WISDOM Newsletter – July 2015

Written by WISDOM on . Posted in Newsletters

Calendar for WISDOM and Other Interfaith Events  

Tuesday, August 1110:30 – 11:30 AM

Five Women Five Journeys at the Senior Women’s Club, Birmingham Community House, 380 S. Bates, Birmingham


Thursday, Sept. 17

9:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Conference on End of Life issues across faith traditions

Henry Ford Hospital, Gilmour Conference Center, 

One Ford Place, Detroit

Sponsored by Henry Ford Hospital, and the InterFaith Leadership Council

Contact Nancy Combs for more information ncombs1@hfhs.org 


Sunday, October 18

3:30 PM – 5:30 PM 

Head Coverings Across the Faith Traditions

Sponsored by the InterFaith Leadership Council

A showing of “Hats of Jerusalem” documentary, followed by an interfaith panel

St. John’s Episcopal Church, 26998 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak

$10.00 charge

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

Sunday, October 25

4:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Five Women Five Journeys at the Unity of Royal Oak Church

2500 Crooks Rd., Royal Oak


Article from the Detroit News on June 22nd, 2015



Services at Greater New Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church were slightly different Sunday. There were the usual potted lilies decorating the pulpit area where a white-robed choir sweetly sang “Faith of Our Fathers” and smiling church members welcomed hundreds of friends, neighbors and, on this Sunday – some complete strangers to the services. The mood was celebratory, in the spirit of love and worship, but also somber, in the remembrance of a tragedy in South Carolina four days earlier when nine members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church were slain by gunman Dylann Roof, 21. Authorities have called the shooting a hate crime and are investigating whether a racist screed posted on the Internet was written by Roof. Joining in prayers at Mount Moriah were Rabbi Mark Miller and several dozen members of his Temple Beth El of Bloomfield Hills, who traveled to the Detroit church, founded in 1925, to show their support.

On Friday, the Rev. Kenneth James Flowers of Mount Moriah and several members of his congregation took part in Sabbath services at Temple Beth El, the oldest Jewish congregation in Detroit.


“We stand together in solidarity,” Flowers said, as he and the rabbi exchanged hugs several times during the service. Miller, accompanied by his wife and sons, said his family had given him the “greatest Father’s Day gift” by attending the Sunday service with him. From the pulpit the rabbi described the Charleston shooting as an act of “anger, bigotry and evil” by a young man who felt he had acted in the name of God. “Not my God,” he said, adding that the shooter “grew up with stories and images which twisted him.” “The world is filled with people dividing us, telling us we are different,” he said from the pulpit. “But this church and my synagogue are becoming united over this (event) and showing each other how much we are the same.” At one point, the rabbi quoted from the New Testament: “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer. …” “I don’t often quote from the New Testament,” he said. “But that’s a pretty good one.”


Flowers said he expects various religious groups to “strategize” over the tragedy and help make “Detroit, Michigan and the world a better place.” Jerry and Vivian Cole, two Temple Beth El members, said they felt it was important to visit Mount Moriah on Sunday. “Some of them came to our synagogue on Friday and we reciprocated,” said Jerry Cole. “My wife marched in Selma, Alabama, in the ’60s and we wanted to be here today.” “There are always going to be haters,” said Vivian Cole. “Unfortunately, we live at a time where guns are available and being used as weapons by people for various reasons. The times are more complex and there are people who feel they can do whatever they want.”


In the wake of rising hate crimes reported nationwide, Flowers said, bridging differences through an interfaith exchange is even more significant. “There is a group of us that will not (let) bitterness divide us or come between us. And we will stand together, we will fight together and pray together.”

Temple Israel Sisterhood and Hartford Women United

Come Together Again for a Potluck and Social Action

Temple Israel Sisterhood and Hartford Women United came together again on Thursday evening June 4th at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church for another delicious potluck, getting to know one another, and a fleece blanket tying event.  We were able to put together 12 blankets that will be donated to Alternatives For Girls in Detroit, an agency that helps homeless and high-risk girls and young women. About 50 women showed up for this event, and a great time was had by all!  Our next event will be an interfaith tour of the Charles H. Wright African American History Museum on Sunday, July 26 between 3:00 and 4:30 PM.  We are all looking forward to spending more time together!


From left to right the organizers of this wonderful event:

Linda Mickelson, Janet Gilyard, and Gail Katz

Why I, a Christian mother of a Muslim daughter, 
fear our nation’s Islamophobia

People stare as we tell our daughter Alana goodbye at the John Wayne Airport in California. Alana is a Muslim, and her head scarf turns heads every time.

Alana laughs to lighten the moment. “Oh, I hate airports,” she whispers to me. “As soon as I get on a plane, I know what people are saying, “Oh, God. A Muslim!”

The day before in the Nashville Airport, she got a full patdown by a TSA agent who asked to check her makeup bag, then said it tested positive for explosives.

“Explosives?” she asked.

Her old tote bag, an Eddie Bauer standby, was filled with a haul of new MAC cosmetics she’d recently purchased. Lipstick alert?

“He even swabbed my hands,” Alana says, still trying to laugh.

But her eyes look wounded, so I hurt for her and for the 1 billion-plus Muslims in the world who do not carry explosives in their makeup bags and never will.

I ache for the rest of us as our nation has become infatuated by fear of Muslims.

My Jim Crow childhood taught me about fear of “the other.” Growing up black in Colorado and drawing stares and glares, I struggled with my black friends to fight with every tool the suspicion and shunning that marked our lives – even if our tools (humor, anger, denial) didn’t work.

With my daughter, however, I want something to work.

We are a nation divided, of course, and always have been. Racially, as a result, we’ve turned paranoid, and mixing faith into our divide makes us vicious.

A cartoon contest for caricatures of Muhammad? The heart of the context is not about art or free speech. It stems from fear.

Traveling to Nashville recently, I did a miserable double-take myself when a young Muslim family came through the jet door and squeezed down the too-small aisle. The young mom, with head draped in a long hijab, finally wrestled her two small children into their seats – knowing, I’m sure, that almost every pair of eyes in the plane was trained on their movements.

We are hard-wired, apparently, to distrust difference, even when we know better. Faith differences threaten to turn us into paranoid and hateful beings. While our better angels tell us to calm down – to give folks the benefit of the doubt – the devil in our heads cries lipstick alert. In Garland, Tex., a cartoon-drawing event became a sorrowing excuse to trash others’ belief yet again.

So, what will we do?

I’ve been asking that question since 2001, when Alana called from college to say she had left the teachings and doctrines of her childhood Christian faith to become a Muslim.

“A what?”

That’s what my aging, widowed mother said when I told her Alana had converted to Islam. “A Muslim?” She struggled to say the word, wondering how our small family would bear two faiths under one roof.

In fact, we struggle. Navigating our divide has tested every Christian principle of love I ever learned: No judgment. No fear. No hypocrisy.

How did Jesus put it when a distrusting crowd set to stone a suspected adulterer? Sure, stone her – if you haven’t sinned yourself. “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her,” he said.

Then he knelt to write in the sand, listing, as some theologians say, the many sins of the men ready to hurl rocks and condemnation.

Some have made their living drumming up Islamophobia. They have forgotten what Jesus knew. It’s far easier to suspect and hate others than do real service in the world, plus take a hard look at ourselves.

Someone asked me recently if I had put down my Bible long enough to read my daughter’s Qur’an? I have. But, in truth, I haven’t read all of it. My bigger failure, though, for many years was thinking she wasn’t worthy of the trouble to pick up what she considered her sacred text. And I’m her mother. If differences in our faith bring out the worst in a mom, what chance is there for the rest of us?

How do we fight our fears, suspicions and worry for our current impasse? Love provides a powerful antidote. I spent too many years after my daughter’s conversion pointing fingers at her, not at myself – a true waste of God’s time.

To love isn’t complicated theology, but it is courageous. Theologian and civil rights leader Howard Thurman explained that to love is “to make one’s heart a swinging door.” Love focuses on both giving and receiving.

Terrorism can’t stand the onslaught of such radical courage.


Patricia Raybon is an award-winning author and essayist. Her newest book, co-authored with daughter Alana Raybon, is “Undivided: A Muslim Daughter, Her Christian Mother, Their Path to Peace.”


Groundbreaking ceremony held for mosque that will become part of Omaha interfaith campus

A groundbreaking ceremony was held this week for a planned mosque that will become part of Omaha interfaith campus, including Christians, Jews and Muslims. More than a dozen local Muslim children grabbed shovels and dug into the ground Thursday to mark the forthcoming construction of the mosque, expected to open in late 2016 or early 2017, the Omaha World-Herald (http://bit.ly/1IOW51k) reported.

“This project captures the best of America,” said Dalia Mogahed, who spoke at the ceremony and praised efforts to have the three faiths represented at the 35-acre site. She’s the former executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies. “Appropriately it is in the heart of the country, Omaha.”

Plans for a Christian presence took shape last month when members of Countryside Community Church voted to relocate there. The church’s pastor said they already have more than $16 million in financial commitments toward construction, which is at least a year away. The first piece of the interfaith campus came when Temple Israel moved into its new synagogue there in 2013.

The mosque will serve as an institute for Muslim prayer, learning and fellowship, and nearly all funding has been raised to build it. The mosque project was estimated to be around $6.2 million to $6.5 million. A fourth building planned for the site will serve as a shared center and provide, social, educational and conference space.

The Muslim Girls at Kolkata’s Jewish School
                                       May 26, 2015 | By Ilana Sichel



“I wake up in the morning and take the name of Allah, go off to sleep after reciting some suras, after namaz and all. I believe no matter what happens Allah will be with me wherever I go.” What? Doesn’t sound like the words of a student at a Jewish school?


Welcome to Kolkata, India, whose Jewish Girls School has served exclusively non-Jewish students since the 1970s, and whose three synagogues are tended by a dynasty of Muslim caretakers.



“We grew up with that so it’s nothing strange to us,” says community member Flower Silliman in The Last Jews of Kolkata, a wonderful short video by Audrey Gordon and Ben Hoffman on Al Jazeera English. “It may sound very strange to people from other parts of the world but it’s never been otherwise so it’s not at all strange.”


In a city of 15 million people but only 20 remaining Jews, for principal Aline Cohen, the non-Jewish composition of the school “is a source of great pride. I feel it is something we have accomplished to have developed that level of trust with the Muslim community…because daughters are always considered as needing to be protected and to be sheltered, so that they entrust with their daughters is an achievement for us.”


Muslims And Jews Spent A Day Of Prayer Together 
And The Result Was Beautiful (VIDEO)

On a quiet California morning in May, a group of Jews and Muslims came together on a Los Angeles beach to pray. 

The worshippers laid out prayer mats and the sounds of their chanting, in both Hebrew and Arabic, mingled with the crashing of the waves.

“We were just so surprised that we could do this together and it’s very similar,” said participant Maryam Saleemi. “It was kind of like an ‘Aha Moment’ that we’re praying to the same God, why aren’t we doing this all the time together?”

The day of joint prayer was part of an initiative called Two Faiths One Prayer, which guided the group of 20 Muslims and Jews to five different public spaces across the city on May 3. The group traveled together on public transportation and had plenty of opportunities to find common ground.

At Los Angeles’ City Hall, the group was joined by about 60 to 70 others for an extraordinary joint prayer session. It was followed by a dinner where Muslims recited their nighttime prayer, or Isha, and Jews recited liturgical poetry, called Piyyutim.

The event was organized by fellows from New Ground, an interfaith organization that focuses on strengthening the bonds between Muslims and Jews.

Tuli Skaist, a New Ground Fellow, said that sharing a prayer space with his Muslim friends actually enhanced his own experience. He hopes to plan more events like this in the future.

“We really hope this is just the beginning,” Skaist told HuffPost. “And that people will do it on their own, take inspiration from this, and start praying with each other. It doesn’t only have to be within the context of an organized event.”



 An interfaith service was held at a cemetery in the Boston area after a Holocaust memorial was desecrated with pieces of raw pork.

Hundreds attended the service held on Friday at the Pride of Lynn Cemetery in Lynn, Massachusetts, located about 12 miles from Boston, the Boston Globe reported.

Earlier in the week, five chunks of raw pork were found on the stone base of the monument, which was dedicated in 1948 in memory of those killed in the Holocaust.

The incident is being investigated as a hate crime by Lynn police, according to the Globe.

“We stand united against all forms of evil,” said Rabbi Yossi Lipsker of Chabad Lubavitch of the North Shore, who organized the ceremony, billed as a reconsecrating of the memorial. “We gather here, Jews, Christians, Muslims and people of all faiths.”

Both rabbis and Christian clergy offered prayers at the ceremony, where six candles were lit to represent the six million Jews killed during the Holocaust.

Hundreds Gather at Interfaith Rally at

 Islamic Community Center in Phoenix

Hundreds of people attended an interfaith rally at a mosque in Phoenix on Monday evening, three days after activists staged a controversial “Draw Muhammad” contest outside the center.

Monday’s rally at the Islamic Community Center drew just one protester, who yelled at people who had gathered as the mosque in support of Muslims,according to NBC affiliate KPNX.

Bill Schweers, an attendee of the “Love Is Stronger Than Hate Rally,” said the protester had the right to say hateful words, “but I have a right to turn a blind ear to him too.”

Many participants came with flowers to leave at the mosque as a symbol of peace. Some wore shirts that read: “Prays well with others.”

At least 20 organizations took part in the rally, according to its organizer, the Arizona Faith Network.

“We are so glad that everyone is willing and ready to share a message of love with our Muslim brothers and sisters who have received multiple messages of hate recently and let them know that they are a valued member of the community, too,” the organization.

Amar Mustafa, a Muslim attendee, said the gathering was encouraging. “I saw the community and the level of love around me, and it inspired me,” he said.

Common Bridge: Headwrap expo
 brings diverse people together
By Susan Tawil (Jewish News)
What’s a nice Jewish girl like me doing in a convention center in Dearborn with hundreds of Muslims, Sikhs, native Africans and black Baptists? I was at the Headwrap Expo May 17th at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center, and the experience was interesting and surprisingly heartwarming.
As an Orthodox Jew, I began covering my hair when I married. Halachah (Jewish law) doesn’t mandate how we cover our hair, just that we do so; so through the years, I’ve worn hats, berets, bandanas, tichels (the Jewish version of a doo-rag) and or course, sheitels (wigs).
I was recently won over to headwrapping and find it a more enjoyable, creative way to observe the mitzvah (commandment).  It takes a bit of chutzpah (nerve) to wrap, though.  Unlike wearing a wig and “blending in,” a headwrap sends an obvious message that I’m religiously or ethnically different from the mainstream. But I’m OK with that. It’s an attitude thing, really, and when I wrap my hair I feel regal, proud to observe our mitzvot.  So when I heard about the Headwrap Expo, I was intrigued.  Wouldn’t it be a kick to spend the day among an array of women from other cultures who also wrap their hair?
This was the third Headwrap Expo in Detroit, and more than 500 people (mostly women) attended. The event featured an ongoing marketplace of vendors selling scarves and textiles, ethnic clothing and accessories, cosmetics and jewelry.  It was all rather exotic. On a central stage, panel discussions alternated with headwrap demonstrations and “modest” fashion shows by local designers. What struck me was the level of friendliness and sisterhood among participants.  Smiling faces were everywhere, and there seemed to be genuine interest and connection with each other.
Zarinah El-Amin Naeem, founder and organizer of the event, is a native Detroiter, a Muslim and anthropologist. “there is so much religious and cultural illiteracy,” she said. “This ignorance can lead to hate and fear.” Her goal is to “create a global culture of love,” and she decided to use the headwrap as the “connector” to “build love and understanding between various ethnic and religious groups.’
I was happy the event was blessedly apolitical.  Once that element of divisiveness is out of the way, there is freedom to appreciate our diversity in an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual respect. So I felt totally comfortable speaking to some members of the Nation of Islam (follwers of notorious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan), and I admired their dignity and deep commitment to their faith.
I met Rhab Alsaidi, a lovely young Muslim woman from Dearborn. We spoke together about hos it felt to cover our hair in our secular society, and I loved her attitude. She told me she views her hijab as “a crown on my head…a sign of strength, dignity and honor.” She said she wears it “Loud and proud, as a sign of guidance and light for those around me.”  I marveled at how easily women can connect as I shmoozed with Muqitah, a sweet Muslim woman in her 60’s, while we watched a fashion show and listened to an interfaith panel on wrapping.  We were totally on the same wavelength, despite our seeming differences. “It’s good to see how much we have in common,” she said.  Inderpal Singh, a turban wearing Sikh gentleman (a monotheistic Indian religion) summed it up: “We are all created by one God: we need to love each other.”

126 gods adorn new 65-foot
 Hindu temple in Flint Township


There are gods here.

Exactly 126 of them. Cast permanently in concrete in a new, 65-foot temple and staring out in four directions.

Completion of the new temple at Paschima Kasi Sri Viswanatha Temple in Flint Township happened in January. The construction of the temple, which sits outside the main worship area, completes the years-long vision for the property, said Hanuman Marur, president of the temple. Construction of the temple took more than a year.

Temples are sacred and important structures in Hinduism, and the new temple is similar to the type found in India, Marur said.

“When people come here, they should get a feeling of a temple,” he said. The temple will be used for special worship occasions and ceremonies. The main worship area will continue to be in the original temple building. The new building is made of concrete and white limestone block. The roughly half-million dollar structure was funded by contributions from dozens of donors. The Paschima Kasi Sri Viswanatha Temple is the only Hindu Temple in Genesee County and one of more than a dozen in Michigan, with several in the metro Detroit region. About 7,000 of the white limestone blocks were shipped from Canada. Set into the towering structure are the carvings of the gods. In Hinduism, God may be represented as one of many different forms, called deities. The 126 gods represented on the new temple were sculpted out of white concrete by two craftsmen from India who spent more than a year living at the temple and working on it. “The temple is God’s home,” Marur said. Directly east of the temple are two life-sized white-concrete sculptures of elephants, a sacred animal in the religion.

Marur said he hopes others come see the new temple and share in its beauty. Anyone in the community — even those not familiar with the Hindu faith — can schedule a visit, he said. To contact the temple, call 801-733-5790.

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!