WISDOM Newsletter – February 2013

Written by WISDOM on . Posted in Newsletters




Sunday, March 3rd

Interfaith Leadership Council presents: Healing Across the Faith Traditions, Exploring the Role of Prayer, Music, and Ritual in Spiritual Healing!  See flyer below!

Wednesday, March 6

Five Women Five Journeys presented in partnership with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Lansing, MI.  6:30 PM.  Contact Paula Drewek at drewekpau@aol.com

Sunday, March 17

Five Women Five Journeys presented in partnership with Nardin Park United Methodist Church in Farmington Hills. 6:00 PM.  Contact Paula Drewek at drewekpau@aol.com

Sunday April 14

4:00 PM to 6:30 PM “Bread! Bread! Bread!”  Let’s explore the importance of bread across different faith traditions!  Keynote speaker will be Lynne Golodner, author of Holy Breads.  At St. John’s Episcopal Church in Royal Oak, 26998 Woodward (corner of Woodward and 11 Mile Road).   Free but registration necessary.  Contact Gail Katz at gailkatz@comcast.net

Sunday, April 21

Five Women Five Journeys presented in partnership with the Girl Scouts Muslim Community of Western Suburbs of Detroit, 40440 Palmer Rd, Canton MI 48188.  Contact Paula Drewek at drewekpau@aol.com

Saturday, April 27

10:00 AM to 12 Noon: Five Women Five Journeys presented in partnership with the Girl Scouts at the Song and Spirit Institute for Peace, 2599 Harvard, Berkley, MI 48072, contact Paula Drewek at drewekpau@aol.com

May 3rd through May 5th

Oakland University’s Hospitality Initiative Summit.  More information to come! Go to http://essentialcore.org


Metro Detroit Interfaith Warmth 


Metro Detroit Interfaith Warmth is an educational program that is designed to educate everyone at our congregations about what is available to help keep people warm this winter.  We are looking at warmth from three different avenues to help make sure people have the tools to stay warm this winter with state and federal funds available for all three to provide discounted if not free services:


1)  Utility Assistance

2)  Energy Efficiency

3)  Weatherization


Until now this information hasn’t been compiled in an easily accessible way that we can share to help keep people warm.


The next step is to work with individual congregations to figure out the best strategy to get this information out.  This can be through sermons, presentations, workshops or just having the information available where services are provided.


Joe Rashid is available to work with you to provide assistance!  Contact Joe at 313-575-7014 or jrashid.iflc@gmail.com or visit www.metrodetroitinterfaithwarmth.com


Understanding Diverse Houses of Worship

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 10:00 – 4:00 PM

A Feet on the Street Bus Tour of Detroit

Suburban meeting location:

Southfield Public Library, 26300 Evergreen Road, Southfield, MI

Detroit meeting location:

Fisher Building Lobby, Stella International Cafe

3011 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit

Registration Information:

online: www.FeetOnTheStreetTours.com

Phone: 248-353-8687

email: FeetOnTheStreetD@aol.com


9:00 AM Registration participants meet in lobby of Southfield Public Library

9:30 AM Bus departs from library for Fisher Building

9:50 AM Arrive at Fisher Building to pick up participants meeting there

10:00 AM Tour and presentation at Durga (Hindu) Temple with Shyama Haldar and Mira Bakhle

11:30 AM Visit to Clinton Street Temple with presentation by Pastor Shedrick Clark

1:00 PM Lunch, tour and presentation at Downtown Synagogue with Anna Kohn and Gail Katz, Co-Founder of WISDOM

2:30 PM Group processing and cross cultural skill building, led by Mira Bakhle and Linda Yellin

4:00 PM Return to Fisher Building, sign-out, Attendance Certificates; bus departs for Southfield Public Library

4:30 PM Bus arrives at the Southfield Public Library

Make Checks Payable to Linda Yellin, LMSW, 29260 Franklin Rd., Ste 117, Southfield, MI 48034

Fee: $109.00 all inclusive (6 CE Clock Hours certicate, program materials, lunch, snacks, museum admissions, bus)

Sermon on the Social and

Spiritual Transformation of Detroit In 2013

 by Rabbi Dorit Edut

 Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012

 Unitarian Universalist Church, Detroit


Detroit will undergo a transformation – especially in the social and spiritual realm – and 2013 will be the year that his happens. Today we are not going to focus on another “change” in Detroit’s social and spiritual fabric – but really a “transformation – making things radically different, taking a different course, creating different positions here than are in existence now and perhaps have ever been here before. It is a new year that we are facing, and we are looking forward to a new landscape in our great city. What can it look like and what will it take to get there?

Transformation is something that occurs on many levels – psychological, emotional, spiritual, and physical. Also there seems to be an element of the other-worldly, of something that happens to us or others as a result of Divine action, of our being either in our out of alignment with the Universe.

Transformation , though radical in its result, is usually a process that occurs over time. Think of some of the great leaders of our modern world like Lincoln, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. – their own transformation came about gradually, their awareness grew with each life experience, and, like the Prophets of the Bible, it came to the point that they could not keep this to themselves – instead they each led a major transformation of the societies in which they lived. They each saw what was missing in their societies, some balancing of the scales of justice, some uncovering of truth, some new paths to peace. They became so keenly aware of this that it caused them great psychological, emotional and spiritual distress. They knew that they had to do something about this, even in the face of great opposition – and so they spoke out and acted upon this.   We today are still experiencing the impact of their actions, something that they themselves could probably not imagine. We get to see, in historical hindsight that they were not acting just for themselves or for the people of their day, but actually causing radical shifts in the course of their societies, bringing ideas and social changes into our world that are still inspiring us. And I would venture to say that there was the element of the Divine here, that each of these great leaders were actually messengers of God.

But they are the ones that we know about because of our history books. And yet, there are countless others whose names we don’t know who have done things to change the course of lives, to stand up for justice, to bring enemies together as friends. The good news is that each of us, yes – YOU and ME – has this Divine spark within us, this ability to contribute to the betterment of our world in some powerful way, for the Bible tells us that we were each created in the image of God – b’Tzelem Elohim. The Jewish mystical teachers of Kabbalah explain that when they world was created there was a kind of Big Bang which led to the dispersion of Divine energy in the form of embers or sparks all over the world, most being hidden within the souls of humans. It is only when these are all uncovered, released within our world and ultimately reunited with the One Source that the Messianic time will arrive.   So it is up to each of us to search for and find our Divine spark, let ourselves be energized by this through our thoughts, words, and actions – and encourage others to do the same. Just think what would be possible if these Divine sparks were to be ignited here! What a fire that would light up in our city – and not burn it down!!

So what is to be transformed in our great city of Detroit? Let’s take a look. Some have said we have a Dickens situation on our hands – ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ – on one hand, one where crime runs rampant, where we have the highest statistics for murders in this country, where abandoned houses fill our neighborhoods and where our city government is paralyzed by political infighting and economic doom ; and, on the other hand, one where new businesses are springing up daily, where community gardens and urban farms are flourishing, where young professionals are moving in by the droves to neighborhoods bordering the downtown, and where sports, entertainment, and restaurant venues are packed solid all year long with urban and suburban attendees. How can these two diametrically opposed phenomena exist in the same geographic area? I think we can say that they  may be able to co-exist for now, but not for much longer. One of them will weaken and ultimately be extinguished – AND WE GET TO SAY WHICH ONE THAT WILL BE! The good news is that we get to promote one or the other via our actions, our participation, our support . That is why this is a spiritual and a social conversation!! We will determine whether Detroit will win the World Series of Enlightened and Transformed Urban Centers or will become, like the Biblical Sodom, a place of desolation where human life cannot be sustained for centuries to come.

Yes, at the heart of this there is much that must be spiritually and socially transformed. Having grown up here and personally witnessed the riots of 1967, I know that there exists on both sides of 8 Mile Road even today conversations of mistrust, of fear of the “other”, of cynicism that anything will ever change. These conversations may have their basis in racial prejudices but these reflect the beliefs of a different, earlier era, not of the technically-interconnected, globally-functioning, and media-equalized world we and our young generations live in. It is time to put the past in the past, to drive into the ‘no-man’s-zone’ and see that you can not only survive but also enjoy yourself, thrive, and meet people who also want to live together in peace and prosperity. The first glimpse of a social transformation in 2013 will be a borderless Detroit, one where ALL people feel comfortable to shop, dine, work, play, go to school, be with friends ANYONE ANYWHERE in the Metro Detroit area – because there will be no racial profiling and no concerns about race, culture, religion, gender, or sexual identification. Detroit will no longer have the reputation of being one of the most segregated urban and suburban areas in this country. One of the best ways to make this happen is for people of all ages to participate in a one-day program called Bridging 8 Mile that is sponsored by the Association for Youth Empowerment.

All the talk of the suburbs wanting to take over Detroit – a racially-based conversation that is prevalent even among some of our City Council members –   is based on some underlying fear that African Americans will be displaced and lose any power that was gained since Detroit first had an African-American mayor. It is time for those who espouse such ideas to look at the population of the city and suburbs – there are plenty of African-Americans who have left the city and have become powerful forces in the suburbs, such as the powerful mayor of Southfield, Brenda Lawrence. Meanwhile living within the city limits now – and some have been here for many decades – are Latinos, Asians, Arabs, Albanians, Russians, Indians, Greeks, and even a few Jews, among others groups. Detroit is a cosmopolitan city and that is one of its strengths; today, with the huge loss of population and tax base over the past three decades, it is time to put out the welcome mat to all who want to live here and help revitalize this metropolis. But perhaps our government leaders cannot handle this task – or certainly not all by themselves.

Over a year ago, my Detroit Interfaith Outreach Network began hosting interfaith services every two months at different churches, mosques, temples, and synagogues in Detroit and close by. The purpose was two-fold: to pray together for uplifting of all the citizens of our city, especially its youth, and to get to know each other better, especially during the social and educational hour prior to the service. We have discovered that these joint prayer services inspire all of us as we express our hopes and seek Divine help through words , song, dance, and speeches. The different languages used, the different religious sites where we prayed, and the different rituals we observed helped us to honor each other’s uniqueness while realizing that there is an underlying commonality of faith in God which guides us all. Just picture if you will what it is like as a Jewish person to sit in the pews of a large Catholic church while hearing the voice of a young boy chanting the verses of the Koran about peace among all peoples or to have the entire congregation singing together the praise to One God in the words of the Hindu-based Harei Krishna. This is not only an exhilarating experience but one filled with great energy that we can take into our future.

Working to improve our schools, creating safe, fun, interesting and accessible afterschool programs, and offering job and lifeskills training to our teens – these are some ways that we can translate this spiritual and social transformation into concrete terms. Certainly the Boys and Girls Clubs, the Detroit Parent Network, the Michigan League of Arts, Fort Street Presbyterian Church and Central United Methodist, and ACCESS are doing some of this work already. Without the help from these faith-based and civic organizations, many more residents would be in desperate straits. A kind of shadow government has already been created and it is time for the elected officials and the media to recognize this. What I am suggesting for the next phase of this transformation would be to have all these groups work together, not to duplicate each other’s programs, but to bring the resources, the manpower, and the devotion to strengthen the major, effective programs already underway.

We must bring transformation to the issue of violence, both in our local and our national culture. After the massacre in Newton, Connecticut, and after the latest statistics of the over 300 murders in Detroit this past year, we cannot wait another moment. Here, too, we have at the root a spiritual and social problem. Violent acts, especially with guns, are acts of desperation – for those who no longer believe that anger, resentment, shame, or mistrust can be resolved peacefully. They have lost faith in their fellow human beings and in themselves, and consequently they have no spiritual center, they certainly have no faith in God . Whether caused by mental illness or not, the person who holds such views is both a tragic and dangerous person. Yet, there is much that could be done to alter these views before they develop fully or before the person acts on them. Here, too, it will take a socially responsible society, communities of people who watch out for others, offer help or direct them to the appropriate helpers, model non-violent conflict resolution themselves, notify authorities of their concerns, do not sell weapons of any kind to such people or give them easy access to any weapons, and stop the spread of violent games, movies, TV shows to our youth. So let this begin here – in Detroit – let us transform our image – our very being – from one of daily violence to daily acts of peace, love, and deep caring, especially for our youth!

2013 opens up a 365-day period of time for each of us to be part of this social and spiritual transformation of Detroit, which can, of course, impact the transformation of our American society and of our world.   When each of us will look back at this time and place next year what do we want to see? t We each can help to turn the tide in the affairs of our city in the direction of peace, prosperity, and cooperation. Working together with other faith-based and civic groups, we can bring the energy and power of our congregations to these goal-oriented programs to ensure their effectiveness. Most importantly, it will be in our everyday interactions with individuals in our lives that we can make the biggest difference if we act to build trust, cooperation, and faith. May we remember the words of the Jewish Sage, Rabbi Eliezer, who wrote these words in the Ethics of the Fathers:

“Let the honor of your fellow man be as dear to you as your own; be not easily moved to anger; and repent one day before you die.”

May God bless each of you, and be with you throughout the coming year! Amen!

  New Friends!

Jewish and Muslim groups gather together for prayer,

conversation and several meals.

by Shelli Liebman Dorfman for the Jewish News


At the mosque: Lee Schottenfels and Mel Chudnot, both of West Bloomfield and of Temple Kol Ami, with Shahin Begg of Bloomfield Hills and of the Muslim Unity Center of Bloomfield Hills

Being welcomed into a mosque from the first moment with ‘Salaam alaikum’ is not probably an experience that most Jewish people have,” said Rabbi Dorit Edut, who

teaches at the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue in Detroit. “Having Muslims attend a Jewish Sabbath service is also an unusual experience for most of us,” Edut said. “Yet this wonderful, peaceful and spiritually uplifting experience is something that

occurred in downtown Detroit. This actually happened in the midst of the crisis in Israel and Gaza, though it certainly had not been planned or anticipated to be at the same time.”

Members of the Downtown Synagogue and the Detroit Interfaith Outreach Network joined together the weekend of Nov. 16 with members of the Muslim Center of Detroit, first at Friday afternoon services at the Muslim Center and again on Saturday morning at a Shabbat service at the synagogue. The congregations were part of the fifth annual Weekend of Twinning, where across town Temple Kol Ami

(TKA) in West Bloomfield and the Muslim Unity Center of Bloomfield Hills also participated with a Sunday program and tour of the mosque and the first annual Ernst Conrad Social Action Shabbat on Friday evening at the synagogue. The program, coordinated by TKA Rabbi Norman Roman, honored the late

TKA founder.

“Last year, we had discussed naming our Social Action Shabbat in memory of

Rabbi Conrad because of his commitment to social action and social justice causes,” said David Henig, a member of the Social Action Committee. “He had seriously strong convictions in the social action area, and we are proud to follow

in his footsteps. Social action is and has always been a strong component of Temple Kol Ami’s persona.” Members of the Kol Ami committee, chaired by Lisa Redmond, welcomed guests and facilitated table conversations during an Oneg Shabbat.

The annual Weekend of Twinning is organized by the Foundation for Ethnic

Understanding in cooperation with the World Jewish Congress and the Islamic

Society of North America. It includes involvement of 250 Muslim and Jewish

organizations in 26 countries whose members participate in prayer services, food, friendship and discussions, and learning about each group’s religious practices, prayers, customs and beliefs.


At the service at the Muslim Center of Detroit, Edut said, “[We] were warmly greeted both by the congregants before the service and during the service by Imam Abdullah El-Amin, who spoke of the good relations being built between our two communities and of the need for men to treat their wives with respect so that they would also be respected in the world.” Women were given scarves to cover their heads and sat in the middle and back of the carpeted sanctuary, while men sat in the front half, with the sections divided by a rope. Chairs were available for those who wanted to sit on the sides or back of the room, but most sat on the carpet. “All removed their shoes before coming into the sanctuary and were encouraged to wash hands, face and feet to ensure both bodily and spiritual purity before entering the sanctuary,” Edut said. “Two hundred Muslim members of the congregation entered quietly, each one bowing and saying their own prayer lines standing up and facing the front, listening to the Arabic lines chanted that gave praise to Allah, bowing and prostrating themselves several times, and responding with a few words in Arabic meaning: ‘God is great!’ “At the end, everyone greeted the others with, ‘Peace be with you. Salaam alaikum,'” she said.


Gail Katz and Downtown Synagogue President Lero Barak

of Detroit at the Muslim Center of Detroit.

Gail Katz of the interfaith women’s group WISDOM, who has attended other mosque services, found the program a blend of traditional prayers with a modern-day message that easily and naturally brought people of different backgrounds, ages, and cultures together.  Karen Knox of the Downtown Synagogue was fascinated by the new Jazz Cafe that the mosque has opened in memory of Walid Muhammad, a member who was a well-known trombonist with the Dizzie Gillespie band.

Shabbat services at the Downtown Synagogue were followed by a Kiddush luncheon.  “Many questions about Judaism and the service itself were answered during the friendly conversations over gevetarian lasagna, split pea soup and blueberry pie that synagogue members had prepared for lunch,” Edut said.  “We hope to have more opportunities to do things together, especially for the good of our city, and learn about each other’s traditions in the coming months.  We hope that this peaceful gathering will serve as a model to others in the rest of our world who think that Jews and Muslims cannot get along.”

CBS has done a great job of presenting

“Working for Religious Freeedom!”

and “Food Faith and Culture”

Check out the following video link!!



Imagining coexistence: A Muslim-Jewish journey
By Ron Kronish
 Director of the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel (ICCI)
Can young Jews and young Muslims engage in fruitful dialogue, despite the differences in their religions and in the face of the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict?

The answer is yes, as was demonstrated by a wonderful group of young adult Muslims and Jews who spent a week together doing exactly this in Israel last week. I was privileged to spend several hours with them in Jerusalem in open, sincere, honest and respectful dialogue. It was a real treat and a great eye-opener.

HAMSA is a partnership of two American groups and two Israeli groups: the Suffolk Y JCC in Long Island, the French Hill Community Center in Jerusalem, Beit Safafa Community Center in Jerusalem and the Islamic Center of Long Island. According to the website of the Suffolk Y JCC:

It is a program which brings graduating high school seniors and college age students from American and Israeli, Jewish and Muslim backgrounds together in the spirit of goodwill to participate in a series of educational classes, as well as a trip to Israel to complete a community service project together.

This unique project is the brainchild of two dynamic women, one Jewish and one Muslim, who have been doing this together for the past five years. The Jewish woman, Kelly Alpert Vest, who serves as Director of Community and International Relations for the Suffolk Y Jewish Community Center, succeeded in getting a grant from New York UJA-Federation to implement this innovative project, probably the only one of its kind in any JCC in North America. And the Muslim woman, Nazli Chaudhry, who serves as Muslim Chaplin at the Interfaith Center of Hofstra University on Long Island, and is the Director of Interfaith Activities for the Suffolk Y JCC (that’s right, you read it correctly – a Muslim woman is directing interfaith activities for a Jewish Community Center!).


These two unique women brought five Muslim and five Jewish university students from the New York area to Israel to meet with five Muslim Israelis and five Jewish Israelis who have been meeting for the last few months in Israel to get to know each other, under the supervision of a Muslim Israeli student and a Jewish Israeli student, both of whom went through this program last year.


They came to the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel’s Education Center one day last week to have a chance to process their first days together in Jerusalem. These included a tour of the Old City of Jerusalem, including a visit to each other’s holy places, free time in the Jewish market of Mahaneh Yehuda (in West Jerusalem) and a cooking class together to learn how to make local foods.

We had a lively and enriching discussion together for nearly three hours. Most of the participants were grateful for the opportunity to share their feelings and reflections about their initial experiences in Jerusalem.


For example, when they went to Temple Mount/Harem El-Sharif, the Muslims were invited to pray at the Al Aksa Mosque, while the Jewish students were told that they were not allowed to enter. This surprised the American students – both Jewish and Muslim – since the Jewish students would certainly have been invited to observe Muslim prayers in an American mosque. They all quickly learned that the political / religious / security context of Jerusalem is a much more complex reality.


When they went to the Western Wall later, some of the American Muslims told us that they put a note with a prayer in the Wall, and no one disturbed them. However, some of the Jews in the group – particularly some of the Israeli Jews – said that they felt very uncomfortable at the Wall, which is controlled by the Ultra-Orthodox Religious Jewish establishment in Israel, which does not offer freedom to all Jews to pray there according to their own styles and beliefs.


At the end of our discussion, I asked the students to imagine Jerusalem after a peace treaty is signed. What are their hopes and dreams? What would they like to see in the future?


Some of the Israelis in the room found this exercise too hard. It was too difficult to imagine anything other than the ongoing unresolved conflict.

But one young Israeli Muslim fellow came up with a great idea: he is going to open up a coffee house on the old border in which Palestinians and Israelis will be able to sit and drink coffee and talk about whatever they want in freedom, just as they were doing in this dialogue session. I wished him good luck and told him that I would be one of the first to come to have coffee and conversation in his new coffee house!


Is it possible to imagine a better future for all citizens of Jerusalem – Israelis and Palestinians – Jews, Christians and Muslims? I believe that it is not only possible to do so but essential. We must not be mired in the destructive history of the past decades, not in the despair of the present moment. Rather, it is vital to keep in mind that our political conflict will end one day, as it has ended in South Africa, Northern Ireland and other places. Now is the time to dream and plan and act for a more reasonable, peaceful and secure future for all people in Jerusalem, as well as all of Israel and Palestine

Check out the following website to

 read a great article about Interfaith in Detroit entitled:



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 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.

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!