WISDOM Newsletter – April 2011

Written by WISDOM on . Posted in Newsletters



APRIL 2011


 WISDOM Calendar of Events

Wednesday, May 11th
Five Women Five Journeys sponsored by the AAUW (American Association of University Women) at Plum Hollow Country Club, 21631 Lahser Rd., Southfield, 1:00 PM
Thursday, June 30th through Friday, July 1st
Five Women Five Journeys at the Bay View Association, Petoskey, MI.  Thursday evening 7:00 PM, Friday morning, Meet and Greet the WISDOM Women.


Here are two articles about interfaith interaction between the

Muslim and Jewish Communities.


1)  Please go to the following website to read about what’s going on in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.



2)  The Following article describes interfaith initiatives in Dayton Ohio among the Abrahamic Faiths.



3)  This article describes the joint efforts between the Hindu and the Jewish communities of Houston, Texas!!




4)  How about a practical example of “Loving Your Enemy!!”


3rd Annual International Conference on
Religion, Conflict, and Peace:”
Walking The Talk to Compassion and Harmony

April 8-10, 2011
Henry Ford Community College
Dearborn, Michigan USA

A Multi-disciplinary, Multi-cultural Conference

an Official Partner and Event of
the Charter For Compassion
the Parliament of World’s Religions

Sponsored by:
Common Bond Institute,
Co-Sponsored by:
Pathways To Peace, Henry Ford Community College,
International Humanistic Psychology Association,

Endorsed by over 100 universities and organizations internationally

Full Conference Details at:
(copy & paste address into your browser)

~ Registration is Open All ~

We Invite You To:
an inclusive, interactive 3-day public forum promoting Inter-religious and Intra-religious dialogue to explore the challenges of Extremism, Intolerance, Scapegoating, and Islamophobia, and the promise of Reason, Understanding, Compassion, and Cultural Harmony.

JOIN over 45 Presenters and Facilitators as we explore:
  1)  The mutual dilemmas of religious ignorance, extremism, intolerance, negative stereotypes, prejudice, demonization and dehumanization, scapegoating, and fear of “the other,” that lead to toxic divisiveness, polarization, and social paranoia, including the current example of Islamophobia and it’s impact on the Muslim community,
  2)  The promise of personal engagement through dialogue and practical applications in nurturing a shared consciousness of peace – and in doing so promoting the religious experience as a healing remedy rather than problem.

An outstanding, diverse gathering of presenters for 3 Days of keynotes, workshops, panels, dialogue groups, live global links, film showings, social/cultural events, exhibits, multicultural community, and rich networking for collaborative action beyond the conference.

  ”It does not require that we be the same to be appreciative of, at peace with, and secure in our relationships with each other; only that we be familiar enough with each others story to share the humanity and trustworthiness that resides in each of us.”

LOCATION:    Henry Ford Community College
5101 Evergreen Rd., Dearborn, MI. USA

  Fri. April 8, 10:00 am -to- Sun. April 10, 2:30 pm
       (On-site Registration opens 8:30 am)

FOR DETAILS on Proposals, Program, Registration, Fees, Program Ads, Exhibits, and previous conference Proceedings CONTACT:

Common Bond Institute
Details at Website:www.cbiworld.org
Steve Olweean, Conference Coordinator
12170 S. Pine Ayr Drive, Climax, MI 49034 USA
Ph/Fax: 269-665-9393    Email: SOlweean@aol.com




Despite their differences, Metro Detroit’s Chaldean and Jewish communities have much in common. They share cultural roots in the Middle East with ancient language – Hebrew and Aramaic – that are related.  Many have run small businesses.  As Jewish store owners moved out of Detroit, Chaldeans often replaced them. And today, a major Chaldean center, Shenandoah Country Club, sits in West Bloomfield across from Temple Israel, a large synagogue.

“But they don’t really know each other as well as they could or should,” said Arthur Horwitz, publisher of the Detroit Jewish News.

So to help forge and enhance ties, Horwitz and Chaldean ldeaers developed the Building Community Initiative last year.  It is being funded with more than $150,000 from business, government and academic sponsors.  The initiative continues to grow with program aimed at drawing the groups together at community events – from teen forumns to cultural tours and business workshops.  The next major event in May is to feature a discussion in West Bloomfield about women’s issues in Jewish and Chaldean communities.

As a result of the initiative, Chaldeans are working to set up a fund that will finance start-up businesses in metro Detroit.  The idea stems from a meeting last year with Jewish business leaders at TechTown at Wayne State University.

In May, the program plans to publish a supplement to the Detroit Jewish News and the Chaldean News four times a year.  It will feature stories about the joint events and others in the communities – from holidays to food to politics.  The partnership has led to closer friendships, business ties and greater understanding.

“We have a lot more in common than differences,” said Martin Manna, co-publisher of the Chaldean news, which launched in 2004 with Horwitz’s help.  Before, “we really didn’t understand each other’s cultures.”

The emerging ties between the two communities have extended to othger projects as well.  A separate program aims to create a Chaldean community group to help uninsured patients; it’s modeled on a similar effort in the Jewish community, Porject Chessed, in West Bloomfield.  The Jewish community is providing mentoring.  Through their interactions, both sides have found things that bind them.  Mary Romaya, 66, a Chaldean who lives in Farmington Hills, grew up in northwest Detroit a block away from a synagogue.  Romaya is part of an arts and cultural committee with the initiative that has featured architectural tours of Chaldean and Jewish centers.

“We both have vibrant active communities,” Romaya said.  “This can only make the communities stronger.”

Chaldean News and JN

Detroit Jewish News publisher Arthur Horwitz, left, of West Bloomfield and Chaldean news co-publisher Martin Manna of Bloomfield Township flip through a compilation of the content from their publications that helped launch the Building Community Initiative.

The Women’s Social Action Initiative is bringing Jewish and Chaldean women together on May 3rd from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM at the Shenandoah Country Club in West Bloomfield for a “Getting To Know You” light supper.  On this evening the Jewish and Chaldean women will begin learning about each other with the goal of developing a joint social action project to benefit both communities.

Two prominent local Chaldean women will speak about the issues facing local Chaldeans and the disturbing situation for Christians in Iraq.  The keynote speakers for the evening will be Sathab Ousachi, an immigration attorney with the firm Ellis Porter, and a board member of the Chaldean Chamber of Commerce, and Ann Antone, who serves on the Executive Boards of the Chaldean American Ladies of Charity and the Chaldean Federation of America.

For more information contact Gail Katz at gailkatz@comcast.net

For the last several years, the Circle of Light and Hope, one of the Interfaith Encounter Association’s 37 ongoing dialog groups, has been discussing a very wide range of religious topics at our monthly meetings and retreats. Meetings take place in either the Gush Etzion or Har Gilo/ Beit Jalla area in Jerusalem, Israel, with retreats being either at the Everest Hotel near Har Gilo or at the Austrian Hospice in the Old City of Jerusalem. Recently, subsequent to the attack on a Mosque in the town of Beit Fajar, it was decided to discuss the idea of “Sacred Space” in each religion. At the end of this meeting, several of the Muslim members of the group asked if it might be possible for them to visit a synagogue at some point. Several of the group’s Jewish members, including myself, are members of Kehilat Yedidya in Baka, a Modern Orthodox synagogue which is both geographically convenient (walking distance from the Bethlehem checkpoint) and which regularly welcomes groups of non-Jewish visitors. So with warm encouragement from the synagogue’s leadership we decided to arrange a visit.

The group of 6 Muslim members of the Circle of Light and Hope arrived at about 3:30 PM, about an hour before the Sabbath began, in order to meet with the Jewish members who were present and spend a little bit of time learning about the structure and content of the Kabbalat Shabbat (Receiving the Sabbath) prayers. They were also given copies of the entire Kabbalat Shabbat prayer and much of the Maariv (evening) prayer in both English and Arabic. While we were studying the text of the prayers and customs/actions related to the prayers together, Drs. Yehuda Stolov and Taleb al-Hariti, the Muslim co-chair of the group, were interviewed by reporters from an Italian TV station. We then joined the synagogue members for a lovely, melodical and very peaceful Kabbalat Shabbat service.

The impact this visit had on all of us truly cannot be overstated; indeed it may have been the first time that Palestinian Muslims were welcomed into an Orthodox synagogue. We sincerely hope to be able to arrange more such visits to each other’s houses of worship in the very near future, in order to continue to break down walls of misunderstanding and build trust, friendship and respect.

Submitted by Rabbi Bob Carroll


 Stand Together: Rabbis Speak out against Islamophobia– Posted by Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster.

Ever since the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States, hatred and discrimination against Muslim Americans has been growing. Over the past year, the rhetoric has only gotten louder and more violent. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights protects the freedoms of religion, speech, and assembly. These are also essential American values. Yet across the United States today, we see attempts to prevent the construction of mosques, laws outlawing Sharia law, and the vilification of our Muslim neighbors and friends as un-American. Jewish historical experience remembers that not too long ago, we too were the victims of suspicion and hatred based on our religion and ethnicity. The actions of the few should not condemn the many, and every religion has its teachings both of violence and of peace. Jewish tradition demands that we remember the heart of the stranger, because we were strangers in the land of Egypt. If one minority can be singled out for congressional hearings or restrictions on places of worship, anyone can be.

These are not American values. These are not Jewish values. It is time to Stand Together and speak out against Islamophobia.

Rabbis For Human Rights – North America is part of the growing chorus of interfaith voices speaking out against anti-Muslim bigotry. We believe that prejudice toward Muslims was a contributing factor that led to U.S. acceptance of torture. We have become a member of “Shoulder-to-Shoulder: Standing with American Muslims; Upholding American Values,” a coalition of 23 religious organizations that are engaged in efforts to end anti-Muslim bigotry.

To view a series of videos from rabbis and rabbinical students explaining why Islamophobia is against Jewish values, go to http://www.rhrna.org/?p=1648. We encourage you to watch them and to share them with your community. We also encourage you to create your own video and upload it to YouTube tagged “rabbisagainstislamophobia.” We want to hear from you in your own words why bigotry against Muslims is wrong.


Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster

 Exploring the Easter Vigil

in the Roman Catholic Tradition

By Trish Harris

(WISDOM Co-Founder and Vice-President)


The Easter Vigil is known as the “Mother of All Vigils.” Its character is unique in the cycle of the liturgical year.  With a rich display of symbols, rites and readings, the church in worship expresses her faith in the mystery that brings her into being.  This special night is a four-fold celebration: Service of Light, Liturgy of the Word, Liturgy of Baptism and the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist.


St. Hugos of the Hills Catholic Church is offering a program on April 5th in the Parish Hall from 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM to explore the history, symbolism, rites and sacraments included in the Easter Vigil. There will also be an opportunity to attend the Easter Vigil on April 23rd at 8:00 PM in the church.  The Easter Vigil will last between two and three hours, depending on the number of people being baptized or confirmed.  While it would be helpful to attend the April 5th program, it is not a prerequisite for your attendance at the Easter Vigil.  There is no charge associated with the class or the service.  Registration is required!!


Please contact me if you wish to attend either or both.  I just need the name(s) of anyone wishing to attend.  You may register by emailing me at tharrismsq@att.net, or by calling me (Trish Harris) between 10 AM and 10 PM at 248-335-0964.


St. Hugos is located at 2215 Opdyke Road, Bloomfield Hills 48304 (between Woodward Avenue and Hickory Grove).





New book will aid in fight against anti-Semitism

By Catholic Online  3/6/2011

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

“Jewish groups and leaders worldwide welcome the clear declaration from Pope Benedict XVI that the Jewish

“My fervent hope is that your clarity and courage will strengthen the relations between Jews and Christians throughout the world and help promote peace and reconciliation for generations to come,” Netanyahu wrote in a letter. …”

people are not collectively responsible for the death of Jesus. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he will offer his “deep appreciation” to Benedict for his “forcefully rejecting … a false charge that has been a foundation for the hatred of the Jewish people for many centuries.”

Member, Muslim Writers Guild of America

Posted: February 21, 2011 07:13 PM

 A Muslim, a Christian, a Sikh and a Hindu Walk into a College Dorm Room … and Discover World Peace

So the story begins like this. Four students, an Ahmadi Muslim, a Protestant Christian, a Sikh and a Hindu are crammed into a tiny dorm room at Princeton University. Each comes out three days later, having discovered the solution for world peace. Yeah, seriously.


Last weekend, Princeton University hosted the 5th Annual Coming Together Interfaith Conference (CT5), a conference designed to counter a growing threat to our humanity: the gap in interfaith relations. While there were far too many inspirational attendees to mention, adherents from virtually every faith participated. There was Tom the Confuscist, who also happened to be a brilliant stand-up comedian. There was Cameron, the aspiring Christian Minister and Emily, an atheist with a zeal for humanity. There was Muhammad, a Muslim from Wake Forest with an incredible voice for Quranic recitation, and Irteza from Stanford, with a talent for Bengali music. Who can forget David, an Orthodox Jew who passionately sang G-d’s praises during Shabbat, and Connor, who sang about his love for the Pope. Silent but profound was Sunil the Buddhist-Hindu, and due credit to Rahul, a devout Hindu who coordinated an excellent presentation on spirituality in action.

But it’s the American spiritual inaction that defined the ultimate need of the CT5 event. As a nation we have become so accustomed to letting people tell us what to believe, that we all too rarely seek knowledge ourselves.

For example, at the CT5, I delivered a presentation on religious extremism that deliberately pushed people out of their comfort zones and forced them to think for themselves. The presentation asked non-Hindu’s to defend Hinduism in light of last year’s terrorist attacks perpetrated by “Hindus” on Christians. It asked Muslims to defend Judaism in light of devout “Jew” Baruch Goldstein’s 1994 massacre of 29 Muslims as they worshiped. Non-Christians were asked to defend Christianity in light of the Lord’s Resistance Army and their campaign to establish a “Christian” government in Uganda based on the Ten Commandments, through murder, rape and maiming. Non-Muslims were asked to defend Islam in light of the much reported terrorist activities of the “Muslim” Taliban and Al-Qaeda.



The result: while non-Christians defended Christianity quite well, for every other religion, there was an honest struggle. Lesson learned? Christianity was well defended because every single non-Christian in the room knew a Christian personally. Everyone had a Christian neighbor, co-worker, classmate, even family member. And this interaction was more powerful than the vitriol spewed from the likes of the KKK and WBC. Meanwhile, all too many had never met a Hindu on a personal level. Few had interacted with Jews, and even fewer had ever truly engaged a Muslim.
And on a national level, this precisely is where all too many individuals put up a guard and refuse to proceed. “It’s not my responsibility to reach out” is the most common objection. If [minority group here] is [positive attribute here] then they should come tell me at my [comfort zone here]. “Sure,” I reply, “But when was the last time you invited them in?” And if your reason for not inviting them in is the 30 second fear mongering clip you saw on [sole news channel here], then you’re not only part of the problem, but you’re a major reason why the problem persists.


One of the highlights of CT5 was an engaging lecture by Dr. Eboo Patel, a prolific writer and President of Interfaith Youth Core. Dr. Patel points out that in the late 19th Century, the Know Nothing Party, a political party that rose to power through fear and propagation of an imminent Catholic takeover, elected 75 members to Congress to proudly push their anti-Catholic agenda. In the mid-20th century, 47 percent of American college students surveyed proudly declared that they would never dare share a dorm room with a Jew. And now, in the early 21st century, we have the maniacal fear of Moozlums and their imminent shariah-enthralled domination of America. How else can you explain the 12 states (13 if you include Oklahoma) who have actually proposed anti-Shariah legislation? It took over half a century for Americans to break free of the shackles of religious bigotry and paranoia of Catholics and Jews, respectively. Do we really want to go another 50 years with Muslims?

Prophet Buddha taught that “The superior man acts before he speaks, and afterwards speaks according to his action.” St. Francis of Assisi wrote to “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary, use words.” Prophet Muhammad declared, “He who is not grateful to his fellow man, is not grateful to God.” Do we see a theme emerging? Until and unless we engage in actual interaction with our fellow man, and stop speaking when we have no actual personal experience, we resign ourselves to a fate of internal dissension and destruction. If you are a Christian, call a mosque and attend their Jummah service. If you are a Jew, call a Gurdwara and learn from the wisdom of Guru Nanak. If you are Hindu, attend a Catholic Mass at your local church. If you are Muslim, attend a Shabbat service at your local synagogue. Whoever you are and whatever you do, don’t do nothing.

This interfaith action is what the attendees of the CT5 Conference did last weekend. And guess what? No one lost their faith, but everyone joined a powerful movement to fight back against the cancers of bigotry and extremism that are threatening our humanity. And in joining this movement, they just might achieve world peace. Yeah, seriously.




The Interfaith Movement Deepens
by Philip Goldberg

Interfaith Minister

author of ‘American Veda: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West’

March 9, 2011


Last week I attended the festive opening of the Guibord Center at St. John’s Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles. Founded by the Rev. Dr. Gwynne Guibord, former Officer of Ecumenical and Interreligious Concerns for The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, the center’s mission is “to bring people together, to challenge assumptions, unleash The Holy and affirm the faith that transforms the world.”

Now, I have been to lots of interfaith programs that brought people together, challenged assumptions and affirmed faith. What got my attention was “unleash The Holy.” That and the tag line that follows the center’s name in its literature: “Religion Inside Out.” These were hints that an aspect of religion that had been virtually absent in interfaith gatherings — in Western religion in general, truth be told — was being affirmed. I refer to the inner experience of the Divine that has, historically, been associated with mysticism but is really the beating heart of every spiritual tradition.

When I’m asked why I became an interfaith minister, I usually say that I have commitment issues. It’s only a half joke. As a spiritual pragmatist, I’ve drawn from the wise ones of every tradition, and also from atheists, humanists and scientists. But I have often been disappointed with the interfaith movement. In the past, many gatherings resembled the setup to a bad joke: a priest, a minister and a rabbi walk into the room. A few clerics would expound on some topic from the perspective of their own traditions, usually comparing their beliefs, doctrines and rituals, or their positions regarding social problems. To their credit, the representatives would treat one another with dignity, and they would occasionally combine forces to take a stand on a pressing social issue or roll up their sleeves to tackle a local or national problem. But I would invariably leave feeling that the assembly wasn’t wide enough and the probing wasn’t deep enough. Where were the Buddhists and Hindus and Sikhs and Toaists? What about the pagans and the Wiccans and the indigenous peoples? And why no discussion of transcendence, let alone the sharing of practices toward that experience?

In short, I hoped to see the day when interfaith grew into something more like trans-faith, where people would come together not just to understand their differences, but to teach each other how to merge in the ultimate unity. As the great Christian mystic Thomas Merton wrote in 1967, “genuine ecumenism requires the communication and sharing, not only of information about doctrines which are totally and irrevocably divergent, but also of religious intuitions and truths which may turn out to have something in common.” Instead of just “polite diplomatic interests in other religions and their beliefs,” Merton called for us to tap “the inner and ultimate spiritual ‘ground’ which underlies all articulated differences.”

Over the years, I have seen a discernible trend toward that ideal. It was spurred largely by the growth of pluralism and mass communication; religious diversity is not only vastly broader in range than it was just a short time ago, it is also impossible to ignore. And much of that diversity consists of people from Eastern traditions whose attitude toward diversity is best expressed in the now-familiar verse from the Rig Veda: “Truth is One, the wise call it by many names.”

It was, therefore, with guarded optimism that I attended the Guibord Center inaugural. After sitting for two hours on a hard wooden pew, I stepped into the brisk, windswept afternoon with a sense of delight and buoyancy. Interfaith is coming of age, I thought. I had heard statements, prayers and invocations from an array of religious leaders, including a couple whose traditions I’d never heard of. And my spirit had been stirred by Buddhist chanters, Hindu bhajan musicians, Sikh singers, the Cathedral choir and a sublime trio consisting of a Jew, a Protestant and a Muslim — a kind of Three Tenors for the soul. There was even a meditation period, led by someone from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living Foundation. The only thing missing was representation from the “spiritual but not religious” cohort or someone like Greg Epstein, the humanist chaplain at Harvard. But such expansion can’t be far off.

That this event was held at the seat of an Episcopal diocese makes it seem especially significant. In truth, such gatherings are increasingly common. The growing depth and widening breadth of American spirituality seems inexorable. But since nothing is really inevitable, we all need to work at it, so it will seem inevitable to future generations when they look back at this period of religious history.



Tefillin photo

The “Tefillin Scare” on Alaska Airlines

By Rabbi Brad Hirschfield

Were the three men wrapping themselves in leather straps and mumbling in a foreign language on Alaska Airlines Flight 241, a security threat or were they Orthodox Jews preparing to pray in their tefillin, — amulets bound to the arm and head as part of traditional Jewish weekday prayer rituals? It was the latter, though the fact that the crew went into a high alert and locked down the flight deck for the duration of the flight, suggests that this is a story about security as well.

It’s not surprising that neither the crew, nor apparently anybody else, knew what was going on when the men began to put the small boxes attached with leather straps, on both their arms and foreheads. Although the ritual is rooted in the words of Deuteronomy 6:8, Bind them as a sign upon your arm, and as a symbol on your forehead, and was popular so early on that we have tefillin from the time of Jesus, it is unlikely that more than 10% of Jews currently engage in this practice with any regularity.

That being the case, it’s just not something with which lots of people are going to be familiar. That, and the fact that one does look pretty odd while wearing tefillin. I am one of the 10%, and I still know how “weird” I must look when I put them on in airports or on flights, except for those going to Israel!

So my concern is not that people don’t understand this practice, or that they may stare when they see me, or even that the three men on Flight 241 got hassled. My concern is that such ignorance and the inconvenience associated with it, while totally acceptable among people in general, is not acceptable among those who are responsible for security on an aircraft.

The case of Alaskan Airlines 241 reminds us that while tefillin are not a security threat, ignorance is. That the entire plane went into lockdown, that law enforcement resources on the ground were used both while the flight was in the air and after it landed, and many other needless, wasteful and distracting measures were taken to combat a non-threat, is itself a weakness in our security system.

Understanding is a primary weapon in the fight against terror and potential terror threats. The absence of understanding in this case, in cases of Muslims who simply wanted to engage in their prayer rituals, and so many other cases in which airline personnel had no idea how to distinguish between a genuine threat and an unusual practice, is troubling.

I fly a great deal, more than 100 flights a year, and appreciate the importance of airline security. I also appreciate that, as the announcement reminds us at the beginning of each flight, the crew is their “primarily for our safety”. Well, if that is the case, they have a great deal to learn about what constitutes a threat and what does not. And if it’s not their responsibility to understand what they are seeing, at the very least, someone on the ground, someone at the TSA, FBI, of Homeland Security, should be able to tell them when they ask.

I don’t believe this was a case of Anti-Semitism, as I am sure some will charge. Nor do I believe it is necessarily Islamophobia when Muslims get hassled for their practices. I do believe however, that when such things happen because those charged with keeping us safe lack the basic information and understanding which could keep things calmer and safer, we have a problem – one which we need to fix.

As travelers, we must accept a variety of more exhaustive searches which are designed to keep us safe. And just as we must accept new levels of inconvenience as we travel, those charged with keeping us safe must accept responsibility for learning more and understanding more about those they keep safe, about what does and what does not constitute a threat, etc.

Security is a partnership in which each of the partners must be more understanding – we, of the complexity of the job assumed by security personnel and airline workers, and they, of the complexity and diversity of the lives of those they protect.

Cokie Roberts
Below is the link to a very interesting audio recording and article about the interfaith Passover Haggadah written by Cokie Roberts (Christian) and her Jewish husband Steve.
WISDOM and the Bloomfield Township Public Library host “Water, Women, and WISDOM” on March 17th!!
Dima El-Gamal (Board Member of WISDOM) and Connie Silver, (Asst. Department Head of the library) work together to run the WISDOM event.
In the second photo are the four presenters on the lack of clean water, and how that impacts women and children globabally and locally.  They are Marcia Buck (Christian faith), Najah Bazzy (Muslim faith), Jan Katz (Jewish faith) and Amrutha Sakaray (HIndu faith).
Water Women and WISDOM 1
Water Women and WISDOM 2

How some Christians observe the Holy Week as explained by Rev. Linda Northcraft, minister of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Royal Oak, Michigan


Holy Week is the time for Christians to understand the significance of the life of Jesus Christ, not only in the context of his time and culture but also his presence now. In the fourth century, pilgrims initially traveled to Jerusalem to commemorate each day of the last week of Jesus’ life. Pilgrims visited the original locations to worship and follow the liturgies celebrated at that time. During Holy Week, we become pilgrims as we journey vicariously to Jerusalem to spend the last days of Jesus’ with the liturgies we celebrate each day. The drama of Jesus’ death unfolds each day and reaches its climax on Good Friday. Then the waiting begins for the resurrection of our Lord. To participate each day in liturgies enables us to understand more fully the meaning of God’s gift of the resurrection. Our worship allows us to live in the moment of Jesus’ life.

Holy Week begins with Palm Sundayand Jesus’ triumphalentrance into Jerusalem. This is theday of the parade with Jesus on adonkey and people greeting himwith palms waving in joy andpraise. We enact this scene with the children distributing palms. The reading of the Passion Gospel is a major aspect of the worship of this day. On Wednesday we observe the Office of Tenebrae. This service originated in monasteries during the Middle Ages when monks combined the reading of the psalms of two major times (Matins and lauds). Tenebrae literally means darkness. Our worship includes chanting by the choir, the reading of psalms, scripture and other spiritual writings with intervals of extinguishing fourteen candles. At the end of the service, the Christ candle remains and is hidden to signify Christ’s death. A loud noise is made to acknowledge the pain and grief of the world. This is a solemn service which sets the tone for therest of Holy Week.

Maundy Thursday means new commandment. Onthis day in an upper room in Jerusalem,Jesus instituted his newcommandment of love and servanthood by washing the disciples’feet. At the same time, whilecelebrating the Passover Seder,Jesus instituted the remembranceof the Last Supper (what we todayrecognize as Holy Eucharist).Then Jesus went to the Garden

of Gethsemane to pray with his disciples. It was while he was there that he was arrested and brought to trial. As part of our eucharistic celebration this evening, we consecrate enough bread and wine for the Good Friday reserved sacrament and process it to the chapel to place in the ambry (the niche in the wall on the church side of the altar). We end this service by stripping the altar as a reminder that Jesus was stripped of clothes and laid bare before the world. As the service ends, people go to the chapel to begin the Night Watch, which is lighted by the ambry light and candles. On Good Friday we observe the crucifixion of our Lord, which is why the veneration of the cross is the focal point of our liturgy in the afternoon. Scripture tells us that it was in the afternoon that Jesus died on the cross. All of the reserved sacrament is consumed on this day to represent the death of Jesus. On Holy Saturday, after sundown, we begin our watch, our Easter Vigil for the breaking light of the Resurrection Of The Christ. This service begins in Resurrection Garden with the lighting of the Easter fire, which we use to light the Paschal (Easter) Candle. This candle is lighted throughout the Great Fifty Days of Easter. On this night, the first part of the service is by candlelight only and through scripture we hear the saving acts of God’s relationship with humanity. When the individual candles are extinguished and altar candles are lighted there is a Great and JoyfulNoise. Everyone is encouragedto bring noise makers tojoin in as we begin our firstcelebration of Easter and theResurrection. This joyful celebration of Easter always begins with new bread and new wine for the first Holy Eucharist of Easter.


Have a wonderful Easter Holiday to all of our Christian friends!!




 Five Women Five Journeys Brings

Together Four Houses of Worship!!



WISDOM, under the leadership of Trish Harris, brought together over 200 congregants from four Bloomfield Hills houses of worship to hear the Five Women Five Journeys panel on Wednesday, March 24th in the parish hall at St. Hugo’s of the Hills Catholic Church.  Along with St. Hugos were attendees from the Muslim Unity Center, Kirk in the Hills Presbyterian Church, and Temple Beth El.  Both before and after the panel presentation the people who were present at the event were seated at interfaith tables and dialogued with each other under the guidance of a facilitator assigned to “break the ice.”   The evening’s event was highly successful and inspirational.


St. Hugos

Victor Begg (far left) joins the clergy that attended the WISDOM event. Next to Victor ar Msgr. Anthony Tocco, Rev. Norman Pritchard, Rabbi Dan Syme, and Imam Achmat Salie


St. Hugos 2

The Five Women Five Journeys Panelists are (from left to right)

Paula Drewek (Baha’i), Sophia Begg Latif (Muslim), Motoko Huthwaite (Christian), Gail Katz (Jewish), and Padma Kuppa (Hindu).


High School Teens of the Abrahamic Faith

Come Together to Learn and Dialogue With Each Other


Thursday, March 24, 2011 about 70 Muslim, Christian, and Jewish High School Teens came together at the West Bloomfield Jewish Community Center (JCC) for an evening of learning about each other’s Faiths and a chance to dialogue with each other and break down myths and stereotypes about each other.  This event was named “Face To Faith.”


The mastermind behind this wildly successful event was Andover High School Junior, Josh Morof, a member of the Jewish Youth Organization called BBYO, which meets at the Teen Center at the West Bloomfield JCC.  Josh had been a participant in a previous panel of Jewish and Chaldean teens, and was inspired by that event to work on giving teens of the Abrahamic Faiths the opportunity to dialogue with each other as well.  He contacted Jared Rothberger, Program Director for BBYO, and explained his idea, and Jared contacted Gail Katz, President and Co-Founder of WISDOM (Women’s Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach in MetroDetroit) and Board Member of the Interfaith Leadership Council to meet with Josh, Jared, and interested high school teen, Ilana Woronoff.  Gail, a retired public school teacher and diversity club sponsor, was extremely excited to counsel the teens on how to put this project together. They came up with a plan to gather about 20 to 30 to represent each of the three faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – at the JCC. The program would consist of an imam, a rabbi, and a pastor, who would speak with the group of assembled high school teens about Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, and then following the clergy would be a panel of a Christian, Jewish, and Muslim teen to address pointed questions.


And the teens flocked into the Jewish Center that night!! They sat at interfaith tables and discussed “What’s in a Name?” with each other – what does your name mean and where does it come from?  After the initial introductions of the teens at the assigned tables,  the Reverend John Judson, pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham spoke about four basic principles of Christianity, one of them being the Golden Rule.  The Rabbi Aaron Bergman from Congregation Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills went over some basics about the Jewish calendar with the teens.  Imam Achmat Salie, head of the Islamic Studies Department at Oakland University, outlined some of the basic tenets of Islam.  Following the clergy, the teen panel addressed questions that were asked them by Gail Katz, who served as moderator.  Josh Morof, the Jewish teen who brainstormed this event and congregant at Adat Shalom, Sean Mueller, a junior at Groves High School and an ordained Elder in the Presbyterian Church, and Tahas Khalil, a junior at Andover High school who took two years of his life to memorize the entire Koran, answered questions such as “How has your religion impacted your high school years?” and “What misunderstandings and stereotypes have you personally experienced or witnessed?”


The teen audience as well as the dozen adults present in the hall were most attentive to the personal stories and advice given by these three articulate teens. Following the panels, the teens were invited to partake of some Jewish pastries – “Hamentoshen” – which are triangular desserts that are traditionally made for the Jewish holiday of Purim, which had recently been celebrated in the Jewish community.  The teens took their goodies to their interfaith tables, and had further dialogue with each other about the oppotunities available for them to cross boundaries and to interact with people of other faiths.  They discussed how to create such opportunities, such as “Face To Faith” and what plans might be down the road for another get together.  The teens were then treated to a visit to the Teen Center and had a chance to hang out together while playing video games, ping pong, or just eating dessert and chatting.  The adults, in the meantime, talked about their occupations, their ethnic background, and shared some information about their faith traditions.


What struck Gail Katz, as she prepared to go home, and said her goodbyes to the teens downstairs in the Teen Center, were the hugs that the kids were giving their new found friends – and along with the goodbyes were the wishes to definitely “do this again!!”  It was an incredibly inspiring evening – one filled with hope that our youth will make a difference in breaking down the hate and fear that fills our world!!


BBYO was quite diligent in collecting everyone’s names and email addresses, and another interfaith gathering will be in the works soon!!



Abrahamic Teens at the JCC

Abrahamic Teens 2

Interfaith tables of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Teens


Abrahamic Teen Panelists

Tahas Khalil, Sean Muelle, and Josh Morof – the Teen Panelists


Abrahamic Clergy

The Clergy Panelists – Imam Achmat Salie, Rabbi Aaron Bergman, and the Rev. John Judson


Abrahamic folks with dessert

Face to Faith in action!! – two Muslim participants tasting the Jewish pastries called “Hamentoshen!”


JUNE 20-25, 2011
Enroll in this class for a six-day experience-based seminar designed to introduce you to foundational information about the beliefs and practices of several of the world’s religions.
Learn about Baha’i, Buddhism, Chinese and Japanese Traditional Religions, Christianity, First Peoples and Native Traditions, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism.
For registration, cost and more information contact
Sharie Beard
University of Michigan-Dearborn
(313) 593-4925


About 300 people of varying religious and ethnic backgrounds gather in Farmington Hills to mark the new year of the Iranian and Bahá’í calendars.

By Timothy Rath of the West Bloomfield Patch

Although small in number, the passionate group of West Bloomfield residents adhering to the Bahá’í Faith joined with about 300 other community members of varying religious and racial backgrounds to celebrate Naw-Ruz on Friday night. Roxana Panah, 48, of West Bloomfield, joined with her two daughters Olivia Baylerian, 16, and Adriana Baylerian, 14, in a celebration at Glen Oaks Country Club in Farmington Hills, where musical performances by jazz pianists, flutists, and drummers were marked by speeches describing the faith and prayer chants in English, Farsi and Spanish. “It’s so inspiring, it always is. Especially in a bigger setting, it’s interesting, because we don’t have congregational prayer in our faith, so it’s nice to share prayers in a bigger group because it’s rare for us,” said Panah, a lawyer working in Bingham Farms.

Naw-Ruz (“New Light” in Persian) is the name of the New Year in Iranian calendars and Bahá’í calendars, as well as one of nine holy days for adherents of the Bahá’í Faith worldwide. Naw-Ruz, which was officially celebrated March 21, marks the end of the Nineteen Day Fast, a period in March during which observers adhere to a sunrise-to-sunset fast, which is one of the greatest obligations of the Bahá’í Faith, Panah said. Work is suspended for a day to ring in Naw-Ruz, which marks the beginning of the month of Bahá. Panah pointed out that the celebration Friday brought together Bahá’ís from all over Metro Detroit and Ontario, in addition to many who were neither of Iranian descent nor believers in the faith.  “You start over. That really speaks to me. A new beginning is just like every year, developing and maturing even more beyond our years,” said Olivia Baylerian, a sophomore at Detroit Country Day School. “The Bahá’í goal is to bring unity to everyone. Especially at school, you don’t really see unity,”  Panah said that unlike the American holiday of New Year’s Day, typically marked with new year’s resolutions of individual change, adherents to the Bahá’í Faith  celebrating Naw-Ruz are guided by the Seat of the International House of Justice in Haifa, Israel, to make change with goals of community peace in mind. “We get letters from the International House of Justice and they address, specifically, Naw-Ruz, its meaning, and what kinds of things we can do in our individual faith in the upcoming year, strengthen our communities, within the Bahá’í basis, and within each other, and how we can make each other better in our communities,” she said. “It’s about being active and spreading a message of tolerance.” According to Panah, the West Bloomfield representation of the Bahá’í Faith is too small to allow for a required, nine-person spiritual assembly, making for the necessity of celebrating en masse or visiting friends’ houses outside of the area. Homayoon Missaghi, a West Bloomfield resident who originally immigrated from Iran 20 years ago, pointed out that visiting other Bahá’í at their homes plays right into the tenets of Naw-Ruz. “It’s the start of the new year at the start of spring, so we clean the house, then we ask people to come visit us and return the visit,” said Missaghi, a lifelong observer of the Bahá’í Faith. “It’s new life. It’s rejuvenating. If I feel depressed, I come here and I see all these small kids who I’ve known since they were very small. I see them running around and having a good time and that makes me happy.” In addition to live musical performances, the country club also hosted a DJ who spun pop music well into the night. People representing different age groups from infants to the elderly danced, in addition to people of different homelands, ethnicities and religions. Panah said offering a wide range of diverse adherents to the Bahá’í Faith is actually a core tenet of the faith, pointing to Bahá’í prayers, which mention core tenets of Christianity, Islam and Judaism as examples. “We believe in all of the religions and that the essence of all religions is one in the same,” she said. “The prayers can be said in any language, but personally, coming from a Persian background, the Naw-Ruz chant in Farsi took me to a higher level. It was uplifting, about love, newness, faithfulness, and kindness. That’s what I needed.” Missaghi said that although in the Bahá’í Faith, religious history is understood to have unfolded through a series of divine messengers, including most recently the founder Bahá’u’lláh, the lack of a clergy figure makes community especially important. Bahá’í law outlawing the consumption of alcohol made for a child-friendly atmosphere at any Bahá’í event, Missaghi said. “We believe that everyone is the same here, whether you’re young or old or believe in Bahá’í or not,” he said. “To be able to celebrate with everyone in my faith is so uplifting for me, and alcohol and drugs are just not good for you anyway. It’s easy to stay away when you have your family all around you.”

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 Elaine Schonberger at bookfairmama@comcast.net or 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

Contact Information


Gail Katz gailkatz@comcast.net
phone: 248-978-6664

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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.


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