Religious Diversity News

Showing all news articles.

The Washington Interfaith Network

Source: The Washington Post Magazine

On June 6, 1999, The Washington Post published an
in-depth article in their Sunday Magazine on the efforts of the
Washington Interfaith Network entitled, “Prayers for the City: The
Washington Interfaith Network Believes Organization, Commitment,
Discipline and Multiracialism Can Help Turn the District Around, But
There Are No Heavenly Miracles in the Secular City.”

The Changing Face of Judaism

Source: Sacramento Bee

On June 5, 1999, the Sacramento Bee published an article
on Rabbi Mendy Cohen, who is affiliated with the Chabad-Lubavitch
Hasidic movement and founder of Chabad of Sacramento. Cohen, like his
Lubavitch movement, has been a charismatic figure in the Sacramento
area and has aggressively made outreach efforts to area Jews with his
brand of Orthodox Judaism. Cohen stated: “There is no such thing as
Orthodox or Conservative or Reform. There is a Judaism that was given
to Moses on Mount Sinai, and he gave it over to generation after
generation. You don’t change the rules when it gets tough.” Cohen,
shortly after founding Chabad of Sacramento in 1994, decided to light
an 11-foot high menorah for Hanukkah on the steps of the California
state capitol. Despite some negative reactions in the local Jewish
community, the menorah lighting has been a success in recent years.
Chabad of Sacramento has been competing with area Orthodox and
Conservative congregations. It regularly draws 60-100 people for
services and hundreds for holiday services.

Change Your Mind Day

Source: New York Daily News

On June 5, 1999, the Daily News published an article
describing this year’s Change Your Mind Day. It is a five-hour
festival of music, poetry, contemplative exercises, and introduction
to meditation that is to be held in Central Park. Scheduled to
perform or speak are composer Philip Glass, poet Anne Waldman, author
Sharon Salzberg, and Nicholas Vreeland, a Buddhist monk who runs the
Tibet Center in midtown Manhattan. Rande Brown, who organized the New
York event, stated: “Teachers will demonstrate techniques of
meditation and explain some of the philosophy behind them. At times,
we will meditate for as long as 10 minutes. But it is something,
seeing thousands of people sitting in silence. The same when
everybody chants. It’s special.” Last year, approximately 3000 people
showed up for the New York event.

Change Your Mind Day

Source: The New York Times

On June 5, 1999, The New York Times published an article
on the busy summer for public Buddhist events in the United States.
June 5th is the sixth annual Change Your Mind Day, which is a “free
program being offered…to introduce people to Buddhist meditation.”
The event is sponsored by Tricycle: The Buddhist Review and is
being held in New York City, San Francisco, and Williamsport,
Pennsylvania. On July 10th, Buddhists in Alaska will hold a similar
event in Anchorage. On the morning of August 15th, the Dalai Lama
will give a public lecture in Central Park.

NYPD Appoint First Muslim Chaplain

Source: New York Daily News

On June 4, 1999, the Daily News reported that Imam
Izak-El Mu’eed Pasha of the Malcolm Shabazz Mosque in Harlem, New
York was appointed as the first Muslim chaplain in New York Police
history. Pasha, who heads the historic Temple No. 7 that was once led
by Malcolm X, lobbied for the chaplaincy after the controversial
killing of Abner Louima, a Muslim, by a police officer. Pasha stated:
“We hope that we will help all people, not just Muslims, but all
people of faith and people not of faith.”

Change Your Mind Day

Source: The San Francisco Chronicle

On June 4, 1999, The San Francisco Chronicle reported
that Change Your Mind Day will take place at Golden Gate Park on June
5th. The event is being held for the first time outside of New York
City’s Central Park. The Buddhists in San Francisco plan to hook up
with their counterparts in New York via cell phone during a
meditation session. The San Francisco event is sponsored by the San
Francisco Zen Center, Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Marin County,
California, and the Bay Area Shambhala Centers.

The Changing Face of Judaism

Source: The New York Times

On June 1, 1999, The New York Times published an article
of reflections on the Pittsburgh Principles. Rabbis Sheldon
Zimmerman, president of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of
Religion, emphasized that since American society reminds Jews of
their identity less frequently, the question for American Jews is
“‘Why be Jewish?’ No other generation has had to answer that
question.” Rabbis Paul J. Menitoff, the executive vice-president of
the Central Conference of American Rabbis, stated: “I think there’s a
change in the sociology of what we’re all about. Our parents and
grandparents were coming to this country and trying to become
Americanized. They wanted their kids to be as American as apple pie,
and they did a very good job.” Rabbi Menitoff also mentioned that the
younger generations are searching for their roots.

The Changing Face of Judaism

Source: The Courier-Journal

On May 31, 1999, The Courier-Journal of Louisville
published an article on Congregation Keneseth Israel in Louisville,
which recently voted to give men and women equal roles in worship
services. Women in this Conservative synagogue will now be allowed to
read from the Torah during services. Rabbi Shmuel Mann, leader of
Keneseth Israel, stated: “I have ambivalent feelings, in the sense
that it’s tough for a congregation to go through this move, but
hundreds of Conservative congregations have done that over the last
25 years. On the whole I think it’s a positive move…It brings the
worship service more in line with the way we think and the way we
live our lives.”

‘Americanization’ of Muslims and Islam

Source: Star Tribune

On May 29, 1999, the Star Tribune published an article
on the third biennial conference of the National Student Conference
on Islam at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. The theme of this
year’s conference, “Muslims & Christians, Friendship &
Faith,” expounds on the Student Conference’s goal of instilling an
understanding of Islam and Muslim culture in undergraduate and
seminary students. Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, professor of the History of
Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at the Center for
Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, gave a
lecture at the conference on the Americanization of Muslims and
Islam. Haddad stated that Muslim faith and practice in the United
States is vibrant and growing at a fast pace: “some kind of Saudi
Islam seems to be the norm. They’re doing a lot of reinterpretation.”
She also addressed the fact that many children of Islamic immigrants
attempt to distance themselves from the culture and religion of their
parents. Haddad interviewed a range of white American female
converts, who feel more comfortable in American society as Muslims
because they are “respected for who they are rather than for the way
they look.” In addition, women’s lives are not “tied to an outside
job” and the role of wife and mother takes precedence. Mark N.
Swanson, director of the Islamic Studies Program at Luther, stated:
“Every group in the United States has Americanized in some sense.
Each one has to find its own axis of acculturation. Different
communities find their place along the axis where they’re loyal to
their traditions and also feel they have a role in this society.”

The Changing Face of Judaism

Source: The New York Times

On May 27, 1999, The New York Times published an article
on the contents of the Pittsburgh Principles. The document is divided
into “three broad sections of beliefs, in the worship of God, the
observance of the Torah and devotion to Israel.” The document
specifically addresses for the first time in a declaration of Reform
principles the issue of mitzvot, which are sacred obligations that
are observed more closely by Conservative and Orthodox Jews. The
document states that “some of these mitzvot, sacred obligations, have
long been observed by Reform Jews; others, both ancient and modern,
demand renewed attention as the result of the unique context of our
own times.” The document also addresses homosexuality, religious intermarriage, and recent converts. The Pittsburgh Principles are a
beginning point for further meetings to translate the principles into “concrete terms.”