Religious Diversity News

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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.

Wicca Becoming More Popular on College Campuses

Source: The Plain Dealer

On July 24, 1999, The Plain Dealer published an article
on the presence of Wicca on college campuses. Practitioners and
scholars agree that college is a gateway for many into Paganism
because of the “usual willingness of the young to experiment with the
new and unfamiliar.” College students are attracted by Paganism’s
reverence for the Earth and nature and its flexibility and individuality.
“I like it because it’s a very self-styled religion…There’s not
very much dogma,” said Andee Brown, a computer science major at Smith
College who became a Wiccan two years ago. At least 75 college pagan
groups have internet web sites and the list keeps growing. “We’ve
seen an explosion of interest…It’s really been snowballing in the
last couple of years,” said Cairril Adaire of the Pagan Educational
Network. Although the exact number of Pagans can’t be determined, the
Pagan Educational Network estimates there are at least 150,000 to
600,000 Pagans in the United States.

First Buddhist Temple in Western New York

Source: The Buffalo News

On July 24, 1999, The Buffalo News reported that the Chau
Tu Hien Buddhist Cultural Center in Buffalo, NY will be dedicated on
July 25th. The Center will serve the growing Vietnamese Buddhist
community in the Buffalo area, which numbers about 400 to 500
families, and 70 to 100 American families. The Center consists of a
main worship hall, a reception area, a kitchen area, a small room for
praying to ancestors, living quarters for monks, a hall used by the
Buddhist Youth Association, and a room that will eventually become a
library. The temple features a 600-pound handmade statue of Buddha
and a 1,000-pound metal bell used to call temple members to worship.

The Day of Mindfulness in Oakland, California

Source: The San Francisco Chronicle

On July 24, 1999, The San Francisco Chronicle published
an article on the upcoming Day of Mindfulness to be held in Oakland,
California in mid-September. As many as 5,000 people are expected to
flock to Lakeside Park on the shores of Lake Merritt to experience
the first-ever day of meditation in an urban setting. The event will
be lead by Vietnamese meditation master Thich Nhat Hanh and will
include walking and sitting practice and a discussion on how to
employ Buddhist practices in everyday life. Mayor of Oakland Jerry
Brown will introduce Hanh and kickoff the ceremonies. We The People,
Jerry Brown’s organization, will be an event sponsor. Tickets for the
Day of Mindfulness are $75, with those under 18 and low-income asked
to pay $25. Organizers have urged that no one will be turned away for
lack of funds. Money raised by the event will be used by Hanh to
continue his work to fund medical clinics and schools in Vietnam.