Show of support for Islamic Center of Ann Arbor

On November 30th, 2016 the Islamic Center of Ann Arbor received an anti-Muslim hate letter, similar to letters sent to mosques all over the country, including the Islamic Center of East Lansing. The ICAA has received hate mail in the past, but this recent version includes numerous mentions of Trump: ‘There’s a new sheriff in town – President Donald Trump. He’s going to cleanse America and make it shine again. And, he’s going to start with you Muslims. He’s going to do to you Muslims what Hitler did to the jews. (sic)’”

In an expression of support to the Islamic Center of Ann Arbor/Muslim Community Association, the AARC Board sent the following statement:

The Board of the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation deplores harassment of anyone because of his or her religious beliefs or ethnicity. As Jews, we are well aware of the hostility our people have faced in many places and many eras. We were deeply troubled to learn of recent incidents in Ann Arbor targeting the Muslim community, such as a threat to burn a Muslim woman if she did not remove her hijab and a vicious letter mailed from California to many mosques, including the Islamic Center of Ann Arbor.  We are writing to express our solidarity with the Ann Arbor Muslim community and to assure you that a great many non-Muslims condemn anti-Muslim bigotry.

The secretary of the Muslim Community Association sent this note of appreciation in response.

Hello All,

Thank you for your kind words of support and solidarity. These are difficult times indeed and it is very sad to receive such a letter, but we fully understand that these people are not the norm and do not represent the greater good in this country.

Honestly, we are just very happy to receive these messages of support. Your words mean a lot to us – thank you again! We will keep your contact information and reach out to you when in need of assistance. Our strength lies in being united, and thus we are looking for ways to make connections.

Peace.

The Muslim Community Association has put up a webpage “Support from Ann Arbor Residents” that includes a sampling of the letters of support they have received.

You may also want to order and display a “One Human Family: We Support refugees and our Muslim neighbors” yard sign or banner. Distribution is a project of the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice the Interfaith Roundtable of Washtenaw County.

 

 

 

Join the 2016 AARC CROP Hunger Walk Team

Submitted by Cara Spindler

crop-walk-graphicOn Sunday, September 25 the Interfaith Council for Peace & Justice (ICPJ) is hosting the 42nd Annual Washtenaw/Ann Arbor CROP Hunger.  ICPJ has organized this 5k charitable walk since 1974, raising a total of $3.2 million over the decades.  Last year Washtenaw County walkers raised $48,500, with about 300 walkers participating.

CROP Hunger Walks are locally organized by businesses, schools, and communities of faith. “CROP” originally stood for the “Christian Rural Overseas Program,” a 1947 joint program between several church organizations to help with post-war poverty.  Today these community-wide local events seek to raise funds to end hunger and increase food security and food-related social justice in the U.S. and globally.  More than 1,600 walks take place across the U.S. annually.  About 25% of the proceeds go to local hunger-fighting efforts, and the walker can determine where the remaining 75% of their raised funds goes (choosing from a vetted list of global hunger agencies).

Please come and walk with us on September 25!  Call Cara Spindler ( 734-255-0939) if you want to coordinate more.  Our contingent will gather at Trinity Lutheran at 1:30 pm.  

STARTING LOCATION: Trinity Lutheran Church (1400 W Stadium Blvd., Ann Arbor, MI 48103)

DATE: Sunday, September 25, 2016, 1–4 PM

To sign up:

  1. Go to the CROP Hunger Walk website using this link
  2. Click REGISTER
  3. Fill out the form (or sign in using Facebook)
  4. When you get to “Create or Join a Team” choose “Join an existing team”
  5. Click “see list” next to the search box, and select “Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation”
  6. Click the “Join Now” button.

Your friends and neighbors can donate via the website (once you log in there’s lots of tools for soliciting donations and accepting payment)—or you can bring a check/cash to drop off at the Walk.

See you on September 25!

ICPJ 50th Anniversary: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

icpj 50thby Deb Kraus

When Ruth Kraut approached me five years ago to see if I wanted to be on the board of the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice (ICPJ), I had only the slightest sense of what they did. I was aware that most of the people I knew who did political work were at least tangentially connected to ICPJ; what I didn’t know is that I was actually one of those people!

ICPJ coordinates the local CROP walk every year. I had walked in the CROP walk. Back in 1998, ICPJ organized a peacekeeping team to mitigate between the KKK and the equally angry counter demonstrators when the KKK came to Ann Arbor to recruit. I went to the peace demonstration that day. [editor’s note: For more news of that day here and here.]

Every year, ICPJ goes to protest at the School of the Americas, and I knew that Rebecca Kanner did civil disobedience that landed her in prison, but I’m not sure I knew that this was in the context of ICPJ. When I was a graduate student, I heard about and participated in an anti-war protest when George HW Bush was the UM commencement speaker. Just this past weekend, I found out this, too, was the work of ICPJ. And as our shmita team would attest, there was a lot of cross-pollination between our work and ICPJ’s theme year work on Food and Justice.

This is a subset of the great work that this organization has spearheaded. I am pleased to be involved in this work, and pleased that so many of you have some involvement in ICPJ as well. In fact, I sometimes joke that ICPJ is our social justice arm.

So here’s my ask:

In less than three weeks, ICPJ is hosting an anniversary dinner party to celebrate 50 years of peace and justice work in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County.

It will be at 6 p.m. at the Morris Lawrence Building at WCC on Saturday, November 14. There will be remembrances from past decades, a silent auction, and a preview of what is happening in 2016. And our own Rabbi Alana will be one of the two keynote speakers as ICPJ looks ahead to the next 50 years.

Dinner will be family-style service with chicken and vegetarian options, sourced with fresh, local, seasonal ingredients.

The dinner is $50/person.

You can rsvp via email (jane@icpj.org) or phone (734-663-1870)–in which case you will be asked to send in a check–or you can get your tickets online.

I know it will be a great night, and I hope you can join me.

Of Iftar and Izmir

By Ellen Dannin

11667454_10153362462663116_3875672153086888849_nMost who know anything about Jews know something about the traditions and culture of Ashkenazi Jews – the Jews who lived in Europe and spoke Yiddish. Fewer people know about Jewish culture and history in the Middle East and Mediterranean areas. While Ashkenazi Jews traditionally speak Yiddish, which is a mix of Hebrew and German, Mediterranean Jews spoke other languages that were based on Hebrew, such as Ladino, and were an amalgam of Hebrew, Arabic, and Spanish.

A few weeks ago, the NY Times reported on a less well known part of Jewish culture to be found in Arab speaking countries. In those areas, Jews found centuries of safety and enlightenment in the midst of a scientific revolution. The Times story described the Danan Synagogue, which was named for a rabbinical family whose lineage goes back 50 generations to the 17th-century. Since Hebrew is traditionally written without vowels, there can be many spellings that sound alike. So it is probable that the Danans in the article were related to the Dannins, my family. Over the centuries, they lived in Izmir (Smyrna), Morocco, Spain, Turkey, and eventually made their way to Sweden in the early 19th century and on to Indiana.

The rituals of the Muslim holiday Ramadan are now being observed, through fasting and prayer, but also through Iftar – the evening meal eaten during Ramadan. While I lived in State College, PA, the Turkish community invited me and several hundred  other non-Muslims to enjoy the Iftar meal with them and to learn about their culture and values.

Now there is an opportunity to share the Iftar meal here in Ann Arbor, this Sunday, July 12. I hope others from AARC will join me in accepting the invitation of the Niagra Foundation, St. Clare’s Episcopal Church, and Temple Beth Emeth to an Ann Arbor Neighborhood and Friendship Iftar at Genesis, 2309 Packard Rd. The evening will begin with a screening of the film Love is a Verb at 8:00, at 8:45  there will be a prayer in the Sanctuary, and at 9:15, fast-breaking in the Social Hall. Please rsvp here.

As a member of the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation, I value the opportunity to participate in observing Iftar and to learn from one another about our traditions and values. When we Jews observe Pesach (Passover), we recall the memory of Jerusalem, the city whose very name – Ir-Shalom – means City of Peace. May we all be at peace, and may we all live in freedom.

Interfaith Musical Chairs: Learning About Our Religious Community

By Ellen Dannin

Ellen-Dannins-candlesticks3On Sunday afternoon, January 11, I was one of about 30 people – each of whom was leading a small circle of up to 4 people in an introduction to one of Ann Arbor’s religions. It was part of an event sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Washtenaw County and the dynamics were a bit like speed dating. The person leading each group got twenty minutes to provide information about the religion to the rest of the circle. Proselytizing was forbidden. Giving people information and bringing in some item that is important to the religion was encouraged.

My personal information focused on lighting shabbat candles on the candlesticks that my great-grandmother brought with her when she left Turkey in 1915.

The item I brought was my personal copy of the Reconstructonist siddur. I showed people how it reflected values important to Reconstructionist Judaism — in particular, the high priority we place upon inclusiveness. Our siddur lets people be on the same page literally and figuratively. It invites us all to participate, even if we cannot read Hebrew. It gives us ways to be creative with services. On many pages it provides information that increases our knowledge and enhances our practice. And it is a beautiful book with lovely and creative images. In short, it is a perfect example of hiddur mitzvah — expanding on and beautifying each mitzvah.