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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.

Responding With Empathy and Respect to Belief Systems

Responding With Empathy and Respect to Belief Systems
By: Sara Wicht
Senior Manager for Teaching and Learning at Teaching Tolerance

Overview: Tanenbaum and Teaching Tolerance share tips for coaching students during class discussions on religious and nonreligious beliefs.

This year, Teaching Tolerance teamed up with the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding to bring educators a webinar series called Religious Diversity in the Classroom.

The second webinar in the series, Fostering a Culture of Respect, offered ways for educators to help students feel safe, supported and respected when discussing religious and nonreligious belief systems. The webinar and after-session pack are available online if you have not had a chance to look at these resources yet.

Participants asked some great questions during and after Fostering a Culture of Respect, and we’d like to respond to a few we think are relevant to many educators. In this blog, we’ll address this question:
How can I coach students to respond to others with empathy and respect?

Hearing these prompts from you can help students engage more empathetically and respectfully during conversations about religious and nonreligious beliefs.

1. “Find out more.” Cultivate an inquisitive attitude in students by encouraging them to seek out information from a variety of voices within a given belief system. Ask students to formulate and pose open-ended questions. Here are some examples of questions that can guide research and in-class discussions:

  • What is the origin of the religious or nonreligious belief system?
  • In what parts of the world is the belief system practiced?
  • What are some texts that describe or include the belief system?
  • What are the foundations of the belief system?
  • How is the belief system perceived around the world?
  • Do you know anyone who practices this belief system? What do they say about what they believe?

2. “Be aware of the pitfalls of easy comparisons.” When dealing with academic content related to religion, students will encounter ideas about deities, time, the purpose of life, who we are as individuals and who we are as members of our communities, among others. These ideas may be hard to grasp or may feel foreign to students because they have developed out of many traditions, which are sometimes very different from students’ individual traditions.

Students may attempt to contextualize these new ideas by comparing them to concepts from their own traditions or cultural practices. Although this is a helpful practice in gaining a better understanding of ourselves through the exploration of the world around us, it is important they understand and discuss religious and nonreligious views without distorting or oversimplifying them. Comparisons not given thoughtful inquiry can lead to stereotypes and stereotyping. That means not making hasty comparisons between belief systems or using comparisons as the go-to way to discuss another belief system.

3. “Avoid generalized or simplified statements.” These types of statements imply easy answers such as “Islam is …” or “Hinduism means … ” or “Atheists think … ” Instead, when discussing religious and nonreligious beliefs with students, remind them that religions are internally diverse, dynamic and embedded in culture. Use sources that reflect and provide examples of these qualities.

Students can practice being more nuanced in their thinking by articulating the subtleties they see. For example, they might say, “This text presents Islam as …” or “The author here indicates that … ” Many religious traditions use storytelling to illustrate central concepts, such as parables in Christianity or Native American oral histories. These can also be great sources for literacy instruction on imagery, symbolism and allusion—and help students to point to nuances in meaning, interpretation and practice.

4. “See religious and nonreligious traditions as diverse and dynamic.” If students are critical of all or part of a particular belief system because it contradicts their values, ask them to find out more about how different adherents of that belief system criticize or propose changing the religion or practices in question. Emphasize, too, that religious and nonreligious belief systems are internally diverse. In Hinduism, for example, some have a personal god and others deny the presence of a deity. Find diverse voices from within the belief system being explored.

5. “Be honest about the limits of our understanding.” Acknowledge and help students to accept that there are limits to our understanding about belief systems. While we can learn a lot about them, we cannot completely understand the lived experiences of people or how their belief system influences their identity and daily lives. It’s also important not to turn individual students into spokespersons of particular religious or nonreligious beliefs.

Stay tuned for additional follow-up blogs that address participants’ questions. The next one will answer this question: How can I respectfully ask questions about identities different from my own?

Wicht is the senior manager for teaching and learning at Teaching Tolerance. 

 

 

 

Free Islamic Peace Education Report

IPR

On July 28, many Muslims in the  United States and across the  globe will be celebrating the  conclusion of Ramadan, the    holiday of Eid-al-Fitr.

The Eid-al-Fitr is the festival  and/or feast of the breaking of  the fast, a time of mutual  acknowledgement for Muslims  who have been fasting  throughout the country and  around the world (depending on  their time zone).

To mark the Eid, we would like to share one of our blessings with you: what we learned when we convened four Islamic peace educators from vastly different backgrounds for a day-long exchange on their work in Islamic peace education.

The peace educators shared how they incorporate the topic of peace into their teaching. They shared their stories
and some of their Islamic peace education initiatives.

We – and they – learned from each other’s triumphs and challenges.

Participants included:

  • Jamila Afghani (Peacemaker in Action, 2008) from Kabul, Afghanistan;
  • Azhar (Azi) Hussain (Peacemaker in Action, 2006) from Dubai, UAE and Pakistan;
  • Sarrah Buker from Holmdel, New Jersey; and
  • Rabia Terri Harris from Stony Point, New York.

Today, we are excited to announce the release of Tanenbaum’s Islamic Peace Education report. The report traces each participant’s method and experience in advancing peaceful education from an Islamic perspective, often in the face of suspicion or adversity.

Download the report to learn more about this innovative information exchange.

Tips for Passover, Vaisakhi, & Easter

Vaisakhi festival photo by Flickr user Anguskirk

As you may be aware, the holiest times for millions of Americans are approaching. Passover begins at sundown on April 14 and ends at sundown on April 22. Easter is celebrated on a variety of days, depending on the tradition, but many will celebrate the holiday on April 20. And Vaisakhi, a festival celebrated by Sikhs, Hindus, and Buddhists, will be celebrated on April 14.

So, from April 14 to April 22, many American Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, and Buddhists may choose to participate in religious practices that have an impact on their daily lives.

With these holidays upon us, colleagues, patients and students will be observing in ways that are apparent and unnoticeable. In either case, it’s helpful to know the basics about the holidays so that you can be prepared.

Whether you’re an educator, manager, or health care provider, the spring holidays could be relevant to your work and what you do every day.

As Tanenbaum’s holiday gift to you, we have created Tanenbaum Tips for PassoverEaster, and Vaisakhi.

To those who celebrate, happy holidays!