Posts tagged ‘TBFF-2011-2012’

Lessons from Shining Hope

As a sophomore at Wesleyan University, I had the great privilege to cross paths with Kennedy Odede, then a freshman. Kennedy grew up in Kibera, the largest slum in Kenya. In 2004, he started a grass roots movement called “Shining Hope for Communities” (SHOFCO) and became a visionary change maker and community organizer. By the time he left Kenya to get an education, he was popularly known as the “mayor” of Kibera since it was he who regularly responded to his community’s day-to-day needs and helped them to have a voice. Continue reading ‘Lessons from Shining Hope’ »

Listening to Tragedy | Sikhs Visit Holocaust Survivors

Both the Sikh and Jewish communities’ identities have been shaped by extensive oppression and violence. This past Sunday, members of each community had a chance to come together to learn about one another’s histories. Members of UNITED SIKHS and Park Avenue Synagogue gathered to brighten the day of elderly Holocaust survivors here in New York. The afternoon was filled with festive music sung in Hebrew, English and Yiddish, cookies in honor of the recent holiday, Purim, and much conversation.

I want to honor the communication that occurred between the Sikh and Jewish communities at this event, for I believe it is a beautiful example of interfaith action, the goal of the Faiths Act movement: As members of the Sikh community sat down with survivors of the Holocaust, they practiced an often forgotten act that is key to positive human interaction: listening. Listening is powerful. It is intentional, as opposed to the more passive act of hearing, and it holds up and amplifies the voice of the person to whom one is listening. It gives witness to the narrative of an individual or of an entire community. On Sunday, Jejiemder Singh, a Sikh man from Queens, sat down beside an elderly Jewish woman and became a witness to the atrocities of the Holocaust. He said this of his conversations: “When I met the people who escaped Europe in the time of Hitler’s control, and after listening to their life stories, I was moved. The fear they were living in was unimaginable.”

Jewish and Sikh narratives are, of course, unique. And yet they share common themes: devastating violence, ongoing discrimination, diaspora, value of tradition and love of community. On Sunday, when members of these communities actively listened to one another, these narratives were allowed to flow freely between people, creating relationships and solidarity. It was a moving day of interfaith action for the healing of human relationships.

The Faiths Act movement works for such collaborative activism, and I believe firmly in the power of people of faith coming together to tackle injustice in our broken world. Surely our wrecked human relationships are one of the most visible examples of the fact that our world is not as it is meant to be. On Sunday, I saw steps being taken to build relationship where it was lacking before.

A Voice Outside the Patriarchy: Inspiration from my Mother

Written by Faiths Act Fellow, Hannah Shirey, in honor of International Women’s Day, March 8, 2012.

My mother, a person of great faith, confidence and determination, is an example to me in many ways and is my Female Faith Hero. It was during my own teenage years that my Mom, Alice, was in the heart of her own personal journey of becoming a leader in our local, Iowan church. By watching her stand up against the long-standing tradition of gendered hierarchy in the church, I learned an important lesson that propels me in my current work:

It is easy to walk away from the brokenness of our world and our institutions. It is much more difficult—and much more important—to work for change within our corrupt, oppressive systems. Continue reading ‘A Voice Outside the Patriarchy: Inspiration from my Mother’ »

Clergy SolidariTEA for Economic Justice

As Faiths Act Fellows at UNITED SIKHS, Hannah and I have had the privilege of witnessing clergy of different faiths organizing themselves to have a strong, united voice against injustice this year. Since New York City has been at the center of the country’s expression of discontent at the current financial and social situation of the 99%, it has been a particularly exciting place to be as a Faiths Act Fellow.

Watching clergy find their place in the fight for economic justice has been breathtaking, and has modeled for us the resources and wisdom that faith communities have to offer any social movement. The primary role of OccupyFaith has been to serve as a moral voice, condemning corruption and inequality and supporting the protesters and their cause. Continue reading ‘Clergy SolidariTEA for Economic Justice’ »

The Power of Face-to-Face Encounter

After graduating high school, I spent a year living in Jerusalem, the epicenter of many of the world’s religious conflicts. As a resident I was privy to the ways that misunderstanding and intolerance play out on a day-to-day level. From witnessing hateful graffiti and humor (on both sides) to hearing conflicting historical narratives, it was plain to see that the rift between the Jewish and Muslim communities there runs deep, and that much of the population accepts this state of affairs as the only way. Continue reading ‘The Power of Face-to-Face Encounter’ »