WISDOM Newsletter – March 2012

Written by WISDOM on . Posted in Newsletters


MARCH 2012



In this issue
Calendar of Events
Face to Faith event
WISDOM Interfaith Seder
Dr. Amy-Jill Levine Lectures
Article by Rabbi Brad Hirschfield
Interfaith Unity at the Sikh Gurdwara
The 2012 World Sabbath
An Unorthodox Shiva Minyan
Christ Church Gross Pointe lecture series
Miss Representation Documentary
Religion Conflict and Peace Conference

Thursday, March 15

Five Women Five Journeys Presentation at Albion College, Albion, MI. Contact the Rev. Daniel McQuown, College Chaplain, 517-629-0492.

Thursday, March 15

See Face to Faith flyer below

Thursday, March 29

Interfaith Seder at Temple Beth El – See flyer below!!

Thursday, March 29

7:30 PM, Dr. Amy-Jill Levine lectures on “Jesus and Judaism: The Connection Still Matters” at U of D Mercy.  See flyer below

Friday, March 30

10:00 AM, Dr. Amy-Jill Levine lectures on “Understanding Jesus Means Understanding Judaism” at St. John’s Episcopal Church.  See flyer below.

Sunday, April 15

Miss Representation – A documentary film about challenging the media’s limiting protrayals of women and girls, and empowering women to take an equal seat at every table.  The goal of the Miss Representation movement is to spark millions of small actions that ultimately lead to a cross-generational movement to eradicate gender stereotypes and create lasting cultural and sociological change.  Sponsored by the Jewish Women’s Foundation and supported by WISDOM among others.  3-6 PM at the Sleigman Performing Arts Center, Detroit Country Day School, 22305 W. 13 Mile Rd. Beverly Hills, MI.  See Flyer Below!!

Wednesday, April 18

 Five Women Five Journeys at the Mercy Education Project, Detroit, 10:00 AM – 11:15 AM

Sunday, April 22

WISDOM visit to the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn. 10:00 AM registration and breakfast (no cost), 11:00 AM meet with Imam Qazwini, 11:45 AM Tour of the mosque and Q and A, 12:30 PM plan a group lunch at a Middle Eastern restaurant in Dearborn.  To sign up for this visit, please email Paula Drewek at drewekpau@aol.com

Wednesday, May 9

Five Women Five Journeys at Fox Run in Novi.  Afternoon program.

Wednesday, May 16

“Mental Health Issues and Challenges Facing Metro Detroit’s Diverse Faith Traditions” 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM at The Community House in Birmingham (380 S. Bates)

This presentation will focus predominantly on youth of multiple faith groups, the challenges they face, and the stigma attached to dealing with mental illnesses. The panel will include experts in the mental health field representing the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim faith traditions. This program is sponsored by the Family and Youth Institute, the Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit, Kadima, The Race Relations and Diversity Task Force of the Birmingham Community House, and WISDOM (Women’s Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach in MetroDetroit). The event is free! Coffee and cookies will be served. For further information or to register, please contact Sheri Schiff, sheri1228@yahoo.com

Thursday, May 24

Five Women Five Journeys Presentation at the United Methodist Church of the Dunes, Grand Haven, MI. More information in the near future.

Thursday, June 28

WISDOM Comes to Congregation Beth Ahm, 5075 W. Maple Road, West Bloomfield

6:30 – 7:15 PM Woll Memorial Bible Garden Tour

7:30 – 9:00 PM Five Women Five Journeys

Sunday, September 9

Third annual Acts of Kindness (AOK) Detroit event – kick off at University of Michigan-Dearborn!!  1:00 – 5:00 PM.  Contact Gail Katz for more information.  gailkatz@comcast.net







For an Evening of Fun, Games

Food and Friendship!!

An Interfaith Initiative for Teens of all faith traditions!!

6:30 PM – 9:00 PM

Andover High School Cafeteria

(4200 Andover Road Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 48302)


Come to our Interfaith Seder

at Temple Beth El

7400 Telegraph Rd, Bloomfield Hills


Thursday, March 29, 2012

6:00 – 7:30 PM

(with registration beginning at 5:30 PM)


Rabbinic Associate Keren Alpert will lead the seder and explain the Haggadah (the ritual Jewish Passover text) to mark the Jewish Passover holiday which begins on the evening of April 7th. The service will include a light supper that will highlight the traditional Passover foods, the ritual recitations, songs, and portions of the service.


Registration is required. Cost is $20 per person.


Send name(s), contact number(s) and email address(es), along with your check made out to WISDOM to: WISDOM, P.O. Box 7091, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302


Registration must be received by Wednesday, March 21st.


For more information contact:

Fran Hildebrandt, 248-318-8301 or

Paula Drewek, 586-419-6811


Sponsors: WISDOM, Temple Beth El, and the Isadore and Frances Malin Interfaith Activities Fund of Temple Beth El






Dr. Amy-Jill Levine

“Jesus and Judaism:

The Connection Still Matters”

March 29, 2012

7:30 PM

Fountain Lounge

University of Detroit Mercy

4001 W. McNichols Rd., Detroit

(intersection of Livernois and W. McNichols)

Reception Following




Dr. Amy-Jill Levine

“Understanding Jesus means Understanding Judaism: Tips for Preaching and Teaching”

March 30, 2012

10:00 – 11:30 AM

St. John’s Episcopal Church

26998 Woodward

Royal Oak, MI 48067

(SE Corner of 11 Mile and Woodward)

RSVP to Gail Katz, gailkatz@comcast.net, 248-978-6664

Dr. Amy-Jill Levine is University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies, and Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School and College of Arts and Science in Nashville, TN; she is also Affiliated Professor, Centre for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations, Cambridge UK.  Holding the B.A. from Smith College, and the M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University, she has honorary doctorates from the University of Richmond, the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest, the University of South Carolina-Upstate, Drury University, and Christian Theological Seminary.

Her books include The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus (HarperOne), The Meaning of the Bible: What the Jewish Scriptures and the Christian Old Testament Can Teach Us, co-authored with Douglas Knight (HarperOne), the edited Historical Jesus in Context (Princeton), and the fourteen-volume edited Feminist Companions to the New Testament and Early Christian Writings (Continuum).  With Marc Brettler she also edited the Jewish Annotated New Testament (Oxford).  A self-described Yankee Jewish feminist, Professor Levine is a member of Congregation Sherith Israel, an Orthodox synagogue, although she is often quite unorthodox.

 Does Prayer Work?

By Rabbi Brad Hirschfield

Does prayer work? I mean really work? You bet it does!

But saying that does not mean that prayers are the spiritual equivalent of coins which we place in a Divine vending machine and that if we put the right ones in, in the proper sequence, we will automatically be granted whatever it is we ask for, especially in tough times. That would be magic or manipulation, not prayer.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in a personal God – one who listens to my prayers, especially when those I love are suffering, when I am at a loss, or when things seem so dark in the world that there is no other response that makes any sense.

I pray to that God and hope that I do get what I want, but we all know that’s not exactly how it works. I wish it were that easy.

The one or ones to whom any of us pray, and for the purposes of my question it makes no difference who that one or ones is or what name they are called, is not a vending machine which is manipulated by the user in order to obtain goodies – even very serious and totally appropriate ones. And if one can only appreciate the efficacy of prayer in those terms, then I take back my initial assertion about prayer working.

For example, and contrary to what some people believe, there is no reliable evidence to support the notion that prayers offered on behalf of sick people make them any healthier than those for whom nobody has prayed.

In fact, the studies which purported to prove that kind of efficacy for prayer, have all been debunked. But that does NOT mean that prayer doesn’t work. We need not assume that prayer is working only when it gets us the end result we seek.

But if I, or any other believer, know that our prayers won’t get us what we want, at least not in any direct way, why bother? Because, and I mean this quite seriously, as the Rollings Stones sang, “you can’t always get what you want, but if you try real hard, you just may find, you get what you need.”

Well, maybe not in the ultimate sense — that’s up to God, the individual, or some combination of the two, depending on your belief system, to confirm or deny. But we can find more than we often imagine of that which we need to get through the tough stuff, and prayer is a wonderful way of doing so. For that there IS evidence.

Prayer works amazingly well at providing some of the most important things we need especially at life’s most difficult moments – it takes us beyond ourselves, it connects us, battles loneliness, focuses attention on that for which we hope, and so much more.

I think that’s why the impulse to pray transcends pretty much any religious and theological categories that exist and over which people battle.

People can argue about the existence of God, which religion(s) are true and which are false, etc. but the desire to prayer is bigger and deeper than all of that.

It’s why, I think, according to the Bible, spontaneous prayer is with us from the very beginning of the human story, though formal liturgies take millennia to emerge.

Having been sick myself and having shared sickness and so many other difficult moments with countless others, having prayed for others and having asked others to pray for me and those I love, I know two things: first, that there is no way to prove that prayer directly effects or creates the outcomes we may seek and second, that prayer is a profound source of strength and clarity which enable us to achieve those outcomes or to deal with the fact that we may fail to achieve them.

In my experience, prayer works not as a manipulation of God, but as an opportunity to connect more deeply with ourselves and to experience the reality that we are not alone, no matter how much we may feel that we are at any given moment. And there is plenty of evidence for the material benefit of overcoming loneliness and alienation, restoring a sense of hope, and reminding ourselves that there are sources of strength upon which can always draw – whether they are located within us, within those who care about us, or within the God in whom we believe . So yes, prayer works.

Rabbi Brad Hirschfield is the author of “You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism,” and president of Clal-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.


A Show of Interfaith Unity at the Sikh Gurdwara
in Sterling Heights, MI

The vandalism of a Sikh house of worship in Sterling Heights is bringing together leaders of local Sikh, Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities. A show of interfaith unity is planned for Friday morning at a gurdwara, or Sikh place of worship, that was vandalized sometime between Sunday evening and Monday morning. The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling for local and federal authorities to investigate the incident as a hate crime. The spray-painted vandalism contains a drawing of a gun, a cross, an obscenity and “Mohmed,” [sic] a reference to the last prophet of Islam, Muhammad, and the most common Muslim male name. “I think whoever did it was very insensitive and also very ignorant when it comes to hate crime and racial discrimination,” said worshipper Gur-Rajan Singh. The building is under construction but expected to be finished this summer. Sikhism developed in northern India. Sikhs in the U.S. have occasionally been the target of anti-Muslim sentiment because they wear turbans and have beards.

See Channel 4 News about this event at:



See Video about the Sikh Religion at:




The 2012 World Sabbath was a great success!!

By Gail Katz

Chair of the World Sabbath

Co-Founder of WISDOM


The Thirteenth Annual World Sabbath took place at Greater New Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit on January 29th, 2012. The Rev. Ken Flowers, who has been very active in interfaith initiatives and is a member of the Interfaith Leadership Council, welcomed this event with open arms at his church. Greater New Mount Moriah was the perfect spot for an interfaith event, as it stands on the same location where Congregation Beth Moses once stood, at 586 Owen, from 1903 to sometime in the 1930s or 1940s, when it relocated to Linwood near Oakman. Beth Moses was a small Orthodox synagogue, whose members were mainly Romanian Jews.


Noam Kimelman, who lives in the city of Detroit and is an active member of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, kicked off the World Sabbath service with the blowing of the shofar. This was followed by a Muslim youth from the Muslim Center of Detroit chanting the Muslim Call to Prayer. Prayers for Peace in many faith traditions (Sikh, Buddhist, Baha’i, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Native American, and Quaker) were interspersed throughout the service and were given by youth ranging in age eight to their early twenties. The World Sabbath also featured ethnic dance and music. The Joyful Praise Dance and Mime Ministry from Rev. Flowers’ church performed, as did the Traditional Aztec Conchero Dancers from the All Saints Parish in Detroit.


Mime dancer

as did the Traditional Aztec Conchero Dancers from the All Saints Parish in Detroit.


The World Sabbath was also blessed with very talented Hindu, and Jain dancers!!

Cantorial Soloist Tiffany Green from Temple Kol Ami in West Bloomfield teamed up with Anna Brooks, a teen from Temple Israel, to create a very original prayer that they set to music on their guitars.




The highlight of the World Sabbath every year is the “Children of Peace.” These children from various organizations and religious schools around Metro Detroit share their creative ideas of World Peace that they display on the peace banners that they create and wave in the sanctuary at the service. The World Sabbath was blessed with Children of Peace from Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Unitarian, Baha’i, Sikh, Hindu, Jain and Zoroastrian faiths. These peace banners were collected at the end of the World Sabbath service and will be sewn into a fifth interfaith peace quilt that will be displayed at many houses of worship around Metro Detroit.


Every year the World Sabbath honors someone working for World Peace with an award. This year Maggid Steve Klaper and Brother Al Mascia were honored for the work they do at the Song and Spirit Institute for Peace in Berkley, promoting greater understanding among people of diverse religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds through music, art, cultural programs, dialogue and study.


(Maggid Steve Klaper and Brother Al Mascia stand in front of the 2011 Children of Peace Quilt.)


The World Sabbath is a great reminder that our patchwork heritage here in Metro Detroit is a strength, not a weakness. Detroiters are shaped by every language, culture, and religion from every corner of this earth, and our common humanity becomes the dominant factor in working toward a new era of peace. The World Sabbath every year helps to usher in that new era of peace!!


Next year’s World Sabbath will take place on January 27, 2013 at the Bharatiya (Hindu) Temple in Troy. We hope you will join us!!


An Unorthodox Shiva Minyan

By Rabbi Tamara Miller

The purpose of the shiva minyan in Judaism is to comfort the mourner. Last week I was called upon to facilitate a shiva minyan for a woman whose brother had died in another city. Now that the mourner was back home, she wanted to complete her seven days of mourning with her own local community.



People poured in during the day, but as the seven o’clock evening hour approached, only a few people remained. So we waited for a minyan, the obligatory quorum of ten to be able to pray. When seven-thirty arrived, so did the tenth person. I assessed the situation. Two Jews, two Hindus, two Baptists, two Evangelical Christians, one Catholic – and me, the rabbi.


Shiva is the most therapeutic of Jewish mourning rituals. It honors the journey of the bereaved by providing friends, family, and co-workers a proscribed setting in which to express their sympathies and condolences.

“‘Shiva’ means seven, the holy number of the days of creation and the number of days Jews withdraw from daily life to mourn a beloved,” I explained.


“Has anyone been to Jerusalem?” I asked, not knowing what the response would be. “Oh, yes!” came the feedback. “Several times,” echoed the African American couple sitting directly across from me. “As you might remember, there are seven open gates in the Old City. In ancient times, there were eleven gates, and the Temple in the ancient city of Jerusalem had a separate path set aside for the mourners. As the mourners came through this selected gate, they came face-to-face with other members of the community, and the people expressed the recognition of their loss by reciting this Hebrew verse.”


HaMakom y’nachem etkhem b’tokh sh’ar aveilei Tzion v’ Yrushalayim.

 I had them repeat the words after me and focus on their friend who stood with a torn black ribbon on her jacket above her heart indicating externally her internal private grief. We formed a circle around the mourner and recited the verse in unison:

“May God comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.”

Suddenly and in harmony, we were all on the same page of the heart. We have all traveled on the same path of loss and bereavement. Language was not the barrier. Faith traditions didn’t separate us from the realities of life and death. How easy it is to create a sacred comforting space among our diversities.

Rabbi Tamara Miller is a graduate of the Academy for Jewish Religion in New York City. She is currently the Spiritual Director at the Center for Integrative Medicine in Washington, D.C. A CLAL Rabbis Without Borders Fellow, Rabbi Miller also has an independent practice as a Judaics teacher, spiritual counselor and life ritualist.

4th Annual International Conference

Endorsed by
Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan and over 100 universities and organizations internationally

“Religion, Conflict, and Peace:”
Walking The Talk to Compassion and Harmony

Sponsored by:
Common Bond Institute, Henry Ford Community College, People’s Peace Fund,
International Humanistic Psychology Association, Parashakthi Temple

an Official Partner Event of
March 23-25, 2012
Henry Ford Community College
Dearborn, Michigan USA

A Multi-disciplinary, Multi-cultural Conference

Parliament of World’s Religions and Charter For Compassion

An inclusive, interactive 3-day public forum promoting Inter-religious and Intra-religious dialogue to explore the challenges of Social Paranoia, Intolerance, Negative Stereotyping, Scapegoating, Racism, and Islamophobia; and the promise of Reason, Understanding, Compassion, and Cultural Harmony.

Full Conference Details at:
Steve Olweean, Conference Coordinator
12170 S. Pine Ayr Drive, Climax, MI 49034 USA
Ph/Fax: 269-665-9393    Email: SOlweean@aol.com

~ Registration is Open All ~

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 Elaine Schonberger at bookfairmama@comcast.net or 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.

Go to our WISDOM websites at


Read our interfaith story of the week from our book Friendship and Faith,

and find the link to buy the book at

 Amazon at

Contact Information


Gail Katz gailkatz@comcast.net
phone: 248-978-6664


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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!