WISDOM Newsletter – January 2013

Written by WISDOM on . Posted in Newsletters

A Happy New Year to All!! 


Sunday, January 27

The 2013 Fourteenth Annual World Sabbath, 4:00 – 5:30 PM, with an afterglow from 5:30 – 6:30 PM which includes an interfaith mosaic tile project! At the Bharatiya (Hindu) Temple!  See flyer below!

Wednesday, February 6

Join us at another WISDOM ethnic social dinner.  Details to be decided.

Sunday, March 10

 iCOVER: A Day in the Life of a Muslim-American COVERed Girl, Presentation by Sadaf Syed at the Muslim Unity Center in Bloomfield Hills from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM. More information to come!!

Sunday April 7

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.  More information to come!

In this issue
Calendar of Events
The 14th Annual World Sabbath
Face to Faith High School Teens
Faces of Faith in Washtenaw County
Professor Lupovitch Lectures coming in February
Holocaust Discussion by Irene Miller
Values, Ethics, and Culture at End of Life
Metro Detroit Interfaith Warmth
Brenda Rosenberg’s Special Project
Beyond Interfaith Marriages
Linking Energy Conservation and Faith Communities
Mitzvah Day with Jews and Muslims
Religious Leaders Pray for victims of Sandy Hook
Five Women Five Journeys
Friendship and Faith



SUNDAY, JANUARY 27th FROM 4:00 – 5:30 PM















The Rev. Richard Peacock

Will Be Receiving the 2013 World Sabbath Peace Award!!








  gailkatz@comcast.net 248-978-6664

Face to Faith High School Teens meet at the Kirk in the Hills Presbyterian Church in Bloomfield HIlls on Thursday, December 13th from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM.


Teens first came together in the Kirk Sanctuary to hear Kevin Krawczkyk, the Youth director, speak about the Christian symbols.  Following this discussion everyone was treated to a demonstration of the church organ and the Carillon by Dennis.


Teens then walked to the other side of the church to register and come together for our usual “Break the Ice” mixer!!


Following the mixer, teens were treated to a delicious pasta dinner, sponsored by the Kirk in the Hills Catering, and broke up into two groups to learn about two December holidays – Chanukah – the Jewish Festival of Lights, and Christmas and Advent.  Tres Adams of the Kirk gave a wonderful powerpoint explanation of the meaning of Advent, the history of Christmas, and the roots of Santa Claus.  Danny Bittker from BBYO talked about the meaning and the history of the celebration of Chanukah and how to play with the dreidel, and then lit the Chanukah menorah while saying the prayers over the candles.



Our Face to Faith evening ended with the students sitting in a circle, asking each other questions about their respective faith traditions, and a good time was had by all.  Come and join us on February 28th for our next coming together at Temple Israel in West Bloomfield!




 Faces of Faith
The Interfaith Round Table of Washtenaw County

In honor of our Religious Freedom, come and learn how your neighbors experience religion and spirituality in the most natural format, face to face.

The Interfaith Round Table of Washtenaw County is proud to sponsor our 3rd Annual Faces of Faith (FOF). FOF allows you to meet people from your community who pose as “books” telling you the story of their personal spiritual journey. Each time you “borrow” a “book” you’ll learn (one-on-one or in small groups) about a different spiritual practice, religious belief, or turning point of faith. Each “reading period” is 20 minutes.


Books include Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Mennonites, Atheists/Humanists, Baha’is, Native Americans, Quakers, New Thought Christians, Protestants, Mormons, Catholics, Jews, Eclectics and Hybrids. “USED books” from past years and recently added “NEW books” are all part of our growing collection.

Sunday, January 13th, 2013 from 2-4 p.m. Zion Lutheran Church

1501 East Liberty, Ann Arbor

Mature Children and Students are encouraged to come. To help defray the cost of the event, a $5 donation per person or family is requested.


For more information, call 734-424-1535 or email gbrides@umich.edu.

January 28th 7:30 p.m. –   Irene Miller, Author of “Into No Man’s Land:  A Historical Memoir” to speak at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Royal Oak


Long time Detroit resident, Irene Miller will speak about her experience as  a Jewish child in Poland in 1939.  Irene’s book “Into No Man’s Land:  A Historical Memoir” describes her experience escaping the horror of the Holocaust.


St. John’s Episcopal Church is honored to welcome Irene to speak about that experience and to answer questions.


St. John’s is located at 11 Mile and Woodward in Royal Oak.


Questions and more info please contact Ann Johnson at:   ajohn35son@gmail.com


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


Brenda Naomi Rosenberg, who created her exemplary Reuniting the Children of Abraham Project, reports that she has just returned from Vienna where she was the guest of King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz for the opening of his International Center for Inter-religious and cross cultural dialogue.




She relates that it was an amazing experience to share interfaith accomplishments in Detroit. Her photo above is from a 2-hour interview with Al Jazera and the Grand Mufti of Lebanon, Bishop Brahim of Syria and Dr Abdullah F Allheedan.


What was most impressive to many people was the media coverage presenting the positive side of connections between faith groups: David Crumm’s front page story of Reuniting the Children of Abraham (RTCOA) in The Detroit Free Press, and RTCOA as the cover story of the Jewish News.


They were very taken with the same article about the WISDOM [Women’s Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach in MetroDetroit] book Friendship and Faith: The WISDOM of Women Creating Alliances for Peace, and her recent article “Is Peace Still Possible ?” which were featured in both The Muslim Observer and The Jewish News.

You may also be interested in a project that Brenda has co-created with Samia Bahsoun, the Tectonic Leadership Center for Conflict Transformation & Cross Cultural Communication http://www.tectonicleadership.org/.

Beyond Interfaith Marriages to Multifaith Marriages
by Donna Schaper


 “Multifaith” is to interfaith as self-definition is to a throw rug. Self-definition is essential to personal maturity; a throw rug is not. Self-definition means you remain a Christian even if married to a Jew, or vice versa. Self-definition is that glorious arrangement of you being you. Socrates understood it as self-knowledge; Erikson understood identity as a certain consistency over time. You don’t blend so much as mature. You become more yourself by engaging more in articulated difference. You are not tossed about; you toss your identity freely and unapologetically into the room. A throw rug is an intentionally snarky contrast: it is lightweight. It can be moved anywhere. In the throw rug design of a room, you move things about according to the whim of the room’s use. You move it out or keep it in. You shake it out easily. In a tossed-about identity, you give permission to someone else to tell you who you are and to put you there or somewhere.

In self-definition you risk becoming yourself over time. Most people say they want to “be themselves” after they are married as though that were neither obvious nor normal. There is defensiveness to the “Be Myself” talk. Sometimes it shows up religiously and spiritually as well. We don’t have to blend or lose to marry beyond our cradle faith. Instead, we may be who we were and are and will be-while enjoying intimacy with a truly different person. Interfaith tends toward blend; multifaith turns toward self-definition, without the defensiveness. By the way, blend can be lovely too, especially if you and your partner choose so to do from the heart of themselves. Interfaith is as much a possibly chosen identity as multifaith.


Let me tell you a story. The couple involved a Palestinian refugee and a Jewish Princess. These are their words for themselves. They self-define in these ways. Her parents were divorced twice so she has a biological mother and father as well as two stepmothers and two stepfathers. His father is a non-observant Muslim, a secularized Palestinian dentist living in Detroit for thirty years. Nevertheless, this father is requiring that the bride convert to Islam so as not to embarrass the family at the wedding service. She has agreed. (We all bow all the time to all sorts of things, so please keep your holier-than-thou hat off.)


As we have struggled with the difficulty and hypocrisy of this requirement, we have had to ask the question of the First Commandment. The First Commandment for Jews and Christians is to love God above all. To what do we bow down if we are unbelievers or sort of believers or Jews whose fathers have the biggest Christmas tree in Westchester? We bow down to the God beyond God or the center that is deeper than the well. The groom in this situation tells his family that he will convert to Judaism if his father maintains the requirement that she convert to Islam. My two friends could have stopped their search for a spiritual home or something the far side of religious hypocrisy at any point. They could have said no to both of their homes because both of their homes had said no to them. Instead they said yes to both and showed me a way beyond the word “interfaith” to a better one, which is “multifaith.” Neither tossed their identity on the floor: instead, they found a good joke, that of mutual conversion, to begin the process they have now maintained in their marriage, of her being her kind of Jew and he being his kind of Palestinian.

Many people talk about interfaith marriage today as though it was the new normal. It’s not nor will it be until we change the language of faith. “Interfaith” is not something a marriage or a person can be. We are still in the twenty-first century and we have parochial homes. A cradle Christian doesn’t stop being a Christian because she marries a Jew nor vice versa. Self-definition is normal, possible, obvious-and intimately necessary.


“‘Interfaith’ is not something a marriage or a person can be,” the author writes. “We are still in the twenty-first century and we have parochial homes. A cradle Christian doesn’t stop being a Christian because she marries a Jew nor vice versa. Self-definition is normal, possible, obvious-and intimately necessary.” Credit: Creative commons/ Brian Johnson.


You can’t really stop being Irish or Mexican. It is hard to leave the Lutheran or Muslim in you behind. Plus, why would you? Multifaith marriages mean that both partners stay the same and become more, not that they blend into a mush. Interfaith describes the mush that marks the typical “Ecumenical Thanksgiving” service the night before the turkey. Everybody says a little something, and nobody says much that is memorable. People stay lavender to avoid the purple. Multifaith is to interfaith as paisley is to white. Multifaith means that we do more than blanch, that Jews do more than “tolerate” Muslims, and women do more than assume “that’s just the way men are.” We deepen into ourselves and our own identity as a way to deepen into others. We become not just open but also affirming about our religious identities. Multifaith means intimacy within great diversity, not just great diversity and not just great intimacy. People add more than they give up when it comes to the world of multifaith marriages.


Ah, what about the children? There is no worse curse for a child than a faded parent. The children will be fine if and only as the parents are religiously honest. The parents have more of a chance of reconciling with their own parents if they respect their multiple origins. The words “elder” and “ancestor” come to mind. Moreover, it is the “children” who will pioneer the new way, not the parents. They will go to colleges where “Spiritual Life Centers” have replaced chapels and they will know when to take their shoes off and when to put their crosses on. Things will change religiously and our multifaith offspring will make the changes. Never forget how important people thought it was that John Kennedy was a Catholic president or that Colin Powell wanted to know “So what if he is?” when people asked about Barack Obama being of Muslim heritage. Things do change.


Multifaith marriages will bring us to the place where some of our best friends are indeed Muslim, where we befriend our own sources, and become something our ancestors couldn’t recognize. Religions, cultures, and identities are always changing and marriages are frequently the front line of these changes.


Just look back at the enormous conversation around Catholic-Protestant marriages that people knew in the middle of this century. Many people reported telling their Protestant parents that they were marrying a Catholic and watching the parents faint. The same was true the other way around. Yes, my Jewish husband’s mother took to her bed for three days when he announced he was marrying me, a cradle Lutheran. She sat Shiva. But she also got up out of her bed and blessed us. Many Catholics report having to give up their parents for years to go forward with their love. Many Protestants report that the new Catholic in their family was not “accepted” for dozens of years. Remarkably, today we still notice a Catholic-Protestant union but don’t anticipate awful suffering for those joining together. There is a success to the multifaith marriage that we have observed in our own lives: people can worship separately and live separate spiritual lives and still be married. Simultaneously, it should be noted that many people who do the “multifaith” family pattern miss each other on Sunday mornings or Friday nights or during the High Holy Days or at the Christmas mass. Couples need to know how much diversity they want as well as how much self-definition.


While multifaith might be our destination culturally and spiritually, there are steps along the way. Some couples will suffer rejection. Others will fight for family blessings. Still others will decide to blend because they don’t like being apart religiously. Many Episcopalians will tell you they are there for the blend of Protestant and Catholic, as will many Unitarians and Buddhists talk about what happened when a Christian and a Jew came together in love. There is no right way to be a multifaith couple! Missing the mass for a lifetime is not a great objective for a “mixed” marriage. Nor is “nothing” the answer when couples clash about where to baptize the children. What matters is the intimacy of the self-definition – and the freedom to say who you are to someone else.


Donna Schaper has been Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church for five years. Her life goal is to animate spiritual capacity for public ministry. She imagines beauty and enchantment as God’s purpose and joins in the great stream of the enchanted as a life love.

Linking Energy Conservation and Faith Communities

by Peter Adriance, Huffington Post

The Power of Interfaith Collaboration

 I saw that the room was filled with every seat taken and a number of participants standing along the edges. It was a gathering sponsored by the White House office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, attended by more than 150 representatives of widely diverse faith groups and congregations from across the country. Their common interest? Energy savings. A dollar saved through energy conservation is a dollar that can be redirected toward more worthwhile ends – of which the various faiths have many.

I was there not only as an interested representative of the Bahá’ís of the United States, but also to lead off the day with a short reflection on the power of interfaith collaboration. I could see evidence of it in the room just by glancing around – colleagues from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Bahá’í traditions were there, along with several [IPL logo] representatives of important interfaith initiatives, such as Interfaith Power and Light (IPL), which is now in 39 states. So, perhaps my task was to “preach to the choir”!

A tornado in Oklahoma Photo: thefullwiki.orgJust a few years ago, this kind of gathering would not have taken place. The upsurge in interest in energy savings has not only been driven by a slow economy and scarce resources, but also an awareness of the reality of climate change and its moral implications. This latter issue gave the meeting an even greater sense of urgency for all in the room.

The ravages of climate change, brought on by the accumulation of greenhouse gas emissions, were brought into stark relief this summer for many here in the U.S. and around the world. The list of symptoms is all too familiar: record-breaking drought, flooding, wildfires, extreme weather events, melting of the Arctic icecap. If we didn’t feel these events directly we witnessed others facing these harsh realities. Such episodes are causing major disruptions to the lives and health of countless people and species around the globe.

So, even more than having an interest in energy conservation, those of us in the room were there with a common concern for justice. All faiths hold justice as a strong value. For me, a short passage from the Bahá’í Writings comes to mind:

O Son of Spirit! The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom … Ponder this in thy heart; how it behoveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes.

Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 36

By setting justice before our eyes, our energy conservation efforts take on an even greater purpose. The diverse faiths perceive climate change not only as a technical issue but also a moral one. The demand for justice on this issue is loud and clear. How can we, as U.S.-based faith groups, proclaim principles of stewardship and justice and at the same time produce per capita greenhouse gas emissions well beyond our fair share – especially knowing the impact they will have on the many who contributed little to the problem and are less able than we are to adapt to the resulting changes? The golden rule, common to all faiths, points to the hypocrisy in such an approach.

When several faith groups made visits to Congress last spring under the auspices of Interfaith Moral Action on Climate, the power of diverse faiths speaking with one voice on this issue became clear for me. The diversity of our delegations felt good and right. Such unified action, when it reaches a critical mass will be a game changer. It will show the power of interfaith collaboration.

How to Make a Difference

The Environmental Protection Agency’s EnergyStar for Congregations program offers an online tool for free, called “Portfolio Manager,” that congregations can use to track energy consumption in their places of worship and compare it to energy used in other similar facilities.

Buildings in the U.S. account for 17 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. There are 370,000 worship facilities in the country, most rather large buildings with some unique characteristics.

If all of these were to cut just 20 percent off their energy bills, according to EPA, they would save nearly $630 million and prevent more than 2.6 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions in the process. Typically, houses of worship that use Portfolio Manager have been cutting their energy use by 30 percent or more. During the meeting we heard from several who had successfully achieved this.

EPA has issued a three-part “Call to Action” to congregations across the country wanting to conserve energy: 1) start by benchmarking your facility’s energy use; 2) take steps that result in cutting your facility’s emissions by at least 20 percent; and 3) strive to qualify as an “EnergyStar Congregation” by earning at least 75 points on a scale of 100, set out by EPA. To date, 28 congregations have qualified for the latter distinction, and they were celebrated at the White House event.

Obviously, there’s plenty of room for more congregations to get on board.

If your congregation is among those working to reduce its energy consumption, bravo! If not, perhaps it is time to get in touch with EPA. Taking such steps on your own can make a difference. By acting collectively we can do so much more. That’s the power of interfaith collaboration!

 Jews, Muslims Volunteer on Christmas,
Give Christians a Break

Mitzvah Day is when hundreds of volunteers from metro Detroit pitch in to make Christmas a brighter day for their neighbors and community members. Organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council, Mitzvah Day started about 20 years ago, said co-chair Micki Grossman, of Farmington Hills. She said it started with the idea of volunteering around the community every month at places like nursing homes and hospitals. “Then someone came up with the idea that on Christmas Day, as Jewish people, we don’t have anything to do,” said Grossman, who has been co-chair of Mitzvah Day for six or seven years and before that a volunteer and site coordinator.

Mitzvah literally means commandment, so volunteers see this as a way to fulfill their obligation to the community. “We can go out into the community and assist so that people who do practice Christmas can get a few hours off,” she said.


Mitzvah Day started with 200 volunteers. This year’s group is at 800 with a wait list of over 80 people, Grossman said. “About three years ago we invited the Muslim community to participate, because they don’t celebrate Christmas either,” she said.

The Michigan Muslim Community Council, based in Royal Oak, and Zaman International, based in Dearborn, are partners in this. Zaman International provided wrapped gifts that will be distributed to children on Christmas, and volunteers from Plymouth-Canton Educational Park’s Muslim Student Association packed gifts in the weeks leading up to Mitzvah Day.


Mitzvah Day volunteers go all over southeast Michigan – Detroit, West Bloomfield, Oak Park, Pontiac, Farmington Hills, Southfield, Hamtramck, Plymouth Township and Dearborn Heights. Volunteers deliver toys to families, help package food with Gleaners Community Food Bank, serve food with Salvation Army, visit with senior citizens and much more.

Religious Leaders Gather for Interfaith Prayer Service for the Victims of Sandy Hook Elementary


Religious leaders gathered for an interfaith prayer service to pay tribute to the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary who were of different denominations.

Several different religious groups gathered at Groves High School in Beverly Hills for the event.


“This really reflects America. We’re a country of different faiths, different ethnicities and races. Interfaith and activities like this is where I think most of the healing will take place,” said Dr. Muzammil Ahmed with the Michigan Muslim Community Council (MMCC). The MMCC led the way in organizing the prayer services and helped bring everyone together.


“People really wanted to reach out and look for solace amongst for a higher authority and this is a great way to bring people together to remember an event like this,” said Dr. Ahmed.


People prayed for the families who had to attend funerals this week, especially for the families of those 20 children who were just 6 and 7 years old.


“These caskets have really been too small. It’s very troubling. I’m speechless. There’s really nothing to say when you see babies being buried,” said Rabbi Jason Miller with Kosher Michigan.


A school official who spoke during the services asked for more changes in school security. “We need to gather and reexamine what we are doing as a school district and to make recommended changes to ensure that our kids are that much safer,” said Dr. Daniel Nerad, Birmingham Schools Superintendent. He said the district has good security measures in place but they need better ones. Dr. Nerad said that he has been reviewing their districts policies and after the first of the year they will be working with law enforcement to present a new security plan to the schools.

Religious leaders also asked for people to change the way they treat others in society.


“People like this that commit such actions, extending their hands and harming other individuals are people that are not commonly accepted in their communities,” said Imam Mohammad Almasmari, MMCC Imams’ Council & Unity Center Mosque.

People then went outside to light candles and say prayers for those six adults and 20 children who will not be going home for the holidays.

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!