Religious Diversity News

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Pluralism Project Affiliates Map Religious Diversity of Northern Ohio

Source: Akron Beacon Journal

On July 31, 1999 Akron Beacon Journal featured an article on the research of Northern Ohio’s religious diversity by Pluralism Project affiliates. The “growth in religious diversity has been examined by two Kent State University researchers… Dr. David Odell-Scott, associate professor of philosophy… and Dr. Surinder M. Bhardwaj, a professor of geography… received a 1998 grant through the Pluralism Project at Harvard University to map the religious diversity of Northern Ohio…

As a result of that work, the researchers have received three other grants and have started what is called The Ohio Pluralism Project at Kent State and are now examining religious diversity throughout Ohio… The researchers found that there are at least 15 Buddhist, five Hindu, four traditional Islamic, two Sikh and one Jainist committee in Northern Ohio.

They also found there is great diversity within similar religious groups… In addition, students studying religious diversity, the researchers said, reported religious stereotypes were broken down by visiting a variety of religious institutions… ‘The religious landscape is changing greatly,’ said Bhardwaj, a native of India and a Hindu who worked with Odell-Scott, a native of Alabama who is a Protestant Christian… According to Bhardwaj, immigration into the United States used to come from Europe, but now people coming into the country are coming from Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and other traditions…

Odell-Scott said during his research he had been contacted by a number of Christian ministers who were seeking advice on how to educate members of their church on different religious traditions.” The article also featured descriptions of several centers profiled by the affiliates.

Oakland A’s Raise Money for Rebuilding Synagogues

Source: Sacramento Bee

On July 31, 1999, the Sacramento Bee reported that when
the Oakland A’s play the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, August 5th,
Sacramento area rabbis whose synagogues were damaged by arson will
throw the first pitch. Tickets for the game will be discounted,
with plaza level seats for $8 and field level seats for $10, and $3
per specially ordered ticket will go toward rebuilding the
synagogues. Marty London, cantor of Kenesset Israel Torah, is
expected to sing the national anthem.

Dar al Islam in New Mexico

Source: The Toronto Star

On July 31, 1999, The Toronto Star published an article
on Dar al Islam, a Muslim village begun in 1977 by American and
European converts who wanted to live amid the Native American pueblos
in northern New Mexico. The village, which was constructed in
Abiquiu, New Mexico, boasts an adobe mosque as its centerpiece.
Completed in 1981 and situated on 1,600 acres, the mosque and adjoining madrassah include vaulted ceilings, domes, archways, gardens,
courtyards, and a library. The Dar al Islam community of
several dedicated families consists of educators, artists,
poets, and writers who want to “build bridges between Muslims and
the wider North American community by communicating the deep
spirituality and beauty of the Islamic tradition by living it.” The
Dar al Islam Foundation sponsors many projects across the continent
to bring Muslims and non-Muslims together to discuss Islam and other
related issues. Among its most popular programs is the yearly
Teachers’ Institute, which has brought together over 200 educators
from the United States and Canada to learn about Islam.

Sikh Summer Camp for Children

Source: The Dallas Morning News

On July 31, 1999, The Dallas Morning News published an
article on Sikh Camp at the Sikh Temple of North Texas in Garland,
TX. It is a two-week camp for children ages 5-14 that immerses Sikh
children in their faith, which is an experience rarely felt in
American culture. The camp, in its 14th year, has drawn 30 children
this year. Ritika Vohra, whose two daughters attend the camp, stated:
“This is an opportunity for them to socialize with one another, and
that’s one of the most important things that we can give them here.”
Ellie Pierce, Project Manager for the Pluralism Project at Harvard
University, states that these summer camps are important for Sikhs:
“When you’re the only Sikh in your school or your neighborhood, it’s
very important that they have these camps so they can spend time with
their peers…It gives them a chance to relax. There’s virtually no
knowledge of Sikhism in this country, and they have to start at
Ground Zero with most people.” There are about 500 Sikh families in
the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and the United States has a Sikh
population of approximately 150,000.

Synagogue Plans in Cleveland Receive Initial Approval by Zoning Board

Source: The Plain Dealer

On July 29, 1999, The Plain Dealer reported that plans
to build a new synagogue for Chabad House of Cleveland have been
approved by the Cleveland’s Board of Zoning Appeals. Following
several years of protest of the planned 12-acre Orthodox Jewish campus
in Cleveland, Chabad House received initial approval for its
restructured plans that limit the size of its synagogue. Young Israel
of Beachwood had also planned to build a synagogue on the site, along
with a proposed all-girls high school by the Hebrew Academy of
Cleveland. So far, only Chabad House has received initial approval.
After another meeting to take place with the Zoning Board on October
27th, 1999 to finalize plans, Chabad House will then have one year to
secure the final approval of the Zoning Board.

Festival of Chariots in Los Angeles

Source: Los Angeles Times

On July 29, 1999, the Los Angeles Times reported that the
Hindu Festival of Chariots, the 23rd annual Americanized version of
the celebration held in Orissa, India, will take place on Sunday,
August 1st. Instead of three chariots, three 10-story floats, which
represent the effigies of Krishna, his brother Balarama, and his
sister Subhadra, will be pulled by people in a festive procession
down Ocean Front Walk from Santa Monica to Venice. This festival in
India marks the end of summer and the growing season. The celebration
will feature a sitar player, a spiritual rock band, two dance groups
from Los Angeles, and a theatrical troupe from Florida. Exhibits will
include vegetarian cooking demonstrations, clothing and jewelry
booths, and a photo display of chariot festivals from around the
world.

New Hebrew-English Tanakh

Source: Los Angeles Times

On July 27, 1999, the Los Angeles Times reported that the
Jewish Publication Society has just published a Hebrew-English
Tanakh. Rabbi David Sulomm Stein, the managing edito, stated: “There’s an increasing number of
people who want to figure out where the Bible came from and how it
makes sense…This translation is one place to start.”

The United Against Hate Gospel Concert

Source: Sacramento Bee

On July 25, 1999, the Sacramento Bee reported that the
United Against Hate Gospel Concert took place on July 24th at the
Samuel C. Pannell Community Center in the Sacramento area of
California. More than 200 people attended the interfaith concert to
show support for one another in the aftermath of the three synagogue
arsons. Rev. Ronald E. Bell, a Progressive Church of God in Christ
minister who planned the event, stated: “These events are vitally
important because people need to know that any time a church is
attacked, we’re all coming together…It doesn’t matter if it’s a
Baptist church, a Buddhist church – we’re going to come together.”
Sarah Richey, a Sacramento resident who attended the event, stated:
“This is very encouraging…We’re getting to know each other’s
cultures so we can learn to love.” At the concert, more than $1000
was donated to the Unity Fund for synagogue rebuilding efforts.

The Omaha Center for Torah Learning

Source: Omaha World-Herald

On July 24, 1999, the Omaha World-Herald reported that
the Omaha Center for Torah Learning, a privately funded educational
institution that is part of the Kollel Torah MiTzion group, will open
on September 1st in Nebraska. Kollel Torah MiTzion is a
Jerusalem-based initiative that helps Jews outside of Israel to
create learning centers and recruit faculty. The first programs were
established in 1994 in Cleveland, Ohio and Cape Town, South Africa.
Now there are 22 programs in 8 countries, including 12 in the United
States. Along with Omaha, Syracuse, New York and Detroit, Michigan
will also be opening study centers with the help of Torah MiTzion.
These programs are open to all Jews at all levels of
knowledge.