WISDOM Newsletter – March 2015

Written by WISDOM on . Posted in Newsletters

 Calendar for WISDOM and Other Interfaith Events  

 Sunday, March 8th

2:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Celebrate Women’s International Day with WISDOM, the National Council of Jewish Women and the Diversity Task Force at the Birmingham Community House, 380 South Bates Street, Birmingham, MI. Details are in the works.  See information below!

Tuesday, March 10th

A Coming Together of Jews and Chaldeans

See Flyer Below!

Thursday, March 26th

6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Face to Faith event at the Muslim Unity Center

1830 W. Square Lake Road, Bloomfield Hills

See flyer below!

Wednesday, April 29th

The Dinner Party with Women of Note – an exciting event in the works for WISDOM women!!  Stay Tuned!

Thursday, May 14th

6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Five Women Five Journeys at the Baldwin Public Library in Birmingham

Tuesday, August 11th

10:30 – Noon

Five Women Five Journeys with the Senior Women’s Club of The Birmingham Community House




Christianity: What Does It Look Like?

Thurs., Mar. 12 at 6:30 p.m.


There are many religions in our community that have teachings related to Jesus. In some he is a savior, in others he is a messenger, and in some he has no significance at all. Even among those who believe that Jesus Christ is the savior, there are distinct differences in creed and practice. Join us as we explore these faiths that believe in Jesus as the savior and see how they relate to each other and to this one man. Panelists include:


Michael Hovey (Roman Catholic)

Reverend Cannon Robert Hart (Episcopal)

Bishop Greg Geiger (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

Reverend Charmaine Johnson (African American Baptist)


Pain and Healing Across the Faith Traditions

Thurs., Apr. 16 at 6:30 p.m.


For many, a stumbling block to faith or religion is pain. Themes of pain and healing are common in many faith traditions, and we will discuss how different faiths approach the subject of pain and healing. Panelists include:


Rabbi Aaron Bergman (Jewish)

Reverend Daniel Buttry (American Baptist)

Imam Steve Elturk (Muslim)

Bill Secrest (Buddhist)


WISDOM: Five Women, Five Journeys

Thurs., May. 14 at 6:30 p.m.


This unique WISDOM (Women’s Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach in Metro-Detroit) 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, and how reaching out to someone from a different faith has enriched their lives. Panelists include:


Parwin Anwar (Muslim)

Paula Drewek (Baha’i)

Gail Katz (Jewish)

Jatinder Kauer (Sikh)

Amy Morgan (Christian)


Baldwin Public Library

300 West Merrill, Birmingham, MI 48009

“Jesus, Judaism and the Parables”

March 6-8 ,2015

Grosse Ile Prebyterian Church


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 Sciences. Her most recent book is “Short Stories by Jesus, The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi.”


Friday, March 6
6 pm dinner
7 pm The Prodigal Son


Saturday, March 7
8:30 am Continental Breakfast and registration
9:00 Hearing the Parables Through Jewish Ears
-Pearl of Great Price
-Pharisee and the Tax Collector
10:15 How Jews and Christians Read Scripture Differently
11:30 Lunch
12:30 Understanding Jesus Means Understanding Judaism


Saturday, March 8

Dr. Levine will preach on Luke 10:25-37, The Good Samaritan
at the 8:15 am and the 10:30 am worship service.


Registration is required for meals and childcare. Call Grosse Ile Presbyterian Church (734) 676-8811 or email jholmes@gipc.org to register. At all meals they will accept a free-will donation to cover cost.

Save the Date for the 2015 Faith-Based Summit

The 2015 summit will highlight progress made by faith leaders on recruiting foster and adoptive parents and their success at providing supportive services to foster and adoptive children.


This event is also an opportunity to garner a commitment from faith leaders who are new to the Faith-Based Initiative on Foster Care and Adoption.


Additionally, it provides attendees with best practices and tools on how to build a coalition to recruit foster and adoptive parents and provide assistance to children in foster care.

May 19, 2015
8:30 a.m.4:00 p.m.
Radisson Hotel Lansing
111 N Grand Ave.
Lansing, MI 48933

Contact us if you have questions:

Trina D. Richardson at 231-398-8497 or richardsont12@michigan.gov 

Stephanie McCann at 517-373-2591 or mccanns5@michigan.gov


Hosted by the Department of Human Services in partnership with statewide faith community leaders.


Did You Know That There Are 788 Foster Kids in Oakland County?

Susan Hull, Director of Children’s Services of Oakland DHS will present highlights of the latest progress and challenges regarding the care for our children in the child welfare system, not only in Oakland County, but also in the Tri-County area in which there are a total of 3907 children in care (Stats from 1/6/15 DHS fact sheet).

Hear about ways that congregations are collaborating together with our agencies on behalf of our kids in care.


All are welcome to this Faith Communities Coalition on Foster Care gathering at First Presbyterian Church, 1669 West Maple Rd., Birmingham, 48009 on Thursday, March 19, 6:30p.m., Calvin Hall. For more information contact FCC coordinator, Rev. Kate Thoresen at 248-835-8151

Students Taken on Religious Journeys

By Ann Zaniewski Detroit Free Press

Brother Hussein Charara, seated, is leading a discussion about Islamic sacred text during a session of the Religious Diversity Journey program at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, where middle-school students are learning about Islam on Wednesday. The program exposes children to different religions.


Eliza Faigin covered her head in a sparkly pink scarf, slipped off her boots and walked into the prayer room. 

It was the 12-year-old’s first time in a mosque. She sat on the carpeted floor scribbling notes about the five pillars of Islam, pausing periodically to adjust her headscarf.

“It feels interesting and kind of weird, but now I understand why they wear it,” she said after the presentation. “Girls are a sacred gender. It’s kind of cool.”

Eliza’s new appreciation for the hijab came courtesy of Religious Diversity Journeys, a program that exposes children to different religions through hands-on, half-day sessions at houses of worship.

More than 130 middle-schoolers went Wednesday to the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn. They watched a demonstration of daily prayer, learned about Muslim celebrities and inventions and ate Middle Eastern food for lunch.

The program has been run since 2010 by the InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit. It grew out of the interfaith dialogue that sprang up locally following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. 

Religious Diversity Journeys focuses on the differences and similarities of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism.

“I really hope that kids take away just a deeper understanding of each other, and about what it is underlying in our lives that connects us all,” program director Meredith Skowronski said.

“We all have different customs. We all have rituals in our different faith traditions, but at the core of who we are, we all have some very, very similar principles. For the kids to get together and learn about those principles from each other is the whole point of this program.”

Ashley Krauthamer, a seventh-grader at Orchard Lake Middle School, found similarities with her Jewish faith.(Photo: Regina H. Boone, Detroit Free Press)

Three-hundred children from 10 school districts participate, making the 2014-15 group the biggest ever. Students apply through their districts.

The cost of around $120 per child is covered by school districts, grants and donations from religious groups. Some students also pay a portion themselves.

The Islamic Center of America committed $3,000 over two years to help sponsor 30 students from Dearborn Public Schools, which is involved for the first time. The Dearborn Education Foundation also chipped in $1,500.

“The majority of the kids in some parts of Dearborn are primarily Arab American and Muslim,” mosque executive administrator Kassem Allie said. “I think it’s important that we have our kids, and all kids, experience other faith traditions, and traditions that are outside of their normal everyday experiences.”

Wednesday’s mosque visit included children from the Dearborn, Berkley, Birmingham and West Bloomfield school districts and the Muslim American Youth Academy in Dearborn.

Aya Bazzi, an eighth-grader at the Muslim American Youth Academy in Dearborn, said she loved the program.(Photo: Regina H. Boone, Detroit Free Press)

The trip came one week after terror attacks in Paris linked to a Muslim extremist group. Skowronski told the students the day was not about politics or how Muslims may be portrayed in media reports, but about the “real Islam” – a religion of peace, she said. 

One of the first stops was the sunlit prayer room. A soft-spoken woman talked about Islam’s core tenets: belief in one God and the prophet Muhammad; praying five times daily; self-purification through fasting; charitable giving, and a pilgrimage to the holy site Mecca at least once for those who are physically able.

Then, children from the Muslim school formed two rows and recited prayers.

In another room, students learned about Eid-al Fitr and Eid-al Adha.

“Just like Christians, we have two major holidays,” said Rashid Baydoun, who works for Dearborn Public Schools and teaches Sunday school at the mosque.

Lunch included hummus, pita bread, grape leaves and fattoush salad.

Andre Wells, 12, of Southfield, tentatively bit into a small spinach pie.

“They might not look that good, but trust me, they really are,” Aya Bazzi of Dearborn said to him, smiling.

Aya, 13, a student at the Muslim American Youth Academy, made a friend in Ashley Krauthamer, a 12-year-old seventh-grader from West Bloomfield.

Ashley was reading from a workbook and stumbled over how to pronounce “qahwa,” an Arabic word for coffee. Aya said it a few times. Ashley repeated it.

Ashley, who is Jewish, said it was fascinating to learn what her faith has in common with Islam.

Aya called the program life-changing.

“I had different perspectives in my head about different people. I didn’t really know how they act, what they eat, how they pray,” but the program changed that, she said. “It’s been really cool to learn about other religions.”

Contact Ann Zaniewski: 313-222-6594 or azaniewski@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter: @AnnZaniewski.

Buy PhotoBalinda Gahutu, a student at Abbott Middle School in West Bloomfield, center, is a participant in the Religious Diversity Journey program at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn learning about Islam Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015.(Photo: Detroit Free Press)

Some lessons taught about Islam during the Religious Diversity Journeys program at the Islamic Center of America:

■ Islam means “peace.”

■ The five pillars of Islam are: belief in one God and the prophet Muhammad; praying five times daily; self-purification through fasting; charitable giving, and a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca at least once for those who are physically and financially able.

■ The five times for prayers, which face Mecca, are before the sun rises, around noon, late afternoon, when the sun sets and before bedtime.

■ God is fair and merciful, has no partner or associates, is neither male nor female.

■ God has a blueprint for all humanity that started with Adam and Eve.

■ Men and women are created equally.

■ God sent 124,000 messengers, or prophets, including Adam, Moses, Jesus, David and Muhammad. Muhammad is the final prophet.


Teen Interfaith Initiative Face to Faith
Meets at Temple Shir Shalom
in West Bloomfield on February 5th

Serene Katranji-Zeni (Face to Faith Committee),  Rev. Joanna Dunn (University Presbyterian Church in Rochester Hills), Gail Katz (Face to Faith Committee), and Rabbi Daniel Schwartz (Temple Shir Shalom) work together to run the interfaith interaction for the teens.
About 40 teens and adults came together on Thursday evening, February 5th at Temple Shir Shalom in West Bloomfield to learn about Judaism, to do a service project, and to dialogue about the evening’s theme, “Tikkun Olam” repairing the world.
Teens work together to pack bags with
non-perishable food for the needy and create
greeting cards!
Teens visit the Temple Shir Shalom
Sanctuary to get a close up view
of the holy Torah scrolls.

WISDOM has a Social Action Event 
at the Song and Spirit Institute for Peace in Berkley
About 30 volunteers showed up for our WISDOM Social Action event at the Song and Spirit Institute for Peace on February 9th to help pack non-perishable food, hand warmers, and gloves among other necessities for homeless and the needy adults and children.  WISDOM worked with Brother Al Mascia, who heads the assembly and distribution of the Snack Pax and the Care Pax for the needy.  What a wonderful event, and so timely!  All the volunteers left knowing that they helped those less fortunate, especially during this winter with below zero temperatures!

Mark Grobbel, Chair of the Mission Outreach Ministry at First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham helps Brother Al Mascia distribute supplies.

Volunteers work on decorating the Snack Pax bags!

Hundreds of Care Pax and Snack Pax were assembled by WISDOM volunteers!!  Thanks to all of you!

Research finds ‘secular bias’ in Western diplomacy
Nate Madden  Catholic News Service  |  Feb. 3, 2015

The authors of a new paper issued by the Brookings Institute stress the importance of religious literacy in diplomatic dialogue. Titled “Integrating Religious Engagement Into Diplomacy: Challenges and Opportunities,” the paper was written by Peter Mandaville, a professor at George Mason University in Virginia, and Sara Silvestri, a senior lecturer at City University London.

The crux of the paper is the importance of developing “more systematic approaches to the integration of religion and religious engagement into a wider range of diplomatic activities.” According to Mandaville and Silvestri, there is a strong “secular bias” within the institutional and operational framework of Western diplomacy, which they say severely hinders diplomatic dialogue and engagement with countries and societies outside of the industrialized world.

“In short,” the paper reads, “most conduct themselves with a tacit set of assumptions about what religion is, where it belongs and who speaks on its behalf. … Even the legal frameworks within which states and international organizations operate contribute to reproducing the myth of secularism as a neat and settled account of two clearly demarcated realms — the spiritual and the political — when, in fact, social reality is far more complex.”

“This attitude is driven, in large part, by this prevailing idea that religion and government don’t mix,” Mandaville told Catholic News Service on Monday. “But that’s not what the U.S. law or Constitution says; what it says is that the federal government cannot pass laws that favor one specific faith tradition over another.” He explained that “bureaucratic institutions in the Western world are bound by secular legal constraints, as well as the perception that public policy is a ‘no-go’ zone for religion of any kind. Likewise, these institutions are risk-averse, which perpetuates the secular tendencies.”

The paper also suggests policy prescriptions, such as the creation of new areas of the U.S. State Department tasked with understanding and addressing issues in a religious context, as well as the training of Field Service Officers in what the authors call “religious literacy.” This would include an understanding of world religions, an understanding of the “varying roles that religions play in different societies”, and “the practical aspects of engaging with religious leaders, faith-based organizations, and other religious actors.” Such measures would help lawmakers to move “away from a model whereby religion is viewed as being relevant only to certain specialized functions such as the advancement of international religious freedom.” The approach described by the authors also would allow diplomats to depart from the popular dialogue with “religious leaders and faith-based organizations that view those entities as having a limited role around a specific set of policy issues.”

The paper came out just a few days after Pope Francis’ recent trip to Southeast Asia, where the pontiff spoke on what he calls “ideological colonization,” the imposition of Western ideologies such as same-sex marriage, “gender theory” and abortion/contraception on the developing world by tying them to foreign aid resources and programs. “It is not born of the dream that we have with God from prayer, or from the mission that God gives us; it comes from outside, and that’s why I say it is colonization,” the pope said, adding that it referred to “materialism and lifestyles which are destructive of family life and the most basic demands of Christian morality.”

News from Congregation Beth Shalom

14601 W. Lincoln Drive

Oak Park, MI 48237

(248) 547-7970    cbs@congbethshalom.org


Beth Shalom Hosts Annual Women’s Seder


Women of all faiths are invited to a Women’s Seder at Congregation Beth Shalom on Wednesday, March 25 starting at 6 p.m. The program includes a kosher, Passover-style dinner. Vegetarian meals are available upon request.


Beth Shalom President Marie Slotnick will lead the program, and Cantor Pamela Schiffer of Congregation Shaarey Zedek in East Lansing, will lead the singing. Participants will sit on pillows under a billowing tent for part of the evening. The program will celebrate women’s contributions to the Exodus from Egypt and throughout Jewish history. Participants will follow “The Journey Continues: The Ma’yan Passover Haggadah,” by Tamara R. CohenDeborah L. Friedman and Suelevi Elwell.


Reservations are $25 for adults and $10 for girls 12 and under. Sponsorships are welcome at $54. “Angel” sponsorships are $72.

Paid reservations must be made by March 16. For more information or reservations, call the synagogue office at (248) 547-7970 or email cbs@congbethshalom.org.


Please join us for Feeding Faith: An Interfaith Youth Potluck on Tuesday, March 31st from 5:007:30p.m at the Repair the World Workshop:

2701 Bagley Ave. Detroit.

Let’s collectively celebrate the end of winter, our respective holidays and customs, and the regional-identity that we share. The first half will be focused on socializing, eating, and creating a community visual art piece. The other hour will be a workshop that provides attendees with a chance to learn from one another, and express their ever-evolving relationship to their religion or spiritual practice. Youth leaders and staff from ‘PeerCorps,’ a teen Jewish service learning program in Detroit, are coordinating this event.


RSVP Today!!


Please reach out to aj.aaron@peercorpsdetroit.org  if you have any questions.


AJ Aaron

PeerCorps Detroit Coordinator


Supporters Gather At Wayne State To Mourn, Remember Victims Of Chapel Hill Shooting

Chapel Hill shooting vigil at Wayne State University

(photo: Stephanie Davis/WWJ)

On Tuesday, February 10, University of North Carolina student Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19 were all killed in their home near the university’s campus. Suspect Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the incident which some are calling a hate crime against the three young Muslims.

Meantime, in Detroit on the campus of Wayne State University, a vigil was held for the three Chapel Hill students on Friday evening, February 13th. Fatima Salman with The Michigan Muslim Community Council helped organize the vigil. She said that something needs to be done to address the kind of hate that leads to violence against Muslim-Americans and others.

“Recently – especially with what’s going on overseas and then there’s that American Sniper movie that came out – there are certain media outlets that are always inciting violence and hatred towards many people, and Muslims included,” Salman said. “So a lot of this is also let’s stop this hate talk.” Salman said that she was happy to hear President Barack Obama speak out against the act in Chapel Hill, which many believe to be a hate crime, but was initially described as being a dispute between neighbors about parking.

“This vigil was in order to heal together as a community and mourn and celebrate their accomplishments,” Salman said.

The event also included a panel discussion about building bridges and stopping the hatred of others. Rashida Tlaib, a former State Representative and now with the Sugar Law Center was among the panelists discussing ways to combat the kind of hate that leads to violence against Muslim-Americans.

“What we see is that hate speech and this type of anger can lead to what we’ve seen in Chapel Hill,” Tlaib said.

Tlaib has been a part of the Take On Hate campaign to work on changing policies and perceptions. Organizers were asking people to sign an online petition calling for a full Department of Justice investigation into what they consider a hate crime.

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!