregations to support efforts to uplift Detroit and plans bi-monthly worship services. Some of the young people joining the ride came from another sponsoring organization – Hillel of Metro Detroit – and a couple of their directors were also seen pedaling along.
As we completed our ride, going past the sparkling waters of the Detroit River along the crowded Riverwalk, we felt a sense of real joy to see the multitude of people enjoying the pleasures of our city, harmoniously, knowing that together we can ride with the currents of faith from the past into the future and build the bridges that will unite us all.
Islamic school plans to move
onto St. Louis synagogue campus
(JTA) – An Islamic school in the St. Louis area, the Al Manara Academy, is planning to move onto the campus of a local synagogue, B’nai El Congregation in Frontenac, Mo.
By August, the Islamic day school plans to move to the space previously occupied by the Saul Mirowitz Day School-Reform Jewish Academy, according to the St. Louis Jewish Light. A conditional permit of use was approved Tuesday by the Frontenac City Council, limiting the number of students to 100, the newspaper said.
Amye Carrigan, B’nai El president, told the Jewish Light that a “firm, signed lease agreement” is not yet signed with the Reform congregation. “If and when it happens, I hope it’s going to be a very positive thing for the community,” she said. “This arrangement can be a wonderful opportunity for understanding and promoting positive outcomes.”
Earlier this year, the Reform Jewish Academy merged with the Solomon Schechter Day School of St. Louis to form the Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School. It will operate on the campus of Congregation B’nai Amoona, which previously housed the Schechter school.
Phillip Paeltz, a board member of Al Manara Academy, told the Jewish Light that the operation is “an Islamic school which seeks to train students in the Islamic faith, but also prepares them for a multicultural world.” He said, “As Muslims, we refer to all Jews as people of the book. In so many places in the world there are conflicts between Muslims and Jews. Hopefully, this is a time when we seize the opportunity to work together.”
Troy-area Interfaith Group (TIG)
is presenting their
International Day of Peace
Annual Celebration on
Sunday, Sept 23 at 3:30 PM
Hosted by the
IslamicAssociationofGreater Detroit (IAGD)
879 W. Auburn Rd., Rochester Hills
The program will feature small group discussions,
a separate activity for children,
and light snacks enjoyed together
On September 21st they encourage everyone to stop
at noon for a minute of silent reflection about peace, joining others around the world doing the same.
The TIG event is being held two days later than the official
U.N-decreed date out of respect and appreciation for the
religious services or traditions of our many faith communities.
Everyone is invited to join TIG for their day of
celebration together, on September 23!
Troy-area Interfaith Group
The Difference Between Muslims and Sikhs Misses the Point
by Paul Brandeis Raushenbush –
Huffington Post, August 6, 2012
In the immediate aftermath of the horrific shooting at the Sikh Gurdwara (that’s the name of a Sikh House of Worship, not temple, not church), the media began to emphasize the difficulty many Americans have distinguishing between Sikhs and Muslims. As Jian Ghomeshi tweeted: “It’s both interesting and disturbing that CNN keeps feeling the need to point out that Sikhs are not Muslims.”
Even some Sikh commentators found a need to make it clear that that they are peaceful people, which had a disturbing undertone of differentiating themselves from the bad, warring Muslims.
This is a good learning moment for the American people of all religions, and especially for the American media. Yes, Sikhs are not Muslims and Sikhs are not Hindus, but jumping to clarify difference leaves the unfortunate, if unintentional, perception that there is something wrong with those “others.”
Sikhs from all walks of life have clarified to me over the last 24 hours that the most important outcome from this horrible tragedy would be for Americans to become more familiar with the Sikh faith and to understand that they are a beautiful part of the fabric of American spiritual practice.
Sikhs are not interested in being identified as “not Muslim.” American Sikhs would rather their tradition be understood for what it is, rather than what it is not.
I want to offer a personal anecdote about my first major interaction with the Sikh tradition. In 2004 I brought students from the Religious Life Council from Princeton University over to Barcelona to present at the Parliament of the World’s Religions.
We saw in the program that the Sikh community had decided that they would provide langar, which is a meal, for the entire parliament — every day, for the whole week.
My first thought was that they must be mistaken, that only a few from thousands at the Parliament would be invited to attend. But no, all comers from every religious background, and from around the world, filed in and were seated in rows while gracious members of the Sikh community dished out wonderful food to all who were hungry.
While our Sikh hosts were preparing and serving the food, I noticed that their lips were moving. When I asked about this, it was explained to me that they were praying, as hospitality is a sacred act.
The act of generosity displayed by the Sikh community in Barcelona has stayed with me as I worked alongside the Sikhs during my remaining years at Princeton. These young people likewise have provided wonderful hospitality and good will across the University campus by working and learning side by side with Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists and the entire wider Princeton community.
The horrific tragedy in Wisconsin was allegedly perpetrated by a man who was mired in the pit of white supremacy. He never had a chance to know the kindness and love the Sikh community and all of our communities have to offer. That was his and all of our loss. Let us get to know our Sikh sisters and brothers, as well as all of the “others” in our neighborhoods so that we might grow stronger as one nation, and as one global community.
|More than 800 People Attend the Vigil|
at the Plymouth Sikh Gurdwara Hidden Falls
on August 8, 2012
Words from our WISDOM Sisters who attended this vigil:
It was a sad day, but when I got there and saw the outpouring of people from the Sikh community as well as the Interfaith community, and it just touched my heart and I knew that God has His ways. This was a Blessing in disguise to see the show of solidarity. It felt so good to be there standing shoulder to shoulder with my Sikh sisters in the vigil. WISDOM’s Mission is strengthened, the one of education of each others faith. (Shahina Begg, WISDOM Co-Founder)
by Parvinder Mehta
These candles burning in silence
flickering light and emotions
dripping wax in molten grief
amidst calm sobriety
call us to feel
unspoken feelings of calm gloom
unfelt warmth of unknown hands
unheard silence of meditating souls
unseen glimpses of glimmering trust
unbent resolve of firm faiths
unshed tears of mourning
life’s gifts and blessings
life’s struggles and conflicts
life’s ups and downs
through courage not fear
through hope not despair
no tendentious theories
no insidious intent
no rhetoric of reason
no wallowing wounds
only rosaries of remembrance
and beads of blessings
the spirit of love
the spirit of optimism
with peace for all.
Arriving with a friend mid-way during the 6-9 pm activities for commemorating the violence at a Sikh Gurdwara in Wisconsin, I was amazed to see the overflow of cars had already filled the parking lot and much of the road median in front of the Plymouth Gurdwara. We were warmly welcomed by many individuals upon entering and shown where to park our shoes and invited to don a head-scarf before appearing in the prayer hall. However, we first stopped in the social hall for the langar dinner. Fortunately, the community had provided some chairs for those unable to seat themselves on the floor. The hospitality and thoughtfulness we found radiated throughout all of our contacts that evening with Sikh and non-Sikh. The meal was delicious and ample as we chatted with old and new friends. Then we found our way to the prayer hall where verses from the Sikh holy scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, were being chanted. We honored the holy verses by standing at appropriate moments as more and more members filed in to pay their respects to the community and to the Holy Granth. After the completion of prayers, we all moved outside to a designated parking area for the tributes to be offered by many participating organizations. I was lucky to be first as a representative of WISDOM and I offered a brief message of condolence written by our dear Gail Katz who was unable to be present. Bob Bruttel, president of the IFLC, hosted the occasion as many more religious and interfaith organizations read tributes to the Sikh community and messages of community mourning. I was most impressed by some poems chanted by one of the members of the Sikh community. This tribute beautifully captured the sincere, humble, and deeply spiritual feeling of the Sikh faith and brought tears to my eyes. I was happy to be a participant in this show of solidarity with the Sikh community….surely one of the most egalitarian, welcoming, and tolerant of all the religious bodies in our metro-Detroit region. Perhaps this beautiful and peaceful gathering was symptomatic of what each of our communities would look like if we truly followed our religious teachings. (Paula Drewek, WISDOM President)
Sikh Solidarity Messages Delivered
in Oak Creek, Wisconsin
Within hours of news of the Sikh gurdwara (house of worship) massacre, Groundswell supporters across the U.S. and around the world voiced our support and prayers for the community in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
On Sunday, August 12th, Groundswell Director Valarie Kaur hand-delivered 4,000 solidarity letters sent in by Groundswell supporters to the families and community in Wisconsin. During the first service at the Sikh gurdwara since the mass shooting, the children of the six Sikh men and women who were killed in the attack accepted the letters on the community’s behalf.
Watch the video by going to the website below.
This isn’t just a Sikh tragedy.
It is an American tragedy
As posted in the NAINEWS
Last month, I was fortunate enough to attend the North American Interfaith Network (NAIN) Connect in Atlanta. The annual connect brings together NAIN members and organizations to discuss interfaith issues and acts as a conference and forum for interfaith and religious leaders across the continent. The theme this year, “Establishing Interfaith Friendly Cities” was very exciting and was highlighted by showcasing the incredible interfaith infrastructure Atlanta has to offer. But some of the most striking things I witnessed in Atlanta weren’t buildings or stately parks. It was the rich heritage of its citizens seeking peace in the midst of hatred. This moved me.
In attendance one evening was Ambassador Andrew Young. He spoke about how you treat others who hate. “Hatred is a sickness. And you don’t get mad at sick people, you heal them, and the way you do that is spiritual healing. Nonviolence and compassion are the cures.” Another notable moment was when Reverend C.T. Vivian, a close friend of Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke of a time when he was marching in Selma, Alabama, with police dogs being released into the nonviolent crowd, and standing toe-to-toe with the chief of police and known clansmen. He said that the one thing that kept him and the crowd marching in the face of unspeakable hatred was that “it takes radical love to defeat radical evil.”
These are lessons that have been learned firsthand by the Sikh community in America. In the wake of such incredible heartache and tragedy, Sikhs have unquestionably handled the situation with dignity and resolve. In a time where anger and outrage spill across TV screens, editorial columns, airways and phone lines, it would have been no surprise to hear that the Sikh community was violently outraged about what happened. But they weren’t. They chose love, and community, over vengeance and harm. It seems that because of their unique American experience and commitment to their values of universal love and compassion, Sikhs in America are teaching the rest of us what grace looks like and how to create what MLK Jr. called the “Beloved Community”.
I’ve heard some of my Sikh friends express sadness over this incident and offer prayers for the victims and those involved. But they all, without fail, extend their prayers to the family of the gunman, saying “because it really must be difficult for them as well, and they are also victims here, too.” This isn’t just a Sikh tragedy. It is really an American tragedy.
Not just because of the loss of life, but because of the loss of willingness to have an open conversation about the deeper problem. We as Americans need to be talking not just about what occurred, but also about the deeper questions of racism, religious illiteracy and our skewed understanding of what terrorism is. Since 9/11, there have been over three-hundred home-grown terrorist attacks against Americans, many of which target peaceful religious groups like Sikh Americans. As Steve Coll of the New Yorker recently said, “A pattern of terrorism that is repetitive, rising in ambition, and neglected by the public can signal a coming strategic surprise-this was true of Al Qaeda during the late nineteen-nineties, and it looks to be true of domestic racist terrorism today.”
Why aren’t we talking about this, and why aren’t our leaders taking notice? While both presidential candidates offered their condolences to the victims and victims’s families, neither halted their campaigns like they did last month during the shooting at the theatre in Colorado, nor did they speak out about any of these issues regarding gun control, mental health, racism, domestic terrorism, or even the systematic polarization of American society along lines of class, religion and race. If we are going to make terrorism, religious intolerance and racism things of the past, then we as Americans need to be willing to come to the table and have difficult conversations. The beauty of this approach is that it is exactly that has made our country better in the past. It will continue to work if we are willing to pull up a seat.
I don’t have a solution to the violence that seems to be crippling our society, but I do know that coming together in the spirit of mutual respect and understanding is a start. Perhaps we can take a cue from our Sikh brothers and sisters and be more compassionate and willing to have difficult conversations surrounding faith in the public square. We as Americans need to recognize that there is more to be done in our communities. We need to meet our neighbors. We need to grow to understand and appreciate those who are marginalized in our area. And we need to seek positive compassionate solutions to the problems that plague our communities. This approach has served Americans well in the past, whether they were Sikhs attacked in Wisconsin or marching arm-in-arm in Selma trying to heal with a radical love. And we don’t need to go to Atlanta to see this happen.
Community Groups Condemn
Repeated Vandalism of Dearborn Church
Two identical acts of vandalism committed this month at a Dearborn church have some community groups calling for more support of local houses of worship.
According to a Dearborn police report, two stained glass windows were reportedly broken at the Mother of the Savior Lutheran Church between 11 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Sunday. The damage was apparently done by throwing nearby crab apples at the windows.
It is the second such act of destruction of property at the church this month, according to the Rev. Rani Abdulmasih. The church is located on Altar Road, along a string of several houses of worship-including the Islamic Center of America and the St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church.
The act of vandalism, though not currently being investigated as an act of hate, comes on the heels of multiple acts of violence and vandalism at houses of worship throughout the country-including reports of arson and vandalism at several mosques in Missouri, Michigan and Oklahoma, as well as the shooting earlier this month at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.
According to the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee of Michigan, the Rev. Abdulmasih said that his congregation has experienced prejudice.
“As a Christian Arab and Middle Eastern congregation, we have sensed the profiling in more ways than one,” he wrote in an email to ADC. “It is unfortunate that racial profiling, bigotry, and racism continues to exist and flourish in our beloved country, as we live under a constitution that supports freedom, justice and equality for all.”
ADC Michigan issued a statement Monday calling on communities to stand together against attacks on places meant for worship and peace.
“An attack on any place of worship of any faith is an attack against all,” Imad Hamad, ADC Michigan regional director and senior national adviser, said in a statement. “These acts of hate or ignorance should not be tolerated under any circumstances and go against our true American values.”
Council for American Islamic Relations’ Michigan Director Dawud Walid echoed the sentiment, and called on the Rev. Abdulmasih to join him in organizing a stand against intolerance at the Dearborn church.
CAIR has been heavily involved with tracking crime at places of worship throughout the country, and has developed a “Muslim Community Safety Kit” for both mosques and individual Muslims.
Hassan Jaber, executive director of the Dearborn community service nonprofit ACCESS, commented that the vandalism, even if it is random, comes “at a time of heightened tension in our community and our nation.” “It’s especially important at times such as this to draw on the strength of our communities to stand together and to stand strong against hatred and violence,” he added in a statement, “to counter vigilantism with rule of law; and to place our faith in the fundamental principles of liberty and justice on which this nation was founded.”
Missouri Mosque Detroyed By Fire
JOPLIN, Mo. – A mosque in southwestern Missouri burned to the ground early Monday in the second fire to hit the Islamic center in little more than a month, and investigators spent the day searching the wreckage for evidence of arson.
No injuries were reported, but the Islamic Society of Joplin’s building was a total loss after the blaze, reported about 3:30 a.m., the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department said.
Investigators from the FBI, theBureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Sheriff’s Department were at the scene all day, moving the rubble with a bulldozer and other equipment. A specially trained dog assisted.
Only remnants indicated a building had been there, including some stone pillars that were still standing and a few pieces of charred plywood loosely held up by a frame.
While investigators did their work, a small group of Muslims gathered for an evening prayer on the lawn of the destroyed building.
“This is what we stand for,” said Dr. Ahmed Asadullah, a member of the Islamic Society of Joplin. “Freedom of religion. Freedom of speech.”
It was the second time this summer that investigators had been called to the Islamic center in a former church on the outskirts of Joplin. A fire reported about the same time on July 4 was determined to be arson. The FBI has released a surveillance video of a suspect in that blaze and offered a $15,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
“Any act of violence to a house of worship is taken very seriously by law enforcement, and threatens the very core of the safety and security of our communities,” said Michael Kaste, special agent in charge of the Kansas City office of the FBI. Kaste said it was too early to say whether there was surveillance video available from the Monday fire. Jasper County Sheriff Archie Dunn said patrols at the mosque had been stepped up since the July 4 fire.