Religious Diversity News

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Yerington Interfaith Group planning a Day of Remembrance – Reno Gazette Journal

Yerington Interfaith Group planning a Day of RemembranceReno Gazette JournalThe Yerington Interfaith Group is planning a Day of Remembrance in Hope and Unity on September 11, the 10th Anniversary of the terrorist attack on America. The event is scheduled from 4:00-5:15 pm at Mountain View Park. Details on the schedule for the …

Yes, Miky, There Are Rabbis In Montana

Author: Eric A. Stern

Source: The New York Times

In Montana, a rabbi is an unusual sight. So when a Hasidic one walked into the State Capitol last December, with his long beard, black hat and long black coat, a police officer grabbed his bomb-sniffing German shepherd and went to ask the exotic visitor a few questions.

Though there are few Jews in Montana today, there once were many. In the late 19th century, there were thriving Jewish populations in the mining towns, where Jews emigrated to work as butchers, clothiers, jewelers, tailors and the like.

The city of Butte had kosher markets, a Jewish mayor, a B’nai B’rith lodge and three synagogues. Helena, the capital city, had Temple Emanu-El, built in 1891 with a seating capacity of 500. The elegant original facade still stands, but the building was sold and converted to offices in the 1930s, when the congregation had dwindled to almost nothing, the Jewish population having mostly assimilated or moved on to bigger cities.

There is a Jewish cemetery in Helena, too, with tombstones dating to 1866. But more Jews are buried in Helena than currently live here.

And yet, in a minor revival, Montana now has three rabbis, two in Bozeman and one (appropriately) in Whitefish. They were all at the Capitol on the first night of Hannukah last year to light a menorah in the ornate Capitol rotunda, amid 100-year-old murals depicting Sacajawea meeting Lewis and Clark, the Indians beating Custer, and the railway being built. The security officer and the dog followed the rabbi into the rotunda, to size him up.

Yezidis of Northern Iraq May Be Oldest Monotheistic Religion

Source: Assyrian International News Agency

On December 4, 2005 the Assyrian International News Agency reported, “This small ethnic community, numbering perhaps 500,000 people in Iraq, 750,000 at most, is all that remains of what is perhaps the oldest monotheistic religion in the world, the Yezidi religion, a faith documented (at least sparsely) as far back as 2000 BC and according to oral tradition is vastly older still. Today, the Yezidi regard Muhammad as a prophet and Jesus Christ as an angel in human form. Some scholars believe elements of the Yezidi religion date to ancient Assyrian and Zoroastrian religions… Yezidism is an ethnicity and a religious identity rolled into one. [One] cannot marry into or convert to the faith, due in large part to a unique (in this region) aspect of their beliefs, reincarnation, which they call the ‘soul changing its clothes’… Yezidis are divided into castes. The higher caste, called Sheikhs, is further divided into community and religious leaders called Pir. The lower caste is the rest of the Yezidi population, called the Marid. Intermarriage between the castes is discouraged. ‘You cannot do this, you are born as God wants,’ Sabah declares. ‘To keep our culture intact, we must keep the levels within it intact.'”

Yoga at NY High School Causes Stress Among Critics

Author: Staff Writer

Source: The Associated Press

A group of parents and religious leaders in upstate New York want yoga classes out of public schools, saying the instruction violates boundaries between church and state.

Two high school teachers began using yoga last year to help students relieve stress before exams. Special education teacher Martha Duchscherer and Spanish teacher Kerry Perretta also were developing a districtwide program.

But those plans were halted after parents and others in the community complained students were being indoctrinated in Hindu rites.

“We are not opposed to the benefits. We can understand the benefits. We are opposed to the philosophy behind it and that has its ties in Hinduism and the way they were presenting it,” said the Rev. Colin Lucid of Calvary Baptist Church in Massena.

The program does not have ulterior motives, Julie Reagan, Massena Board of Education president, said Thursday.

“If the school board felt there was any hidden religious activity behind the motives of our two instructors, we certainly wouldn’t allow that,” she said. “There is absolutely none of that. The teachers are well intended and trying to offer an aspect of fitness in the classroom that relaxes and readies the children for better learning.”

Yoga Finds Past Purpose

Author: Amelia Rayno

Source: The Star Tribune

On the last night of outdoor yoga at the Hindu Temple of Minnesota in Maple Grove, mats formed a zigzag along the cold, concrete balcony.

Some of the pupils came in jeans, baggy dresses and T-shirts. The only sound was the purr of the wind curling through the cornfields that surrounded the holy place.

Yoga Gains A Foothold Among Many Americans

Source: The Denver Post

On July 24, 2001, The Denver Post reported that “as aging baby boomers turn to yoga to ease their aching bodies, doctors,
employers and celebrities have begun to promote this ancient healing exercise. An estimated 15 million Americans practice yoga…The roots of its healing properties [are] buried deep  within the chakra
system. ‘It’s astonishing to see,’ says a Hindu priest…’I’ve seen a shift from questions about ‘why do you  worship cows’ to asking
about the chakras.’ … ‘Chakra’…
refers to the seven energy centers in the body…Connections can be made between the chakras and physical and emotional

Yoga Lessons for the Inmates

Source: Leader-Post

Wire Service: AP

LANSING, Kan. (AP) — Lama Chuck Stanford started visiting a small group of Buddhist inmates in Kansas about six years ago.

“Then word got around that I was doing this,” Stanford says, “and I started getting calls from prison chaplains around here telling me they had Buddhist inmates interested in getting groups going.”

Now Stanford serves four prisons — the Lansing Correctional Center, the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks in Leavenworth, and two state prisons in Missouri. He’s on the road two days a week, most days serving groups of 10 men at each prison.

Stanford is among a quietly growing number of Buddhist teachers working in U.S. prisons, tending to inmates who had been raised Buddhist or who discovered the ancient faith later, many while incarcerated.
U.S. prisons are also offering meditation and yoga for their general populations.