interfaith | Not in Our Town


NIOT-Bowling Green convened its fourth annual interfaith breakfast affirming values of diversity and religious inclusion. (Pictured: Speakers at the event via Twitter)
  By Rachel Burke Koslofsky Last Monday, I led our family’s Second Annual Interfaith Skype Passover Seder. At 6 p.m. California time and 9 p.m. Kentucky time, each segment of the family crowded around a computer screen to participate. This offbeat tradition was born out of an experimental seder set in Kentucky during Holy Week of 2012—and fueled by curiosity. My father’s parents raised him as a Brooklyn Jew in the 1950’s. During the same decade, and just 700 miles away, my mother grew up in the Christian Church in Maysville, Kentucky. It might as well have been another world. My father’s childhood was full of pastrami sandwiches on rye and his Zadie’s most perfect challah. My mother’s consisted more of honey glazed ham and butterflake rolls from the family bakery her grandfather and Uncle Sam ran in Danville, Kentucky. My father also grew up with an Uncle Sam, three in fact, though prior to their arrival at Ellis Island they were Uncle Simcha, Schmuel and Shlomo. But that was back in the shtetl of Lithuania. The one thing the two did have in common growing up was their fathers’ dedication to their respective faiths.
This guide is republished with permission from United Religions Initiative. Learn more at  IDEAS FOR ACTION BY FAITH COMMUNITIES, INTERFAITH GROUPS AND URI COOPERATION CIRCLES
Harpreet Singh Saini is sworn in before testifying. Photo Credit: AP “I want to tell the gunman who took her from me: You may have been full of hate, but my mother was full of love,” said Harpreet Singh Saini, who lost his mother in the tragic hate crime killings at a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek Wisconsin on Aug. 5.  
We joined Oak Creek, WI for a vigil and funeral after the mass shootings at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. In this short film, we witness the community coming together in the wake of tragedy. Thousands gather in the center of town to support the Sikh community in the aftermath of the Aug. 5, 2012 hate crime killing at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, a suburb of Milwaukee. Mayor Steve Scaffidi, Police Chief John Edwards, and Amardeep Kaleka, son of the slain temple president, share prayers and hopes for peace and unity. Days later, the community comes together again for a memorial service for the six victims of the attack.    
  From the Chicago Tribune: Candlelight vigil for victims of Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin at Palatine Gurdwara in Palatine, IL on Aug. 6. Communities nationwide join together to honor the victims of the Oak Creek, Wis. Gurdwara massacre on Aug. 5 that left six dead and three wounded. The nationwide invitation is organized by the Sikh Coalition, Sikh leaders and organizations. "A crime like this should be condemned, regardless of what ethnic or religious group is targeted. The shooting is no less or more reprehensible if it was directed against Americans attending a mosque, synagogue or church. This type of attack is not attack on one community; it's an attack on us all," said Sikh Coalition Executive Director Sapreet Kaur.  Offer Help & Support to the Oak Creek Sikh Community
"Workers Without Wheels is saying, 'You come in here and maybe we're training you about bicycles, but you might be training us about how to treat each other decently.'" —Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter    "Workers Without Wheels," a short film from Ed Betz Photography features an innovative bicycle program that brings together immigrants and community members in Patchogue, N.Y. The program not only provides bicycles to those in need, but work-training as well. Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter, who appeared in Light in the Darkness, leads the Congregational Church of Patchogue.     Workers Without Wheels holds a giveaway and fundraiser tomorrow, May 19. Click here for more details. 
Tulsa, Okla. mourns three of its residents after a shooting spree on Good Friday that also left two injured.
Interfaith community comes together after anti-Semitic attacks in Bergen County, N.J. Video from Odyssey Networks Days after Molotov cocktails were thrown through the window of Congregation Beth El in Rutherford, N.J., community members, faith leaders, law enforcement officials, and politicians gathered at Felician College to show support for their Jewish neighbors. Congretation Beth El was one of four Jewish temples targeted in the past several months. Two teenangers from Bergen County, N.J. were arrested in connection with the attacks.   Rabbi Nossom Schuman of Congregation Beth El described the attack as a “dragon’s breath of  fire” that came through the window of his home while his family was asleep on the top floor of the synagogue. The Molotov cocktails ignited the sheets in his bed and threatened the lives of his wife and their five children before he was able to extinguish the flames. 
A professional writer and educator in Fort Collins, CO, Ellissa J. Tivona, Ph.D., is also a member of the local Fort Collins Not In Our Town Alliance. In a recent contribution to, Tivona shares her thoughts being part of a community that stands together as one in times of need.  I've made a decision. On Sept. 11, 2012, instead of dredging up nightmare images of 9/11, I intend to remember where I was this year.