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There’s Work to Do

Dear Tanenbaum Community,

I wasn’t sure what my first communication would be to you as CEO, but I never envisioned that first communication would be addressing this issue. I, like many of you, have been of mixed emotions since the suffocating death of George Floyd. I have moved from shock, to anger, to rage, and now to fear. For I know that no accomplishment I have achieved can shield me fully from meeting the same fate as Mr. Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and countless others. That is unfortunately the result of a system of oppression so insidious we can barely see it operating.

Around the country, faith leaders are offering aid to demonstrators who have taken to the streets to decry racism and police brutality. Churches are providing sanctuary, mosques are providing medics for activists, and temples are providing trauma-informed counseling. While the fingerprint of religious traditions’ role on the creation and sustaining of systems of inequity remains, many of those same traditions, and others, are doing the hard work to end racism.

As you process through your own emotions during this time of trouble and transformation, know that there are actions you can take:

  1. Identify what is yours to do. Each of us can do something to contribute to the actions necessary to bring about a world where no person can lose their lives because of their racial background.
  2. Work with others. Religious and spiritual communities are actively engaged in anti-racism work. This fact sheet highlights organizations and initiatives working to move the needle toward justice.
  3. Educate yourself about White Supremacy. Supremacy is not just a way people identify their values, it is a structural concept that is at the core of racial oppression.

Every single person is impacted by inequitable dynamics of power and when we work to lift the veil, heal from our past, and commit to making moves towards changes in structural dynamics, we lift everyone up.

As we fight for justice, we stand with millions of people across the country who are rightfully outraged, but condemnation and outrage is not enough.

Tanenbaum is committed to working with our supporters and our partner organizations to combat hate and extremism, and stand with community members directly impacted by oppressive systems. A world where religious differences are respected is also a world where racial differences are respected.

In solidarity,

Rev. Mark E. Fowler
CEO, Tanenbaum

 


 

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

 


 

Dietary Restrictions & Health Care Resources

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the second installment of Tanenbaum’s new Health Care Insights series!

Each Health Care Insight will present a challenging scenario that sometimes arises in health care, and a download link to information from our Medical School Curriculum, where you will find context about the religious practice involved and better practices for health care providers.

This month’s blog post features religion, dietary restrictions and the impact on health care:

  • The Scenario: The son of an 85-year-old Hindu woman suffering from dementia is extremely upset, when he walks into his mother’s hospital room and finds her eating a meatball.
  • Click here to learn about how the mother’s and son’s religious beliefs influenced this encounter, and some better practices that health care providers can use to avoid or manage this type of situation.

For additional case studies from our medical school curriculum, click here. To learn more about the intersections of religion and health care, Tanenbaum’s full Medical Manual can be purchased here. (Contact us for discounted bulk and institutional purchase rates for the eBook version.)

In friendship,

Joyce S. Dubensky

President Obama’s Condemnation of Islamophobia is Admirable – and Overdue

Yesterday President Obama addressed thousands of American-Muslims at the Islamic Society of Baltimore during his first visit to a mosque in the United to condemn anti-Muslim rhetoric.

“We applaud President Obama for his important demonstration of solidarity with the Muslim community – yet we also believe his speech is long overdue,” said Tanenbaum | Center for Interreligious Understanding CEO Joyce Dubensky. “In this climate of increasing religious bias and discrimination, he has taken an important step forward in demonstrating how respect can be put into practice, as modeled by our First Amendment.”

Tanenbaum said that as citizens, we should encourage our political leaders to unify divisions within Americans, including religious differences. Regarding the upcoming political election, Dubensky stated, “Regardless of political affiliation, it’s the responsibility of our next president to take an early stance against the stereotypes, hate and alienation that result when people think that terrorism and Islam are synonymous.”

Tanenbaum offers a range of educational curricula and other materials including its Combating Extremism resources, which help teachers and individuals address extremism constructively in classrooms and communities.

Combat Extremism – Use December Resources from Tanenbaum

In the wake of continued violent extremism and escalating intolerance fueled by fear and misinformation, Tanenbaum remembers what unites us in striving for a just society. Shared visions of generosity, gratitude, friendship, and forgiveness tie us together in our search for peace and justice.

Learning more about one another allows us to stand together in this search. This month, Tanenbaum shares another practical resource for use in daily life or in a classroom.

  • Calls and Prayers for Peace and Justice: Read calls and prayers for peace and justice from many of the world’s great religions and philosophical traditions. They echo common threads that connect us, regardless of our different beliefs or lack of belief.
  • QUESTIONS for Students and Educators: A question sheet that may be used by educators and creative parents alike alongside Calls and Prayers for Peace and Justice, which explores common themes, shared ethics and similar visions of peace that emerge across different faith and philosophical traditions.
Read, download, and share! Challenge students and children to ask questions, research the answers, and take action by starting a discussion within your community or family about shared beliefs for peace. Take this to your house of worship and learn more about your neighbors.
Together, let’s work to prevent violent extremism. Peace begins with us.

P.S. Your signature makes a difference! Sign and share our Peacemaker’s Statement Against Extremism.

 

Click here to support our work against extremism and our 2016 intervention in Syria.

From Alaska to the Bahamas, Tanenbaum’s Education Programming Resonates

In mid-February and early March, I had the pleasure of presenting at two very specialized education conferences.

The first was the Beyond School Hours conference in Burlingame, CA. This conference is designed for out-of-school time educators, and I presented on our K-6 World Olympics curriculum, which has been very successful in after-school settings. The participants in those sessions came from as far as Alaska to the Bahamas and it seemed the only complaint they had was that I didn’t have enough copies of the curricula to sell!

A specific idea that resonated with the group was normalizing difference in contrast to celebrating similarities. While both are important, a greater emphasis seems to be put on the latter in diversity work. In doing a few activities from the curriculum, participants were able to experience subtle ways in which difference can be normalized in everyday lessons.

The second conference, the National Association of Independent Schools conference, was in my hometown of Seattle. I facilitated a panel titled Religion in Independent Schools: Innovations in Multicultural Education. The panel members were three independent school practitioners who have used Tanenbaum’s work successfully, and they shared their perspectives with over 100 attendees.
 
It was gratifying to see how our creative panelists have taken our pedagogy and lessons, and adapted them to fit their classrooms’ needs. A major take-away from this experience was the power of co-presenting at conferences. Also, the standing-room only crowd goes to show that issues around religious identity in schools are not limited to the topic of separation of church and state in public schools. One of the Education program’s initiatives is to work more deeply with independent school educators. Seems like we’re off to a great start!
– Anshu Wahi, Senior Program Associate