WISDOM Newsletter – January 2014

Written by WISDOM on . Posted in Newsletters



In this issue
WISDOM Calendar
The World Sabbatyh
MIXED Coming to Marygrove College
Birth and Coming of Age Across the Faith Traditions
Social Action Coming Together
A Muslim Jewish Dialogue
A House of Worship’s Superstructure
Reflections on Mandela
Thoughts from Deb Hansen, an Interfaith chaplaiin
Heroes, A Guiding Light
Five Women Five Journeys
Friendship and Faith


Calendar for WISDOM and Other Interfaith Events



Thursday, January 23rd

Face to Faith high school teen event

6:00 – 9:00 PM

SGI-USA Soka Gakkai Buddhist International Association for Peace,

Culture, and Education, 16990 West Twelve Mile Road, Southfield

Contact Gail Katz, gailkatz@comcast.net


Sunday, January 26th

The 15th Annual World Sabbath

See flyers below!!


Thursday, February 13th

Besa: The Promise

A film about how Albanian Muslims helped to save the lives of Jews during the Holocaust.

Holocaust Memorial Center

28123 Orchard Lake Road

Farmington Hills, MI 48334

7:00 PM

For More information Contact

Sheri Schiff at sheritschiff@gmail.com


Friday, February 28th

MIXED at Marygrove College

See Flyer Below!


Saturday, March 8th

Women’s International Day at IONA Mosque in Warren

Details to be announced


Sunday, March 9th

Interfaith Leadership Council

Life Cycles Across the Faith Traditions

Birth and Coming of Age

See Flyer Below


Thursday, March 20th

6:00 – 9:00 PM

Face to Faith high school teen event

Birmingham Unitarian Church

38651 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills, MI




Coming to Marygrove College

Friday, February 28th!!



“MIXED” is a play that confronts issues of Diversity, Inclusion, Identity and Anti -Racism, often times from the unique perspective of bi racial and multi-ethnic characters. There is also an historical plot line woven into the play that tells the story of three generations of African American Women in the post Civil War South.   It’s original, entertaining, educational, & thought provoking. There will be a talk- back with the audience after the show.  Performance time runs 90 minutes.


Marygrove College Theatre  February 28, 2014   8:00pm

Tickets $10 and $5 for Students & Seniors

To Purchase Tickets please contact

Jennifer George



Our Generous Sponsors:









“Birth and Coming of Age

Across the Faith Traditions”

A panel discussion sharing and comparing

 Religious Rituals and Practices

Our interfaith panel will include:

Jewish: Professor Howard Lupovitch, Director of the Cohn-Haddow Center for Judaic Studies

Muslim: Najah Bazzy, Transcultural Nurse and Clinical Specialist

The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints:

 Ed Barberis, Former Bishop

Hindu: Padma Kuppa, Board member of the Hindu American Foundation

Roman Catholic: Brother Al Mascia, Song and Spirit Institute for Peace

Sunday, March 9 3:30 PM – 6:00 PM

St. John’s Episcopal Church

26998 Woodward Avenue, Royal Oak, MI 48067

(corner of Woodward & 11 Mile Road)

Cost $10 per person.  Light refreshments available.

To register, please visit the IFLC website www.detroitinterfaithcouncil.com and click on the “Event Registration” button on the right side-bar. The $10.00 registration fee can be sent electronically via PayPal through the link at the bottom of the registration form or you can mail a check to: The Interfaith Leadership Council, 10821 Capital St., Oak Park, MI 48237.  Questions?  Contact the Rev. Bob Hart at 248-546-1255. You can also pay at the door!! This discussion is the third part of a series about life cycle events across faith traditions.


The InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit is pleased to host the 26th Annual NAIN Connect Conference: Bridging Borders and Boundaries.
The conference will be held on the Wayne State University campus: Sunday August 10 – Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Tentative Programming Schedule: Detroit as a model of interfaith dialogue, best practices in interfaith work and organizing, and much more to come!  Stay tuned, and mark your calendars!

A Social Action “Coming Together” of Chaldeans and

Jews at the Holocaust Memorial Center

By Gail Katz


On Wednesday evening, December 4th about 80 Jews and Chaldeans gathered at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills to further an understanding of the history of our two communities.  Stephen Goldman, Director of the Holocaust Memorial Center, welcomed our group, and then Rabbi Josh Bennett from Temple Israel spoke to everyone about the importance of social action.  As this evening was the last night of Chanukah, Rabbi Bennett talked about the history of this Jewish holiday – how the Maccabees fought against the Syrian Greeks to reclaim their land and their faith, and how the holy oil in the Temple, supposed to last only one day, lasted for eight.


Our Jewish Chaldean social action initiative was compared to that of the Maccabee’s – that we must take action when there are problems in the world.  Rabbi Bennett then lit the Chanukah candles and explained the Hebrew blessings.  Then Ellen Yashinsky-Chute, from the Jewish Family Service in West Bloomfield, and Sharon Hannawa from the Chaldean Community Foundation in Sterling Heights, each gave an update on the needs of their community.  Ellen mentioned the Adopt-a-Family initiative – where folks in the Jewish community can buy Chanukah gifts for needy families.  She mentioned the lack of affordable housing and how many people in their 50’s are unemployed and unable to find work.  Sharon talked about the 13,000 people who have received assistance this year – 30% of whom are new refugees from Iraq. Our group of 80 attendees then split up into two groups to take an hour tour of the Holocaust Memorial Center.  Linda Brodsky and Mike Liebowitz were the tour guides for this evening. The tour took our participants to the eternal flame representing the Yahrzeit (memorial) candle for the over six million Jewish people killed by Hitler.  Near this flame was a listing of a few of the thousands of concentration camps. Our guides underscored the three kinds of people involved in the Holocaust – the perpetrators, the victims, and the bystanders (those who did nothing and did not speak out)!  We viewed an actual cattle car from Germany that had transported Jews to concentration camps. Nearby were representations of the life cycles of the Jewish people from birth to death.  We viewed the shtetl of David Horodok, a Polish Jewish village where all of the Jews were murdered. We learned that not only 6 million Jewish people were killed, by millions of homosexuals, gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, mentally ill and handicapped people were slaughtered.  We saw representations of the Jewish stars that Jews were forced to wear after 1938.

Following the tour of the Holocaust Center, we returned to the auditorium, enjoyed some dessert and coffee, and then Jews and Chaldeans together sat around tables to discuss pointed questions. Some of the questions discussed had to do with the most important lessons learned from the Holocaust Center, what Jews and Chaldeans share when it comes to the experience of stereotypes and prejudice that can lead to violence, and what we can do together to further peace and understanding in our Metro Detroit Community.  Our evening ended with New Year’s wishes from Gail Katz, Co-Chair of this social action initiative, and with the collection of new and gently used winter clothing given to the needy families in both our communities.  Our Jewish Chaldean Social Action Committee will be planning another social action event some time in 2014!

Members of the Chaldean Community Foundation

sort the winter clothing collected for the

needy refugee families coming to Sterling Heights

from Iraq!


A Muslim-Jewish Dialogue
for Women and Girls

On Saturday, November 16, 2013, over fifty Muslim and Jewish women gathered together for a morning of prayer, conversation, and a shared meal. Part of an international weekend of Muslim-Jewish twinning sponsored by the Foundation for Mutual Understanding, the South Bay Muslim-Jewish Dialogue for Women and Girls began with the traditional Saturday Shabbat prayer service led by Rabbi Melanie Aron. As a part of the service, ING presenter Sr. Humaira Hai was invited to speak. She began with a beautiful recitation of verses of the Quran and then spoke about the Islamic values of forgiveness and gratitude. Lunch followed, and presentations on “Exemplary Women in Islam and Judaism” by ING founder Maha Elgenaidi and Rabbi Melanie. Inspired by the presentations, the participants engaged in lively table discussions about powerful women from each tradition, which were then reported back to the group.
The event was so well received by women from both communities that we hope to organize more of these events in the future. Thanks to all those who participated and presented.

Shaista Ali, ING Trustee
Rabbi Melanie Aron, Congregation Shir Hadash

In Santiago, work commences on

House of Worship’s superstructure


SANTIAGO, Chile – Significant progress is being made in the construction of the Baha’i House of Worship here, the final one to be erected to serve an entire continent. Work has been completed on a complex three-storey structure and underground service tunnel, requiring more than 2,000 cubic metres of concrete and 190 tonnes of reinforced steel. Now the next major phase of the project – the erection of the Temple’s distinctive superstructure – has commenced.

The recent developments were announced in a letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated 26 November.

“We are delighted to share news of the progress on the construction of the continental House of Worship for South America rising in the foothills of the Andes in Chile,” the Universal House of Justice wrote.

The 30-metre high superstructure will include an exterior envelope made of cast-glass pieces that will be mounted on some 3,200 aluminium frames, as well as more than 8,000 robotically milled panels of translucent stone which will clad the Temple’s interior. They are being fabricated in several facilities in Europe and the Americas and shipped to Chile for assembly and installation by a small team of engineers now working on-site together with local contractors, staff, and volunteers. When completed, the edifice in Santiago will be the eighth in a series of continental Baha’i Houses of Worship-distinctive buildings, open to everyone-established to integrate worship with service. An integral concept of each Baha’i House of Worship is that it is a place of prayer and meditation as well as a spiritual center around which agencies and institutions of social, humanitarian, and educational service will emerge to serve the surrounding population.


MADIBA NO MORE  1918 – 2013
Reflections from Imam Mujahid
Chair of the Parliament Board

We all knew of Nelson Mandela’s state and his age. Yet, his death is still a tremendous loss to all of us who learned to struggle against all odds from the man who put his trust in the humanity of his oppressors, the leaders of South Africa’s apartheid system. He wrote a new chapter on the power of dialogue which he, a helpless prisoner, initiated with his powerful captors. And he did all of this without losing his dignity, without compromising his principles, and without being intimidated by the power of the apartheid regime. It was because of the power of his non-violent struggle, as well as his compassion toward those who took almost all of his youth from him, that I went to South Africa, despite all odds, to attend the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1999. It was my way of celebrating the power of peaceful struggle. Mandela may not be big on religion, but he sure was high on the ideals of humanity. That is where I made my personal commitment to the interfaith movement, which believes in and promotes the power of dialogue and human relationships.


I had the honor of meeting one of Nelson Mandela’s “comrades”, Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada, at the Radio Islam studio in Chicago. He was among those imprisoned at Robben Island along with Mandela. It was after talking with him that I learned how Mandela transformed the life of this young rebel into positive energy for change.  In today’s world, where hate is rising, the people of love and humanity, those of faith and the “nones”, need to rise as a force for positive human relationships.  In a world where one-third of humanity is obese while another third sleeps hungry, let’s share more and consume less.

Let us remember together as we mourn together, that “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbor what you love for yourself.” Long Live Madiba!


30th Annual School of the Americas

Watch Vigil at Fort Benning, Georgia

Rev. Debra Hansen,

Interfaith Minister


There are many ways spirituality and religion can be put in practice:  devotion, prayer, good works, and what I would call sacred activism or non-violent direct action offered from a place of love.  The latter is what the  School of the Americas vigil is all about.


“One quiet Georgia night, thirty years ago, [Vietnam veteran] Father Roy Bourgeois donned a used military uniform emblazoned with the name, Romero and – in the company of Linda Ventimiglia, and the late Father Larry Rosebaugh – he scaled a pinetree.


Out of the treetops in the darkness came the clear voice of El Salvador’s beloved Archbishop Oscar Romero, calling on Salvadoran soldiers to disobey their military commanders, lay down their arms, and stop killing their sisters and brothers.  Father Roy had pressed the play button of a boom box tied up in the trees.  It was a recording of Romero’s last homily, the day before he was murdered.  Those below the trees immediately recognized that distinctive voice.  They were Salvadoran troops training in barracks in that pine forest at Fort Benning.


The three activists were sentenced to 15-18 months in jail, but that concrete action of civil disobedience, launched a massive grassroots movement to resist U.S. militarization in Latin America.  Thousands of activists have continued to carry forth this struggle, together with activists throughout Latin America.”


I had been interested in participating in the vigil for a number of years.  SOA is now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINEC).   When I learned that the UAW sponsors 2 buses and that anyone can ride along, I decided that this was the year.  On the bus, among others, were a group of students from Alma College, their professor, and twelve member of Ann Arbor’s Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice www.icpj.net.


On Saturday after a long night on the bus, we went to the gates of the Fort to hear a few speeches, enjoy some music, and engage with those who had tables of information sponsored by a variety of religious and other interests:  Inter-Religious Task Force on Central America, Quakers, Presbyterians, Indigenous Peoples, Veterans for Peace, etc.  Then we arrived for the kickoff at the Convention Center, a beautifully converted ironworks, in Columbus.  There was barely time to get a meal!  In the evening, there were a variety of elective sessions and an inclusive and well-attended Catholic liturgy.  Because Catholicism is the primary religion of Central and South America, it wasn’t surprising that many groups of nuns and priests come annually to the vigil.   But repression knows no religious bounds.  One of the break-out sessions focused on the legacy of Jacobo Timerman, a Jewish-Argentine publisher, editor, writer, and advocate for human rights and the history of Jewish activism in the Western Hemisphere.  Timerman was tortured by the SOA-trained Junta in 1977.    Another presentation sponsored by the Postcolonial Theology Network joined activism with scholarship


The vigil itself took place on Sunday morning.  Small white wooden crosses made from paint stirrers were scattered along the median for participants to take and decorate.  Many brought painted crosses from home with photos of colleagues and friends who died in violence tied to the Army’s School of the Americas.  The program began with a veterans’ cadence, followed by Buddhist drumming, music from a variety of cultures, and an Indigenous blessing with incense opened the directions.  We all sang the beautiful songs of courage and heart:  “No Mas, No More.  We must stop this dirty war.  Compagneros, compagneras, we cry out.  No Mas, No More.”  Then after a moment of silence, a female voice began to chant the names of the martyrs, one by one, like pearls on a necklace.  After each name, we raised our crosses, bearing witness to the spirit of each individual and affirming “presente.”  We began to walk, a solemn funeral procession, as the names continued to be chanted.  A young woman behind me began to sob.  I moved beside her and put a hand on her back.  The list of names seemed endless.  A child.  A father of seven.  A pregnant woman.  It went on and on.  The procession circled the space twice before approaching the gates to the military compound.  Crosses, flowers, photos, and other objects were placed on the fence and atop the barbed wire.  A young man sat in meditation and was soon joined by many others.  The faces showed how deeply moved the participants were.


After the objects were placed on the fence, small containers of bubbles were distributed.  A light breeze carried the iridescent globes of hope for a change of heart over and through the fence.  The vigil then moved back to the area in front of the stage for a sort of morality play where life was simple and beautiful until dark forces of the love of money, power, and security threatened to destroy culture and life itself.  After a “fierce” struggle, life prevailed.  We hope the School of the Americas will soon be closed forever as we work toward a revolution of values.


There was time to say good-bye to friends and queue up for some homemade food before boarding the bus for the long ride home.  The helicopter that had been circling the peaceful gathering most of the time, moved directly overhead, buzzing the crowd for the second time that day.  Merchandise and papers were scattered from the display tables.  The vendor’s crockery shattered on the pavement.  Our eyes stung with sand.  Someone’s idea of fun?  A display of force?


My faith compels me to take the country I love to task, holding her accountable to the high standards of integrity and values she was founded on.  I appreciated this opportunity to stand together as one with many others of faith in the spirit of peace and justice for all.


Heroes, A Guiding Light
By Judy Trautman
NAIN (North American Interfaith Network)

There is nothing I can say that is new or enlightening about the death and life of Nelson Mandela.  His passing serves as an opportunity to share his legacy with the young who may not know of his exemplary life.  It is also a reminder to us all that the appropriate way to honor his life is to in some way follow his example.

We need heroes.  Too often our pop culture exalts and rewards very inappropriate examples of human behavior.  We need heroes to show us a better way to be fully human.

In October, many celebrated the birthday of Gandhi.  In January, we in the US will celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  We are now remembering the life of Mandiba Mandela.  These heroes faced injustice courageously and forged the principles of non-violent resistance.  They pass on a legacy of milestones of success in a battle for justice that is not completely won.  December 10 was Human Rights Day, a reminder that we still have a long way to go in championing human rights.

We recently celebrated, with our Hindi, Jain and Sikh friends, Diwali, the Festival of Lights and the triumph of good over evil.  In a rare confluence of dates, we celebrated Hanukkah, also a Festival of Lights, with our Jewish friends.  We are now in the midst of Christmas celebrated by Christians with many lights on their houses and Christmas trees.

Unfortunately the meaning of Christmas has been vulgarized by crass commercialism.  I hope that those of us who observe the holiday, either as a personal religious observance, a family tradition, or in solidarity with our Christian friends, can look beyond the commercialism.  We are far from the Peace on Earth proclaimed in the Carols.  But it is a beautiful vision worth working for.  The birth of the Child represented a great Hope. The adult Teacher Jesus did not triumph over the political injustices of his time.  He instead gave us very difficult lessons about personal right relationships.  He taught that we should have love and compassion for all others, not just those with whom we are comfortable.  He taught compassion for sinners, lepers, prisoners, the poor – and even our enemies.

I pray that the Light of our genuine Heroes will shine in our lives and our actions.  Peace on Earth will only come when it comes to each of our hearts.

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 .

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!