An Upcoming Festival of Lights

Dear Friends,

Diwali, known as the Festival of Lights, is fast approaching! This year, Diwali will take place on November 14th. Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and some Buddhists around the world celebrate this New Year festival. Diwali is also an official holiday in a number of countries in South Asia and around the world.

To learn more about Diwali and its potential workforce implications, please consult our Diwali Fact Sheet.

Warm regards,

In Friendship,

Mark Fowler
CEO, Tanenbaum

 


 

Eid al-Adha: A Day of Significance

Dear Friends,

Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice) celebrates the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son when ordered to do so by God. In 2020, this Muslim holiday will be observed in the U.S. between sundown on July 31st and sundown on August 3rd. The date may be different in other countries, as the sighting of the new moon will determine the start of the holiday.

Eid al-Adha is of great significance within Islam and employees may request time off. Please review and share Tanenbaum’s fact sheet for more information on the holiday’s workplace implications, appropriate greetings, and more!

In peace,

Rev. Mark Fowler
CEO, Tanenbaum


 

Engaging in Religious Dialogue and Reflection with Middle School Students

Guest blog post by Caroline Turner, School Counselor and Respect For All Liaison at MS 890


The new middle school in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, known as MS 890, is taking the initiative to understand differences in a diverse neighborhood.  In conjunction with the 6th Grade Social Studies curriculum, we have been exploring the question: “What role do belief systems play in society?” We have been learning about world religions and how they have affected world history. One focus is on comparing similarities and differences across the spectrum of belief systems and the influences different belief systems have on cultural practices and current events.

To expand on student learning, Joseph Sixta, a 6th grade Social Studies teacher at MS 890, suggested that we visit religious sites before the curriculum starts to learn how religion is practiced in New York City and specifically in our Brooklyn neighborhood. Students at MS 890 come from religiously, culturally, and economically diverse backgrounds and we wanted to hear from diverse religious leaders to get some first-hand basic understanding. We emphasized on the field trip form and in the parent chaperone orientation that the purpose of the visits was to continue to embrace diversity, inclusion, and understanding and not to promote any religious affiliation.  A goal was to reduce prejudice towards different religious practices. We recruited 19 volunteer parent chaperones from a sixth grade class of 90 students.

We decided that starting with three monotheistic sites would be easiest for both student learning and adult logistics. Luckily we live in New York, so we had many different sites to reach out to. The three sites included an Islamic center, a Protestant church, and a Reform Jewish temple, all within a mile of MS 890. With the recent Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism and the escalating conflicts in the Middle East, our field trips were timely and poignant.

In preparing for the visit to the Reform Jewish Temple, our students asked questions such as: “Are we going to be safe?” and “Is it going to canceled?” after the recent escalation in Iran. We discussed the questions, which triggered teachable moments and underscored the educational value in making the visits. At the temple, students wanted to know why they had so many security cameras.  Other students wanted to know how they kept the yarmulke on their heads.  Cantor Snyder described how Judaism is both a religion and ethnicity and this led to conversations around the recent anti-Semitic attacks. The Cantor said that after each attack, attendance at services increases in a show of solidarity.  He then mentioned that his mother asked him not to wear his yarmulke in public because of the anti-Semitic attacks. This comment resonated with some of the student’s fears of safety while visiting the temple.

At the Islamic center, students complained when they were asked to remove their shoes, but they rebounded when they were greeted warmly and treated to donuts. Imam Saud spoke about his diverse upbringing in Bosnia, Germany and Saudi Arabia. His childhood experiences led him to an appreciation of all religious viewpoints, not just his own. Students asked about the clothing worn by practicing Muslims, and about “the women who wear all black and all I can see is their eyes?” Other students asked questions about halal meat, and many asked about Ramadan and Eid.

At the Congregational church, one student asked: “what was it like growing up in your spiritual or religious background?” Reverend Tilliard described his upbringing in various black Christian churches and conversion to Islam in his early adulthood. Much of his faith intersected with advocacy work around racial inequalities at the time. He eventually returned and was ordained in the Christian faith. The pastor described the influence of the church in various racial equity movements in the United States and referenced the Old Testament story of the Israelites rising up against slavery in Egypt as an inspiration.

Caroline Turner, School Counselor and Respect For All Liaison at MS 890

The majority of the students participated in asking questions of various hosts. Prior to our visits, the various houses of worship seemed shrouded in mystery and may have given some students a sense of discomfort or perhaps fear of the unknown. Visiting the sites allowed the students to gain a better understanding of the three religions and their common goals. It also opened up conversations between and among the students when asking about their peers’ different clothing, customs and beliefs. While the intended audience for learning was the MS 890 middle school students, all of the adults also had an appreciation for the learning experience in a realm that sometimes divides us but is seldom formally discussed in middle school.

To culminate the world history curriculum, our students will participate in a panel discussion with Buddhist, Sikh, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Hindu leaders, and we are open to all others. Our guest speakers answer pre-determined questions such as: “Can you describe your unique experiences of growing up in your religious community?” “As an adult, what motivated you to do the work you are doing now?” “What is the biggest misconception about your religion that you want to correct?” Each guest speaker was briefed on First Amendment rules in the context of public education. Most of the guest speakers had been selected from higher education sources or through local interfaith organizations to ensure that they are well-versed in this interfaith format. We look forward to continuing to allow our students to grow and ask questions to prepare them to be global citizens.

Guest blog post by Caroline Turner, School Counselor and Respect For All Liaison at MS 890


 

Ramadan is on the Horizon

Dear Friends,

In these trying times, sometimes it can be reassuring to engage in or learn about the traditions and rituals of our friends and colleagues. The holy month of Ramadan will begin soon and, this year, it will begin on the evening of April 23rd and end on May 24th.

Muslim employees observing Ramadan may be fasting during this period. Some may request scheduling accommodations in order to observe and your company may find that more employees require space or time for prayer during this period.

To learn about additional tips and considerations regarding scheduling, dietary restrictions, and greetings, read and circulate our Ramadan Fact Sheet.

Warm regards,

Mark Fowler
Deputy CEO


Photos by: 1. Haidan 2. Moderntime 

The Festival of Colors: Holi is Almost Here!

Dear Friends,

The Hindu festival of Holi is coming up in a few short weeks. Holi is often called the festival of colors, because “playing Holi” means flinging colors. This year, Holi will take place on March 9th and 10th and, depending on where it’s being celebrated, may last one or two days.

Due to your location, workforce, or clientele, you may experience the impact of Holi on the workplace more so than some. To be prepared, and for more information about the holiday and potential workplace implications, take a look at our new Holi Fact Sheet!

In peace,

Mark Fowler
Deputy CEO, Tanenbaum

Photo: Steven Garner

Remembering the Very Rev. James Morton

Credit: James Estrin/The New York Times

The other day, I received an official notice from Rev. Chloe Breyer via email, announcing the death of the founder of the Interfaith Center of New York. The Very Rev. James Morton, an icon and interreligious leader of enormous stature, had passed. Her tribute recalled the breadth of his contributions. I paused to think of how I remembered him.

But what struck me later, were two other emails I received. I got an email from Scottie Twine, a former colleague, one of my partners in building Tanenbaum and a dear friend, who wrote to make sure that several of us had taken note of Jim’s passing.

She knew Jim Morton from living on the Upper West Side and from her own social justice and environmental work (he served on the organization she and her husband founded, Upper Westside Recycling). Scottie shared that Jim and his wife Pamela had reached their 65th anniversary just before he passed. She closed her note to me by saying “Jim was a man who followed his heart, and we’re glad to have had him in our lives.”

A second came from Tanenbaum‘s founder and Board President, Georgette Bennett. She had seen Scottie‘s email and shared her own personal memories and special moments that are not to be forgotten.

The public tributes on Jim’s work from the arts to housing to visioning will no doubt continue in the days to come. But I think the greatest tributes are the quiet sharings of friends, who remember Jim Morton, are grateful for his life, and hold him in their hearts.

May his memory be for a blessing,

Joyce Dubensky
Tanenbaum CEO


 

Our 2020 Resolutions

Friends—

At Tanenbaum, we’re excited to welcome 2020 with you — by sharing our New Year’s Resolutions from diverse religions, beliefs and traditions.

The following words of wisdom inspire us to create change, one day at a time. We hope they inspire you as well,

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO, Tanenbaum

Click to download PDF


SHARED VISIONS

FOR 2020, TANENBAUM RESOLVES…

To Live the Golden Rule
In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.
Christianity, Matthew 7:12

To Embrace Religious Differences
Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship.
The Bahá’í Faith, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, Bishárát

To Act Virtuously
Cultivate virtue in yourself, And it will be true.
Taoism, Tao Te Ching chapter 54

To Respect the Earth 
Ether, air, fire, water, earth, planets, all creatures, directions, trees and plants, rivers and seas, they are all organs of God’s body. Remembering this a devotee respects all species.
Hinduism, Srimad Bhagavatam (2.2.41)

To Treat the Stranger with Kindness
And a stranger shalt thou not wrong, neither shalt thou oppress him; for ye were strangers in the land
of Egypt.
Judaism, Exodus 22:20

To Challenge Fake News
I replied thus: I am Zoroaster, the staunch enemy of liars and falsehood. I shall fight against liars as long as I have strength and shall uphold truth and righteous people whole heartedly.
Zoroastrianism, Yasna 43 (Verse 8)

To Advocate for Justice
O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just.
Islam, Sahih International 4:135

To Speak with Honesty and Compassion
Speak only that which will bring you honor.
Sikhism, Guru Nanak, Sri Guru Granth Sahib

To Practice Nonviolence 
One is not called noble who harms living beings. By not harming living beings one is called noble. Buddhism, Dhammapada (Verse 270)

To Make Peace Possible
Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.
Confucianism, Confucius

 


 

Scheduling, greetings, décor, oh my!

Dear Friends,

As the winter months are fast approaching, we look forward to the light and joy that comes with celebrations of Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. All three holidays begin within days of one another this year and also may bring challenges that impact the workplace.

Whether it’s concerns of scheduling, greetings, decor, or associated stressors, this busy time of year can be complicated to navigate. To help you feel more prepared, we have fact sheets on each holiday that you can refer to for Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and the December Dilemma.

If you have any questions or concerns, please be in touch and we can talk through potential solutions to support you and your workplace.

In peace,

Mark Fowler,
Deputy CEO, Tanenbaum

 


 

Dilemma? Opportunity? Get ahead of the Fall & Winter Holidays!

Dear Friends, 

The winter holiday season often raises questions about workplace inclusivity and accommodation. Perhaps your office is considering which holidays to address, which holiday decorations are appropriate to use, or how to create a holiday or Christmas party inclusive to all. Whatever the case may be for you and your company, this is an opportunity to be prepared for the season and practice inclusion by addressing the December Dilemma head on!

Our December Dilemma Fact Sheet will help you address you and your colleagues’ questions about time off and scheduling, decoration and holiday greetings.

There are plenty of opportunities for education and celebration, beginning with Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas (both on the Julian and Gregorian calendars), Kwanzaa, and then the Lunar New Year in February 2020!

In peace,

Mark Fowler
Deputy CEO, Tanenbaum

Photo: Ludmila Crigan-Mihajlovic


 

Shana Tova!

Dear Friends,

Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Jewish Day of Atonement) will take place this year September 29 – October 1 and October 8 – 9, respectively. Together, these are known as the High Holy Days and are often regarded as the most important of all Jewish holidays.

Employees observing these holidays may require time off to attend services and celebrate with family and friends. Holidays like these are amazing opportunities to learn about traditions with which we may not be familiar! Learn more about both holidays and a few other seasonal holidays in Tanenbaum’s Jewish Fall Holidays fact sheet. Shana tova and a sweet new year to all!

In friendship,

Mark Fowler
Deputy CEO, Tanenbaum

 


Photo: Robert Couse-Baker