December 2016

Written by WISDOM on . Posted in Newsletters

Calendar for WISDOM and Other Interfaith Events  
Beginning October 31st – December 14th
Multi-Religious Conflict Transformation Training
See flyer below
January through April 2017
Comparative Judaism Series
See Flyer Below
18th Annual World Sabbath
Sunday, March 5, 2017 starting at 4:00 PM
Temple Beth El, 7400 Telegraph Road, Bloomfield HIlls
See Flyer Below!
Sunday, March 12, 2017 5:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Potluck Family Treasures Show and Tell
Mulberry Square Club House, Bloomfield Hills
More information to come!
Sunday, October 15th, 2017, 5:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Tenth Anniversary Celebration of WISDOM
North Congregational Church
36520 W. 12 Mile Road, Farmington Hills, 48331
Stay tuned!

The Bahá’í Temple of South America
the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Chile
Nine identical wing-like shells spatially define the house of worship.
Each is clad on its exterior with thousands of faceted and shaped
custom cast-glass panels and on its interior with computer-cut and
carved, translucent marble. The cast glass panels – developed in a four
year collaborative research process with Canadian artist Jeff Goodmanin
combination with the translucent stone, bathe visitors with dappled
light. A slim-profile structural steel frame, comprised of hundreds
of individually unique engineered members and nodal connections,
rests on a concrete substructure set on seismic isolation pads. The
project, expected to be completed in 2016, has already received five
architectural awards, including World Architecture News Best Building of
the Year in 2010, and a Progressive Architecture Awards Citation in 2007.

My wonderful trip to Charleston, South Carolina
by Gail Katz, WISDOM Co-Founder
I was fortunate enough to join Temple Israel, West Bloomfield, Michigan, on a three day experience in Charleston, South Carolina, exploring the history and founding of Reform Judaism. Charles Town, as it was called in the 17th century, welcomed Jews and the colony’s fundamental Constitution of 1669 granted freedom of worship to the Jews. The British colony of Charles Town greeted Jews with an outstretched arm, and Jews reached back in kind.  Their numbers were small at the beginning, but that would change drastically during the 18th century. We first visited the historic synagogue in Charleston, – the Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim – which was founded in 1749 and is one of the oldest Jewish congregations in the United States. Before 1830 this congregation was a place of worship for Spanish and Portuguese Jews. It later adopted a reformed religious ritual and in 1824 the Reformed Society of the Israelites was founded, using the first Reform prayer book in America. The Charleston movement was based upon a similar movement that had taken place in Germany a few years before.

We also visited the Coming Street Cemetery, established in 1762, the oldest and largest Jewish burial ground in the South.  This is the resting place of the wealthiest and largest Jewish community in colonial America. The cemetery contains some 600 marble and brownstone grave markers. Significant artistic markers denote the graves of prominent Charlestonians.

The highlight of the Charleston experience for me was the coming together of the 40 Temple Israel visitors with members of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston where in June, 2015, a racist white man, Dylann Roof, opened fire on a Bible study group and killed 9 of the African American worshipers.  Al Miller, Gullah music expert and Emanuel congregant, presented a program of gospel/spiritual music as well as some selections from Porgy and Bess. Then Temple Israel visitors each read a piece about healing and forgiveness! I read the words written by the granddaughter of one of the victims. “Although my grandfather and the victims died at the hands of hate, everyone’s plea for your souls is proof that they lived and loved and their legacies will live and love. So hate won’t win and I just want to thank the court for making sure that hate doesn’t win.” And then Bryant Frank, one of our Temple Israel members, played the guitar and sang a beautiful melody about “chesed” which means loving kindness in Hebrew and the words from Amazing Grace were also included!  What a meaningful interfaith interaction in Charleston, South Carolina.

Included in our three day visit was a special Friday night Shabbat service led by Rabbi Jen Kaluzny with musical accompaniment by Bryant Frank, and a moving Havdalah service, the service that concludes the Sabbath and begins the work week.  Here we as Jews faced our history that our ancestors in South Carolina owned slaves and fought for the Confederacy.  We contemplated the thought about coming to terms with our American forefathers being slave owners when we were slaves in Egypt!!  How can we accept their treatment of God’s creation?  We recognized that the only answer was to work tirelessly to eradicate racial injustices and try to break down racial barriers. Because we are Jews, and we know the feeling of the slave, the stranger, it is our mandate to help all people cross the river into the Promised Land regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or whatever makes them who they are.  We are to elevate all of God’s children.  And these words made this Charleston trip an incredibly memorable one!!

What Does Modest Fashion Mean?
By Whitney Bauck
New York Times
From left, Dian Pelangi, Dr. Ann Shafer and Zahrah Zubaidah at the New York University Meeting Through Modesty fashion symposium.
Daniel James Cole
A Muslim, an Orthodox Jew and a religious Christian walked into a room, but it wasn’t a bar and this was no joke. On the contrary, representatives from each of the Abrahamic religions had gathered during fashion month at New York University for the Meeting Through Modesty fashion symposium to discuss something they take very seriously: modest style. A generous smattering of hijabs, skullcaps and discreet wigs were spread throughout the room, along with Proenza Schouler skirts and Rachel Comey shoes.
“There’s a general misconception that modest clothing is inherently oppressive,” said Michelle Honig, the keynote speaker and an Orthodox Jewish fashion journalist. “But if women in so-called ‘liberated countries’ still choose to cover their bodies, then they have made a choice. They have agency.”
Ms. Honig had layered a Tanya Taylor top and Marc by Marc Jacobs skirt under a striped Prada dress to keep her elbows and knees concealed, in addition to wearing a wig to keep her head covered, per Orthodox custom. The symposium was just one of a growing number of modest-fashion events in recent months at universities like Fordham, Princeton and the London College of Fashion. The trend in academic settings reflects a broader movement on the internet as devout women use social media to discuss, celebrate and experiment with modest fashion.  Interpretations of modesty differ across religious boundaries and even within them. “Modesty” in a Muslim context may be expressed by wearing loosefitting pants and covering one’s head with a hijab, while an Orthodox Jewish woman may wear skirts or dresses only and cover her head with a wig. Christian women, like the swimwear designer Jessica Rey, may express their vision of modesty by eschewing bikinis in favor of bathing suits that expose their legs but cover their midriffs. Still, the shared interest in staying relatively covered up while still looking stylish is enough to connect women across religious, racial and cultural boundaries. Many of them cite devotion to God and a desire to present themselves as “more than a collection of body parts,” in Ms. Rey’s words, as the motivation behind their affinity for modest dress.
“Making connections with other Christians, as well as Muslim and Jewish women, has probably been the most exciting benefit of blogging,” says Liz Roy, a Christian who runs the personal style blog Downtown Demure. “We all have different standards for modesty, but we share this common goal, which can be a bit contradictory to secular standards.”
These connections have the potential to yield more than just warm, fuzzy feelings, according to the Jewish Orthodox sisters Simi and Chaya Gestetner of the modest indie label the Frock. While they enjoy the personal connections they build with customers of any faith (including their Orthodox neighbors in Brooklyn and their Mormon fans in Salt Lake City), they also see the mobilization of the modest-fashion community as a real boon for business. The sisters report seeing a significant increase in sales every time the Jewish Orthodox street style star Adi Heyman posts Instagram images of herself wearing their pieces, often mixed with separates from brands like Gucci or Chanel. Since Ms. Heyman’s blog, Fabologie, flows from her desire to find more modest options in mainstream fashion, the continued success of brands like the Frock is something she is deeply invested in.

And while linking commerce and religion may seem distasteful to some, modest-fashion entrepreneurs like Melanie Elturk see it as a natural way to live out their faith and serve their communities. Ms. Elturk, a former lawyer who founded the online retailer Haute Hijab in 2010, uses her online following to offer style inspiration and practical resources to young Muslim women who are seeking to honor the tradition of wearing hijabs in the face of cultural pushback.
“I have a whole network of psychiatrists, therapists, social workers and community leaders who I put in touch with girls who are struggling so they can hash out any issues,” said Ms. Elturk, whose responsive social media presence engages many younger followers. “I want to see a thriving community of girls who are proud to wear hijab.”
Like many of her peers across religious lines, she would argue that modesty is required of both men and women, and that it’s as much about how one carries oneself as how one dresses. And like Ms. Rey, whose line is made in America, Ms. Elturk would assert that her religious beliefs have made her as committed to ethical production as she is to modesty in fashion. But perhaps the greatest point of consensus about modest fashion across a range of faiths is that it need not be experienced as a limiting factor in style or in life. At the N.Y.U. panel, the Indonesian designer Dian Pelangi showed a video by Hijup, a Muslim fashion store, that showcased herself, a member of a hard-core band known for social critique and a martial artist who all pursue their passions while wearing the hijab. Ms. Honig chimed in with anecdotes about her experiences sky diving, rock-climbing and rappelling while wearing a skirt, asserting that while it may not be easy to participate in certain activities while honoring strict modesty dictates, “it’s possible.” “You want to experience life,” Ms. Honig said. “Modesty shouldn’t hold you back.”

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 Paula Drewek at .

WISDOM Mission Statement

To Provide concrete modeling of women from different faith traditions working together in harmony for the common good.
To Empower women to take a more active role in furthering social justice and world peace.
To Dispel myths, stereotypes, prejudices and fear about faith traditions different from our own.
To Nurture the growth of empathy and spiritual energy that result from our projects and interfaith dialogue.


WISDOM is a Non-Profit Organization. Get involved with WISDOM!

WISDOM’s challenge is to bring together people from different faith traditions, ethnicities, races, and cultures in an atmosphere of safety and respect to engage in educational and community service projects. Let’s change our world through the positive power of building relationships!