WISDOM Newsletter – August 2011

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Friday, August 19th

Five Women Five Journeys for the Auburn Hills Senior Services, 12:30 PM, City of Auburn Hills, 1827 N. Squirrel Rd., Auburn Hills, MI Contact bookfairmama@comcast.net for more information.

Friday, August 26th

See Article below about a visit to Temple Israel in West Bloomfield for a learning opportunity about Judaism, the first in a series of visits to House of Worship!!

Sunday, September 11th

Acts of Kindness (A-OK) Detroit, Community Service Projects for Adults, young adults, and teens. Event will be held at Focus Hope, 1355 Oakman Blvd., Detroit.

12:30 – 1:15 PM Check in and assignments

1:30 – 2:00 PM Kick off

2:00 – 4:00 PM Community Service Projects

4:00 – 5:15 PM Refreshments and interfaith/intercultural dialogue.

Registration will be through United Way. More information to come!! Contact Gail Katz, gailkatz@comcast.net

Wednesday, September 14

WISDOM Film Discussion Group will kick off with Dr. Parvinder Mehta of Wayne State University, leading a discussion of the movie “Arranged.” The movie is about a friendship between an Orthodox Jewish women and a Muslim women who meet as first year teachers in a public school in Brooklyn, NY. 6:30 PM – 9:00 PM at the Birmingham Community House, in partnership with the Diversity Task Force, 380 S. Bates St., Birmingham, 48009, cookies and coffee served!! Contact Sheri Schiff to register, sheritschiff@gmail.com

Thursday, October 27

“Flowers Aren’t Enough,” an event to educate women and teenaged girls about abusive relationships. Sponsored by the National Council of Jewish Women (Greater Detroit Section) and Temple Israel Sisterhood, and supported by WISDOM. The program will begin at 7:00 PM at Temple Israel, 5725 Walnut Lake Road, West Bloomfield. For more information contact NCJW at 248-355-3300.

Sunday, December 4

“Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus” – an interfaith panel program, sponsored by the Interfaith Leadership Council, will be held in conjunction with the Rembrandt exhibit from 2:30 pm – 6:30 PM at the Detroit Institute of Art. There will be a charge for this event. Contact Gail Katz at gailkatz@comcast.net More information to follow!!

Thursday, December 8

Make an interfaith beaded jewelry bracelet with Nomi Joyrich, owner of the Franklin Bead Works. Program will run from 4:00 – 7:00 PM at Unity of Farmington Hills 32500 West 13 Mile Road, Farmington Hills, 48334. Program for Friends of WISDOM!! There will be a charge for this event for the materials and for a light supper!! More information to follow!!

Sunday, December 11

Kids Against Hunger Project – Community Service project to package dry meals for the hunger in Metro Detroit and abroad – at the Rush Trucking Warehouse 38500 Van Born Road, Wayne, MI 48184. 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM. Contact Gail Katz at gailkatz@comcast.net


Friday, August 26th

Shabbat Under The StarsVisit Temple Israel as part of our

WISDOM Houses of Worship Series.

Learn about Judaism through a tour from 6:30 – 7:15 PM

and a beautiful outdoor Shabbat service from 7:30 – 8:30 PM.

Temple Israel is located at 5725 Walnut Lake Rd., West Bloomfield.

Contact Gail Katz at gailkatz@comcast.net for more information.

We will be meeting at a restaurant

near the temple for dinner prior to the tour.




Check out the stories of the WISDOM Women

at the Bay View Association in Northern Michigan!





Check out this article in the Huffington Post – Why Include Interfaith Children in Interfaith Dialogue?




Check out this article “Choosing to Wear the Muslim Headscarf!!



Check out Odyssey Networks short video-clips:


1) Rabbi Irwin Kula “Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life”




2) Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf on “Interfaith Harmony”




3) The Rev. Richard Cizik on “The Role of Interfaith Dialogue”




4) Anju Bhargava founder of the Hindu American Seva Charities





Interfaith Worship Provides Education, Understanding

Detroit News, July 12, 2011


(See article below about a similar interfaith service held at the Washington National Cathedral)


Faith Shared

From left to right, Yousif and Younes’ father, Younes Makki, Yousif Makki, the Rev. Terri Polarksi, Gail Katz, and Eide Alawan


Imagine a worship service, the primary Sunday morning service in a Christian church, that begins with a nine-year-old Arabic boy offering the Islamic Call to Prayer, followed by a woman lighting candles on a table set with bread, wine and grape juice and offering the Jewish prayers that begin the Sabbath worship, followed by an Episcopal priest offering the collect of the day.


So began the interfaith service held this past weekend at Christ Episcopal Church in Dearborn. The service included portions of Muslim, Jewish and Christian worship, honoring each tradition in the process. Beginning with each tradition’s call to prayer and worship, the service continued with readings from and reflections on the sacred texts of the Torah and the Gospels, plus a reading from the Qu’ran which was chanted in Arabic and translated into English. Gail Katz, Co-Founder of WISDOM (Women’s Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach in Metro Detroit) and member of Temple Israel in West Bloomfield, brought her family’s Sabbath candlesticks, and after lighting the Shabbat candles, she blessed them in Hebrew and welcomed everyone to a beautiful interfaith service.


Yousif (Joseph) Makki, a member of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, chanted the Muslim Call to Prayer, and his brother, Younes (Jonas) explained the meaning of the Arabic prayer in English.


Gail also shared the “”Parashah” of the week – the Torah portion read that week in synagogues all over the world. Reading from Numbers Chapter 16:1-35, Gail explained the story of Korach, the organizer of a rebellion against Moses and Aaron, and reflected on our personal struggle as human beings between our “inner Moses” and our “inner Korach.” Younes followed the sharing of the Torah portion with a reading from the Qu’ran. Prayers over a meal were offered by each tradition, and the bread, wine and juice were shared among the gathered congregation.


The Rev. Terri Pilarski, priest and rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Dearborn, was the creative force behind Dearborn’s “Faith Shared” service. Each component of the worship offered the comparable element from each tradition – Muslim, Jewish and Christian. The only unusual aspect of the service was that the various elements were woven into a typical order for a Sunday morning worship service in the Episcopal Church. Not every Jewish or Muslim worship experience would include all of these elements in one service, although they are each a component of faithful practice in the life of a Jew or Muslim.


Dearborn, Michigan, home to the largest Islamic community in the United States, is a unique community that honors it’s diversity and lives with sincere hospitality and compassion between the people of this city. While this worship service was a first for the community, it is just one example of the many ways that Jews, Christians, and Muslims work together for the good of all.

Hearing each other’s prayers and learning about our diverse faith traditions are ways to move forward to break down our cultural, ethnic and religious segregation, which is so pronounced in Metro Detroit. The more we learn about the faith-based practices of our neighbors who might dress differently, eat different foods, and speak different languages, the more we find our commonality as human beings and underscore our similar missions of unity, peace, community-building and mutual understanding.

In particular this was an opportunity for each of us to embrace the beauty of worship in other traditions, upholding that which distinguishes each and honoring our differences, while recognizing that all three traditions grow out of the God of Abraham. The purpose of this service, one of dozens nationwide inspired by the national Faith Shared project organized by the Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First, both based in Washington, D.C., was NOT to blend our diverse ways of worshipping God into one common service, nor was it an invitation to create one world religion.

It was decisively an opportunity to learn from one another and celebrate our differences while honoring our similarities. The June 26 date for this service coincidentally fell at the end of the 10th annual Worldviews Seminar, an educational opportunity open to all, held every year in the month of June co-sponsored by the University of Michigan and Christ Episcopal Church, in Dearborn. The seminar, taught by Professor Lucinda Mosher, includes lectures on world religions followed by site visits to local houses of worship.

The Rev. Terri C. Pilarski is rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Dearborn.

Gail Katz is co-founder of WISDOM and a member of Temple Israel in West Bloomfield.

Eide Alawan is spokesman for the Islamic Center of America in .


Check out this article about the Interfaith service at the Washington National Cathedral which promoted Religious Tolerance on June 26th, 2011





The World Views Seminar students from the University of Michigan at Dearborn Come to Temple Israel in West Bloomfield, Michigan on Friday, June 24, 2011 for a site visit to a Jewish House of Worship!!


Temple Israel 1

Above Temple Israel member Cindy Kandel takes out the holy Torah scroll for everyone to view. Below, Cindy unrolls the Torah scroll for everyone to get a close up look at the Hebrew script. In the photo below is Professor Claude Jacobs, the director of the World Views Seminar. The students also had the opportunity to take part in the Friday night Shabbat services in the sanctuary.



Temple Israel 2



.Interfaith Potluck Supper

The Interfaith Leadership Council hosted a vegetarian potluck dinner at Unity of Farmington Hills on Sunday, June 26th, with the intention of discussing what interfaith initiatives have happened in Detroit since 9/11, what has worked well, and where do we go from here!! From left to right are Bob Bruttell (Chair), Victor Begg, Michael Hovey, Gail Katz, the Rev. Barbara Clevenger, the Rev. Bob Hart, Paula Drewek, and Sheri Schiff.


WISDOM Gives a Scholarship to Universitiy of Michigan-Dearborn student for the World Views Seminar, June 2011.

Here is a beautiful response from that student!!


Dear WISDOM Women:


I am writing to thank you for affording me the opportunity to attend the 2011 Worldview’s seminar. It was a wonderful experience, enriched by the site visits and personal connections that were formed as well.


Being the only Muslim in the group, it was a pleasure to share my faith tradition on a more personal level with other students who had many questions.


This experience not only deepened my appreciated for the Metro-Detroit area, it also enhanced my understanding of other faith traditions. My main goal, was to be able to form personal connections to various communities and places of worship. As a newly licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I wanted to be able to have as many points of reference to understand my diverse families and couples who often pull from their spirituality to get through a difficult time.



For those who may be wondering who the scholarship went to, I would briefly share that I have a M.A. in Conflict Transformation and Peace-building and I’m a newly licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I have a new company called Family and Couple Therapy Center factcentermi.com and I have been doing interfaith work for 10 years.


I have been trying to take the worldviews seminar since 2003 when I was a freshwoman at U of M Dearborn. I’m delighted that this year I was able to do so and had the financial help to make it happen. Thank you again for helping to make this possible.





Nadia Bazzy




Detroit Muslims, Jews and Christians

join together in health-care drive.


An interfaith group of Muslims, Jews and Chaldeans teamed up on Tuesday. July 19th to provide health-care services to the working poor and those without medical insurance at the Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center in Detroit.


“We’re helping the people who show up to this clinic and fulfilling a need within the community,” said Robert Cohen, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Detroit.



“We’re also trying to build trust and build relations between the Jewish and Muslim communities in the city.”



The Interfaith Health Fair was organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Detroit and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan and ran for four hours on Tuesday afternoon.


Around 100 doctors, nurses, social workers and medical students performed standard medical screenings, took blood samples, recorded patients’ medical histories, and provided them with guidance on any necessary follow-up, through a one-onone consultation with a physician.There are approximately 68,000 Jews living in the Detroit metropolitan area and anywhere between 150,000-200,000 Muslims.

Victor Ghalib Begg, chairman emeritus of the Council of Islamic Organization for Michigan, said that it was crucial for the Muslim and Jewish communities to have good relationships.

“We live with the Jewish community as neighbors, our doctors work together in hospitals and our kids go to school together. This initiative is helping provide an important service to people who have no medical insurance but it’s also bringing our communities closer together – Muslim, Jewish, suburban and inner-city,” said Begg Tuesday’s health-care fair was the second such event, the first having taken place in November last year.

The two community organizations have worked together on previous projects such as a Christmas Day initiative dubbed “Mitzvah Day,” in which Jewish volunteers – joined in recent years by members of the Muslim community – have stood in for Christian communityservice workers on Christmas Day to allow them to take a break on the holiday.

“This health fair is part of an ongoing effort to make our community more inclusive,” Begg said. “Our communities appreciate the work we do to bring the communities together and we need more good news like this.”

“We’re hoping this kind of message will be delivered in Palestine and Israel because we want to be an example to others further afield,” he said.

The volunteers also included a number of medical professionals from Detroit’s 125,000-strong Chaldean community, an eastern Christian denomination of the Catholic Church.

As with all Muslim-Jewish ties, Cohen explains, relations are strained because of the conflict in the Middle East and the general support of each community for their co-religionists.

“So we’re not trying to solve the conflict or even engage in difficult conversations.

We are so far apart in the way we look at the conflict there’s almost no common ground, but yet we live together side-by-side in this city and it’s a good idea to get to know your neighbors.

Interfaith Health Fair
Pakistani Women at Interfaith Health
Robert Cohen (Jewish Community Relations Council) and Victor Begg (Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan) stand with women from the Pakistani Women’s Association that prepared meals in the soup kitchen for the patients!!
Michigan Department of Civil Rights

Launches a New Public Service Campaign


When it comes to the places Michiganders interact with each other – where we live, work, learn and cross paths in the world – there’s no compromising on basic fairness. This important message is at the heart of a new public service campaign launching from the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. WISDOM co-founder, Shahina Begg, was invited to take part in the Department’s series of public service announcements that began airing on radio and tv on July 19.

“I am not an actor by any means, but I was excited when I received the invitation,” said Begg. “The Only Fair is Fair message is important to get out there, and it represents core values that we’ve held at WISDOM from the beginning. Also, as a Muslim, the very notion of civil rights for all people irrespective of color, race, religion or economic status is the core element of my Islamic faith.”


Take a look at the PSA and pass the word on! Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lge0X5f0NHE


New Documentary about Muslim youth and the Koran

entitled “Koran By Heart.”



When I was in Aspen last week, I saw the documentary “Koran By Heart” and I thought it was a very remarkable film, and presented a balanced view of Islam, grabbing at your heart strings through the filming of young Muslim children. See the blurb about the film below. This film will be aired on HBO on Monday, August 1st at 9:00 PM EST. There was also an article about the film director Greg Barker in the Saturday, July 30th NY Times. See link below. (Gail Katz)


“Once a year, the brightest kids from across the Islamic world head to Cairo for the world’s oldest and most prestigious Koran-reciting competition. They must not only repeat randomly selected passages down to the last perfect syllable, but also perform to the highest standards of “tajweed,” ancient rules governing melody and rhythm. This lively film follows three extraordinary 10-year-olds: Nabiollah, from Tajikistan, has never attended school; Senegalese Djamil, an imam’s son, carries the weight of his village’s expectations; Rifdha, from the Maldives, is exceedingly bright and one of the few female competitors. Through the eyes of his three young subjects, acclaimed filmmaker Greg Barker provides a compelling and colorful glimpse into the many faces of contemporary Islamic culture.”





For World Cup Host Germany, Diversity Is the Goal

Gordon Welters for The New York Times

Muslim girls can wear head scarves, forbidden in international play, in German youth leagues.

Fatmire Bajramaj, a star midfielder, is the lone Muslim player on Germany’s women’s national team, which is seeking a third consecutive World Cup title.
Read this article at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/sports/soccer/for-host-germany-in-womens-world-cup-diversity-is-the-goal.html
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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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.


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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!