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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

 


 

Celebrating All Women on International Women’s Day

Parliament of World Religions, “Are Our Stained Glass Ceilings Cracking Yet? Women and Leadership in the World of Interfaith” panel

For well over a century, International Women’s Day has been celebrated annually on March 8. It’s a day that’s not specific to a country, religion or organization — rather, it belongs to all women in every group everywhere.

International Women’s Day is about supporting all women. It’s an opportunity to celebrate women as important contributors to the world and across the world. It’s an opportunity to acknowledge that women are one-half of the potential human capital in any economy, and more than half a billion women have joined the world’s workforce over the past 30 years. And an opportunity to recognize that societies which invest in women and girls, are more responsive, transparent, religiously free, democratic and more capable of countering violent extremism.

Please join me in honoring and empowering all women—including women of faith—by reading and sharing Tanenbaum’s Combating Extremism campaign resources on religious women’s courage, compassion and charisma of women across traditions.

We cannot succeed without women and girls. That’s why we should celebrate the contributions of women, not just on International Women’s Day, but every day.

MLK’s Legacy of Faith and Nonviolence

Friends –

In 2018, we saw communities that refused to let hate divide them. We saw the resilience of faith communities, as they supported refugees and survivors of violence and hate crimes. They remind us of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—a man who staked his life on preaching nonviolence.

Across faith traditions and within sacred texts, we find guidance on dealing with conflict including the doctrine of nonviolence. It stands out, as the method chosen by many of our most effective, faith-driven changemakers. Like Dr. King, who always believed that religion can and should be a voice of peace.

Today we share with you our latest Combating Extremism resources and ask you to join us in honoring Dr. King by considering his thoughts on and commitment to nonviolence. Grounded in heart and mind, Martin Luther King’s nonviolence remains a weapon of choice we can still use today:

Hate and violence hold no answers for us,

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO, Tanenbaum

Reflections on September 11

Dear Friends,

For 17 years, I have paused on this day to remember the traumatic events of 9/11—and the nearly 3,000 victims from a vast array of religions and beliefs who we lost that day.

9/11 is a marked day for our nation. But it’s also an opportunity to reflect on what has happened since that tragic day. Like the overwhelming spread of disinformation and the embedding of deeply rooted stereotypes that breed hate, division and injustice.

As Martin Luther King Jr. so aptly stated:

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.

On this solemn anniversary, we invite you to take another look at our September 11 Fact Sheet, updated last year. It reminds us not only to feel intensively on 9/11—but also to think intensively and critically.

Today is Tanenbaum’s #givebackwednesday!

Download and share our tips for Respectful Communication

Dear Friends,

Yesterday was #givingtuesday. And I’m sure you were bombarded with worthy causes asking for your support. To those of you who gave to make the world a better place—in whatever way you chose to do so—we say thanks.

In honor of what we call #givebackwednesday, I want to share our tips for Respectful Communication. At a time when people are talking about (and worried about) conversations at upcoming holiday dinners, great communication is one of the best gifts you can share—with family, neighbors and colleagues.

Thank you, again, for all you do.

Cheers,

Joyce

P.S. And if you haven’t already, please consider making a donation to Tanenbaum.

Something for Your Holiday Menu…

Dear Friends,

I’m sure you’ve seen accounts of people canceling their family Thanksgiving—or at least, thinking about it. While family gatherings can sometimes include tension and conflicts, it’s particularly hard for divided families and friends who found themselves on opposite sides of our acrimonious and divisive election.

So the question now is how can we celebrate one another and begin anew the process of living respectfully with our differences, rather than fearing them? In addition to simply making the commitment, this Thanksgiving you can:

  • Share The Golden Rule: Begin dinner with the Golden Rule. It is a universal tenet shared by all traditions. Consider printing it, passing it around, and letting each guest read the words of respect and caring for others that come from so many different beliefs. It can be a moment of sharing and a reminder that can help set the tone for the evening and lay the foundation for healthy conversation.
  • Beware of Words that Inflame: Watch out for the words that inflame. Want to talk about Muslims? Immigrants? Jewish people? Christians? Evangelicals? Women? Race? Sexual orientation? Talk about a person but not “them.” Stay away from words like “all,” “none,” “always,” and “never.” And don’t say, “those people.”
  • Listen: My mother used to say I had two ears and one mouth for a reason. Take time to listen fully before responding. Resources, like this New York Times article, are sprouting up everywhere, reminding us that we can – and should – engage in civil, rational, fact-based discourse. What better time than Thanksgiving?

We wish you a meaningful holiday and invite you to use this Thanksgiving as an opportunity to reaffirm your commitment to all people and all Americans.

Joyce S. Dubensky,
Tanenbaum CEO

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.

Turn the December Dilemma into an Opportunity – Resources for Teachers

Dear Educators,

December is a time of celebration and family togetherness for many Americans – and not just those who celebrate Christmas as a sacred holiday or cultural event. Jews celebrate Hanukkah, Buddhists celebrate Bodhi Day, many African Americans celebrate Kwanzaa, and cultures across the world celebrate the Winter Solstice.

For educators, however, the convergence of so many holidays can create The December Dilemma: how to acknowledge and respect the wide variety of traditions students and their families hold dear without implying that some are more important than others.

Turn this dilemma into an opportunity for promoting inclusion and religious literacy. Teach your students about the many ways people celebrate in December – and throughout the year. Use our holiday planning template to create a yearlong schedule of holidays to explore in your classroom.

To learn more:
• Read our information-packed blog post, Teaching the Holidays: The December Dilemma
• Listen to Addressing the December Dilemma in Schools, a webinar created in partnership with Teaching Tolerance. (Complete the free registration to access the full recording)

• Download an elementary-level lesson on the Winter Solstice.

• Download an elementary-level lesson on Rituals and Traditions about Light: Hopefulness and Waiting.

• Check out Tanenbaum’s curricula for all grade levels.

Image credit: Painting by Manuel D. Baldemor

Combat Extremism – New Resources from Tanenbaum!

Dear Friends,

Today is a day for remembrance, condemnation and action.
  • We remember the nearly 3,000 innocent women, men and children from more than 370 countries and a vast array of religions and beliefs, who were lost on September 11, 2001.
  • We condemn the expansion of terrorism and the horror it inflicts on its victims. We see the face of those victims in the Syrian refugees willing to risk a child’s death rather than remain in a land beset by a brutal government and the savagery of extremists. And in so many others fleeing violent extremism in Iraq, Myanmar, Libya and too many other countries.
  • We take action. Through the work of our Peacemakers in Action we counter terrorists worldwide. And through Tanenbaum’s Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees project we raise emergency funds for humanitarian disaster relief agencies working with Syrian refugees while planting the seeds for future stability in the region.

Violent religious extremism can feel insurmountable. But there are simple actions you can take to thwart the local growth of radicalism and prevent individuals (including youth) from feeling marginalized. We ask you to join us – in memory of 9/11 and because of today’s refugees – to help defy extremism:

Sign the Peacemaker’s Change.org petition against extremism.
Tanenbaum’s religiously motivated Peacemakers in Action work to stop violence and brutal extremism in the world’s worst conflicts. And now, they have joined forces to create a Campaign Against Extremism on Change.org – making a beautiful pledge toward building a safer future. Sign the petition today – and commit to taking action!
Visit Tanenbaum each month for new resources for combating extremism.
Starting today, we’re offering free, practical resources that can be used at home or at work, in schools, places of worship and in your community. Read, download and share our September 11 Fact Sheet and World Religions Fact Sheet today. Use them to begin a discussion at your house of worship, community center or over a workplace lunch and learn. Challenge your children and students to read them and ask questions – and then research answers. Learn the facts! Speak up! And please share your ideas for ways to use these resources to counter hate and terror.

We’ll be sharing new resources every month this year. So visit us on the 15th of each month and check out your new resources!

Each of us has a unique and powerful role in stopping extremism but we must take action!

With great hope for peace,
Joyce S. Dubensky,
CEO

Conscientious Refusals – New Fact Sheet Available!

Tanenbaum’s new Conscientious Refusals Fact Sheet is now online!
Religiously-motivated conscientious refusals to provide services in the workplace have increasingly become a topic for debate. From the 2014 Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case, to health care providers who believe providing abortions violates their faith, to federal employees who object to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, religiously motivated conscientious refusals are invoked by employees who work in a variety of industries and come from a wide range of religious backgrounds.
Our Conscientious Refusals Fact Sheet provides an overview of the types of conscientious refusals that are most frequently emerging in different workplaces (i.e., health care, government, religious and a range of businesses) as well as better practices for both employers and employees who are looking to address their own or others’ conscientious refusals.