For all of our Jewish and Chaldean friends, please read the flyer below and come to a potluck “coming together” at the ECRC Building in Bloomfield Hills where there will be fun dining on home cooked food, a program, Jewish and Chaldean music, and a collection of items to help those in need in both the Jewish and Chaldean communities. This event is sponsored by the Jewish/Chaldean Social Action Committee, a division of the Jewish News/Chaldean News Building Community Initiative!! See flyer below!
THE FLAVORS OF FAITH: HOLY BREADS!!
Article by Karla Joy Huber
Lynne Golodner took an interesting approach to exploring faith traditions in her newest book, The Flavors of Faith: Holy Breads. On April 14 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Royal Oak, she gave a presentation to promote its recent publication by Read the Spirit Books.
In addition to having published several books, Lynne Golodner leads workshops and retreats on writing, parenting, and yoga, is the founder of Your People, LLC, a public relations, marketing consulting, and business development firm, and is a mother of four children. Somewhere amongst all those responsibilities and accomplishments she managed to do the first-hand research and writing, and some baking experiments, required to compile this lovely book about the role bread plays in the gatherings and prayers of various religions.
The event lasted from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., starting with a presentation by Golodner regarding the history behind and content in Holy Breads, including what inspired her to write it. Golodner recounted how she became intrigued with bread as she was getting back in touch with her Jewish roots, and found that preparing food was an important part of her faith tradition. Bread is mentioned in so many Jewish, Christian, and other prayers, she said, and it plays a very important role in community-building and hospitality. The subject was even more fascinating to her because it required some reconciling of beliefs about this particular category of food. Our society has all but demonized bread with fad diets and food trends, she said, but grains have always been the staple of the human diet, even able to sustain people for periods of time when no other food has been available to them.
The book discusses and gives recipes for some of the most popular among Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Native American breads. Golodner explained how she got several of the stories, and clarified why some breads people initially expected to see in her book are not featured. The book’s scope is breads with a religious context, she said, and she conducted extensive inquiries to determine that East Indian breads such as naan, for example, are cultural rather than tied to particular faith traditions. Golodner also told some anecdotes from the book’s development phase, including about her visit to the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn where women bake bread every week to sell as the mosque’s primary source of revenue, and how she had to get details and recipes for the Native American breads in a sort of roundabout way.
The talk was followed by a socializing reception in which attendees were able to sample several of the types of breads mentioned in the book, including soft pretzels (Christian), challah (Jewish), cornbread (Native American), king’s cake (Christian), and pita bread (Muslim). The breads were all provided by local bakeries and vendors with the exception of the king’s cake, which was ordered and shipped from a special bakery in New Orleans.
This presentation was yet another example of the wide variety of interfaith events going on in southeastern Michigan, and was unique in that it focused specifically on interfaith awareness in the home. Golodner emphasized that the recipes chosen for the book are “simple,” making it feasible for people to try making types of bread developed in other faith traditions, and learn something about those traditions in the process. Golodner had fun experimenting with bread-baking with her children, and encourages others to give it a try with their families.
The event was sponsored by Women’s Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach in MetroDetroit (WISDOM) and DION (Detroit Interfaith Outreach Network).
To order The Flavors of Faith: Holy Breads, visit its page on ReadTheSpirit.com:
Arabic bread from the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn
Jewish Challah from Avalon Bakery in Detroit
King Cake from a bakery in New Orleans
WISDOM and DION folks having a great time “breaking bread” together!!
From left to right:
Imam Arif Huskic from Hamtramck, Rabbi Dorit Edut from DION,
Lynne Golodner, and Gail Katz from WISDOM
Check out this video of the program “Faith on Fridays” on Morning Joe! A beautiful discussion that took place on Good Friday between a bishop, a rabbi and an imam!
Obama’s Seder and Seeing the Other
by Rabbi Marc Schneier
On Monday, March 25th, President Barack Obama gathered with his family, members of his staff and other guests, many of them Jews and African-Americans, to hold his fifth seder since coming to the White House.
In fact, this was a continuation of a longstanding custom by him and his wife Michelle of participation in Passover seders in their hometown of Chicago.
In fact, Obama began observing Passover after moving in the mid 1980’s to the mixed Jewish-African American Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, where he taught law at the University of Chicago, launched his political career and formed close personal relationships with a broad spectrum of Jewish academics, political professions and even rabbis.
The President explained that he decided to host the annual seder at the White House because “I wanted my daughters to experience the Haggadah and the story at the center of Passover, that makes this time of year so powerful,” a story which, as he noted, is both central to the Jewish people and which also “holds within it the universal human experience, with all of its suffering, but also all of salvation.”
Seeking to convey why Passover resonates so powerfully with him and with many other African-Americans, as well as with Americans of diverse backgrounds, Obama explained:
It’s a story of centuries of slavery, and years of wandering in the desert, a story of perseverance amidst persecution… It’s a story of finding freedom in your own land. In the United States – a nation made up of people who crossed oceans to start anew – we’re naturally drawn to the idea of finding freedom in our land. To African-Americans, the story of the Exodus was perhaps the central story, the most powerful image to emerge from the grip of bondage to reach liberty and human dignity – a tale that was carried from slavery through the Civil Rights Movement into today.
Permit me to suggest another aspect of the Passover narrative that resonates with President Obama as well. At the Passover Seder when we recall the Ten Plagues that God visited upon the ancient Egyptians, it is important to remember that not all of the plagues manifested themselves in the form of physical afflictions. Rabbinic sages explain that the Ninth Plague – the plague of Darkness – did not represent an actual darkening of the sky, but rather a darkness of the heart, a communal blindness, a plague which has afflicted human societies from time immemorial.
Exodus 10:23 states, “They saw not one another” – meaning the ancient Egyptians were blind to each other’s needs, and that their gross insensitivity and inhumanity in relation to the suffering of the Hebrew slaves living among them ultimately led to the breakdown of Egyptian society. The biblical narrative of Passover has reminded Jews and others throughout history that in order to avoid the fatal blindness of the ancient Egyptians we must feel and display empathy toward people of diverse backgrounds, faiths and ethnicities, including people with whom we may strongly disagree – the need for empathy and understanding of the pain of the ‘Other!” The lesson of the Ninth Plague of the Passover story challenges us to see the humanity in all of God’s Children, and to free ourselves from the shackles of indifference. Let us celebrate this timeless message of Passover by keeping aglow the light of understanding in a world too often darkened by the inability to see and to feel for the Other.
Interfaith musical liturgy to remember Holocaust premiered Sunday April 7th
Daniel Gross, 39, cantor at Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills, composed “I Believe: A Shoah Requiem.” It is believed be the first complete musical liturgy dedicated to Holocaust Remembrance Day. / Andre J. Jackson/Detroit Free Press
By Niraj Warakoo Detroit Free Press Staff Writer
Sharing Scripture: Interfaith Thoughts About ‘The Bible’
By Rabbi Michael Bernstein
George Bernard Shaw is often quoted as saying that the United States and Britain are two countries separated by a common language. Watching part of the celebrated production of “The Bible” that concludes this Sunday evening, I find myself thinking that Judaism and Christianity are two faiths separated by a common Scripture.
This approach may seem counter intuitive: Surely what separates Jews from Christians must be what Christians refer to as the “New Testament” — the story of the birth of Jesus and how his life, death and resurrection form the basis for a new religion. However, as a Jew and as a rabbi, I find that many of the stories of Jesus and his followers stand alone as sources that contain wisdom and depth that can inspire people to care for one another and seek closeness to G*d. While I, like many, do not include these Scriptures as a part of my personal faith, I can learn from them as I do the sacred Scriptures of other faiths.
Where the greater challenge arises, however, is seeing my own traditions, beliefs and sacred sources interwoven with Christianity in such a way that they become the prelude and later the counterpoint to the Christian faith. The stories told by “The Bible” are animated by this perspective and the producers in their choices of excerpts, casting and pacing have fashioned a testament to their deeply held belief of the univocity and seamlessness of their account that runs as a record of G*d’s interaction in history through prophets from Noah through Jesus, each in turn occupying the same stage and playing of a variation of the same script that begins with the Creation of the Universe and moves inexorably to a Day of Judgment. I have had mixed feelings watching it.
The parts that I saw made a strong impression and caused me to think differently about stories I have studied many times. However, the clarity of the television production is a blessing and a curse. The language of the Bible is often ambiguous, opening up multiple readings and spurring commentaries from scholars of Judaism and Christianity. While “The Bible” could be seen as just one more set of interpretations, the nature of the medium of television is to come across as the definitive version taking the written word directly to the screen. Instead of encountering the mystery and ambiguity that makes the Bible the fertile ground for new interpretations, the viewer is given a whole package that can stand on its own.
One episode, titled “Hope,” began with the dark days of the destruction of the first Temple and, after spending a significant time on the story of Daniel, shifted the scene to Bethlehem and the dawn of Christianity. Part of what was skipped was the story of Ezra and Nehemiah who help create the revival of the Jewish tradition after the Babylonian exile. These sections are more than just missing pieces to the picture. The significance of the role of Ezra is that he is seen in Jewish tradition as a precursor to the leadership that eventually will become Rabbinic Judaism, the Jewish heir to the Law of Moses and the foundation of Judaism as it is known today. The sages that carry this torch forward though the same period in which Jesus preached were neither automatons, nor monolithic in their understanding of the Law. They gave the world the humility of Hillel who declared, what is hateful to your neighbor do not do; the genius of Ben Zoma, who said that one who was truly wise was the one who learned from each other person; and the piety of Rabbi Akiba, who declared his faith in G*d even as his flesh was raked with sharp combs by the Romans. These sages were among those who are also known as the Pharisees.
Ironically, even as the series comes to an end, this week brings another overlap of the Jewish and Christian traditions. Jewish communities are celebrating the Passover holiday, highlighted by the ritual retelling of the Exodus at the Seder and Christians are reaching the pinnacle of a Holy Season with the observance of Easter. This used to be a time fraught with danger for Jewish communities in Europe as a toxic mix of suspicion, fear and bigotry would often spill over into blood libels, pogroms and other assaults on the Jewish minority. Some of this danger had its source in the emphasis on just those elements of the Gospels which focus on the complicity of Jews in the crucifixion of Jesus. However, while enmity between different faiths is by no means wholly resolved, more and more the confluence of Easter and Passover has become an opportunity for celebrants of different faiths to learn from each other. At our Seder, we had guests from all different backgrounds, including friends who wanted to learn about how Jews keep alive the memory of the Exodus and its message of both peoplehood and universal values of freedom. At the same time Easter has become an opportunity to learn more about how my friends and neighbors are inspired by their understanding of the Bible, especially the stories of the Gospel.
There are many ways to be Jewish and many ways to be Christian. My experience has been that we have much to learn and little to fear from exploring each other’s tradition. While an event like “The Bible” can be a conversation starter and in that way can initiate bridge-building and meaningful interaction, I much prefer the interaction that grows from being able to learn directly from one another, drawing from what is personally inspiring for my neighbor and sharing what is most meaningful in my own encounter with Scripture and tradition.
East Lansing church’s generosity
impresses visiting Muslim
We’ve heard the stories about those of the Muslim faith finding it difficult to gain acceptance in America – how they feel untrusted and demonized because of crimes they did not commit. But a visitor from Canada felt compelled this week to share his account of the opposite reception he received last Friday while visiting an East Lansing mosque. Asim Ansari described it in his email as “an everyday act of kindness” that needed to be shared.
The feeling of grace and generosity that Ansari experienced went beyond a single handshake or helping hand. The welcome he felt was, as it turns out, the embrace of culture by a Christian church that has become almost second nature.
But it seemed extraordinary to Ansari, who lives in Mississauga, Ontario.
Ansari regularly visits family in the Lansing area, which has taken him before to the Islamic Center of East Lansing for Friday prayers. He also has gotten used to parking in the lot of the neighboring University Lutheran Church because of the inadequate size of the center’s lot.
This particular Friday was unusually busy, with Ansari and his cousins having to circle several times to find a parking space. Following his worship, Ansari decided to enter the Lutheran church to thank anyone he could find for allowing the mosque to use the lot. It was then that he began to feel overwhelmed.
Unlike most Fridays, the church sanctuary was filling up for a worship service. And a man he found in the office explained why: It was Good Friday.
“I hadn’t even realized it was Good Friday and it struck me how, even on such a holy Christian day, nothing was any different,” Ansari wrote in his e-mail. “Nothing had changed. Not only was the church larger in size than the mosque, but certainly bigger in heart.” And, he was impressed with how the man in the office apologized for the parking “clash,” especially since there seemed to be absolutely no disagreement over competing interests.
The church’s pastor, Fred Fritz, said the close relationship between the church and mosque pre-dates his more than nine years at University Lutheran. Church leaders never have given a second thought to allowing mosque-goers to use its parking spaces since the center outgrew its landlocked parking lot.
About seven years ago, the church and the mosque contributed together to a landscaping project between the lots and children from the mosque use the church yard as a playground.
The church never has asked for money in return but the mosque occasionally contributes a “free-will offering” to help pay for lot maintenance, Fritz said.
“We’ve all (leaders of the church and mosque) agreed that we can’t control what’s happening in other parts of world,” Fritz said. “All of us feel powerless at times. But we do have the power to make choices in our own neighborhood.
“Obviously, this is more than just tolerance. It’s trying to live together in peace and to set an example.”
Call Mark Mayes at 377-1175 or email email@example.com