WISDOM Newsletter – May 2016

Written by WISDOM on . Posted in Newsletters

Calendar for WISDOM and Other Interfaith Events  
Wednesday, May 25th 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Five Women Five Journeys
Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital
6777 W. Maple Road, West Bloomfield 48322
contact Maryann Schlie at maryann_schlie@hotmail.com

Come laugh with comedian Rajiv Satyal at HAF’s Annual Michigan Awareness Dinner on Saturday, May 7.
Coupling his Hindu and Indian identities, Mr. Satyal has already delighted audiences with his unique, hilarious, and heart-warming story as a successful comedian. Now, it’s your turn to come see him live in Troy, MI.
Date: Saturday, May 7
Time: 7:0010:00pm (Gourmet vegetarian dinner will be served)
Location: Bharatiya Temple of Metropolitan Detroit, 6850 N Adams Rd, Troy, MI 48098
Cost: Adult ($20), Children ($20), Children under 5 (Free)
Purchase tickets (via Eventbrite):
Local Contact: Padma Kuppa (padma@hafsite.org), Arun Vijan (avijan@comcast.net)
Rajiv Satyal is a Los Angeles-based comedian/host. His TV-clean act has made him one of the most versatile comedians working today. Satyal has some interesting claims to fame: He made the massively viral I AM INDIAN video, which was shared by Bollywood stars and used to introduce the Indian Prime Minister in Shanghai and Dubai. He has opened for Indian-American comedian Russell Peters more than any other comedian. And he even hosted Dave Chappelle’s very first show after his much-publicized African hiatus. Satyal performs weekly at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood. He has garnered 50 million+ online views and been featured on/in NBC, NPR, Nickelodeon, Fx, Netflix, Bob & Tom, Times Now, Zee TV, Pandora, The Wall Street Journal, Variety, Advertising Age, The Huffington Post, India Abroad, and the LA Times. He co-created the world-touring Make Chai Not War, a Hindu/Muslim stand-up show. The U.S. State Dept. sponsored it, sending it to seven cities in India. The show became part of the Congressional Record after being mentioned on Capitol Hill to Secretaries of State HIllary Clinton and John Kerry. Rajiv wrote No Man’s Land, a 100-minute one-person show about his dating life that sold out all six performances from LA to NY to San Francisco to Cincinnati. This show actually led to Satyal’s marriage, which itself had a comedic arc: Rajiv proposed to his girlfriend while opening for Kevin Nealon, and at his wedding, Russell Peters finally opened for him.

Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit
The 18th Annual Lenore Marwil Jewish FilmFestival
  May 12, 2016
8:00 PM
At the Berman Center
For the Performing Arts
6600 W. Maple Road
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
A Borrowed Identity
Eyad, a Palestinian Israeli boy, is given the chance to go to a prestigious Jewish boarding school in Jerusalem.  As he desperately tries to fit in with his schoolmates and within Israeli society, Eyad develops a friendship with another outsider, Jonathan, a boy suffering from muscular dystrophy, and gradually becomes part of the home Jonathan shares with his mother. After falling in love he discovers that he will have to sacrifice his identity to be accepted.
Israel, 2014, 104 minutes, Hebrew with English subtitles
Sponsored by WISDOM and
 the InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit


Interfaith group seeks to broaden its reach
A Plymouth-Canton group promoting diversity, tolerance and understanding among a rainbow of local faiths and cultures is continuing efforts to broaden its reach. Calling itself the Plymouth-Canton Interfaith Community Outreach, the group has drawn together representatives as diverse as Christians, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs to build relations and stand against divisive politics. Its focus ranges from social gatherings to student visits to places of worship.
“It’s an attempt to build friendships in the community and celebrate our diversity,” ICO coordinator Anne Marie Graham-Hudak said. “We are a diverse community and this is really about getting to know each other.”
She acknowledged the group faces challenges trying to broaden its reach and draw in residents who may have little exposure to people from other faiths and cultures. But, it’s a challenge the group is willing to tackle.
Next up, the ICO group has invited the community to gather for conversation and to share snacks 6-8:30 p.m. Saturday, March 19, at Geneva Presbyterian Church, 5835 Sheldon Road. Admission is free and visitors are encouraged to bring snacks to pass around. “We try to make these real informal conversations so people can just mingle,” Graham-Hudak said.
The Plymouth-Canton ICO also has asked those attending to bring toiletries such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and shampoo to help those living in the Westland-based Wayne County Family Center, which provides emergency shelter. ICO has been involved in events as diverse as peace walks, community forums on tolerance and gatherings to show unity against what ICO members have called polarizing politics in the U.S. presidential race. Moreover, Canton and Plymouth faith houses are continuing to host students, parents and educators from 14 school districts in southeast Michigan to teach courses on cultures and traditions. It’s called Religious Diversity Journeys and is aimed at seventh-grade students.
Districts such as West Bloomfield, Troy, Oak Park, Birmingham and Dearborn are among those who bring students to the Plymouth-Canton faith houses. ICO members still are working to get the Plymouth-Canton district involved in those faith-house visits, though some local teachers do invite Religious Diversity Journeys members to visit their classrooms.
Chandru Acharya, an ICO leader and president of the South Asian American Voices for Impact, or SAAVI, presents the Hindu section of the course and also has paid visits to Plymouth-Canton classrooms.
“The Religious Diversity Journey is a wonderful program for students to learn about the diverse cultures within our community,” Acharya said. “The interaction with the young students has been an enriching experience for me as a teacher. The students have shown great enthusiasm to learn about the historical, philosophical and cultural aspects of each journey.”
Acharya called the program “an opportunity for students to broaden their understanding of world cultures.” Already this school year, 450 students from 14 public and private schools have visited a synagogue, church, mosque, Hindu temple or Sikh gurdwara, ICO leaders say. Graham-Hudak said the program early on was initiated by the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion and the Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit.
For more information about Plymouth-Canton Interfaith Community Outreach, send an email to plymouthico@yahoo.com.

Muslim Women Offered ‘Multi-Faith Dignity Gowns’ At Royal Bournemouth And Christchurch Hospitals
Female patients are being offered new ‘multi-faith dignity gowns’ following complaints that traditional gowns violate the rules of Islam.
The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals, in Dorset, will now offer the gowns for women who want to protect their modesty for religious reasons. The new garment includes sleeves which end at the wrist, two hair coverings, a face mask and a belt around the waist to ensure it does not come open at the back. It is worn over loose trousers.


The new multi-faith dignity gown


The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said that the gown has been introduced following feedback from female Muslim patients, but added that it will also be suitable for those of Hindu, Orthodox Jewish and Rastafarian faiths. Sue Mellor, the trust’s patient engagement manager, said: “Our trust is always seeking to improve the experiences of our patients and patient feedback is incredibly important to us.
“We work with as many minority and religious groups as possible to make sure we are catering for the needs of all our patients. “When working with a focus group of Muslim ladies, we received very strong feedback that having to wear the usual hospital gown made them extremely uncomfortable, because it puts them in a position where they have to violate the rules of their faith. “We wouldn’t want this for any patient, so we introduced the new ‘multi-faith dignity gown’.”
Nada Fawal, a member of the patient focus group who helped to introduce the gown, explained: “We are absolutely delighted the trust has introduced the new gowns. “For Muslim women, to have any flesh exposed, other than their face and hands, is like having very private parts of the anatomy, such as the breasts, displayed. “This means wearing the normal hospital gown is uncomfortable for us. “At the same time, we are also very conscious that when we are in hospital, NHS staff are trying to help us, so don’t want to make life difficult for them. “Now, thanks to the new gown, we won’t have to worry about it, we can just request one of those – it’s a great relief.”
Those who would like to wear one of the new gowns have been advised to inform staff as soon as possible.

Michigan mosque takes in homeless Unitarian Church


The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Lansing is getting a new church this spring – but not quite soon enough.
Hearing of construction lags and its neighbor’s need for a temporary home, a mosque in East Lansing offered up its worship space – for free.
“No charge whatsoever,” said the Rev. Kathryn Bert. “It’s been a lovely story to live. It has been a beautiful relationship.”
Since April 3, the church has been gathering at the mosque.
The offer from the Islamic Society of Greater Lansing came with no strings attached, but in thanks the church decided to dedicate its plate offering one Sunday this month to the mosque. The mosque, in turn, plans to donate all or part of the offering to Islamic Relief USA, which locally is helping victims of the Flint water crisis and to resettle refugees.
The arrangement is particularly practical because the church gathers on Sundays, and the mosque’s main prayer day is Friday.

Shining a Light on Autism
April 23, 2016 by Padma Kuppa
As a Board member of a national Hindu advocacy organization, I have the opportunity to work closely with people whose advocacy efforts are rooted in the  first of the four-fold spiritual path a Hindu follows: dharma, or justice, fairness and equality.  One of HAF’s objectives is to “solve contemporary problems by applying Hindu philosophy,” with an emphasis on “promoting the Hindu teaching of every person’s inherent divinity regardless of race, religion, caste, gender, age, or sexual orientation, or physical and/or mental disability.” My personal experiences have led me to realize that when we face challenges related to mental or physical abilities, spiritual practice and faith based support structures are essential to rising beyond them – or sometimes, to simply to keep one’s head above water. Through interfaith friends like Gail Katz, I’ve learned that faith based groups like the Jewish organization Kadimaexist to provide support and that it is often times directed at parents who are struggling with ways to help their children.  I someday hope to see support for and from Hindus along these lines.
Since April is Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month, my HAF colleague Murali Balaji, in explaining how critical education and empowerment are to erasing stigmas associated with autism, focused on the challenges faced by communities of color. I reached out to my fellow blogger Dilshad Ali, to discover if she knew of any support groups targeted to help with mental health issues and/or autism, and specifically if she knew of anything for and by Hindu Americans – after all, they are just as likely to be impacted by autism as any other group. As shown in a study done in March 2014, “every 1 in 68 children (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 186 girls) are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Autism is one of the fastest growing developmental disorders in the US and on average, costs a family $60,000 a year. As seen in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), there are five main points in the diagnostic criteria: persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts, restricted or repetitive patterns of behaviors, interests and patterns, symptoms may be present in the early developmental period but may not become fully manifested until social demands exceed limited capacities, symptoms cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning, lastly these disturbances are not better explained by intellectual disability or global developmental delay.”
Dilshad, the Managing Editor of the Muslim channel at patheos.com  writes under the by-line Muslimah Next Door: Faith, Family and Autism – Not Always in That Order. As I expected, she had much to share about the role of faith based groups in providing social services centered around mental health issues. She spoke about American Muslim Health Professionals, (AMHP), a national nonprofit organization “focused on professional development, health education centered around the unique needs of American-Muslims, and advocacy for minorities and underserved communities.”EnabledMuslim, a project of AMHP, is an online community for spiritual and practical support for Muslims with disabilities and their loved ones and provides Muslims with access to relevant information about their situation and the ability to connect and sustain long-lasting relationships with others who have similar experiences. While she did not know if there is any Hindu group, she referred me to someone in India, the inspirational Madhusudan Srinivasa, and his son Abhi, an autistic teen. Srinivasa, an NDTV journalist takes his son everywhere – with the sage advice “when you gotta go, ya gotta go!” – one should take an autistic child to social occasions, and choose not to hide the condition. Dilshad agrees with Srinivasa, that there should be a way to overcome the stigma and stereotypes associated with mental health issues, and parents should seek necessary support from society, along with making sure that the individual impacted gets the proper care. In the face of my disappointment that there are no Hindu or dharmic organizations, she also pointed out that the advantage of being farther behind than similar Christian and Jewish organizations is that we can learn from them.
But lack of Hindu organizations does not indicate a lack of Hindu perspectives on disability and autism support. Fellow Michigander, writer and leader in the Hindu community, Chitra Raman speaks of how humor and Hinduism have helped on her journey as the mother of an autistic child. Scholars in the Hindu community, like Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Comparative Religion at McGill University, also provide guidance on what we can do to help with mental and physical disability.  Prof. Sharma offers offers clarity on how Hinduism offers a compelling rationale for respect and proper treatment of the disabled:
When I encounter disability, how, from my Hindu perspective, should I react? … the question before me is not, “Why him or her?” It is, “Given the situation, what is my duty? … One can now look to the future, for the doctrine of karma does not end with the proposition that what happens to us is the result of what we have done. It equally advances the proposition that we create our future by how we act now. So, do not wallow in self-pity but strive for a better future, an endeavor in which all others should readily help.”
His perspective is a call to action, and provides impetus to take our dharma, our search for what is just and compassionate, into the realm of serving and support – a way to turn dharma into karma, the yoga of action, through which we can help others. So what are we waiting for?

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!