Memphis Inter-Religious Group


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Most people come here to look at the EVENTS LIST, Click Here.                           page modified March 13 2020

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We have a more-or-less fortnightly e-mail newsletter.
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Notes are placed first on the "Events page", saved here longer term.

CURRENT INFORMATION on cancellations due to coronavirus - see the EVENTS LIST page.

  January 18.

World Religion Day. Rescheduled to Spring  "Can you kindly remind the Interfaith groups that World Religion Day Memphis will have pre-planning meetings t the last Tuesday of each month at Caritas Village.         If your faith group or religious group would be interested in participating, please write or call us at wrdmemphis (at) yahoo.com or call 201-759-8617. We are also seeking cultural dancing and music interest as well.World Religion Day was organized in 1950 by the Baha'i Spiritual Assembly to promote unity and peace among the World Religions. World Religion Day Memphis is an event group committed to celebrating the event locally with our Interfaith communities.      
      "Please reach out to any religious faith/paths that might be interested in participating in our pre-planning meetings or become a part of the World Religion Day Memphis 2020 events, please contact us at saciranidd (at) yahoo.com or call 201-759-8617 (Saci Roy). "

Jan 15.

     Bradley Watkins, former Director of the Mid-south Peace and Justice Center,  is now s Director of Programming at Caritas Village. Caritas exists to foster meaningful relationships by serving exceptional food, regardless of the ability to pay. Their Vision: Love and respect for all people. At The Village, friends and neighbors share conversation and break bread together to feed both body & soul, with hope to build bridges of love and trust as they break down walls of hostility between the rich & those made poor.

Do check the "weekly" and "monthly" lists - as I'm phasing out listing these events by day, to keep the page a bit more compact.

February 19

Early Voting in the Presidential Primary and County Primary has its last day February 25, with election day on March 3rd.
   Some further information at
  early voting is 11-7 M-F and 8-4 Saturday
 (The county primary seems only to be for  nominations for Court Clerk. Both parties have presidentiual preference primaries.)

Jan 1.  2020. Happy New Year!

I've occasionally been asked questions about things I know only a little about, e.g. Muslim funeral customs. A good source for general questiuons about Islam seems to me to be at http://islamicbulletin.org.   It seems to be from San Francisco? Comments, anyone?
       I have to admit I'm increasingly updating this only twice a month - and I'll probably skip mid-January to mid-February as I'll be in SE Asia (nice chance for some Buddhist visiting?)
       Be aware of the many events at Crosstown Arts. e.g. 
       For Christmas customs "elsewhere"
I hadn't heard of, here is an interesting one from the Carribean:


December 16 2019

       President Trump
did at least two bizarre things recently. In a speech to a Real Estate group, he stated that Jews were "killers" (one supposes he meant this figuratively) and that they would have to vote for him since if the Democrats were elected they would take away all the Jews' money.  A somewhat standard anti-semitic trope, offending virtually all Jews.  They he issued an executive order that he said was against anti-semitism, but again used language more like that used by anti-semites than by persons of intelligence.  President Hass of Rhides College and Rabbi Greenstein of Temple Israel commented on the executive order in the Commercial Appeal, at


June and ...     MIFA announces its "community wide read"; houses of worship may want to take part.

Temple Israel now puts its major quarterly newsletter online vis the website Issuu. 
Other houses of worship or charities may find this site useful. 
I believe it allows free posting and publications can be downloaded if the publisher allows it.

The Fall Newsletter (and schedule) of Calvary Episcopal Church is online - http://calvarymemphis.org/connect/chronicle-newsletter/     It has a lot of things I don't fit in here...

The events calendar of The Unity Church of Practical Christianity is at https://www.unitymemphis.org/calendar.html

Prayer times at mosques: The major service of the week, the one with the sermon (hence the most interesting to visitors) is around noon on Friday. Masjid aa-Salaam (top of Stratford Rd) has its service at 1:15 Pm, as does masjid al-Noor, near the U of M campus. Masjd ar-Rahman has two (due to a large membership) at 12 noon and at 1:30 PM.  Memphis Islamic Center has its service at 1 PM. The mosques also have routine brief prayers - a fine time to just go meet people - typically at  5:45 AM, 12:30 PM, 3 PM, 10 minutes after sunset, and 7:30 PM  (these are from a mailing from Masjid Ar-Rahman, thers may differ by e.g. 15 minutes.)


December 13

ED WALLIN HAS DIED. Please read the passage about him at Dec 14, below, or read the obituary at
Visitation will be at 10 am, Saturday, Dec. 14 at 10 am - Church of the Holy Spirit
The funeral mass will begin at 11 am.
Lunch will be served following mass in the Batson Center at the Church.
Holy Spirit is located at 2300 Hickory Crest Dr, Memphis, TN 38119.
The Mid-South Peace and Justice Center
is having serious problems.  I'm deeply concerned because it has been a major voice for poor people and minority people in the area, and has been a major force in bringing different groups of people together.  Just as one example, when immigrant communities have had problems or wanted to demonstrate about conditions in their places of origin, it has provided expertise, links with police and other authorities, etc., to make these discussions peaceful and effective. Article in the Daily Memphian,

https://dailymemphian.com/section/metro/article/8905/mid-south-peace-justice-center-lays-off-staff              https://midsouthpeace.org/ 

Halal food at restaurants? Thge Muslims have a program to increase availability of Halal (permissible) food at restaurants. While Halal rules are similar in many ways to Kosher rules (Kosher food except for alcohol is automatically Halal) there are some more complex Kosher rules (e.g. about dishes) that would probably make a comparable kosher program morfe difficult. On the other hand, I understand that there are non-kosher restaurants in Memphis that will do Kosher catering.


The Indian Cultural Center and Temple now posts its daily schedule of ceremonies at
My feeling is that most of these remain pretty indecipherable to those unacquained with Hinduism; Itry to post some of the more major
"special events" on tehse pages, when there is usually someone there who can explain and answer questions.
I have found them very receptive to visitors and questions.

Healthy and Free Tennessee is seeking nominations by Jan 17 for Steering Committee members. Is your group (however you define it) represented there?

The Calvary Episcopal newsletter online at

contains, among other things, the Lenten Lecture list for 2020

I also note the passing Nov 30th of Memphian Bishop William Graves, presiding bishop of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.
November 28

The 2019 Freedom Award Show from the National Civil Rights Museum (Oct 30)
is online at


St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral
has its Advent / Christmas events calendar online at

(I will not be listing all of those in the events list below)

A Memphis Judge
made derogatory comments about Jews, Muslims, and immigrants on a private Facebook page, then apparently accidentally made it public. He has been reprimanded by the Tennessee  Board of Judical Conduct. Article in the Daily Memphian at


Balmoral Presbyterian Church is a featured example on the national website of the Presbyterian denomination PC-USA  for the national outreach program, "Matthew 25".  The article is at

The 2018 Annual Report of the National Civil Rights Museum is online at

(I've previously mentioned issuu.com as a good place to post alarge annual reports and the like.)

I suspect most people have heard by now that MIFA is getting $5 million from the Jeff Bezos Day 1 Families Fund.  Loosely, the money is restricted to assist homeless families in specific ways as defined under rather precise federal rules.  So it won't do  everything MIFA wants to do, but will be a big help in specified areas.

November 17

   The United States Census Bureau will send a speaker to any group or meeting to explain the many reasons why the census is
important to communities and why everyone needs to participate. Terrance Fluker, Partnership Specialist for Shelby County, can be reached at
731-589-9102 or Terrance.O.Fluker@2020census.gov
    A Labyrinth  is not a maze, but a walking path for meditation.  Hoiw many houses of worship in Memphis have one?  There is one in the undercroft at St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, usually open for use during business hours: M-F 8:30 am - 4:30 pm. Call (901) 527-3361 to confirm availability.
     The Presbytery of the Mid-South has called The Reverend James Luther Gale, Jr., former Associate Executive Presbyter for the Synod of Mid America, to be the Executive Presbyter of the Presbytery of the Mid-South. (PC-USA).

November 13

A nice Associated Press piece on Jewish-Muslim bonds:

Yad VaShem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Israel,
has produced a remarkable collection of traveling Museum-quality exhibitions. They consist of downloadable posters that essentially any organization can have printed locally for display locally. But in addition, they are all available online! 


October 23

I've been away too long - house guests and minor ailments. So some events came and went without getting posted here.  I've tried to do a major update.
And I've been doing some odd reading, hence:

I've sometimes told people that "The Jews have been around a lot longer than the Christians, so we've had time to split into many more denominations and sects. It's just that when there are fewere of us in a city, more variations of belief manage to get along is a single building."  So not ,in Memphis, but in Jerusalem, the process of schism and sect formation is sometimes pretty visible. Those interested in such things might be interested in the article at

(The only group of the "Hasidic" Jews , also spelled "Chassidic" -  which Christians might call a denomination - is the Chabad synagogue, of the Lubavitcher Hasidim, a much more modern, friendly, and open group than the Gerer Hasidim of this article. Visitors always welcome at Chabad.)

The German intelligence service, Das Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (Federal Office for Protection of the Constitution) has issued a long pamphlet on „Antisemitismus im Islamismus“
("Antisemistism in Islamicism"), interesting in that it careful distinguishes Islamic extremists from normal Muslims and stresses that the antisemitism comes from the extremists. Its a fascinating read for those who like long documents in German.  I'm not sure if an English version is available. It is at
https://www.verfassungsschutz.de/de/oeffentlichkeitsarbeit/publikationen/pb-islamismus for reading or download.

see May 1-2-3 for the early announcement of the Beale St Music Festival

The Lynching Sites of Memphis Newsletter comes out more regularly than mine and often has things I don't fit into mine.
Subscribe by writing to  info@lynchingsitesmem.org

Daily Memphian Article about the Lynching Sites project
(I tend to presume that most readers of this page see the Commercial Appeal, and that most don't see the Tri-State Defender
Am I wrong?  What about the Daily Memphian?

Planning is still going on for World Religion Day Memphis in January. "We will be scheduling our events soon, so any religious group/spiritual path is welcome to celebrate with us in January, 2020. We are seeking musicians, cultural dancers, and religious groups to join us."  Contact SACI ROY at saciranidd@yahoo.com  for any details or to get on the mailing list..
Sept 14

Need activities for older people in your house of worship? You might want to explore


The quarterly newsletter of St. mary's Episcopal Cathedral is online at

The September Newwsletter of the Unity Church of Practical Christianity is online at

The Benjamin Hooks Institute events list is online at


Sept 2

The WC Handy House (museum at 4th and Beale has reopened.


I note the death of Baxter Leach, an important survivor of the Sanitation Strike.

I've been looking at more "overseas" news and related items lately and wonder if anyone is interested.
I can't resist noting the death of the first president of GAMBIA, see

  (The US press rarely notes nice peaceful events in Africa. President Barrow was a major contributor to a later democratic tradition in Gambia. Ansumana Darboe, a prominent Memphis Muslim very helpful to interfaith work, comes from Gambia. And I went to college in Gambier, Ohio, which may be the only other place named after that British explorer...)
A 2014 movie "Enemy of the Reich" is on Acorn TV (Amazon Prime) . The movie, by Unity Productions Foundation, which often does Muslim-motivated films, is about a Sufi-trained Muslim-American woman who served with the British underground in France in 1943. (Reviews and clips readily vailable online.)
RE the treatment of immigrants and minorities, consider the problem of Bengalis in Assam (Northeast India). Article in the Atlantic at
"Constance Abbey is a daytime hospitality ministering to St Mary's (Episcopal Cathedral, 700 Poplar) neighborhood. We have grown substantially and would appreciate help in many different ways.  We average 40 daily visits in the clothes closet. That means 160 pairs of socks and underwear are requested weekly.  We are very much in need of: socks, underwear and men's T shirts and shorts.    Tours are free. We would love to show you what we are doing. Please contact Margery at 662.202.5648 for an appointment."

World Religion Day
"Can you kindly remind the Interfaith groups that World Religion Day Memphis will begin the pre-planning meetings tentatively the last Tuesday of each month at Caritas Village. We will be confirming that date with you shortly.
      "Please reach out to any religious faith/paths that might be interested in participating in our pre-planning meetings or become a part of the World Religion Day Memphis 2020 events, please contact us at saciranidd (at) yahoo.com or call 201-759-8617 (Saci Roy). "

St Clare's Retreat Center is an Episcopal center for women  but open to all faiths:
https://www.saintcolumbamemphis.org/stclare/.  St. John's Episcopal Church invites women to a retreat there October 17-20 - for the whole time, a shorter period, or as a  commuter.

Reservations are open for the Facing History Dinner October 28, see that date below.

From MIFA:
Tickets to MIFA’s Our City, Our Story events are going fast! Reservations for the September 10 Homelessness Here and Now public forum and September 11 Do Good, Love Well benefit luncheon are near capacity and there are about 50 groups participating in the community read of Kathy Izard’s The Hundred Story Home. You can find details about the entire series here. 
If you haven’t already booked your tickets or a table for the Do Good, Love Well luncheon, we hope you will soon. Click here to make your reservations online or call Dorothy McClure at (901) 529-4523 to reserve your place by phone.
To reserve free seats for the Homelessness Here & Now forum, please visit oureventbrite page.

August 12

For those interested in events in Nashville, Jerry and Judy Bettice have pointed out that there is an events list for Nashville or probable interest at

Since I have a cousin who worked for some years in Sri Lanka, I occasionally notice news from there. There is a nice feature about an interfaith activist there (and some of the problems there) at


There is a new Church Health Center Events Newsletter here

August 5.

There has been a national call issued to form environmental study groups based on the Roman Catolic Encyclical Laudato Si'.
The online call is at  https://catholicclimatemovement.global/circles/

The Memphis Islamic Center is among the places collecting donations for the victims in El Paso and Dayton. American Red Cross is collecting online. I don't normally mention special collections here but there are usually an itnteresting variety going on, E.G> Memphis Islamic Center is collection on August 10 for  Rohingya refugee camps, flood victims, and orphans in Bangladesh.

With several mass shootings in the US, it has been difficult to see international news. Unfortunately, some of the international news is every discouraging about religious freedom and religious relationships, so much so that the US shootings scarcely make the international press. (Difficulties of refugees returning to Syria, general strike and tear gas in Hong Kong, Internet and telephone shut down so it is hard to know what is happening in Jammu/Kashmir.) 

Locally in Memphis, prayers are needed again for Ed Wallin who is back in the hospital (dehydration, perhaps a complication of chemotherapy.)

There is a nice article on the Mid-South Food Bank at
June 27

MICAH, the Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope, has a new short video (under 3 minutes) at


The University of the South (Sewanee) has a four-year basic theological education extension program. There are presently openuings in Tuesday and Wednesday evening classes at Calvary Episcopal.

The Shelby County Election Commission needs deputy registrars to help register voters at several events. Among them are
Sat. July 13, 2019  8am-2pm   Health Fair   St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church    1843 Brookins St. - 38108
Sat. July 27, 2019  11am -2pm Health & Wellness Fair   New Dimensions Ministries   3607 Frayser Raleigh Rd. 38128
contact via https://www.shelbyvote.com/

Constance Abbey, a neighborhhod outreach associated with St Mary's Episcopla Cathedral, 700 Poplar, is seeking volunteer help.
"...needs volunteers for IT, data entry, clothes closet, cleaning, Cathedral community garden, transportation, housing placement, job placement, and medical guidance.
Please contact Margery at 662.202.5648 for a tour and appointment."

Germantown continues to strughgle with recovery from the June 7 flood.


On-line Movies:
Netflix has a series "13th", the advert says "In this thought-provoking documentary, scholars, activists and politicians analyze the criminalization of African Americans and the U.S. prison boom." It is being discussed in some church classes. The class at Balmoral Presbyterian will be watching and discussing the first installment at 6 PM on Thurday July 13, visitors welcome.
HBO has the film "True Justice".  There is a nice newspaper article about it at
June 14

Germantown declared a disaster after the June 7 flood there. Donations will be accepted until July 15, and applications for relief for flood losses will be reviewed by a panel once it is known what funds are available.  Donations will be accepted at all IBERIABANK locations by simply stating that the donation is to be applied to the Germantown GIVES-2019 Flood Relief Fund. While donations will be accepted at all IBERIABANK locations, there are two convenient locations in Germantown, 7465 Poplar Avenue and 7860 Wolf River Boulevard.
Information at GermantownGIVES@gmail.com
What happened in Memphis June 12? (The shooting and riot). I wasn't there, or even nearby (I'm at my summer place, far north). I was very favorably impressed by Ryan Poe's piece in the Commercial Appeal June 13, saying that peaceful protests are more effective than violent ones and that there needs to be much more information before conclusions can be drawn. We know that people can change, that good people can do bad things (and conversely), that law enforcement people as well as soldiers can find themselves in dangerous situations and that their reactions and behavior can vary. I've had enough occasion to visit the US military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, to be aware of some facts about PTSD and the effects of violence on people experiencing it.  I can't help recalling  that I was a graduate student in Berkeley, California, in the 1960's, and witnessed riots that had quite a variety of complex causes. On one occasion  the Berkeley Chief of Police went on television to publicly ask Governor Ronald Reagan to remove the National Guard from the streets of Berkeley so that the police could restore order. It is important to remember that the original confrontation was between the suspect and US Marshals, not local police.
     While I'm sure that much more information will be available sometime in the future, people may want to see other reports, and I encourage looking in various sources.
As a few examples
Let us remember all the remarkable work done in Memphis to promote peace and to promote good relations between different groups. Yes, we have glaring poverty here, and a bad need to remedy that and some of the resulting problems, especially in the education and health areas.  MIFA is a long-standing effort to help people in need. Charities such as Porter-Leath, Bridges, Emmanuel Center, and others do important work in poor communities. MICAH has provided a mechanism for different groups to work together on important issues. Let me take this occasion to illustrate one of the more current efforts, by quoting an e-mail I recently received from Prof. Jonathan Judaken of Rhodes College:

   Several months ago I launched a new effort to put a spotlight on programming in Memphis with lectures, book talks, public conversations, or creative explorations for lifelong learners.
   Every week on WKNO-FM, I do a shout-out about opportunities for the Memphis community to expand their minds and open their hearts through public conversations. While we can only highlight a couple of events each week, the goal in the long run is that the landing page for this radio spot will become a one-stop-shop for all intellectually-oriented programming in Memphis:    https://www.wknospotlight.com
     I am writing because I was wondering if you would either share this information with your list for the next few months so that I can help publicize events (if so, they should send information about any events to wknospotlight@gmail.com) or if you would share the information of who is on your list, so that I can contact them about this service. My only interest is in helping spread the word about lifelong learning opportunities in Memphis.

I'm reluctant to give my mailing list to others; I've promised people on it I won't send them excessively frequent e-mails. (Partly because I'm on so many church, synagogue, mosque, charity, etc., mailing lists, I often get 150 e-mails a day, a reason I don't update the website as often as I'd like to.  But do drop a note of interest to Jonathan Judaken at wknospotlight@gmail.com, check out the website at https://www.wknospotlight.com/events    and do let me know if you feel I should pass on notes like Prof. Judaken's to this list more often.

May 22

          There is a nice piece on charities in Memphis in The Daily Memphian, at

    Another good essay on "Changemakers in Memphis" is at
    Temple Israel June Movies, free but RSVP requested by May 30, see below June 4
    If your congregation has trouble providing rides for elderly and disabled (or teh ability to offer help) you might want to read this article:

     I've been traveling and cannot resist a personal story. Heidi and I have been training a small service dog (Molly) that many of you have met. We take her with us to many places. (She was extremely popular at the large MuslimFest at Agricenter.)  At the large Gateway Arch in St. Louis, we took her into the museum at the base of the Arch. This National Park has high airport-type security.  The guards (with a grin) said Molly could come in if she could, without our holding her leash, wait behind the yellow line until called and walk slowly through the metal detector. (This is in fact, probably a reasonable test of whether a dog is a trained service dog rather than an ordinary house pet.) It took some explaining to Molly. but she complied and was admitted.  So we are now reasonably sure that our 8-month old, 12-pound puppy is not carrying bombs inside her fur coat.
      There is, unfortunately, a less cheerful dog story. Decades ago, when most college fraternities admitted only White Christians,  some Jewish and some African-American fraternities were established.  Like the older fraternities, most or all of these now admit other people as members, but maintain their primarily-minority identification. Alpha Epsilon Pi, a Jewish fraternity at Hofstra University, has been suspended for giving beer to a puppy (with a video online.)
        A more cheerful Jewish story:  The Ukraine was particularly effective at exterminating Jews during the Holocaust. When I visited the small synagogue in Kiev around 2000 it was the only surviving one there - there had been hundreds when the Nazis arrived and only three left when the communists took over.  There are now three again, two larger ones having been returned to the Jews. But surprisingly, the Ukraine has just elected a Jewish President - it already had a Jewish prime minister!   They are of differing parties, the newly elected President is probably not someone we approve of politically,  the prime minister is likely to be replaced - as we all know, choice of religion is always tied to choice of politics.
(My more interfaith, Muslim-Christian, dog story is at https://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/The-Home-Forum/2019/0313/Heavenly-help-for-the-working-dog)

April 30

      Or Chadash Conservative Synagogue  has made arrangements to establish a new Jewish cemetery within the historic  Elmwood Cemetery.
There will be an informational meeting at Or Chadash (6629 Massey Lane) May 6 at 7 PM.

April 29.

       Heidi and I had an exceptionally good time at the recent Turkish brunch.  I do strongly urge people to go to groups other than your own.
There are a remarkable set of possibilities in the near future, even though end-of-school and exam times somewhat reduce the number of activities.
Just in the next few days, note the May Day rally at City Hall, the ordination of the new Episcopal Bishop on May 4, open to all; the Israeli speaker on Israeli politics (and how they relate to American politics)  May 5 (the dinner has a charge, but the 7 PM lecture is free), the May 7 potluck supper at the Roman Catholic Cathedral (which is sponsored by the mission to Gays and Lesbians but attracts a lot more people than that, and always has a good speaker...)

April 17
       Obviously, the Notre Dame fire was a major disaster.  Unlike the Twin Towers, it will necessarily be rebuilt, although that may not be complete in our lifetimes. (I'm sceptical of the "within five years" claim of the French giovernment, although it will surely be open toi tourists again within that time. It will be remembered for centuries - perhaps more than the Twin Towers, since the rebuild cathedral will still be one of the leading tourist destinations of the world.  It is interesting to reflect on how the times we lived in may be remembered in history, or to compare history to our times. Will the global warming of the coming years ever be compared, in how it affected civilization, to the "European little ice age" of the late Middle Ages?  Or will the results be as forgotten, in the long run, as the cities drowned under what is now the Black Sea when the great natural earth dam at the Bosporus failed?
       As a computer scientist, I will note the existence of modern 3-D images which may help in the rebuilding.
 I do need to note that, almost simultaneously with the Notre Dame fire, there was a fire at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. It was a small fire and apparently unrelated.

       It is difficult not to be concerned about the Chinese persecution of its Uighur  minority.  According to a NY Times story (widely circulated in the Computer Science community!) the Chinese government ius now using computer Artificial Intelligence to racially profile Uighurs.

     There is a very controversial bill to regulate voter registration drives in the state legislature.

April 8

       The Vanderhaar symposium on April 11 has been cancelled, due to confusion at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
        There are quite a few new events listed. Some require advance reservations and you should do this promptly, especially if you are interested in a Passover Seder (see April 19 and 20)  and/or the Annual Muslim "Iftar" dinner, May 19.
       The new Bishop-Elect of the Episcopal Diocese will be speaking in the Lenten Lectures April 10.
        Zev Samuels, Manager of MIFA's Long-term Care Ombudsman Program for five years, has been named "Social Worker of teh Year" by the Tennessee Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.
        See Passover information at April 19 - if you want to attend a synagogue Seder (dinner and Passover service) you need to reserve in advance.
        Facing History has a busy program of on-line seminars which may be of interest to religious school teachers as well as secondary school teachers.
see https://www.facinghistory.org/calendar
       A reminder: you can find the Calvary Lenten Lectures you missed online at http://calvarymemphis.org/sermon_data_new/?cat_name=lps-sermons

March 20

        It has been a very busy time. The terrorist shootings in New Zealand led to a remarkable vigil at Rhodes College on March 18, with a very strong statement by Sheik Yasir Qadhi. There has been an outpoiuyring of support for Muslims from preachers all over the city, and many have visited mosques.  If you'd like to visit a mosque but are nervous about when or where or would be more comfortable with someone playing host or hostess, I'll be happy to make arrangements. (phone 327-9735)

       It is hard not to be very excited every Lent by the quality of the speakers at Calvary Episcopal.  I mention names below, but can't do whole biographies - do look at the Calvary website for more information. Just in the next few days, preacher-musician Kirk Whalum, DR Hass the (Jewish) President of (Presbyterian) Rhodes College, very popular local preachers Hester Mathes, Val Handwerker, and Micah Greenstein, as well as the head of local United Way and some excellent out-of-town preachers.

        David Waters, long-time "faith" editor at the Commercial Appeal, is still active in Memphis. There is a nice piece about him at

         Since he is now writing for the Daily Memphian (among other activities) I'll point to an article there (not by David Waters) about the recent death of John Kilzer, an important leader of the local faith community:

         As many of you know, I write occasional interfaith articles for The Christian Science Monitor. My most recent is online at
      My earlier articles there can be found by searching for "ordman" on the csmonitor.com website. Obviously I like it when you do that, it shows them I'm being read - but since they limit the number of free articles read per month, you'll also find my older articles there at http://ordman.net

March 5

      The recent vote by the United Methodist convention (voting on the conservative side on the homosexuality issue) has been well covered in the newspapers, but people might enjoy the collection of comments gathered by a project at the University of Chicago (in the newsletter program started by Martin Marty):
      There are several Muslim events in March, since an earlier Memphis Mayor declared March to be "Muslims in Memphis Month" for Muslim-sponsored "get to know your neighbors" activities. There is a full list at http://memphisirg.org/MIM2019.jpg
      Shrove Tuesday events at many churches March 5; Ash Wednesday events on March 6. The beginning of the Christian reflective period of Lent leading to Easter. If I understand Muslim beliefs correctly (perhaps not all agree, of course) Jesus did not actually die but did ascend into heaven; he will return at the time of the mass resurrection and Last Judgement and will travel around the world preaching as the head of the believers in God.
      The Lenten Lecture Series at Calvary Episcopal is one of the highlights of living in Memphis, brief services and lectures noon - 12:45 Tuesday-Friday, breakfast or lunch at the Waffle Shop under the church, starting March 7.
      The minor Jewish holiday of Purim is March 21; see notes in the calendar.  Giving gifts of food is traditional during Lent, and Baron Hirsch synagogue has set a goal of providing the homeless with 5000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; they are now collecting jars of peanut butter and jelly, and money to buy the bread.  Sandwich assembly March 6, 6-7 PM. 400 S. Yates.  I believe distribution is handled by St. Mary's Soup Kitchen, St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, the site of the Wednesday moring breakfasts.
      Masjid Ar-Rahman,
7906 Lowrance Rd, Memphis 38125, http://masjid-arrahman.org/   (near I-385 and Hacks Cross)  is  still building, and is approaching megachurch numbers.  To reduce traffic jams, they have divided their noon Friday service (the big service of the week) into two sessions starting March 15. At 12:45 the sermon will be in English, at 2:15 pm the service will be repeated with the sermon in Arabic with English translation. (Masjid Al-Noor, near the U of M campus, is at 1:15, mainly Arabic. Masjid As-Salaam, at the top of Stratford Road, 1:15, mainly English.  (Note: I've found some women reluctant to visit a mosque  without knowing a friendly English-speaking woman will act as hostess. Let me know if you need one!)
     I've listed just a few events from the Jewish Family Service web page at
http://www.jccmemphis.org/jfs/classes-and-support-groups/   As many of these programs are of interest only to fairly specific groups, I won't make a habit of listing them here but want people to know that page is available.
     A Catholic Social Justice group has posted lists of how Contressmen and Senators voted last year on a numberf of social-justice related bills; it is at https://networklobby.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/2018-Voting-Record-PDF.pdf
     A list of proposals of interest in the Tennessee legislature is provided by the League of Women Voters at
     Trips to Israel organized by synagogues and churches are not uncommon, and I tend not to report them here. Of course the mosques facilitate the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. But this is the first time I'm noticed a major Hindu religious trip to India (in May) organized by the Indian Cultural Center and Temple, and people might enjoy learning more about it. https://icctmemphis.org/all-events/special-events/yajna-chardham-yatra-2019/
     Rev. Laura Gettys has been named interim Dean of St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral.
     Some homelessness statistics: According to the 2018 Community Alliance for the Homeless Point-in-Time Report, of the 1226 people counted as homeless last year, 348 were families with children. During October-December, MIFA screened 765 unduplicated families for Emergency Shelter Placement. Of those, 389 were determined to be literally homeless.

February 23

A fresh list of concerts is on the  Allegro Concert Listing Page
       and a fresh list of Church Health Center Events is on the Church Health Center page

 February 8

     There is an interesting list of jobs available via https://opportunity.memphistn.gov/.  It might be an interesting topoic of discussion for youth groups.

       Facing History has its video series "Eyes on the Prize" about the Civil Rights movement  available for web streaming; it may well be of interest to religious groups or classes high school to adult. Have a look.

     The Lenten Lecture Series Schedule for Calvary Episcopal is online at

     The Memphis School of Servant Leadership winter-spring program is online. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
as a support structure for anyone interested in expanded or new forms of religious activity/spiritual life.

January 20
The Lunar eclipse tonight means the Hindu Temple (ICCT) will be closed from 4 PM SUnday to 8 am Monday.
       There is also a minor Jewish Celebration, "The New Year for Trees", a celebration of the environment.
       Castalia Baptist Church is organizing a college-visiting tour for high school students to visit seven historically Black colleges.  (I've always been impressed by the creativity of churches where Rev Meade Walker has served.)
     Masjid Ar-Rahman is rapidly becoming a "mega-mosque", with attendance sometimes exceeding 1000. They are actively fundraising to acquire an adjoining tract of land for further expansion.  Pictures of some construction in progress a year ago are at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfo4KmuXRXk; are there more recent ones online?

January 16
The Point in Time count of the homeless is January 23rd (4 to 10 AM).  Various churches, I think, have training sessions for this volunteer opportunity.  Calvary Episcopal's training is January 16.

Volunteers go in groups to meet homeless people and complete a questionnaire with them. Training is provided tonight at Calvary. Contact Christine Todd.

Indie Memphis has announced fall 2019 dates, and dates for submitting films. Of course they also regularly report on interesting films now in the Memphis Theatres. see http://indiememphis.com/

January 4
Steve Stone Sr., retired pastor of Heartsong Church and a founder of the Memphis Friendship Foundation, is interim pastor at Jacob's Well (United Methodist Church) until June.    602 Looney Ave., Memphis,  a few blocks north on North 7th St from North Parkway (north of St, Jude Hospital.)      http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org
        Mayor Strickland about our faith community: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/TNMEMPHIS/bulletins/2261e5b
       Those who have followed the discussions of rights and roles of women within Christianity and Judaism may find of interest the huge demonstrations in a present Hindu controversy in India,  https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/01/04/standoff-sabarimala-stains-indias-progress-womens-rights
        There is an interesting article on Chinese persecution of Muslims at
        In more cheerful news, Pakistan has arranged for a border opening to make it easier for Sikhs in India to visit the shrine at the place of  death of the founder of the Sikh religion.
       Warm Clothing Drive: Do you have extras? As it gets colder outside, our unsheltered neighbors could use: sleeping bags, blankets, coats, hats, gloves, scarves, backpacks and clothes for men & women. Please bring your donations to Constance Abbey (209 Hamlin Pl., one block west of the Cathedral) or to St. Mary's.


December 28
I'm sad to report the death of Amos Oz, Israeli author and peace activist. One of his videos on the two-state solution is at
       I'm reminded that students in several disciplines of health care need practice, and that several of those programs need patients. I go to Southern College of Optometry for eye exams myself once a year - since the student has to explain what he or she sees (I have unusual vision problems) and then the doctor has to correct him or tell him how to clarify, I get much better explanations than at the usual ophthalmologist I see (also) once a year.) But if you know people where money is an issue, let thyem know of things like the Southern College of Optometry, 722-3250, and the University of Tennessee School of Dentistry, 448-6468.

December 9. 
The plans for World Religion Day, January 20, 2019, are proceeding.  Saci Roy would love to hear from those likely to attend or help. (See January 20 below).

        I feel compelled to note with distress the multiple actions of arson recently directed against the houses of worship of Jehovah's Witnesses in Washington State. Reason unknown.

December 8.
In mid-January Dean Andy Andrews will be leaving St. Mary 's Episcopal Cathedral for a church in Vickburg. Wish him well! (Eleven years here.)
      The Church Health Center annual report is online at https://churchhealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Impact-report-for-website.pdf?bblinkid=129127570&bbemailid=10938062&bbejrid=847224805

December 2

for Christians, is the season leading up to Christmas. Interestingly, the best single Advent sermon I ever heard was in a Memphis Mosque. The text was the birth of John the Baptist (who gets somewhat better press in the Qur'an than in the Gospels.)  In part the idea was: John was a religious man, a preacher of the story of the One God, a man who knew what he wanted to do and was good at it. (In fact, John got to baptize Jesus, not the other way around.)  Wouldn't  you like your child to grow up to be like John?  Well, your kids are about to be bombarded with Santa Claus stories and toy advertisements - you parents should go home and study your stories about John the Baptist and Jesus, so that when your kids have questions you will have good and appropriate and helpful stories to tell them. And take an active interest in your children's education.

      I've always enjoyed a story told by Maria Von Trapp (in one of her books, not in the movie.)  She says that after the family escaped Austria (by taking a train to Italy, not by climbing the mountains) the youngest boy complained he had forgotten his toy bear and they would have to go back. Explaining that they could not go back, Maria explained that Jesus had also forgotten his bear when the family fled to Egypt, and Jesus had had to learn to get along without his bear, also...

     Incidentally, did you know that we actually have the records of the synagogue in Alexandria Egypt, showing that they took up a collection to meet the needs of refugees - the Jewish parents of young children, who fled to Egypt to get away from a guy who was killing children,  by the name of King Herod?  I don't know why this fact isn't mentioned in Sunday Schools - is it too political to suggest that houses of worship might collect money for refugees?  It is the first collection on behalf of refugees that I happen to have heard of.  I always welcome invitations to speak on the intertestamental period - what happened between the end of the Hebrew Bible and the start of the New Testament, why are the Roman Soldiers in Jerusalem and why are the Temple Priests in cahoots with them? (Oh, that synagogue collection is about 40 BC - the time of the first Herod, not the later Herod  of the Gospels - but historians believe the second Herod acted like the first.)

     Chanukah, from the evening of December 2 to the evening of December 10, is a minor Jewish holiday (it doesn't get into the Hebrew Bible, it is in the Book of Maccabees in the Old Testament Apocrypha) which gains its importance mainly by proximity to Christmas (hey, Jewish parents need stories to tell their kids, also.)  My father's somewhat non-conformist version of the Chanukah story is at http://ordman.net/Edward/Chanukah.html

My apologies for not making timely mention of Diwali, which came early this year (early November), the Hindu "Festival of Lights". One source of information is  https://www.diwalifestival.org/

     There is an interesting article about Jewish "Peace" groups at

November 18.

  MICAH now has a full-time lead organizer, Rev. Ayanna Johnson Watkins (Disciples of Christ minister).
     The Episcopal Diocese has elected a new Bishop,
      At a time when many Jews commemorated the Holocaust, Denmark celebrated the survival of the Danish Jews. A nice  article at

November 12

      There is no way to point out the many statements by faith groups iun Memphis about the tragic events of the last two weeks. The statement by the interfaith group MICAH is at
      Do recall that they meet Tuesday evening Nov 13.

       Heidi and I very much enjoyed a few Armistice Day events on Sunday and wish everyone a good Veterans' Day today. Both of us have spent enough time in Europe to know that Armistice Day is November 11, and that Congress can no more change that than they can move Christmas; it is perfectly fine with us if in addition they want to also create Veterans' Day on the nearest Monday, and we will express appreciation to our veterans and their families on both of these distinct days.  There was an excellent performance Sunday by the West Point Glee Club at White Station High School,
     History and literature buffs might enjoy the Tri-State Defender piece at

       I'm giving rather late notice of the joint Thanksgiving Dinner this Thursday Nov 15 between Heartsong Church and the Memphis Islamic Center.  It is a bit of a mob scene but an excellent Thanksgiving dinner and a wonderful way to meet friends of another religion; I strongly urge people to attend.  Tickets available either Heartsong Chuirch or Memphis Islamic Center, or just phone the Church at 901-755-6332 and leave a message with whoever answerts (or on Pastor Eaves' voicemail) with name and how many are coming and they'll hold tickets at the door.  6:30 pm,  $7 each, the church is at
800 North Houston Levee Road, Cordova, TN 38018 , just north of the far east end of Walnut Grove.  The two houses of worship join in the Memphis Friendship Foundation with plans to establish a destination-worthy joint park in the land between them.
       While it isn't organized as an interfaith event, everyone is invited to a Thanksgiving Dinner on Thanksgiving Day, 11:30-1 PM at Pinecrest, the Presbyterian campground in the hilly woods just over a one hour drive east of Memphis. $22 adult, $15 child. No speakers, just a quiet dinner (cafeteria line) when you get there and enjoy the company and the woods.
http://camppinecrest.org/events-calendar/     phone and leave a message at  901.878.1247 or email pinecrestrc (at) wildblue.net  to reserve.

       And while thinking of the outdoors, I'll point out Roman Catholic Climate Change web page at http://climatepilgrimage.com/
(thanks to Judy Bettice)

       MidSouth Peace and Justice Center reminds us of the need for support.  They have too many activities for me to list them all! https://midsouthpeace.org/

     The Memphis Islamic Center is offering free English as a Second Language classes.

OCTOBER 17 - November 1 Early Voting.

November 1. 

Videos from the 27th annual Freedom Awards at the National Civil Rights Museum are at

There has been so much writing about the various terrorist attacks in the last week that I can't add much.
Rabbi Micah Greenstein's comments at the Memphis Jewish Community Center event are at
Imam Feisal Rauf, thye downtown Manhattan Imnam who has spoken in the Calvary Len\ten Lecture Series, has remarks at

Since I know many people reading this don't read the Tri-State Defender, I'll also add

You also may enjoy Scott Morris's blog at https://churchhealth.org/banks-jordan-river/

I cannot resist, given present politics, quoting Lewis Carroll (who was, you may recall, also a mathematics teacher.) He pointed out that the basic operations learned by children were Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision. I have only recently come to understand that these were not processes of arithmetic, but tactics of politics. Clearly, Lewis Carroll was well ahead of his time (or the late 1800's were more like today than I had realized.)

October 18

has a new web page listing volunteer opportunities at https://community.mifa.org/
 They also have a page celebrating the 50-year history of MIFA:  https://www.mifa.org/jubilee

Mayor Strickland reports "During the 2018 point-in-time count conducted by the CAFTH, some 1,226 Memphians were counted to be experiencing homelessness — down 14 percent from 2017 and down 41 percent from 2012. Of the 1,226, the vast majority were spending the night either at a shelter or transitional housing."

A Daily Memphian article on children at the Grizzlies Charter School and the Nathan Bedford Forrest historical marker.

October 11

    The Election Commission needs help with the tail end of voter registration
- they have hundreds of incomplete voter registration forms and need help contacting the people. Four-hour shifts available Monday and Tuesday October 15-16. Non-partisan. Contact League of Women Voters at 901-490-0050.

    The Young Lawyers Division of the Tennessee Bar and the Tennessee Immigrants and Human Rights Coalition are seeking volunteers (especially lawyers) to help with an Oct 17 program, making pro bono family protection plans for immigrants, e.g. to protect children if parents are deported.

     DVD's of the movie "The Sultan and the Saint" are available free to social studies teachers (probably any school teacher who has a use, and probably also church or other religious groups.). During the Crusades, Francis of Assisi risked his life by walking across enemy lines to meet the Sultan of Egypt, the Muslim ruler Al-Malik al-Kamil. https://www.sultanandthesaintfilm.com/education/

Manna House is expanding - they have purchased a house at 1081 Greenlaw,. They seek donations and volunteers to make a shelter for women with children. There will be a workday Oct 13 starting at 9 am. Donations to Emmanuel House Manna at 248 N Willett, Memphis TN 38104. Contact is pgathje (at) memphisseminary.edu

St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral has a new choirmaster, Paul Murray, starting October 14.

At the risk of venturing into politics, there is an odd case with an interfaith aspect. Laura Alqasem is an American student at Hebrew University (Jerusalem) Apparently, she has spoken in favor of boycotting Israel (despite being a student there. I , myself, spent the summer at the Hebrew University in 1971.) She has been detained by the Israeli authorities. The United States, as as sometimes happened in the past even to Memphians, has not been very supportive of this US citizen, despite calls from US groups, Jewish groups, AND the Hebrew University. (Oddly, South Africa has a reputation of being much more supportive of its citizens - Israel has several times acceded to South African requests.) There is an article from a church source at

October 3

The Jewish Historical Society is planning a program on the history of Beale Street and would like to speak to children of merchants who did business on Beale Street. Contact Phyllis Groskind  pgroskind (at) hotmail.com

The National Civil Rights Museum can provide free admission for field trips from Title 1 schools (from a fairly broad surrounding area), and apparently even provide the transportation within Shelby County.  https://www.civilrightsmuseum.org/programs

Sept 20.

     The Memphis School of Servant leadership is starting its Fall Semester. http://www.servantleadership-memphis.org/
Not all class details are up as yet, but for example people here may be interested in the "Racism to Reconciliation" group meeting at Balmoral Presbyterian,  6 to 7:30 PM Thursdays.

    I found of interest a "dress guide" issued by the Indian Cultural Center and Temple. I'll link to it from the "Addresses" page here for future reference.  I've put it on the website here as ICCTDress.png

    The National Civil Rights Museum has a class "Unpacking Racism for Action", 2nd Tuesdays Nov - May at 6-8 PM. Apply by Sept 28 at

The Mid-South Baptist Association has its first African-American  moderator, Rev. Derrick Joyce of Memphis.

Movie "If Beale Street Could Talk."  Opening end of November? article and link to trailer at

FACING HISTORY  has materials for :"teaching current events in your classroom" which may be of interest to Sunday Schools or house0-of-worship youth groups among others.  https://www.facinghistory.org/educator-resources/current-events

Sept 14. 

I have a new concert listing from Allegro, and have also put up the Church Health Center monthly newsletter (links above).
     It is time to reserve seats for the FACING HISTORY annual dinner, see October 29 below.

Sept 12.

CAMPAIGN NON-VIOLENCE WEEK OF ACTION starts Sept 17. Many events. 
Action News 5 posting at http://www.wmcactionnews5.com/2018/09/11/memphis-celebrate-week-nonviolence/
lists the events
Time to register for the annual joint dinner between St Luke's  United Methodist and Masjid al-Noor. Free with RSVP. 
Wed, September 26, 2018 5:45 PM – 7:45 PM CDT Register at  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/8th-annual-joint-dinner-iagm-masjid-al-noor-st-luke-umc-tickets-49724547460

     Yasir Qadhi, a nationally prominent Islamic educator who has been teaching at Rhodes College and SCholar-in-Residence at the Memphis Islamic Center, has given notice that he plans to leave Memphis, probably at the end of the 2018-2019 academic year. If you have not heard this remarkable speaker teacher speak as much as you'd like, or managed to get him to address your organization, look for opportunities promptly!

      This may be anti-Israeli, I have not explored it enough, but an interesting resource put up by a pro-Palestinian group on Israeli interactions with local groups.  https://palestineishere.org/  I post it in part since the format may be of interest to others.

     St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral has put its newsletter online on Issuu.com, a web site that allows free publication of magazine-format pdf's. I've enjoyed this site for a long time and recommend it to other houses of worship and other organizations as  a  free place to post pdfs. (I'd love to see more local newsletters online, where I could simply link to them.) (I suspect St Mary's has signed up for more than the free basic plan, but it is worth a look even at the free level.)
For an example of my own free use of the site, see https://issuu.com/edword/docs/bhutan

      The Episcopalians already have their Hurricane Florence Relief site up and running, at

The Church Health Center
offers "Mental Health First Aid" workshops.  They also will do presentations on this subject to Church groups (all houses of worship) or other appropriate interested groups. 


Sept 3.
       I've been very remiss in updating, and feel sad about missing the WIN Labor Day event. 
My partner Heidi's shipment of furniture and household goods arrived from Germany August 15 and 16, and we are still trying to assess the extensive loss and damage. http://ht.ly/RAtG30lBN8h
      With the start of school, a great many groups have programs - so many that I'm sure my list is not complete. Do send me reminders, and I'll try to get the gaps filled in.

It is time to register teams for the October 21 Kosher BBQ contest at Anshei Sfard - Beth El Emeth. 

      The "Exchange Club", a local family services organization devoted for many years to helping victims of violence, has changed its name to "Kindred Place."Read about it at this link.

      A research study is seeking adults with type 2 diabetes and trouble controlling cholesterol. 


      Since the Church Health Center
has too many interesting events for me to list all of them, I'va recente put  newsletter of theirs online. Click Here.    The "Parish Nurse Program" of the Church Health center (which encourages houses of worship to have a nurse available to be called on by their members) is now called the Westberg Institute; information is at     https://westberginstitute.org/      See also https://churchhealth.org/givingday/
      The Civil Rights Museum website listing August-September events is at
The Hasidic Jewish group in Memphis, has called attention to a web page about their movement. (Both of those words, incidentally, start with the same guttural H sound).   http://www.jewishmemphis.com/library/article_cdo/aid/4079238
        Healthy and Free Tennessee is looking for members of their Youth Leadership Council (ages 18-24, "pro-choice"). Apply by Sept 3. See
       The recent passage by the Israeli parliament of a law declaring Israel a "Jewish State" is very controversial even among Jews (in and out of Israel) who prefer a democratic and much more open state. There is an interesting essay at
      I have no idea if local quilting groups take an interest in each other's work, but a "Memphis Israel" quilt is on display through August 22:

August 12

  Randell Gamble points out an article about an interfaith road trip including Memphis, at
     Sept 6 is the deadline for nominations for the Keeper of the Dream Award, Civil Rights Museum, Oct 17.
What young person in your group should be nominated (Grades 6-12, dedication to ensuring equal rights and opportunities)? See
     I've just put in this list a great many, but not all, the events in the Civil Rights Museum Newsletter.  I'd appreciate feedback on
whether people want to see those events on the calendar here.  (email admin@memphisirg.org)
    Church Health Center reports that in its first fiscal year in the Crosstown Concourse, patient visits were up 17%. Sept 1 will mark 31 years since they opened, and they'd love donations by August 28 so they can report them Sept 1.  I'm putting their events list online at
http://memphisirg.org/CHCActivities.html  .  Again,  I'd appreciate guidance as to whether people want me to include several of these evenes in the calendar here, or whether simply posting their newsletter suffices.  

July 30

Given the importance of Ida B. Wells in the history of Memphis. people may be interested in the effort to erect a monument to her in the neighborhood where she lived in Chicago.  http://www.idabwellsmonument.org/?wpisrc=nl_lily&wpmm=1

      The latest edition of The Church Health Reader, the magazine of the Church Health Center, is online.

(earlier notes have been moved to the home page, at http://memphisirg.org)

       Elections in 2018: (Memphis/Shelby County) May 1, County Primary.      August 2,  Primary and General Election.      Nov 6, General Election.

      There is no way I can list here all the interesting"regular"events of The Church Health Center. If you have not checked  it for awhile, read their events list at
      There is a nice list of "50 free things to do in Memphis" athttp://ilovememphisblog.com/2017/06/50-free-things-to-do-in-memphis/

       The  list of events at the Ben Hooks Institute, U of Memphis, is online at http://www.memphis.edu/benhooks/events/

I need to establish a place somewhere on this site for "general information" contacts.
e.g. dial 211 for the city library reference service to connect with local organizations - and what else?
Memphis Crisis Center http://crisis7.org  901-274-7477 answers calls concerning emergencies
    with abused children, HIV, suicide and severe depression, elder care emergencies and resources,...
The HOMELESS HOTLINE is now operated by MIFA, at 901-529-4545 (24/7 except a few holidays)

July 25

   A delegation from Calvary Episcopal Church plans to walk the last 100K of the El Camino de Santiago in Spain and Portugal.  There are still a few places open. Information in the ir newsletter online at https://mailchi.mp/calvarymemphis/060717-181549?e=2f75c3ec8d

    August 2018 will see initial planning meetings for World Religions Day, January 20 2018.   Look for updates on Facebook at World Religion Day Memphis

   Local Jewish organizations have partnered to appoint a "Regional Security Director" for Jewish organizations in Memphis.
Other organizations wanting to be in touch with him can make contact through https://www.jcpmemphis.org/

In an unusual court decision, a Jew has claimed that a refusal to offer him a job based on his religion is "racial discrimination."

An article about Congress  failing to make lynching a federal crime.  https://wapo.st/2NpgQGn?tid=ss_mail&utm_term=.50a741996ab9

July 21. 

 Several new events listed, the next few days are very busy. September and October are eevnts are appearing, check below and mark your calendars.
Not in the "specific dates" listings note the Farmer's Market at Cooper-Young and the Art Exhibit, "The Memphis I Love".

July 14.

    Early Voting
is July 13-28 for the August 2 election (
county general/state primary/federal primary election )
 For more details on voting locations in your areaclick this link to find information from your county election commissionIt's too late to register for the August 2ndelection, but you can still register for the November election at this link.      (Note provided by Healthy and Free Tennessee   http://www.healthyandfreetn.org/
   A local pastor writing on the issues surrounding early voting:

    MICAH has chosen its three areas of concentration
. See July 17-18 in the daily events list for details and initial meetings. Please Get to one of these if at all possible!
           MICAH events can always be found at micah901.eventbrite.com and on their website, micahmemphis.org.

     The poster for the July 26 pilgrimage trip to Alabama is online at 2018_7_26_Pilgrimage.pdf

    The Juvenile Justice project at Mid-South Peace and Justice Center is having some problems before new grant funds come in this Fall. A bit of bridge-time funding, anyone?

   The Germantown Summer Events Listing is at https://www.germantown-tn.gov/home/showdocument?id=2378
  For example: Farm Park Farmers’ Market, Thursdays, June 7 to August 9, 4 to 7:30 p.m.. Bobby Lanier Farm Park, 2660 Cross Country Drive

July 7.
     Boy Scouts / Cub Scouts. 
Per policy Changes at the Boy Scouts national level, Temple Israel has now opened (starting this Fall)  its Cub Scout Pack 25 to girls 6-10. and is forming a new Troop for Girls 11-17. Girls 14-20 are currently members of Venture Crews. Temple Israel has ha=d a Troop (#25, one of the oldest in the US) for 104 years.  Has your house of woprship considered a joint SCout event with another house of worship?  Dr Mark Clemsons, Scoutmaster, 483-6408

    A recent one million dollar donation has created an endowment fund (now of two million dollars) to support Hillels of Memphis, the Jewish student groups at U of Memphis and Rhodes College.

    Beth Sholom Synagogue now accepts as full members non-Jewish spouses and domestic partners of members. (This synagogue is of the "Conservative" denomination whuich recently lioberalized rules on this point. Temple Israel, which is "Reform", has had this policy for years.  Most houses of worship are somewhat restrictive on this point - I'm an active participant at a few churches and mosques where I can't vote due to not actually being a member of the religion. One  church made me an "associate member" so they could put me on committees, and another church voted to allow me to speak at their business meetings.)

June 26:

I have deep concern about some recent Supreme Court rulings (immigration and unions) and rhetoric from the president. There have been strong expressions of support for our Muslim and immigrant communities from a number of national groups and groups and individuals within the city.  Do you have influence with an organization that could do a visit with or find other ways to support (e.g.) a mosque, an Hispanic church, Workers Interfaith Network?  I noted recently the Mid-South Peace and Justice needs some interim funding for youth programs, and the Memphis Friendship Foundation (developing a park between Heartsong Church and Memphis Islamic Center) also needs some interim funding.  It's a time to be supportive - in person and/or financially - in causes we believe in.
I can't resist pointing out two movies available on Netflix. 
       Ali's Wedding
is in some ways a standard story, boy and girl fall in love but parents disapprove, but this is set among Muslim immigrants living in Australia.  A lot of trite scenes - some of them probably old in the days of Romeo and Juliet - but it is a particularly good portrayal of Muslim families as the children adjust to living in the society into which the family has immigrated. The determination that a son become a doctor is a standard Jewish immigrant story also. Review at e.g.https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/aug/30/alis-wedding-review-sweet-but-unadventurous-romantic-comedy
       Bombshell, The Hedy Lamarr Story, mentioned here since Temple Israel considered it of enough interest to show in its summer movie series. While it has references both to the Holocaust and the "star system", it is as much about Hedy Lamarr's role as an inventor and about aspects of World War II. Review at e.g. https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/bombshell_the_hedy_lamarr_story/

     Saint John's Episcopal has an newly ordained deacon, Miranda Griffin,  arriving July 1, working primarily with the Youth Program.
     I note also the death (heart attack) of Dr. Surender Ennu, a long-time trustee of the Indian Community Center and Temple (Hindu Temple).

     Reminder - does your group particiapte in the Church Health Center Faith Communities program?

     The Germantown police department offers "Active Shooter Training".  Would your organization like to have people trained in how to deal with a terrorist or other active shooter event? 
Captain Nick Godwin at (901) 751-7556

      Pleasant View School (the Muslim day school) is proud to share with the Memphis community that one of our own students, Muadth Malley, got first prize in the nation at the National History Day competition that took place this month in Baltimore, MD. His paper was on The Lebanese Civil War and the Taif Accord.

     The Lynching Sites of Memphis Project  has a book list (suggested reading) at https://lynchingsitesmem.org/resources

      An odd Father's Day afterthought - I had a nice Father's Day, and I hope others did, but I recall a conversation I had awhile back with a young man who felt he could not say the prayer "Our Father who art in heaven..." since his experience with his own father had been so terrible.  I'm sure he is not alone in that experience, but I cannot offer any easy solution.  The Christian Scientists of course refer regularly to the "Father-Mother God" and all religions I know of have a sufficient variety of terms to refer to or address God. The Muslims count "99 names of Allah" and non-Muslims might enjoy Googling that list, but changing the common Christian prayer (which is of course of Jewish origin) doesn't seem to me a good solution. I do recall a remarkable sermon I heard in a Unitarian Church, the best sermon I ever heard on the subject of devotion to the Virgin Mary. The preacher explained that she had dealt with many people who  for a variety of reasons could not feel close with or feel they could speak honestly and frankly to a father figure, but could speak frankly with a woman like Mary and ask her to pass on what was needed to God. This was a new idea to me when I heard it, but an interesting one. Mary of course is as important to Muslims in many ways as to Roman Catholics - a Muslim "Sunday School" class in Memphis not long ago devoted six weeks to studying the life of Mary.

June 16
  Homelessness. Brad Watkins of Mid-South Peace and Justice points out that MSP&J has online (and easy to print) a guide to help for the homeless.
All houses of worship (and other places where the homeless may ask for help) should have some copies and be aware of them. Brad points out that MSP&J itself cannot find housing for a person on an emergency basis, although it does get calls for help.  (Yes, I've gotten emergency calls myself.) Have the booklet available.

     MICAH. . The major issues conference of MICAH will be  
June 24, Sunday, 3 PM at Lindenwood Christian Church, deciding what issues it will concentrate on.
This is an extremely important meeting, as MICAH has the possibility of being a major force in the city. You do not have to be a member to attend and vote. Each organization has been allowed to put up to three issues on the ballot, and (if I understand correctly) each organization will receive up to forty votes depending on how many people show up and sign as members of that organization. So it is very important (a) to be there; (b) to know what issues are of importance to you, or which organization you want to support.
      Just by way of example, Pax Christi has been supporting (1) Transportation, getting people to work sites; (2) $15 minimum wage; (3) Violence reduction programs such as conflict reduction in schools and gun buy-backs.        Campaign Nonviolence has been supporting (1) Violence Reduction - teaching Nonviolent Conflict Resolution;  (2) ending Voter Suppression efforts;  (3) Fighting Poverty through job creation (including transportation to jobs and $15 wage).      It seems very possible that agreements are emerging on the ways that MICAH should move and that a great many organizations and people will be on board. Thuis may be a real chance for "our sort of people" to speak with a united voice and have an impact on Memphis or even the state.

     While thinking of one of those issues - Mass transit - MIFA urges people to  have a look at the plans and survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MemTransitVision3

     I have been saddened to hear of the death June 12 of The Rev. Don Mowery. He came to Memphis in 1963, embarked on a career through Youth Services, Inc., which was was located on the 3rd floor of Saint John's Episcopal Church. Youth Services, Inc. evolved into today's Bridges, USA.

     Chabad (an orthodox Jewish group, called the Lubavitcher Chassidim, roughly the "faithful of Lubavitch", who started in the town of Lubavitch in eastern Europe. Their synagogue in Memphis  is on Kirby Parkway and has many very interesting public events, visitors welcome and they don't try to convert people although they happily encourage Jews to be more Jewish.  
June 16 is the anniversary of the passing of Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson. In addition to being the last important leader of this Jewish group,  he be may be of interest to  people interested in comparative religion since many of his followers believed him to be the Messiah and some still hope he will resurrect himself. (Jews don't have the benefit of Jesus' denial that it will be easy to identify the Messiah.)  I met the man in his lifetime, admired him very much, but certainly I personally had no impression that he believed himself to be the Messiah. You'll find interesting reading about him at https://www.chabad.org/therebbe/default_cdo/jewish/The-Rebbe.htm

June 16
  Homelessness. Brad Watkins of Mid-South Peace and Justice points out that MSP&J has online (and easy to print) a guide to help for the homeless.
All houses of worship (and other places where the homeless may ask for help) should have some copies and be aware of them. Brad points out that MSP&J itself cannot find housing for a person on an emergency basis, although it does get calls for help.  (Yes, I've gotten emergency calls myself.) Have the booklet available.

     MICAH. . The major issues conference of MICAH will be  
June 24, Sunday, 3 PM at Lindenwood Christian Church, deciding what issues it will concentrate on.
This is an extremely important meeting, as MICAH has the possibility of being a major force in the city. You do not have to be a member to attend and vote. Each organization has been allowed to put up to three issues on the ballot, and (if I understand correctly) each organization will receive up to forty votes depending on how many people show up and sign as members of that organization. So it is very important (a) to be there; (b) to know what issues are of importance to you, or which organization you want to support.
      Just by way of example, Pax Christi has been supporting (1) Transportation, getting people to work sites; (2) $15 minimum wage; (3) Violence reduction programs such as conflict reduction in schools and gun buy-backs.        Campaign Nonviolence has been supporting (1) Violence Reduction - teaching Nonviolent Conflict Resolution;  (2) ending Voter Suppression efforts;  (3) Fighting Poverty through job creation (including transportation to jobs and $15 wage).      It seems very possible that agreements are emerging on the ways that MICAH should move and that a great many organizations and people will be on board. Thuis may be a real chance for "our sort of people" to speak with a united voice and have an impact on Memphis or even the state.

     While thinking of one of those issues - Mass transit - MIFA urges people to  have a look at the plans and survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MemTransitVision3

     I have been saddened to hear of the death June 12 of The Rev. Don Mowery. He came to Memphis in 1963, embarked on a career through Youth Services, Inc., which was was located on the 3rd floor of Saint John's Episcopal Church. Youth Services, Inc. evolved into today's Bridges, USA.

     Chabad (an orthodox Jewish group, called the Lubavitcher Chassidim, roughly the "faithful of Lubavitch", who started in the town of Lubavitch in eastern Europe. Their synagogue in Memphis  is on Kirby Parkway and has many very interesting public events, visitors welcome and they don't try to convert people although they happily encourage Jews to be more Jewish.  
June 16 is the anniversary of the passing of Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson. In addition to being the last important leader of this Jewish group,  he be may be of interest to  people interested in comparative religion since many of his followers believed him to be the Messiah and some still hope he will resurrect himself. (Jews don't have the benefit of Jesus' denial that it will be easy to identify the Messiah.)  I met the man in his lifetime, admired him very much, but certainly I personally had no impression that he believed himself to be the Messiah. You'll find interesting reading about him at https://www.chabad.org/therebbe/default_cdo/jewish/The-Rebbe.htm

    The Juvenile Justice project at Mid-South Peace and Justice Center is having some problems before new grant funds come in this Fall. A bit of bridge-time funding, anyone?

   The Germantown Summer Events Listing is at https://www.germantown-tn.gov/home/showdocument?id=2378
  For example: Farm Park Farmers’ Market, Thursdays, June 7 to August 9, 4 to 7:30 p.m.. Bobby Lanier Farm Park, 2660 Cross Country Drive

June 7
      Eid El-Fitr,
the Feast of Completion, at the end of Ramadan, is one of the most important Islamic holidays. (The last ten days of Ramadan have a strong relationship to the ten days from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur for the Jews, e.g. you get extra credit for doing good deeds and repenting of your sins.) This is expected this year on June 15, although there is a slight chance it might come on June 14. Recall that Ramadan started a day earlier than forecast this year, as the new moon was sighted in California earlier than expected!  There will be joint prayers for all the area mosques and a big party at Agricenter International.
MIFA, which has for a long time sent Christmas and Chanukah cards in exchange for donations (send $10 per card and a list of people to send them to) now offers Eid cards as well. https://www.mifa.org/eidcards

      St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral is seeking participants for a medical mission to Haiti October 7-13, 2018. Especially needed are nurses, a pharmacist, and sign language interpreters.

       Facing History has, as part of its curriculum, a discussion of whether, when, how, one might find oneself feeling compelled to differ with those around you (I think the program started by talking about the problems of living in Nazi Germany leading up to the Holocaust.) With all the recent publicity / controversy about certain people kneeling during the national anthem, the Facing History Blog has an essay on the subject. https://facingtoday.facinghistory.org/taking-a-knee-and-the-right-to-protest-in-the-nfl       
       While I honestly feel that the issue of kneeling during the national anthem by itself has been deliberately overblown by our President (no member of the team that Trump disinvited from the White House had ever knelt during the anthem) an issue of greater concern is raised by the Tri-State Defender in Memphis: https://tri-statedefender.com/the-true-danger-of-trump-how-white-republican-judges-sentence-blacks-to-longer-prison-terms/06/06/     This of course is of concern to all minorities, religious, and immigrant groups.  
        I don't know how many religious groups have spoken yet on the issue of separating immigrant children from their parents. The statement from the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is at https://rac.org/reform-jewish-leader-decries-missing-children-family-separation-and-mistreatment-minors

The Channel Five News clip
of the recent Iftar Interfaith Dinner is at http://www.wmcactionnews5.com/story/38337795/religious-leaders-host-memphis-interfaith-dinner-in-hopes-of-creating-unity

Newsletter of St Mary's Cathedral (nice pictures) at http://files.constantcontact.com/5f045909001/1ce117b4-6ca4-49a5-8e7c-419f50bdc046.pdf

June 1

         The updated Concert Listing page has several concerts on June 2 and 3.
Ramadan began May 16, a day earlier than predicted locally, because the moon was sighted in California. There are many special mosque events; most mosques serve at least simple refreshments after sunset each evening since it is a sunup-to-sundown fast each day (hard when it comes in summer!) Visitors are welcome. By way of illustration of the special prayers, Memphis Islamic Center will hold all-night activities for men on June 2 and June 9, for women on June 8 - these include prayers and reflections but also some sports. 
        I run into interesting things in my travels.  I suspect that many of our members will be interested in a discussion, by faculty at the Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire, of how German physicians came to cooperate with the Nazi government.  A Jewish group in New Hampshire has been kind enough to allow me to post a summary - click here for the report.

        Calvary Episcopal has its main newsletter online, back issues at http://calvarymemphis.org/chroniclenewsletter,     current issue at https://www.speakcdn.com/assets/1981/chronicle_summer_18_web.pdf    There is a message from assistant Rev Niel Raman who is moving on, and a page about Susanne Darnell, who many of us have met at interfaith events.
       Temple Israel is another place that puts its newsletters online, although I don't know that it has the past ones indexed. The current week is at  https://mailchi.mp/timemphis/holy-kvetching-wrj-installation-movie-nights-and-more?e=0b2f5806a0
       Several churches reported on here participate in "Room in the Inn", an emergency shelter program for women.  I know that Calvary Episcopal, Trinity United Methodist, and Immaculate Conception Cathedral have requests out for volunteers to help. Who else? Who keeps the schedule of where and when?  example:    http://calvarymemphis.org/riti
        My impression is that most of the Wednesday suppers are suspended during the summer. I do remind people that St Mary's Episcopal, 700 Poplar, has a Wednesday breakfast after a brief 8 AM service. The breakfast is intended mainly for the homeless but all are welcome and it is a chance to meet people you might not meet otherwise, in a very friendly environment. (Not to mention the chance to see the wonderful history exhibit on the Yellow Fever epidemic there, if you have not visited it previously.)
     I continue to be impressed by the on-line materials of FACING HISTORY. Here is material for a one-hour lesson on LGBTQ history:  https://www.facinghistory.org/resource-library/lgbtq-history-and-why-it-matters

May 15.

A schoolteacher has contacted me and asked me to bring a certain TV (Netflix) series to the attention to anyone who works with young people, or can spread the word to those who do.  According to the National Association of School Psychologists, the show "13 Reasons Why" has become viral among many groups of pupils, some as young as 4th grade.  Apparently last season's or the coming season's episodes may be interpreted by children or adolescents to glamorize or justify suicide, rape, sexual abuse, or other undesirable activities.
see  https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/preventing-youth-suicide/13-reasons-why-netflix-series-considerations-for-educators/information-regarding-the-upcoming-release-of-13-reasons-why-season-2
also https://save.org/13-reasons-why/
and https://www.schoolcounselor.org/school-counselors/professional-development/learn-more/13-reasons-why-resources

It's time for another reminder of the need for a West Tennessee Veteran's Home. Thanks to  the City of Germantown for reminding us.

May 10.

      Today is Ascension Day,
the 40th day after Easter, is believed to be the day Christ ascended into heaven. It is a public holiday in Germany, where I happen to be at the moment - essentially all businesses are closed, even bakeries!  A big day for church services in Germany, including "ecumenical" ones (that is, Catholics and Lutherans). 

      I'm sorry to see the Mormon Church and the Boy Scouts deciding to part ways, after a long close relationship.

      I was a Boy Scout myself and have had at least two professional Scout leaders among my relatives (a Boy Scout nature trail in Massachusetts is named after my uncle Ralph Sisson).  My experience did include some worthwhile learning about other religions. And I've usually kept in touch with the Mormon Church (Church of Latter-Day Saints) when I travel - I enjoy meeting local people and seeing how they live more than sightseeing of the "that's a pretty building" and "That's an impressive mountain" variety. Even if I'm weak on the local language, it is often possible to find the local Mormon church and there are almost always a few young missionaries from the United States present who can interpret for me and show me around.  On at least one occasion, they were able to direct me to the local synagogue I'd been unable to find!
       Yes, I've talked with American Mormon missionaries here in Kaiserslautern, Germany. People may also be interested to know that the mosque here has the sermon in Arabic but projects translations on the walls, at least in summary, in both German and English. The Imam says there are about 40 nationalities among the members.  (There is also a Turkish-speaking mosque). The synagogue here is bilingual German/Russian since many Russian Jews of German descent have returned to Germany; the prayers are in Hebrew with both German and Russian transliterations and translations provided.

    Facing History has a newsletter of summer activities for teachers online at  http://info.facinghistory.org/grow-with-facing-history-this-summer-2

    May-June events at the Civil Rights Museum  http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Museum-May-June-Events.html?soid=1110009660710&aid=GLo3wlHcn8E

    Volunteer Memphis Awards  nominations are due by May 18th. https://www.volunteermemphis.org/Pages/Volunteer-Memphis-Awards/1650/

May 7

     May 19 is the deadline to RSVP for the major annual Iftar dinner, one of the year's major interfaitgh events. The dinner is June 3.
For details go to  http://www.memphisinterfaith.org/

Can you do a bit of language speaking in a Pentecost Service May 20? See May 20 below.  (I'm sorry I'm out of town - I might have been allowed to say my one sentence of Chinese (I know how to say in Mandarin "I can only speak one sentence of Chinese")

Ramadan will be 16th May to 14th June (this may very a day due to moon sightings, I think.)  As I learn more, I can't help but mention a few details. The observant Muslim fasts completely (no food or drink) sunup to sundown,  There are several kinds of exemptions (travel, illness, etc.)  Giving charity can substitute for fasting, I believe, and there are scholars who compute how much to donate per day of non-fasting. One complication (which reminds me of similar problem in Jewish law) is that pregnant women are not supposed to fast. This is one of those places where religion was a millennium or so ahead of science, scientific research on the harm of maternal fasting on the fetus is quire recent. Unfortunately, the most recent research suggests that the time the fetus is most likely at risk is during the first six weeks of pregnancy - when the mother may not even know yet.  Can anyone point me at good Muslim writing on this issue?  (I'm interested since some recent interfaith discussions had comparisons of some points of  Jewish and Muslim medical guidance.)

The annual report of the Common Table Health Alliance is online at
(This organization is a wonderful source of speakers for Sunday Scghool classes, congregational lunches/dinners, etc.
So are the Church Health Center, Bridges, and of course several other local charities.)

May 1

   People may enjoy reading of the COGIC "Tour of Memphis" list of Martin Luther King sites at

   When I visited Morocco a few years ago, someone said to me, "it is easy to be both Muslim and Jewish".  While this article on interfaith connections does not quite go that far, I found it of real interest.         https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2018/0430/Why-these-Muslims-are-fighting-anti-Semitism

April 27


A nice "education for social justice" piece in the Tri-State Defender,

Re the lynching memorial April  28:
Jesse Lee Bond, a 20-year old African American cotton farmer, was lynched in front of Wilson's store on the main square of Arlington on April 28,1939, after he had asked for a receipt for his purchase of farming supplies. His body was mutilated, dragged through the town and then staked to the bottom of a nearby river.
After his body was recovered his death certificate said he drowned accidentally. Two local men were charged with the murder, taken to trial but promptly acquitted by an all-white jury.
For more on the story, visit the Lynching Sites Memphis website

Many of us do often act as educators within our houses of worship or other groups we associate with, whether or not we consider ourselves professional educators. So I recommend an occasional look or e-mail subscription to the Facing History blog, e.g.

April 19.
 Calvary Episcopal church says: We urgently need men’s pants and rain gear! The clothes closet is also in need of your reusable nice shopping bags and duffle bags or rolling suitcases. (Clothes for the homeless).
Also: Thistle & Bee:  Visit Thistle & Bee at the Cooper-Young Farmers Market on the first and third Saturdays of each month. The market’s winter hours are 9 - 1. You can purchase T&B’s herbal rubs and tea, lemonade, their amazing granola, and other products. Products are made by women who have survived sex trafficking and prostitution, working with Thistle & Bee to change their lives. Sales revenue and donations are used to pay the women a living wage, making a true difference in their personal journeys.

I hadn't had an update of the "
  Concert Listing " list for some time. That page is freshly updated.

April 10, 2018
Early voting for the May 1 election is April 11 to April 26.

April 5, 2018

The last few days have been as full and exciting as expected.  Of course any one person can only get to a limited number of them.
I've tried posting a few notes and pictures from the dedication of the new "Forrest" historical marker at
but I'm not really a Facebook expert. Would there be an interest in a Facebook page where we can share pictures or comments?
Can one link to a specific post there, or just to the page as a whole? Help is invited  (mail to edward@ordman.net )

Which of the speeches, etc., are available on line? Rabbi Micah Greenstein's talk at the Lorraine is at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPZjboYxqkE (4 minutes + an excellent longer interview followup, total a half hour.)
An interesting historical piece about Rabbi Wax from Memphis Magazine is at http://memphismagazine.com/features/rabbi-james-wax

The major issues meeting of MICAH has been set for June 24 (details below.)

Do remember the wonderful events at St. Mary's Cathedral; starting at 11 AM Saturday April 7 and the
Vanderhaar symposium Thursday April 12.

April 1, 2018

The magazine of the Church Health Center, the Church Health Reader, is available online at http://chreader.org/
      One appropriate reading for this week is http://chreader.org/waters-of-justice/
The recorded sermons from the Calvary Episcopal Lenten Lecture Series are online at

One of the major climactic events of the "MLK50" season will be Saturday April 7, a rally and march for which the Rev Dr James Lawson will be retrunin to Memphis; I expect his talk will be around 11 AM.  NOT TO BE MISSED.

I have to be a bit upset at the conflict on April 12 between the talk on the Jews of Eastern Europe at the Jewish Community Center (a subject I'm very interested in) and the talk about Immigration and citizenship at the Vanderhaar Symposium at Christian Brothers University.  After all the recent activities about the events of 50 years ago in Memphis, which did not neglect "where we are now, and what we have to do now",  I'm going to opt for the Vanderhaar talk, which directly addresses the problems of here and now, and will include a panel with  for example a local Muslim immigrant, a local Latino, a local DACA student.  I hope to see many of you there.

March 14.

       I'm overwhelmed by the MLK 50 related events in the next few weeks, so my coverage is inevitably spotty. Look for example for some of the museum exhibits listed at https://www.artsmemphis.org/events/
        The Civil Rights Museum has special hours March 30 - April 6 and many events, see  https://www.civilrightsmuseum.org/
Also look at their note at https://www.civilrightsmuseum.org/news/posts/48-years-later

March 7
Temple Israel has put its annual Purim show on line this year, it can be streamed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TEZD6fWqNc
         (This is not a connected play about The Book of Esther this year, it is musical skits about scenes in the story. Still fun to watch. Be reminded that the Jews take the Book of Esther much less seriously than Christians take Bible stories.)

       Pax Christi, the Roman Catholic Peace group (but all are welcome to attend) has decided to move its monthly meeting and pot-luck supper dinner 6:30, speaker around 7) from the second Tuesday evening to the third Tuesday evening of the month, to avoid conflict with MICAH, the Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope (have I got that title right).  So Tuesday fanatics can now go to the potluck at the Roman Catholic cathedral first Tuesdays, MICAH second Tuesdays, and Pax Christi  third Tuesdays.  Any offers for fourth Tuesdays?

February 24. 

    Excuse for being slow this time?  Have I already used "the raccoon ate my homework"?   Well, I've been trying to gather some of Eunice Ordman's papers, and some of the records of the Memphis Inter-Religious Group, for the Archives in Special Collections at the University of Memphis Library.  They are interested in having current history of Memphis, for future historians. Should you be sending them some of the records of your organization, or your house of worship, or copies, for long-term preservation? Electronic copies may be even better.  Contact them at  901.678.2210

And events have been coming in so thick and fast that I simply cannot keep up.  How can I edit a web page when I'm out at too many events?I may seriously have to start declining to post events after there are two already posted for that day, but some are too tempting to not post. Look at February 27, when I clearly want to be in three places at once.  Or March 3.

Don't forget the Calvary Lenten Lectures, noon Tues-Fri during Lent. Available anytime online.. Excellent as usual.

Book recommendation: Young Adult book, "Love, Hate, & other Filters." Fiction. The life of a Muslim high-school senior girl is complicated when an accused Muslim mass murderer has the same last name.

February 7.
      While I try to avoid being too specifically political here, there may be times when people want to have a chance to make sure a demonstration has a good mix of religions, ethnic groups, etc.  The national organization "Avaaz" has sent out a notice that IF TRump fires Mueller, there will be a demonstration promptly downtown "

I assume the final timing will be easy to find on Facebook, etc.  Perhaps the link below will be updated?
Location: Civic Center Plaza, downtown; at last look over 500 people had signed up.  

February 3
Ash Wednesday is February 14 (Valentine's Day seems an odd time to start a season of sometimes somber reflection, but that is how the days fell this year.)  This means the Lenten Lecture Series Schedule at Calvary Episcopal (downtown), Feb 15- March 23, is now online, at http://www.calvarymemphis.org/lentenpreaching   Excellent speaker every Tuesday-Friday, 12:05-12:40 PM.  Excellent Breakfast or lunch (charge) 11 am - 1:30 PM. Many also speak at Wednesday suppers and a few of these visitors to Memphis also speak at other churches in the city. Free parking and shuttle bus from St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral on Poplar.  I'll mention a few favorites below at Feb 15, but do check the full schedule.  The MUST SEE for local interfaith people is one of our great local "couples" - Dr. Bashar Shala, President of the Memphis Islamic Center, and Rev. Steve Stone, retired minister of Heartsong Church, have long worked together in one of Memphis's great success stories.  Dr SHala speaks at noon March 21. bot at the super that evening, and then Rev Stone at noon of March 22.
      I want to call special attention to the lecture/discussion about Bonhoeffer, Tuesday February 13 at Beth Sholom Synagogue. Bonhoeffer was an important minister and theologian executed by the Nazis for treason. Writings by and about Bonhoeffer continue to be important today. (And it's fun to have a Protestant professor invited to speak at a synagogue. If you haven't ever visited Beth Sholom, opposite the Opera Center at the north end of Kirby at Humphreys Boulevard, now is a great time.)
    The organization "Women of Achievement has put brief descriptions of their past honorees online at http://www.womenofachievement.org/honorees/ .  This is a remarkable segment of Memphis history. Browse. I can't resist suggesting the items for Ida B. Wells, Cheryl Cornish. Onie Johns, Bert Wolff, Julia Hooks, Juanita Williamson, Tonga Nguyen, Nancy Hastings Sehested  - and these are just a few of my favorites.  Who should I mention in my next e-mail?  And pencil in going to their annual awards program this year, March 11.
      Oh, how about a talk on the Qur'an at the Roman Catholic Cathedral, evening of Feb 6th? Hard to be more interfaith than that...
      And the calendar for Memphis in May is now online, at http://www.memphisinmay.org/
      Pema Karpo Meditation Center (Buddhist) now streams its Friday evening and Sunday morning programs. http://www.pemakarpo.org/

January 16

Well, a lot of events got cancelled in recent days. There is plenty to go to in coming days if you are ready to emerge from enforced hibernation.
But if you'd like to sit home and read or listen, here are a few recent sermons from people doing "guest preaching" across lines:
Rev Dr. Rosalyn Nichols (Freedom's Chapel Christian Church), at Temple Israel Jan 12:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdJPs_kM51A&feature=youtu.be    (video)
Rabbi Micah Greenstein (Temple Israel) at St. Mary's Episcopal , Jan 14
    https://gallery.mailchimp.com/7bda15083be90232089d87536/files/15ed410c-ee54-4987-ba70-fe9a267c6778/MLK.Weekend.January_2018.Speak_at_St._Mary_s_Cathedral.Sermon.pdf       (printed text)
December 29

January 1st is a traditional open house at the Indian Cultural Center and Temple (Hindu Temple), Eads, about a half-hour drive from midtown.  Refreshments for a small charge, morning t0 8 PM. Interesting religious ceremonies (dress conservatively, long pants or skirts, long sleeves, no jeans.)  A wonderful chance to see this interesting and ever-expanding temple complex, and meet and talk with our Hindu neighbors.

I can't avoid some comment on the removal of the statues of Jefferson Davis and Confederate General Forrest. Being overseas and seeing this first through the international press before I read the Commercial Appeal and Mayor Strickland's statements was an unusual experience.  I heartily approve of moving the statues from where they were,  but am gravely puzzled at the legal techniques involved (the most charitable word I can find for the procedures.)  At least one right-wing German politician has already demanded that a similar system be used to remove and destroy the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin;  another person here has asked whether, if the residents of the towns or counties containing Dachau and Auschwitz would prefer not to be reminded of that part of their local history, would they be justified in taking whatever legal steps were necessary to plow them up one  night.  These questions bother me.  I do wonder when and where the statues will again be on display, and what sort of historical material will be provided as educational material in those contexts.  (I'll be back in Memphis by January 7, weather permitting, and speaking at Shady Grove Presbyterian Church on January 10 and at Masjid As-Salaam January 20.)

Reminder: a large collection of Muslim sermons, speeches, etc., can be found at https://www.youtube.com/memphisislamiccenter
In particular, Yasir Qadhi's talk about Jerusalem is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ta00H3OUTHE    (37 minutes, English after a very brief start in Arabic.)
KWANZAA continues througgh January 1. There is a list of events at http://tri-statedefender.com/happy-kwanzaa-in-memphis-2017-18/

December 15

An article on the Memphis Interfaith group MICAH  is online at  http://www.highgroundnews.com/features/MICAH.aspx

Rev Benjamin Badgett of Holy Communion Episcopal, who has been very active in MLK50 and other city-wide activities, is leaving to become rector of St John's Episcopal, Waynesboro, Virginia.  Blessings, Benjamin!

Looking to plan group programs after recovering from all the Christmas season concerts?   Recall that interesting speakers are available from groups like
Common Table Health Alliance (http://www.commontablehealth.org/),  MIFA https://www.mifa.org/. Bridges http://bridgesusa.org/, and quite a few other local organizations.
Who else ould like toi be mentioned here?    (And I'm happy to say I already have a couple of invitations!)

MIFA needs extra Meals on Wheels volunteers during Christmas break.

For those interested in languages, The Indian Cultural Center and Temple is increasingly making pdf downloads available in various Indian languages.

Given Michael Gerson's recent visit to Second Baptist in Memphis, people may be interested in his op-ed in The Washington Post at
on the prospects of growing a more moderate Republican party.

The Midsouth Peace and Justice Center prives a link to a 20-minute film on the problems of Puerto Rice: http://pronthemap.com/

       I can't resist writing a bit on the fact that there are more than two outlooks on life, and that positions can be more nuanced.
The Washington Post has an article on the issue of what the word "evangelical" has come to often mean (i.e., fanatic right-wing), at 

      I've never been offended by the term "evangelical", I can understand people wanting to bring the message of Jesus; it's a good message for the world. There is no reason one cannot be a left-leaning evangelical, a social gospel evangelical, or the like. It would be a shame to let this wonderful word be taken over entirely by an unfortunate group of right-wing politicians, and I hope other evangelicals will continue to use the word and make clear that it is a religious term, not a political one.
        Of course, as a Jew, I have a very similar problem. I consider myself a Zionist - I want a safe and peaceful and prosperous place for Jews at the east end of the Mediterranean. But I think that is impossible unless there is also a safe and peaceful and prosperous place there for the Palestinians, something which present Israeli and US policies seem designed to prevent. So "Zionist", for me, does not include support for the present Israeli administration or many present Israeli government policies, and many who consider themselves (and who I concede are) Zionists do not consider me a "real" Zionist.
         We need to recognize that there are shades of political belief and shades of meaning, that one need not "choose a side"  and then agree in all details with public figures who claim that label.  I've sometimes wondered if this may be a bit easier for Jews and Muslims than for Christians - simply because we don't have enough people to build as many different buildings as the Christians do, we are forced to get along with a lot more varieties of belief and practice in the same building.

December 6

 I've been out of circuit for several weeks. What first seemed a routine infection got out of hand when each antibiotic seemed to cause another previously present but inactive bacteria to bloom. The fourth antibiotic seems to be doing the trick, apparently against a bacteria Eunice and I picked up in a Cambodian village about 2004; the doctor says so far as he knows, this bacteria hadn't turned up in Germany in 30 years. So I'm afraid I missed notice of many events. I'm trying to fill in the gaps, at least as to upcoming events.

Neighborhood Christian Centers, Inc., at 785 Jackson Avenue, is seeking volunteers to help pack Christmas baskets, distribute children's toys. etc. See

I want to call attention to the list of events with Roman Catholic sponsorship at http://cdom.org/CatholicDiocese.php?op=Events_Community
I'll probably mention occasional events from that list here, but  many of you may want to scan it. I've often found attending retreats or conferences from a religion other than my own helpful to my thinking or spiritual life.

Porter-Leath is trying to collect toys for 5,900 local low-income children under 5. Toy Truck presented by Yuletide Office Solutions rolls through December 6 - 8 from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Bud Davis Cadillac, 5433 Poplar Avenue, and at WMC Action News 5 on Saturday, December 9 from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.  (unwrapped toys, please; cash donations will be matched.)

It's time to plan for the spring semester!
Spring courses and other events are available at the Memphis School for Servant Leadership. http://www.servantleadership-memphis.org/
Tennessee Seniors may audit courses free at U of M, contact Kismet Winkelmann, kwnklmnn (at) memphis.edu
Seniors and alumni may audit Memphis Theological Seminary courses at a reduced price. 901.458.8232

November 16.

This past weekend the conference titled, "Perspectives for a World Free from Nuclear Weapons and for Integral Disarmament," was held at the Vatican. This is the largest international conference on nuclear disarmament since the Nuclear Ban Treaty was adopted this summer.Out of this conference came Pope Francis's condemnation of nuclear weapons. He said, "Weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security. They cannot constitute the basis for peaceful coexistence between members of the human family."
  Link  to news article: https://www.ncronline.org/news/vatican/pope-condemns-possession-nuclear-weapons-shift-churchs-acceptance-deterrence

With cokl weather arriving, I want people to be aware of Romm in the Inn https://www.roomintheinn-memphis.org/    Churches provide nightime housing for the homeless and may need volunteer help.

November 10.

The death of the mother of a member at Pema Karpo meditation center led them to point out that information about Buddhist death and memorial practices and prayers may be found on the "teaching" page at http://www.pemakarpo.org/    That page leads to a lot of other interesting information.

November 8.

In an unusual interfaith cooperation, Rev. Steve Cook of Second Baptist and Rabbi Micah Greenstein ofTemple Israel wrote an op-ed opposing the proposal to cut taxes for the very rich and reduce help for those in need.  http://www.commercialappeal.com/story/opinion/contributors/2017/10/31/republican-trump-tax-cuts-plan-morally-unacceptable/815585001/

Don't Miss storyteller Donald Davis at Balmoral Presbyterian Nov10-12

The annual InterfaithThanksgiving Service will be Nov21, 7PM, First Baptist Church  (East Parkway at Poplar). Not to be missed,

The Civil Rights Museum is geting up to full speed with the MLK50 celebration. I've put in quiet a few new events of theirs in the next two weeks. But I urge you to get on their mailing list, at http://mlk50.civilrightsmuseum.org/list-signup

     I'm excited that Memphis will have a showing of the important interfaith movie "The Sultan and the Saint" on Nov 12.
(Saint Francis of Assisi visiting the Muslim ruler of Egypt)   (Sunday 3-5 PM)
Trailer https://www.sultanandthesaintfilm.com/ 
Ticket info http://www.memphisinterfaith.org/event/memphis-premiere-of-the-sultan-and-the-saint/
Free but please reserve seats promptly.

November 2. 

Abject apologies for poor formatting at the moment - I'm away from my usual computer and have been having trouble with sizes and fonts.

The Civil Rights Museum is geting up to full speed with the MLK50 celebration. I've put in quiet a few new events of theirs in the next two weeks. But I urge you to get on their mailing list, at http://mlk50.civilrightsmuseum.org/list-signup

October 28.
     A rare and memorable day - I had breakfast at Temple Israel, lunch at St. Louis Catholic Church, dinner at Masjid As-Salaam.
    Temple Israel has a regular bible study class ("Torah Study") every Saturday, 8:45-9:45 AM. All welcome, free, no preparation needed, a nice breakfast (bagel and lox, among other things.)  If you've ever wondered what a Jewish "Sunday School" class looks like, drop by. I recommend arriving by 8:30 AM to stock your breakfast plate and socialize.
    The class at St. Louis (special event, not a continuing thing) was a discussion of Roman Catholic "Just War" theory. I did not know that Bishop Dozier, during the Vietnam War, and written that in his view modern armaments and fighting techniques made "just war" essentially impossible, and that he encouraged conscientious objection.
     Masjid As-Salaam has Saturday evening dinners typically once a month, often asking immigrants to Memphis from some country to do a presentation about that country.  The country this evening was Bangla Desh, and had a great deal of information I had not known, and then a discussion of the problems of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar, a Muslim group that is under severe attack and many of them have fled to Bangla Desh.   Interestingly, the Christian Science Monitor had an editorial a few days ago praising the four countries that, it said, do not restrict the number of incoming refugees - Turkey and Jordan receiving refugees mainly from Syria (and some from Iraq), Uganda receiving refugees from South Sudan, and Bangla Desh receiving refugees from Myanmar.  I had not seen that list before!

October 27
      I've been under the weather a bit, medical troubles and preparing for a long trip.  I'm considering trying to update the list here somewhat more sparsely, and fewer or shorter e-mails. Do check the site her for updates.

     I'm excited that Memphis will have a showing of the important interfaith movie "The Sultan and the Saint" on Nov 12.
(Saint Francis of Assisi visiting the Muslim ruler of Egypt)   (Sunday 3-5 PM)
Trailer https://www.sultanandthesaintfilm.com/  
Ticket info http://www.memphisinterfaith.org/event/memphis-premiere-of-the-sultan-and-the-saint/
Free but please reserve seats promptly.

     Quite a few people I know (including me!) have "informal" charitable operations. Did you ever wonder what was involved in being a formal non-profit or tax-exempt organization? Some relevant information is at

Do you have your flu vaccine yet?  Some houses of worship are arranging free flu vaccines -
e.g. Masjid Al-Noor Friday Oct 27 noon - 3 PM, Masjid Ar-Rahman 10/28 1-5 PM.
Of course most insurance schemes pay for these at Walgreens, Kroger's, etc.
Holy Communion Episcopal has flu shots Oct 29 8:30-10:30AM but charges $35 if no insurance coverage.

The Music teaching group PRIZM will have a winter program at Mount Moriah East Baptist Church, between Christmas and New Years, thanks to a grant  from the Assisi Foundation. If you know young musicians or have a youth group with any musicians in it, tell them to watch https://www.facebook.com/prizmensemble   or to leave a message there to  ask for further information when available.

October 19.

       Memphis mosques are preparing for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. One group tour being organized has Dec 23 to 30 in Arabia - 3 nights in Medina, 4 nights in Mecca, at fancy hotels.     

       I thought it of possible interest to look up some prayer schedules. In a few cases they were hard to read, as the worshipers usually have understandings that don't have to be explained on the web sites. So I may have misread some.
      So far as I know. most or all of the Memphis mosques are open for the prescribed five Muslim daily prayers. (Muslims are  expected to pray 5 times every day.) All are quite brief services. As of Oct 20, the schedules for Masjid Ar_Rahman and Masjid Al-Noor are as follows (others are very similar):
Fajr 4:30 AM, Dhuhr 1:30 PM, Asr 4:15 PM, Maghrib 10 minutes after sunset, Isha 8:30 PM.  The big service with the sermon is Friday at 1:15 PM (typically 30 minutes of sermon, then 15 minutes of prayer.)  
      Traditional Jews are supposed to pray three times a day. The services are typically longer  than thye Muslim ones. An orthodox Jewish synagogue usually nominally has three services a day; Baron Hirsch, for example, presently gets a "minyan" (10 men) together at 7 and 8 am Sunday, 6:25 and 6:45 am Mon & Thurs, 6:30 an 7 am Tues-Weds, 6:20 and 6:45 am Friday; the afternoon and evening services are done at one session starting 6:05 pm Sunday through Friday. The largest (Sabbath) services are Friday evening and Saturday morning, with another slightly different service for the close of Sabbath on Saturday afternoon. Generally, the synagogues are less consistent one-to-another than mosques. 
       Catholic churches usually offer daily masses, e.g. at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception they are at present Mon to Friday 6:30 am, Mon to Weds 8 am, Thursday and Friday 9 am, Saturday 8 am and 5 PM. Sundays they are 8 am, 10 am, noon, 2 pm (Spanish). 
       Protestant churches have their big service Sunday morning; some have services e.g. both at 8 am and 10:30 or 11 am.  Quite a few also have a Sunday evening service and Wednesday morning, Wednesday evening, or both. If there rtae POrotestant churches in Memphis with daily services, I haven't noticed them.
      I don't know how consistent the Orthodox Christian Churches are - St. George';s for example, has services Wednesday 6 PM, Saturday 5:30 PM, Sunday 10 AM.
      The Hindu Temple (Indian Cultural Center and Temple) has a large variety of different ceremonies and services. On a typical weekday there are prayers offered ever half hour 8:30 to 10 am, Saturday and Sunday also 11 am some days, noon, 4:30 - 6:00 pm. Every day 5:30 pm, 6 pm, 7 pm, 8:15 PM.

October 3.
      Last weekend was fascinating. Saturday was the first time in about 30 years that the principal Jewish fast day of Yom Kippur and the main Muslim fast day of Day of Ashura coincided. (The nature of the calendars is such that they will be one day apart next year, then the Jewish calendar gets a leap year and Day of Ashura will be one month before Yom Kippur.  Muslims point out that when Mohamed arrived in Medina he observed the Jews there fasting on Yom Kippur and decided that this was a good idea and the Muslims should observe it also.  I was able to attend some parts of both observances.  It was fascinating that the sermons by Imam Abdullah at Masjid As-Salaam and by Rabbi Micah Greenstein at Temple Israel were so similar that had they awapped pulpits, it would have been hard to tell the difference except when Rabbi Micah quoted Torah in Hebrew and Imam Abdullah quoted Qur'an in Arabic. Both began their sermons with Moses leading the Children of Israel to the shore of the Red Sea. With the sea before them and the Egyptian Army behind them, not not even Moses knowing what was coming next, there was nothing to do but depend on God. Both SYnagogue and Mosque had other similar stories- e.g. of Jonah (Arabic Yunis), of the ongoing mercy of God, and of the need also for human beings to take an active role, in accordance with  God's guidance.
       I'm not sure it is etiquette to note such details, but Temple Israel had mainly pastries to break the fast Saturday evening, while Masjid Ar-Rahman put on a full roast lamb dinner. I really do encourage people to go to congregational dinners at other places than their usual - I've found visitors are always welcome (I try to let you know if reservations are in order) and it is a great way to get to know people.

      And then the depression of Monday morning, with the news of the shootings in Las Vegas. Ouch.

      I'd love to see many of us read an article in the Christian Science Monitor, at
about a computer app about the history of Rio de Janiero (which was by far the largest slave market in the Americas.)
It describes a way to bring out the history of Rio, in part by giving information about the sites associated with the history of slavery there.  Is there any way we could have such a thing for Memphis?  It is directly in line with the interest of groups like Facing History, the Memphis Lynching Sites Project, the Civil Rights Museum, and a number of other activist groups - as well as potentially Museums, the Visitors Bureau, and others.  Who could take the lead in such a project?  Ideas and thoughts are welcome.  If you have useful contacts, pass this thought along to them. I can be reached at edward  @ ordman.net

Starting October 13, Church Health Center will offer a weekly Muslim prayter service ("Juma", the m,ajopr weekly service for Muslims) at 1 PM
 in the Church Health Meditation Chapel. All are welcome. The Church Health Meditation Chapel is located on the first floor of Crosstown Concourse, 1350 Concourse Ave.

Sept 28.

     Fire at First Congregational Church. (Added: Damage to Kitchen and offices.) First Congo Church is a hub and pillar of social justice work in Memphis. Last weekend, there was a fire in clothes closet and there are concerns and early reports that this was due to arson.  We urge all of our friends to lend whatever support you can to First Congo.
First Congo would and has been there for all of us, let's be there for them.  DONATE HERE: http://firstcongo.com/donate/

     I don't often advertise Sunday School courses or the equivalent, but this has sponsors and speakers many of us know from interfaith work  - and isn't at the usual Sunday School hours.
4 Thursdays, Oct. 5 thru 26  (7 - 9 p.m.)  OR 2 Saturdays, Oct. 14 and 28  (10 a.m. - 2 p.m.)
St. Louis Parish. 203 S. White Station Rd.
The course will cover Scripture, Tradition, and Church documents including recent statements by Pope Francis, but will
be centered on how we can practically live out the Lord's command to be peacemakers.
Presenters: Msgr. Al Kirk, Judy and Jerry Bettice, Paul Crum
Texts: Bible, (other handouts to be provided)
Cost: $20 suggested (fee waived or pay what you can according to need.)
Registration is not mandatory, but very helpful so we know the number of handouts to prepare.
Please register by calling Jerry or Judy Bettice at 901.327.8068 or email  jbettice@earthlink.net.
     The Mid-South Peace and Justice Center has a program for training people to silk-screen print T-shirts. Yes, it costs money, but the money goes for a project to provide jobs and income for the homeless. And of course if your organization wants t-shirts, or if your youth group or other group wants to make t-shirts as a project...   more information by calling 901-725-4990 or emailing streetwise@midsouthpeace.org

(Episcopal church mailing:   Special Friends Fellowship Group is a diocesan-wide formation ministry serving adults with special needs over the age of 19. Upcoming gatherings are Sept. 24; Oct. 1, 15, and 29; Nov. 12; and Dec. 3 at All Saints Episcopal Church, 1508 S. White Station Rd. The events are held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and include dinner, fun and games, and worship. Guests must register in advance with Janie Morris at 901-761-1020 or morrishome1@bellsouth.net.

Sept 15.

      I've been asked to point out the "Memphis Activism Calendar" at http://memphisactivismcalendar.weebly.com/
I'm quite impressed by it. It has a different focus from this page but certainly picks up events of interest that I haven't noticed before.  I'd very muchappreciate it if a few friuends would look at it closely and comment to me. Should I be listing here some events I find there? Should I be adding events there? Is that format enough preferable to mine that I should try to learn how to do it that way?

      We note the passing of local Civil Rights leader Rev Dwight Montgomery.

"30 Days of Opera" continues:  http://www.operamemphis.org/30-days-calendar

A video invitation from Scott Morris to visit Church Health Center at the new Concourse: https://vimeo.com/233330790

The Beethoven Club is beginning to list enough musical events that I can no longer try to include all of them.
See their list athttp://mailchi.mp/1c662db61c96/beethoven-club-upcoming-events?e=053a4e2a7d

Sept 6

      I missed the program on breast cancer at Temple Israel on the evening of September 5, but on that evening I heard an excellent talk at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Donna Blackard, an outreach educator from LeBonheur, spoke about HIV/AIDS prevention. Memphis is the sixth worst city in the country for this, having thousands of new cases a year - over a hundred times as many as San Francisco, for example. In San Francisco the schools teach about sex and the Health Department provides preventative drugs; neither is true in Memphis, where the schools do not even mention condoms. Tennessee gives more support to anti-AIDS groups in Nashville - where AIDS spreads among white drug users - than in Memphis, where our legislators apparently think of it as a Black and Latino problem.
      The good news, which I had not known, is that there is now a drug which can be taken that prevents getting HIV. There is even something like a "morning-after" pill, which can prevent AIDS if taken within 36 hours after exposure (exposure by e.g. a needle or sex.)  These are covered by many forms of insurance and local charities will provide them at no or minimal cost to those in need. LeBonheur Children's Hospital will treat juveniles 13 to 18 (under thirteen requires parental consent) but they also provide information and appointment arrangements for those over 18. You can obtain further information about these programs (the prevention drug is called PrEP) from Ms. Blackard at  901-289-6281, donna.blackard@lebonheur.org.
     Ms. Blackard is also happy to speak to or meet with any interested groups, with youth at risk, or parents of youth at risk.
     Please help spread the word!

     Waynette Besser of Temple Israel has an essay on her experiences running a religious organization website, in a national Jewish newsletter, at https://t.e2ma.net/message/5s33me/5galnb

August 31.

     Will Memphis really flood if we get 6" of rain? Usually we suffer more from rain north of us than from rain directly on us. There is a nice "prepare for flooding" article at http://tsdmemphis.com/news/2017/aug/30/memphis-get-ready-whats-left-hurricane-harvey/

     Eid El-Adha is upon us, with a nice free open dinner at Masjid As-Salaam this evening August 31), following the brief service at about 7:30 PM. (Men and women eat in separate rooms, although they have let couples arriving as first-time visitors stay together if you ask politely.)
     An interesting essay in the Jewish press about Trump and Charlottesville. Can anyone point me to essays from other religious perspectives?
For a Roman Catholic nun on federal policies, there is an article at

Among the charities collecting for Hurricane Harvey Relief  is the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund,
The Red Cross site is https://www.redcross.org/donate/hurricane-harvey?campname=Harvey&campmedium=aspot
There is a Jewish site at
(and, I'm sure, many others)

Opera Memphis has a major program of free events in September - see the page at 

The Indian Cultural Center and Temple is now placing a detailed monthly calendar online, see e.g. https://icctmemphis.org/icct/home/Sep2017

The Facing History Calendar is at https://www.facinghistory.org/memphis/events

August 24

     There are far too  many essays, programs, speeches about the events in Charlottesville and the twit's reactions to it for me to try to even give a sample here. I do note that St Mary's Episcopal has a Sunday Adult Forum at 10 AM on Continuing Conversations about Race, Statues and the Christian Life.
I don't know if there is a mosque in Charlottesville. There were active threats against a synagogue there and you may be interested in the comments of the congregation's president at http://memphisirg.org/Virginia2017.pdf     
       Some of the discussion about Memphis' statues is at http://tsdmemphis.com/news/2017/aug/24/city-council-mulls-ways-deal-confederate-statues/

      For a fee, one can audit courses at the Memphis Theological seminary, either in person or online.

     Be aware of the major "Ministers March for Justice" in Washington DC on August 28. Are local ministers going?

      Masjid As-Salaam has classes for women in addition to the common "religion-oriented" classes, such as - Citizenship Preparation, Drivers License Classes, Sewing.
Contact Sr. Janna at 901-833-2393 or Br. Osman at  (901) 685-8906 at the Main Office.

      Msgr. Al Kirk, who many of us know especially from Pax Christi, had a letter about threatening nuclear war in the Commercial Appeal on August 16.

      Pax Christi, the local Roman Catholic Peace group (open to all!) and Manna House (shower and clothing-change facilities for the homeless) are working on a joint project to provide backpacks of supplies for the homeless. There is a nice article in the Memphis (Catholic) Diocesan newsletter, at

      The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis has selected “We Are an African People: Independent Education, Black Power, and the Radical Imagination” by Russell Rickford as the winner of the 2016 Hooks National Book Award.

       I can't help note one aspect of "Americanization".  Jews of course have their major weekly prayer services (the ones that get sermons) on the Sabbath, Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, since that was the day God rested after creation (often, but not always, Reform temples have the biggest program Friday evening and more traditional synagogues on Saturday morning.)  Muslims have the service with the sermon and biggest attendance on Friday, the day God created human beings - usually at 1 or 1:15 PM. Churches usually have their biggest service sometime Sunday morning, the day Christ arose after crucifixion.  But as Christians were the most numerous Sunday became the standard "day off" in the US.  It amuses me to note that a great many of the Synagogues and Mosques in Memphis (and elsewhere in the US) do run religious classes and discussion groups on Sunday morning and often call them "Sunday School".  (Am I wrong, or were the first Sunday School classes for adults historically run by the Methodists in England? That being the "Method" to learn about the Bible?)

      To depart from those more common religions, however, I note that Dr. Munoj Jain, a leader of the local Jain community and a major peace and interfaith activist (Jainism is a minority religion in India) has posted a nice "evaluation tool" related to the Jain way of life, that many will find interesting,
   I must admit I only now, exploring that site,  discovered Dr. Jain's essay from 2013 about the Ramadan Iftar dinner that year, in the Huffington Post.

     Balmoral Presbyterian Church is seeking people interested in joining a Prison Visit program, especially to provide visits to prisoners who have no visitors from friends and family. Contact Balmoral Presbyterian (ask for Scott Dawson or Donna Sparger.)

August 10.

 A recent evaluation of the MIFA Meals on Wheels program produced extremely favorable results on how it affected nutrition of the elderly - far better than national averages. MIFA Meals on Wheels program, which serves 3,784 Shelby County seniors annually, reduces food insecurity and loneliness for seniors age 60 and older by providing meals and a visit at home or at a congregate nutrition site. MIFA Meals on Wheels has been awarded the highest possible accreditation conferred by Meals on Wheels America, the oldest and largest national organization supporting 5,000 community-based senior nutrition programs. Meals on Wheels America, http://www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org/?bblinkid=56078183&bbemailid=4596280&bbejrid=346845776
MIFA, https://www.mifa.org/

The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (national) has been campaigning actively for a rational immigration program and admission of refugees.

Video clip on local pastors greeting minority students on the first day of school.  Pastor Greg Diaz from Nueve Direccion Christian Church and Rabbi Micah Greenstein from Temple Israel. http://wreg.com/2017/08/07/pastors-greet-students-on-first-day-of-school

News from "Common Table - Health Alliance" (which is seeking a new CEO) is at

I assume most of us know to be very wary of on-line and telephone  fundraising campaigns; it is almost always essential to contact the organization yourself through a known contact point. There has recently been a scammer misusing information from a well-known New York Muslim group; a typical warning being circulated is  

BE WARNED: Do not reply to any communication from the Twitter handle @feisalabdulrauf. This is a fraudulent account, which has copied the profile information and posts of Imam Feisal's real Twitter account, which is @ImamFeisal. Also, be aware that the scammer is requesting to speak on the telephone. Do not engage in conversation with anyone from this source of communication. 
 (The actual organization, Cordoba House, never solicits funds via twitter or Facebook)

August 4. 

     Temple Israel has sent out a request for interest in an Interfaith Women's Club. If you are interested in hearing more about it, being on the mailing list, or have suggestions, please contact  

     temple Israel also reminds people of the Refugee Empowerment Project, http://www.repmemphis.org/,   which may be of interest to many of us. Among other things, it needs school supplies, volunteer English tutors, and other help. 
REP Memphis serves between 200-400 refugees mostly from Africa and Asia, working primarily in the Binghampton neighborhood.

      Have you visited the new Crosstown Concourse yet? The old Sears Tower is occupied again, with the Church Health Center as a major tenant. As Mayor Strickland remarked in a recent newsletter, "
at Crosstown Concourse, the old Sears Crosstown building, you can have a cup of coffee, eat lunch or work out at the Church Health YMCA. The Crosstown building is alive again, and the neighborhood is already starting to feel the ripple effects."

       Caritas village is undergoing renovations and is closed for a couple of months. Groups that meet there are seeking alternate sites. If you are involved in any group that meets there, do check with your group to find where it will be meeting (and I'd be happy if you'd let me know!)
       The Dixon art gallery has a relevant exhibit, "Power and Piety, Spanish Colonial Art", through Sept 24.

Power & Piety is filled with works of fine and decorative art created for the many churches that populated Latin America, religious works of art created for the home, and objects intended for private devotional use.. The Dixon is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am - 5 pm, and Sunday, 1 - 5 pm.  Calvary Episcopal Church is a sponsor, and a bulletin from Calvary gets you free admission!
      Facing History has an article related to a Memphis lynching and the Memphis Lynching Sites Project  at  
 http://facingtoday.facinghistory.org/how-the-legacy-of-ell-persons-lives-on-with-michele-whitney. There is another interesting piece at https://eji.org/videos/abbeville

   From the Community Clothes Closet at Calvary Episcopal: 
Bring men’s shoes, men’s work boots, pants, jeans, socks, belts, eyeglasses, and sweatshirts or hoodies. We always need blankets, small toiletries, and sleeping bags. We are not able to accept women’s clothing at this time. We open our Community Clothes Closet every Sunday morning; come one Sunday and help our guests shop or anytime during the week to help organize. Contact Debbie Balling.
   (My impression is that Manna House is usually happy to receive clothing useful for homeless women.)

    On August 3  a small group from Balmoral Presbyterian had a tour of Temple Israel. I mention this as the sort of interfaith thing that any group might like to organize. Mosques, Churches, Synagogues, Hindu and Buddhist temples, etc., are generally very receptive to such requests.  Long experince shows that the best way to start getting to know someone else is to go visit them in their own place.

   There is a very nice memorial article about Art Wolff at http://jcpconnect.org/saba-to-every-scout-the-legacy-of-art-wolff-lz/
Art worked very hard with the Boy Scouts and on interfaith projects. I think an event he promoted at Masjid As-Salaam was the first time a group of young Scouts visiting froim Israel was invited to have dinner and meet with young people at a mosque in the US.

   I'm also very sad to note  the passing of Younis Sherif. He was along-time leader in the Memphis Muslim community, an organizer of medical and social services, and active in visiting hospital patients. On at least one occasion when Eunice Ordman was hospitalized, he got there before our Rabbi. His hospital visits to Eunice always caused interesting discussions with the nurses (not least since "Eunice" and "Younis" are pronounced identically.) These discussions had an interfaith educational element - many nurses don't know yet that when a Muslim patient asks for Hallal food, kosher food (which most hospitals know how to provide) is also hallal - although I hear that  there have been a few occasions at St. Jude's when a  patient's family arriving from the Middle East does not understand this and an imam has had to be called to explain it to them!

The Tri-State Defender had a wrap-up article on the recent meeting of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Memphis,
at http://tsdmemphis.com/news/2017/jul/29/banner-day-sclc/

July 14.

There has again been nasty vandalism at the in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  (It does make me happy to be in Memphis.) Churches or church groups in Memphis might want to contact their corresponding groups in Murfreesboro to remind them of the importance of maintaining good communication with the Muslim organization there and in joining to condemn violence and vandalism based on religion.  A Muslim group reminds us "It's obvious that some amongst us have not learned that hatred against any one group, hurts all of us, and that targeting of any one faith community threatens all Americans' collective religious liberties."

Tickets are now available for the October 23 diner for Facing History. (see that date below)

MIFA's "Meals on Wheels" now serves 2200 seniors daily. They need more volunteers, especially in the summer when some regular volunteers go on vacation. Contact Isaiah Swanson at (901) 529-4521.  Can your house or worship or other group let members know of this need?

The Episcopal Diocese of Memphis has formed a search committee to begin the process of selecting their next bishop.
Holy Communion Episcopal Church is seeking a part-time sexton (not open to members of the same church.)

Islamic Association of Greater Memphis (Masjid Al-Noor and Masjid Ar-Rahman) have established an Android App for their schedules, prayer times, events, announcements.  Other groups might want to have a look to see how it works.

There is an appeal from Jewish Community Partners for information about elderly Jews with limited mobility or other problems who may need assistance but may not be in touch with Jewish organizations that might be able to assist them. The contact person is bzuckerbrot-finkelstein(at)jcpmemphis.org

There is a new web site and newsletter for Jewish Seniors at   https://memphisjewishseniors.org/

Do demonstrations do anything? Which ones get remembered? There was a demonstration in Memphis on July 10, 2016, and there is an interesting memoir about it in the Tri-State Defender at http://tsdmemphis.com/news/2017/jul/13/dont-tell-me-bridge-protest-was-ineffective/

June 14.

 Jewish Community Partners and the Senior Services Collaborative launched a digital and printed directory of community partners who provide services to seniors:  https://memphisjewishseniors.org/    Many of the resources will also be helpful to non-Jews also.  

MIFA has uploaded their newsletter "Hope in Action" to the website ISSUU, at
Other organizations in town might be interested in this website, a convenient place to upload pdf's for easy viewing by others.  I've used it, for example, for a pictorial essay about the trip Eunice and I took to Bhutan, at
https://issuu.com/edword/docs/bhutan   (note: due to the nature of religion in Bhutan, parental discretion advised)

The Tri-State Defender has an article on difficulties the group  "Fight for 15" has with the city, at

Calvary Episcopal, downtown, has free docent-led tours of the building (stained glass windows, architecture, etc.) Fridays from 11 am to 1 pm, and after 10 AM church Sundays (Sundays starting June 18).  For appropriate donations, group tours and organ demonstrations are available at other times.   They need appropriate men's clothinjg, blankets, etc., for their community clothes closet.

Next Spring the Benjamin Hooks Institute will have a new film about Ida B. Wells.  An 11 minute preview is online at

June 9

Mosques are still having evening events, including suppers, during Ramadan. At Masjid As-Salaam there is a short prayer around 7:45 PM, a snack, a short prayer service, and then a large meal (around *:20 or so). All welcome (men and women in separate rooms)  and I've found it a wonderful time to chat with Muslim neighbors.

There is a website for the city of Memphis "planning process" at http://www.memphis3point0.com/
 I don't see an obvious interfaith connection, so I won't list their activities regularly below, but I will note this once that there are public meetings

June 22 at the Stax Museum, 926 E. McLemore; June 27 at Ballet Memphis, 7950 Trinity Road; and June 29 at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, 1934 Poplar. Each meeting will last from 5:30 to 7 p.m. At this round of meetings, the Memphis 3.0 comprehensive planning team will present on its key findings to date and moderate a Q&A so you can learn more about where the process stands. 

Facing History has a blog on the "removing confederate monuments" controversy,
at http://facingtoday.facinghistory.org/3-angles-to-the-confederate-monument-controversy
They have interesting online courses at http://facingtoday.facinghistory.org/power-up-your-summer-learning-with-a-facing-history-online-course

you might enjoy an article on providing prayer spaces in public schools, prompted by Ramadan - note that this article is by someone opposed to doing this ... http://www.toddstarnes.com/column/public-school-turns-classrooms-into-muslim-prayer-rooms

Thistle & Bee:  Visit Thistle & Bee at the Overton Park Farmers’ Market every Thursday, 3 - 7 p.m. The booth is in the Pavilion, on the East Parkway side of the park. You can purchase Thistle & Bee’s herbal rubs, herbal tea, lavender lemonade, and more. All money raised helps change the lives of women who are survivors of prostitution and trafficking. Learn more at http://thistleandbee.org

There has been a call for "Anti-Sharia" demonstrations in the US this weekend. You might enjoy this essay by Imam Feisal Rauf:

June 2.

      I'm back in Memphis for a week between travels, enjoying seeing people. Religious life can be a bit quiet here in the summer - the church Wednesday evening suppers I usually go to are in abeyance, for example. Of course during Ramadan, when observant Muslims fast sunrise to sunset. Masjid As-Salaam has a supper every night at about 8:05 PM. And the breakfasts every Wednesday at St Mary's Episcopal, following the brief 8 AM service (with musicians).   Balmoral Presbyterian has a sack lunch the first Wednesday of June, July, August at 11:30 AM.

Do also notice Temple Israel's movie series on Tuesdays.

 I can't resist a few notes about the news:

    The lynching site memorial service May 21 was a remarkable success - over 40 people including both mayors, many clergy, Jews, Christians, and Muslims.  What started as a very small committee has done impressive work and has had a real impact on Memphis. Congratulations to all involved!
The Facing History blog post on the subject is at
and Balmoral Presbyterian provides more story and photos at

     When traveling I often find contacts with Mormon missionaries very helpful. More than once, when I've been in a place where my language skills are weak and then tourist bureau has not been helpful with directions to e.g. a synagogue or mosque, the local Mormon missionaries have given me directions. So while the article was probably printed for gender-related reasons, I found a New York Tines article about Mormon missionaries of interest:

       Not exactly "Memphis in the news", but Rep. Marsha Blackburn (7th Congressional District, which starts in the far eastern suburbs of Memphis) got some national press for introducing and advocating a bill just passed by Congress and signed by the President, allowing our internet service providers to gather and sell information about us without our consent.  The Washington Post article is at "How Congress dismantled federal Internet privacy rules",
http://wapo.st/2r68t9T?tid=ss_mail&utm_term=.66f67e80baff.  Lest you think politics is highly expensive, the Post reports only $20,500 in donations to Blackburn in connection with this bill.

        For a more cheerful note, a little essay on disaster response in the Christian Science Monitor,

     Thoughts on Ramadan: http://cordobahouse.com/2017/06/imam-feisal-reflecting-on-alienation-during-ramadan/

      A call for Peace and Justice from the National Civil Rights Museum:  http://mlk50.civilrightsmuseum.org/mlk50-pledge

       And I might as well mention my own most recent essay in the Monitor, which has at least a bit of reference to religion and peace, at


Rev Scott Walker,the  new rector at Calvary Episcopal, will be on duty Sunday July 9.

Facing History has a nice web page advertising the Lynching Sites Project in Memphis as well as notices of on-line courses on the Civil Rights Movement, the Reconstruction Era, and other information.  http://info.facinghistory.org/teaching-the-civil-rights-movement-2

MIFA's 30th Annual No-Go Gala: You are cordially invited not to attend MIFA's 30th annual No-Go Gala.  Instead of a night out, share a sentiment of good cheer with family and friends. Stay home and send a note. Then, donate your expenses for a fancy party to MIFA. Your gift will help sustain MIFA's high-impact programs, which support the independence of vulnerable seniors and families in crisis.

There is an article in the Tri-State Defender aboutefforts to locate Boys' amd Girls'Clubs in school buildings.

St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral is seeking a new choirmaster.

May 10.

Rabbi Katie Bauman's comment on a high school yearbook in the Commercial Appeal:

There is an article in the Tri-State Defender about"Restore Corps", a Memphis charity working with sex trafficking victims.

Summer reading camps for kids in Memphis schools: http://tsdmemphis.com/news/2017/may/06/nine-memphis-schools-will-have-state-funded-summer/

The institution of daily Air Canada flights between Memphis and Toronto may simplify life for some people visiting or having visitors from overseas.

Jewish groups on the House health care bill:

May 8   


Cinco de Mayo (pronounced: [ˈsiŋko ðe ˈmaʝo]; Spanish for "Fifth of May") is a celebration held on May 5. The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza.

 The sanctuary movement, and houses of worship- an interesting article on the subject, centering on a Hindu Temple:

Persons dealing with teenagers / young adults need to be aware of a computer game called "Blue Whale".  It is specifically designed to urge young people to commit suicide, and has apparently already caused well over a hundred suicides in Europe. 

May 5

The umbrella Jewish Charity in Memphis, Jewish Community Partners, has an on-line caledar of events at

The Church Health Center web page at https://churchhealth.org/   Celebrates their move to "Crosstown", the old Sears Tower near North Parkway
(1350 Concourse Avenue).  If you have not visited, tourists are welcome!   The Church Health Center also has more events than I can list here,
see https://churchhealth.org/events/

The Pink Palace(and the related museums,e.g. Lichterman Nature Center, historic houses) offer FREE SUMMER MEMBERSHIPS until May 30. Please spread the word to anyone appropriate.  http://www.memphismuseums.org/trial-membership/

May 4

Pope Francis TED Talk:


Have you ever met a Sikh? There is a nice article on being a Sikh in America at

Calvary Episcopal Church, downtown, has appointed a new Rector, Rev. Scott Walters.  Given the major role of Calvary in the interfaith life of Memphis, I hope people will make a special effort to meet him.  Some details at http://calvarymemphis.org/letter-from-senior-warden-fred-piper
Calvary's newsletter with lots of events is at

I'm quite impressed by the new web page put up by the Youth Director atthe Memphis Islamic Center. Other groups may want to take note.


April 27

       I'm only starting to realize the scope of events at the reopened Clayborn Temple.  https://www.claybornreborn.org/events/
294 Hernando, Memphis, TN 38126
  (south of the FedEx Forum)

     MIFA, The Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association, started after the assassination of Martin Luther King. It is a major charity of the city and a wonderful example of interfaith work.   Its annual report is on line at https://www.mifa.org/financials?bblinkid=46167678&bbemailid=3830566&bbejrid=275307817    It is of interest that about 63% of its income comes from private donations  -in addition to the many hours of volunteer service by members of many faiths, includinge.g. delivering meals-on-wheels.

    The "school vouchers" issue has again been put off for a year by the state legislature. There is an article in the Tri-State Defender, for example, at
This is a lively subject of discussion among readers of this page - e.g. many feel the vouchers are a pro-segregation tactic, while others feel they are essentialfor the viability of religious-based schools - not the least, some Roman Catholic schools that have majority-Black or majority-Hispanic student populations trying to escape from chronically underfunded public schools.

April 21.

Facing History has updated its course "Holocaust and Human Behavior".
   There is  an interesting blog on the subject at http://facingtoday.facinghistory.org/3-features-you-need-to-know-about-the-new-holocaust-and-human-behavior
    This material maybe of major interest to Sunday School organizers and teachers as well as secondary school teachers.

Masjid Ar-Rahman, like the Memphis Islamic Center, seems to be on its way to what one might call "megachurch" proportions. The description of the next building phase is at

April 13. 
      I've been a bit slow to get back here as my friend here in Germany fell, broke a finger badly, and I've been pressed into service as driver and assistant.

     "MIFA was the first story featured by a new website called Watch Love Work. Once a week for the next year, Watch Love Work will share stories as a gift of love from Memphis to the world in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. . Click here to watch the inaugural episode that highlights one of our longtime MIFA Meals on Wheels volunteers, Prabhakar Parikh."

Germantown events list: http://us4.campaign-archive2.com/?u=c6f57c0b15f1db9ea15b7e35c&id=7895725351&e=b3dce88026
March 29

Pictures of the March 19 meal packing event at Pleasant View School are online at
Over 50.000 meals packed for refugees and disaster victims.
(Yes, I am there - Nabil and I are the kooks wearrng kufis instead of hair nets. This was my last big Memphis event before I headed to Germany, where I'm caring for a friend who fell and broke her finger badly - so I'm learning to drive in Germany and deal with German household cooking and cleaning appliances! )

Break down the Walls is organizing small-group dinner discussions April 4 and April 24.  E-mail Courtney courtney.t.humphreys@gmail.com  to get on the mailing list or make reservations  (On March 29 for the April 4 dinners)

Germantown has an on-line city news and events list at http://www.germantown-tn.gov/live/city-news

Campaign Nonviolence is trying to organize a major weekend event in June. If you could come to a planning meeting on April 5 or April 17 (6:30 at Caritas) please contact Monica Mjuma@uthsc.edu  (408) 802-8376


March 20.

     The large MuslimFest at Agricenter is Saturday March 25.  (Some of their earlier announcements mistakenly said March 26.)  A major event with many groups (Muslim and non-Muslim) actively participating. Free except for the evening comedy show which is $10 and has been excellent in past years.

    I'm going to be traveling a great deal in the coming several months - I'll surely be back for a few events, like the Iftar dinner in early June - but I'll be frustrated at missing many events. I will try to update the emails and website with anything I hear of be e-mail, but may be a bit slower than I'd like (as you know, I rarely get online anything I don't get told about at least a week in advance) and may miss  postal-mailed announcements.  I'll be thinking of you!

   Pictures of the Lynching Sites commemoration  (125th anniversary of the People's Grocery lynching of three men)
are online at  https://www.facebook.com/stmarysmemphis/posts/10154505179861317

     St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral will be doing major work on its main organ and restoring a smaller organ  (think of moving 400 or so pipes, adding new pipes, etc.)  If you have any knowledge of organs or want to learn, there are many kinds of opportunities for volunteer helpers. Contack Jim Powell at the Cathedral.

    New resale store:  Dottie's Digs is a newly renovated re-sale store located on G1 in the Trezevant Place at Trezevant Retirement Community, 177 North Highland Street in Memphis.  The store is open the first and third Thursdays of every month from 9:00-5:00, selling furniture, household items, adult clothing, vintage items, jewelry, electronics and more.  All proceeds go to support the Trezevant Foundation.

     Juried Art exhibit entry deadline: March 26.    If this exhibit is to really represent art of the region, how about getting some ethnic, religious,  immigrant (etc.) art into it?  https://numberinc.submittable.com/submit/54505/number-presents-art-of-the-south-2017-juried-exhibition

March 8. 

Muslims in Memphis have a large number of programs every March.  The guide is at

March is "Women's History Month". Events at U of M are on a calendar at http://www.memphis.edu/whm/2017/calendar2017.php
I have not listed these below, but do note the free showing of the movie "Hidden Figures" 7 PM March 14 and a "Black Lives Matter"
speaker 7 PM on March 15.  There are many other events.

 Facing History has a photo and discussion of the new mural at the Civil Rights Museum, at

The Civil Rights Museum Calendar of events is at

      It is impossible not to appreciate the many thousands of dollars raised by the Muslim community in several states and contributed for the repair of Jewish cemeteries vandalized recently, as the strong tendency to anti-Muslim hate crimes promoted by our political climate spreads to anti-Jewish threats and actions as well.   Locally, a letter from the Memphis Islamic Center to the major Memphis Jewish charity (Jewish Community Partners) says
         “An attack on one faith is an attack on all faiths. We stand firmly with your community in solidarity to fight hate, prejudice, and religious intolerance. Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, and racial discrimination are different faces to the same ugly and evil ideology…We all have seen and learned from the lessons of history the dire consequences of not standing up in unity and firmly opposing any transgression by hate groups. We will not stay silent, nor stand by idly, while the rights of any community are being violated.”
      The Catholic archbishop of Chicago has instructed churches and schools not to voluntarily allow immigration enforcement agents onto their property.
Cardinal Blase Cupich's letter to priests means that his archdiocese is joining the hundreds of churches around the country who have pledged not to cooperate with immigration enforcement.  Under President Trump, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have been pushing the boundaries of preexisting policies on sensitive locations like churches. In one case, they even laid in wait outside a church hypothermia shelter to ambush immigrants as they were leaving.

There is still plenty of room in the Spring classes at the Memphis School of Servant Leadership.
Basic list of activites at http://www.servantleadership-memphis.org/services.html
Some things are Christian oriented, but open to all. If you are trying to figure out what you'd like to do by way of
volunteer or self-improvement activities, this is a wonderfully supportive and helpful group of people.
Highly recommended!

Registration is open for students for the PRIZM summer muscic festival, June 5 -17

It is impossible not to notice when our friends get their names in the paper, even in bizarre circumstances. The list of people that the Commercial Appeal reports need "escorts" in Cityy Hall includes  "the Rev. Elaine Blanchard, who officiated a gay marriage in Memphis the day the U.S. Supreme Court ruled state bans on gay marriage were unconstitutional and who took part in Black Lives Matter protests last year; Brad Watkins, executive director of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center".  Congratulations on your activism, Brad and Elaine!

Constance Abbey (www.facebook.com/constanceabbey.org) is a non-profit located in two houses on Hamlin Place facing St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral. They advocate for neighborhood causes, hold worship services, host gatherings, and invite neighbors for hospitality. They need outdoor furniture. If you have extra, please email margery@constanceabbey.org.

The long awaited Container for shipping Clothing and Toys that were donated for the people of Yemen has finally arrived and is on the premises of Masjid As Salam at 1065 Stratford Road this week starting Wednesday 2/22/2017 for a WEEK.  Clothes or toys wanted, new or in good conditioin.

February 9
The local charity Porter-Leath is launching a major initiative to improve child care programs in the city - with training programs for child care workers leading to appropriate certificate or degrees, improved nutrition guidelines, and so on. If your house of worship or other organization has a child care program, they would like to hear from you.  It is their expectation that they will find funding sources that will meet the costs of training your child care workers who commit to the program, that is, they hope to have no cost to your organization or worker(s).   

The American Association of University Women has given us permission to post a flier on "How to talk to your Legislators", designed for upcoming visits by the AAUW to Nashville. but in the present political climate it may be of wider interest. It is at http://MemphisIRG.org/AAUW_Visit.pdf
In this context, I remind you that the page Eunice Ordman prepared years ago on how to write your congressman, newspaper editors, etc.,
is still online at http://ordman.net/Eunice/Political_Letter_Writing.html

Someone suggested that people might enjoy this public service advertisement from Danish Television ("All that we Share"):

You may want to be aware that TSA at Airport security is going to stop accepting drivers licenses from several states as ID for travel, perhaps on the theory that they are too easily forged. Tennessee licenses do still work, but if you have friends / family in other states (or students whose home is in another state) you may want to check.  The most recent information I could find was at https://www.dhs.gov/current-status-states-territories.

While it was not something I could post here earlier, I note with interest the meeting between youth groups of Farmington  Presbyterian Church and THe Memphis Islamic Center on February 8.  I also want to mention the death a few days ago of Art Wolff, who worked tirelessly for many years for a variety of issues, including Shelby Farms, the Boy Scouts, and interfaith contacts for youth.

Temple Israel is starting a Social Justice Newsletter e-mail list - comments from the clergy, news from the national denomination. I don't knoiw yet how frequent it will be. You can sign up at  http://timemphis.us1.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=7bda15083be90232089d87536&id=15950c73e4

February 3.
I have been delighted with the good turnout and peaceful nature of the demonstrations in Memphis recently about rights of immigrants and refugees. It has been nice to see some our interfaith regulars being conspicuous in the news photographs.

The University of Memphis has its "Black History Month" calendar online at http://www.memphis.edu/multiculturalaffairs/events.php
  with numerous events of interest Not listed below due to quantity)

January 28,

It is impossible not to comment on the refusal of the US to admit Muslims from various countries (or, presumably Jews, as many Jews hold Iranian passports and Trump has said he will admit "Christians") (later modified to he will admit "minorities" but if it is a Muslim-only ban it is clearly illegal.)  As a former computer science teacher, I've had many students who spoke Arabic, and were in demand from US companies (FedEx, computer and software companies, others) who needed salesmen, trainers, etc., who speak Arabic due to having business in Arabic-speaking countries. At present, long-term US residents employed by US companies and presently temporarily  overseas working for US companies are not being readmitted to the US. It is too early to tell if Memphis families have lost their breadwinner; but it is immediate that  many local college graduates will not be able to get the US jobs they typically got in the past, and that American universities will have a significant drop in foreign students (many of whom pay full out-of-state tuition - education is one of our major high-paying "exports").

One prominent Rabbi, on the issue of how we treat refugees, quotes  (Deuteronomy 23: 16-17): "You shall not deliver to their master slaves who have escaped from their master to you; they shall dwell with you, in your midst in whatever place they shall choose within your gates, where they feel best; you shall not oppress them."

January 27

     The Chinese New Year (Year of the Rooster) starts Jan 28.

      I've become acquainted with a remarkable pamphlet placed online by Second Presbyterian Church that deserves to be much more widely known. It is about 60 pages long, with remarkably good descriptions of a great many Memphis Charities that have use for volunteer services.  Reading it is also  a fascinating way to learn more about Memphis and the creativity of the people of Memphis.  Please pass the link on to others you know, especially people like youth group leaders, adult Sunday School leaders, and the like.  Click here to download the PDF.         
Download the 2016-2017 Volunteer Ministries Handbook

January 27

There are also volunteer suggestions from Mayor Strickland, at

 The Rhodes College lecture schedule (Communities in Conversation) is at
https://www.rhodes.edu/content/spring-2017-schedule       (and events have been entered below)
Many of the programs reflect on the work of James Baldwin (e.g. The Fire Next Time) and his influence on contemporary scholars and life.
       The Beale Street Music Festival (May 5-7)  has  a web page up at https://www.instagram.com/bealestreetmusicfest/
(details will not be listed on this page)

January 20.
The Marcus Orr Center calendar of events for Spring 2017 is now online at
They have also posted a new page, which they hope to update frequently, "Humanities events on Campus".

There was very good press coverage of Yasir Qadhi's talk in Nashville on Friday January 13, including pieces in USA Today and the Commercial Appeal. For a piece in a Nashville paper, see
(you may have to click right and left to get past their subscription advertisement.)   I very much enjoy Qadhi's statement
Look at the struggles of our African American brothers. In the 1900s, the Irish, the Catholics, the Jews, they all had to struggle to establish their American identity. Struggling to be a part of this land is as American as apple pie."
[Notice a Muslim organization news page at http://us7.campaign-archive2.com/?u=a4ac1b5cc59465c4fc23ed668&id=7a5e0ac67a&e=9e2c138404]

More information on Free legal service provided by the Memphis Bar Association - listed in "ongoing events" below.

Is your house of worship / organization interested in joining the city's "adopt a block" program? More information and a sign-up link
are at http://www.memphistn.gov/Government/ExecutiveDivision/MayorsOffice/CallToAction.aspx

    I can't get to anywhere near all the events here, but occasionally I get a fit of activity - On Wednesday Jan 18 I attended the breakfast at St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral (a packed house for the communion service beforehand, the sort of shoulder-to-shoulder I rarely see in Memphis except in the mosques!, then  a breakfast, sandwiches for the homeless to take along for lunch, a very cheerful and active group of volunteers, a lot of other activities - art group, discussion groups, etc.) 
      I then had lunch at Temple Israel, with Rabbi Feivel Strauss leading a discussion of some colorful Jewish "stories" from classical Jewish literature -  e.g. Rabbi Joshua, who asked the Angel of Death to let him hold the knife as they journeyed to the next world, and then argued with Goid when God told Joshua he had to give the knife back, the angel needed it for his work... . 
      And for dinner I went to the Wednesday evening dinner at Second Presbyterian, excellent food and then good discussions, including a talk by Judge Christopher Craft speaking on Memphis social problems, with special emphasis on one-parent families. He's had to deal e,g, with mothers who have repeated pregnancies and multiple children (no birth control, no man in tghe house since if there were one they would lose some welfare payments) who are in court repeatedly for shoplifting Pampers or other baby supplies. A remarkable discussion of causes of these problems and possible ways to help. He'll be back again January 25 for the last in his three-talk series.

January 14,

The schedule for the Lenten Lecture Series is now on line at http://www.calvarymemphis.org/lentenpreaching

Well, I missed letting you know of the first meeting of the Spring Short Courses with Mitzi Minor at the Memphis Theological Seminary.
The announcement is at http://memphisirg.org/MTS_Spring_2017.pdf    (Thursday mornings)

And I missed listing a few other events which gave me less than one week's notice. Well, I can't do everything... Among other things,
Dr. Alim Khandekar has been inaugurated as this year's President of Masjid As-Salaam, and Dr. M Moinuddin as Vice-President; both have been
very active in interfaith work in Memphis.

The Memphis Bar Association is offering a free legal aid clinic the second Saturday of each month at the Hooks library, 10 am-noon,
and a special session at the Cossit library (downtown) January 23rd.

Special thanks to the Wednesday dinner at St John's Episcopal, January 11: The talk by Rev James Netters was remarkable.  He is 90, has been a Memphis Pastor for 30 years, and was able to tell stories of the first African-Americans on the Memphis City Council and the Garbage Strike (he marched in the row behind Martin Luther King Jr., and was beaten by the police.)

January 6, 2017:

 Hilarion Capucci, the exiled Greek Catholic Archbishop of Jerusalem (Melikite) who dedicated his life to defending Palestine died on Jan 1 in Rome, Italy. He was born in 1922, in Aleppo, Syria. Capucci will be buried next to his mother in Lebanon. He worked actively for many years for cooperation between the various faiths in Palestine.

While "Christmas Giving" is mainly over, the need for warm clothing for the homeless is as critical as ever. Balmoral Presbyterian collects warm coats; Manna House, Calvary Episcopal, and several others collect almost any warm clothing.

Chris Dempsey is now in place as the new minister of Unity Church of Practical Christianity.

American Association of University Women meetings at Poplar White Station Library.
 tentative dates
2/4, 3/4, 5/6, 10/7, 11/4.      Contact aindingaro@gmail.com

Downtown Church at Clayborn Temple.
from the Commercial Appeal:

Excerpt: "
Rebuilding a temple takes time, but Downtown Church is aiming for 2018.
    The congregation held its first regular services Sunday at the former Clayborn Temple on the south end of Downtown, a site with historical significance because of its role as a hub for the 1968 strike that would mark Dr. Martin Luther King’s last days.
    But the ornate Romanesque structure at 294 Hernando St. hasn’t hosted a church service since it was boarded up just before the turn of the millennium. The process of restoring it is vast."...

Rabbi Michael Lerner, speaking at a major Muslim convention in Toronto, spoke of the Jewish support for American Muslims at this time. In his e-mail he pointed to the following published (interfaith) statement:

Catholic Handout for the World Day of Peace:  http://memphisirg.org/WorldPeace.pdf
and a nice "peacemaker" article at https://www.ncronline.org/news/justice/colman-mccarthy-makes-sure-students-learn-peace

December 16:

The Tri-State Defender reported on a series of Pastor's meetings that may be of interest.

St John's Episcopal Church is urgently collecting warm children's coats, hats, scarves, gloves for immediate distribution.
3245 Central Ave, until Jan 19 at 4:30 PM

Rabbi Finkelstein of ASBEE Synagogue has sent a link to a prayer for the people of Syria composed in a traditional Jewish style.
See January 1, below, for a peace message from Pope Francis.

The organization "Muslims in Memphis" has e-mailed its mailing list asking for contributions for the Tennessee wildfire victims.

The City of Germantown has placed a seasonal newsletters online.

The Memphis Theological Seminary has forwarded a warning about a scam directed at people with student loans:

Muhammad's Birthday was December 10-11. 

December 9

MIFA needs extra meals-on-wheels deliverers this month (special schedules, people away for vacation.)
Especially tight are Dec 19 and 27 but other dates needed also. 
contact Isaiah Swanson at iswanson@mifa.org or (901) 529-4521.

There is a very distressing proposal to reduce the teaching about Islam in the public schools. As many of you will receall, Dr. Kent Schull (formerly of U of Memphis) helped gather data for this curriculum by interviewing Muslims in the city of Memphis. See

The Facebook page is up for the June 4 Iftar dinner, one of the most important inrterfaith events of the year.

of interest, re problems of immigrants:
An essay on a Roman Catholic approach to peace:

December 4

of interest

inevitably political in part,  but I cannot resist posting a link to this very long (pdf) Christmas Letter by an organization of Palestinian Christians:
It was  sent along by Sam Bahour, who I met in 2997, and he adds
My article, “Power politics and empire: its brunt on the occupied and oppressed people” is on p.13 of the document.
Given hyperlinks were not used, the link for the song I refer to at the end of my article is this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiH7GMXB_84
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

SPRING Schedule, Scheidt School of Music, U of Memphis, most concerts are free. http://www.memphis.edu/music/upcoming/

The newly remodeled Levitt Shell is now open. Many of the concerts are free.

Our editor (Edward Ordman) is traveling, so for updates we depend more on e-mails than postal mail notices. Keep me informed at edward@ordman.net.   Thanks!

December 2.

I suspect all readers here are aware of the large jump in anti-Islamic acts, defacings, threatening letters, etc., since the election. There is no point on my passing on too much here, but you might enjoy this Huffington Post piece on the need for Muslim women to be prepared to protect themselves.

Netflix is starting to make available the Israeli TV series Fauda
The reviews I have seen suggest that the movie, while about Israeli anti-terrorist (anti-Palestinian?) operations, has far more developed Palestinian characters than one usually sees on American or Israeli television.  If anyone is watching, I'd be interested in hearing what you think.

November 22.

The Lynching Sites on Memphis Project (invitation from Randell Mullins of First Congo). A project to recall and mark sites of lynchings in the Memphis area (see the website for more.)  If, like me, you have traveled in Germany, you may have seen memorial markings here where Jews were captured or killed.

"Our meetings are open to all and generally held at 5 p.m. on the 2nd and 4th Mondays at Caritas Village, 2509 Harvard. Our Facebook page  @lynchingsitesmem   and our website  www.lynchingsitesmem.org   
will always have updates."
Our next two meetings are Monday, Nov. 28 and Monday, Dec 12. (Only one meeting in December)

Speakers available:
    The Memphis Police department provides speakers for appropriate groups including houses of worship (e.g. adult or youth groups.)  One I attended last month had a speaker whose official topic was what to do in the presence of an active shooter,  e.g. terrorist. (Flee if possible, hide if possible, fight if no other option. If fleeing, keep hands visible so police can see you are not carrying a weapon.)  I found much more interesting some of the other materials he brought to distribute - e.g. how to act if isolated at home by an earthquake or major freeze, signs to hang out windows saying "I'm OK" or "I need help", how to mark your car to tell police that if you are found unconscious after an accident, medical information is in the glove compartment.

Are you interested in how a church (Episcopal in this case) searches for a new rector (chief minister)? Calvary Episcopla describes the process in some detail in its newsletter at
They also have a very nice piece about their neighborhood imrovement project.

November 27, start of Advent.   Somewhat unexpectedly, the best Advent sermon I ever heard was at Masjid As-Salaam, at the foot of Covington Pike.  John the Baptist gets a much better press in the Qur'an than he does in the Bible, and the speaker had some fun with the fact that John gets to baptize Jesus rather than the other way around (it's a traditional Jewish baptism, and, yes, several synagogues in Memphis have dunking tanks for the purpose.)   It seems to be little mentioned in Sunday Schools and sermons, but did you know that archaeologists have dug up the minutes of the a synagogue in Alexandria, Egypt,  and have the record of a collection being taken up to help a particular group of refugees - parents of young children arriving in Egypt fleeing from a character by the name of King Herod.  These minutes are from about 40 years before the time of Jesus - this was the first King Herod, the one in whose time the Roman Soldiers arrived at the Temple - but Roman records make it pretty clear that the Herod of Jesus' time was as fearful of young possible rivals as was the first Herod.

October 20, 2016.

Bishop Martin Holley was installed today as the Fifth Roman Catholic Bishop of Memphis, replacing Bishop Terry Steib, Bishop here since 1993.

October 18. 

EARLY VOTING is from October 19 to November 3. For locations and hours
Candidate lists are at

There are several films of interest in the Memphis Indie Film Festival,

The October newsletter of Calvary Episcopal is online at http://calvarymemphis.org/chroniclenewsletter

A nice article on BRIDGES in the Commercial Appeal:

My good friend of many years, V.V. Raman (Hindu theologian and retired Professor of Physics at Rochester Institute of Technology,) has just published the first volume of his book Bhagavad Gita: Non-Traditional and Cross Cultural Reflections.  Amazon and Kindle.

The Fall announcement for the Marcus Orr Lecture Series at U of M is online at
http://www.memphis.edu/moch/events/index.php      http://www.memphis.edu/moch/events/additional_moch_events.php

Sept 4, 2016:

Monetary donations for Baton Rouge Flood relief -

The Memphis Islamic Center is pleased to announce the appointment of Br. Safi Khan as our new Youth and Outreach Director.
St. John's Episcopal announces the new choirmaster and Organist is Mr. Brandon Dumas

The Muslim month of Dhul-Hijjah began Sept 2.  The mosque sermon I attended on Sept 2 would have been just at home in a synagogue one month from now. Last year the calendars were in unusual synchronization but the Jewish calendar had a leap month last spring and we are now off by a month. This month for the Muslims, next month for the Jews, good deeds count extra in the first ten days, with each religion's most solemn holiday on the tenth day of the month. Eid El-Adha, when the Muslims commemorate Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son (Ishmael), is on September 12.
Jews have Rosh Hashanah (the new year) starting at sunset October 2, with Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) starting at sunset on October 11.

August 22, 2016. 
       Unity Church of Practical Christianity is a drop off point for items donated to help those flooded out in Baton Rouge.
Items of particular need are:  Diapers   Wipes   Formula   Clothing (clean)   Surgical masks   Work gloves  Boots  Cleaning products
Paper towels.   Our church lobby will be open Sunday from 9am til 1pm and Monday through Thursday next week 8am til 5pm.

       I'm very excited by the WIN Labor Day Picnic Sept 5 and the major interfaith discussion at St. Georges' Episcopal Church Sept 6.
I hope to see lots of friends there!

Aug 6, 2016: 
       A recent Facing History Newsletter at http://info.facinghistory.org/facing-ferguson-news-literacy-in-a-digital-age-memphis
is well worth reading.
       Common Table / Health Alliance has a newsletter (breastfeeding) at 
       The Rev. Buddy Stallings is the new Priest-in-charge at Calvary Episcopal as they begin the search for a new rector. Let's look for occasions tro welcome him, in view of Calvary's major contributions to the city and to interfaith work.
The National Civil Rights Museum has a free APP (Apple APP Store or Google Play) that will he of special interest to school teachers, religious educators, or Civil Rights museum fans.      
         AARP is offering free Shredding events if you have records that need to be disposed of safely. I hope this unwieldy link works!
        Temporary Protective Status for Syrian Nationals extended.  https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2016-17933.pdf
(Syrian nationals, or stateless persons previously resident in Syria, such as certain Palestinians, who have already been in the US, may remain longer and get working permits.)
         An article in the Jewish press about the Pope's visit to Auschwitz is at

July 7, 2016:
The rate of bombings, shootings, and terrorist activities lately has been so large it is essentially impossible to comment on them here. An interesting Muslim-authored piece on Muslim thinking on one such issue is at
A statement relevant to Bangla Desh is at

There was an excellent e-mail (not apparently available on the web) by Memphis organization BRIDGES, containing in part
Our hearts have broken anew each day as the headlines keep coming: Four young children stabbed to death right here in Shelby County; Alton Sterling and Philando Castile shot to death by police in Louisiana and Minnesota, respectively; at least five police officers murdered while on duty at a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas; a former Illinois congressman and a Nashville police officer posting messages of hate on social media in the aftermath. Even now, these headlines keep coming.
We have a sacred job to do. On Monday, our 11th grade Bridge Builder conferences will begin at the University of Memphis. These will include a particularly challenging and powerful community action series wherein youth and police will come together in an effort to build relationships and respect. Our staff has worked tirelessly to create a process that brings out the best in our students and our law enforcement officers, and it will surely be tested.

Common Table - Health Alliance  has a new CEO: 

June 24:

    There will probably be another two-week gap until the next update as next week I'll be at the annual meeting of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science, an annual discussion between scientists and theologians. The topic this year is the nature of knowledge, as seen by "the two sides." Lectures and discussions are on topics like "What are the roles of rationality and non-rationality for scientific and religious knowing?"  "How do we know ourselves?"   http://www.iras.org/pospapers.html

     Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's essay on Muhammad Ali is at

     The message of the presiding Episcopal Bishop about Orlando is at
The statement from the Memphis Jewisg community is at
     Rev Chris Girata of Calvary Episcopal has a message on the Orlando killings at
(Obviously I can note only a tiny fraction of these.)

     Incidentally, Rev. Girata will be leaving Calvary after four years here. for a church in Dallas, Texas.  He has done an excellent job of continuing Calvary's interfaith outreach and will be much missed. There will be a good-bye reception on July 10.

     On June 13 the "Memphis Interfaith" group, the Muslim originated interfaith group in Memphis, held its annual Iftar Dinner.
This was spectacular as usual.  There were talks by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim speakers, Congressman Cohen, Mayor Rout.
There were talks about the then brand-new Orlando attack, as well as about the recent memorial service for Muhammad Ali.
       Awards for service to the Interfaith community were given to Janice Vanderhaar and to "Dr. Eunice Ordman and Dr. Edward Ordman."
I felt extremely honored on behalf of my late wife and of course myself.  I can't resist pointing out that while Eunice taught college from 1946 to 1988, she never did actually complete her Ph.D.. In the early 1950's she was the only woman Ph.D. candidate in physics at Rutgers University. When a critical examination was scheduled for they day her first child was due, she asked if she could take the exam early. "No," they said, "there is no precedent for that. No one ever  made that request before."  I will note that Rutgers  has always been a very welcoming university for ethnic and religious minorities, and I assume that they adjusted to women students in due course, after the initial shock of dealing with Eunice.  As several speakers noted at Eunice's memorial service, she had a record of rocking the boat.

June 10.

I'll shortly be leaving town for the summer. I will still be reachable by e-mail and will continue to maintain this site, probably on my recent "every week or two" schedule - Edward Ordman

    Muhammad Ali's funeral is today, June 10. On the interfaith nature of it, see
I think people will very much enjoy listening to some of the speeches, especially by Muhammad's wife Lonnie.  Will somebody tell me if it turns up on YouTube or somewhere similar.?   It may remain online for awhile at

MIFA has a special need for volunteers to move some non-perishable food items on Saturdays.
We are in special need of volunteers to deliver shelf stable boxes for our No Hungry Senior program on Saturdays. By delivering non-perishable foods to seniors each week, we are able to increase the number of vulnerable seniors we serve.  To sign up, email Isaiah at iswanson@mifa.org or call (901) 529-4521. Or, learn more about all of our volunteer opportunities."

Michael Danziger, the son of Rabbi Emeritus Harry Danziger of Temple Israel, has been ordained as a Rabbi (Hebrew Union College graduation, May 21)

May 30:

Remember to register for the IFTAR Dinner June 12 (below), one of the year's major interfaith events

May 31 is the last day to get free 90-day family memberships at the Pink Palace. You can register online at

Washington Post article on the first female Rabbi:

The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, formerly pastor of Liberation Community Church in Memphis, has been nominated to be Stated Clerk for The Presbyterian Church (USA).  This is the major executive office of this large national denomination.

I've tried to say a few things about Ramadan at  June 5, in the "events" or "History" page.


May 23:

Free 90-day trial family memberships at The Pink Palace.

Compliments to those who turned up for the Food-packing event at Pleasant View School on May 22. I didn't notice as much "interfaith" turnout as I would have liked, but certainly noticed a few Jews and Methodists among the Muslims. A very successful event! I see at least one of each (me, and a Methodist, facing each other) at
where of course you can find other pictures also...

Tikkun Magazine is a liberal Jewish publication with occasional interesting comments on current Israeli politics. With both US and Israeli politics doing odd things this year, this article may be of interest:

A Jewish organization has long subsidized trips of Jewish young people to Israel to connect with their heritage. The Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (http://ADC.org)  recently circulated word of a trial run for youn people of Palestinian heritage, of a similar program, sponsored by the "Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation".  I know little more about this but would be fascinated to hear if anyone knows or learns more.  https://kthps.org/join/  or just http://kthps.org

April 15:
     Unity Productions Foundation (Muslim sponsorship) has an 11-minute video. "American Muslims: Fact vs. Fiction." This is free for educators (teachers, religious leaders, anyone who might possibly show it to a group or Sunday School class, etc.)  Their productions in the past have been excellent. 

April 11:
   "This year, Equal Pay Day falls on Tuesday, April 12, 2016. This date symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. White female full-time workers are paid 79 cents for every dollar paid to white male workers. The wage gap is even more staggering for women of color. Black female full-time workers make 60 cents to a white male worker’s dollar. Latinas make the lowest at 55 cents to a white male worker’s dollar."

April 8:
    Eunice and I have long been fans of a group called Global Volunteers.  It is a chance to travel and meet people and learn about the rest of the world rather differently (and sometimes less expensively) than conventional commercial travel. We've been to Poland and China with them and to the Ukraine in a similar program. They are presently seeking short-term volunteers to help teach English in Hanoi. You pay your own way, but it is tax-deductible.

April 7:
   I'm going a bit far afield, with an article (about an event in the US) in the Hong Kong newspaper. But you may enjoy reading it. It is nice when the US gets good press so far away. 

Pope Francis will; shortly release a major paper on family issues.

     Two websites that may be of interest are:
 http://wherewelivemidsouth.org   which seems to have a large amount of environmental, health, and economic information that you can drill down to by neighborhood or larger regions, and
http://wheretogivemidsouth.org   (a website of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis) which has a remarkably large indexed list of local charities, as well as links to allow one to donate by credit card or by a donor-advised donation if you have a fund at the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, the Jewish Foundation of Memphis, or Hope Christian Community Foundation. 

April 6:
There is grave concern due to the efforts of a Tennessee state legislator to fan extreme anti-Muslim sentiment within the state legislature. Please sign the petition, or write legislators yourself. This automated system will even tell you the names and e-mail addresses of your state legislators!
  (I have had this request the same day from Muslim, Jewish, and Catholic sources!

There is being an interesting attempt to do crowd-funding for production of a film about the meeting of St./ Francis of Assisi with Sultan Al-Kamil. Even if you are not interested in contributing, the story and the effor are of significant interfaith interest. Read more at

April 2:
The US continues to restrict travel of Muslims - while we routinely admit without a visa citizens of many countries (e.g. most of Europe) we no longer extend that courtesy to citizens of  those countries who have visited a growing list of Muslim-majority countries, even if it was just to visit a relative. In addition, there is an increasing move to over-police Muslim neighborhoods within the US, as called for by certain presidential candidates.  See e.g.

    From an e-mail: 

<<  I'm not sure a "balanced" discussion of the Israel-Palestine issue is possible, but perhaps this comes close.  It's by a former Palestinian terrorist.  Worth the read, if you have an interest.  -
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/10/18/inside-the-head-of-israel-palestine.html   >>

March 22:
      I note with interest on the website of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Memphis an article reporting very affirmatively on a US District Court ruling allowing a Sikh to wear a beard while on active duty in the US Army.  While I do have an interest is both "religious freedom" issues and what one might call "smaller religion issues" in the US, it is of interest that I first heard of this decision from the local Roman Catholics!

March 15: 
    Steve Sondheim, known to many of us, was an official delegate to the Global Warming conference in Paris, representing the Sierra Club, an NGO.  He has spoken at a number of places about his experience there.  He believes strongly that we have a moral obligation to the planet and to future generations to act far more responsibly in our use of natural resources.  He was also a moving force behind the selection of this year's speaker at the Vanderhaar Symposium April 21, Chad Pregrake, who has been a moving force in cleaning up America's waterways - including water near and important to Memphis. See

March 2:
We had a remarkably fine party on Feb. 21 - the joke afterwards was that if one person had been willing to convert, we'd have had Two Jews, Two Catholics, Two Protestants, Two Muslims, and Two Hindus.  One parent brought along her son, looking for people to interview for a paper he is writing in high school - this was a great idea, pass the word that we can easily provide contacts like that as well as interesting books and movies  for History, Facing History, and some other subjects. (Also, of course, for college papers.)

Due to a conflict with a basketball game, there was an unfortunately low turnout for last Thursday's Facing History event, a remarkable Gospel Musical about a slave revolt in Charlseton, South Carolina, in 1823.  This had some remarkable music in it, including some songs that I think may become the songs for peace and freedom marches of the future. ("They cannot kill the spirit, when we march in Jesus' name" - of course "freedom" also fits the meter.)

By a happy coincidence, the September 28 New Yorker magazine had a long article by David Remnick about Charleston, including the history of that early rebellion and the present state of the "Mother Emmanuel" church, which was built on the site of the Black church burned by whites in that rebellion and where there was a recent mass shooting.  It is online at
 If you hit a subscription wall let me know.

As usual, the Calvary Lenten Lecture series is being outstanding.  If you can't get there at noon Tuesday to Friday or on Wednesday evenings, the noon talks are online, linked from http://calvarymemphis.org/lentenpreaching       
by the button "Sermon Archive"

Feb 20:
I've been told that I failed to remind people that early voting is in progress for the Tennessee presidential primary - you can still "early vote", without the lines that may be there on election day, on Monday and Tuesday. A web search for "Memphis early voting" will quickly bring you to the Election Commission page with hours and addresses. The election will be March 1.

Feb 11 - The "Allegro Concerts" list is back on line after the store moved. See our "Concert listing" page,
link up above.
     Latest on-line from Teaching Tolerance Magazine:
      February 26 is the deadline for current 6th throuigh 12 graders to apply for the Bridge Builders program, http://bridgesusa.org/youth-programs/bridge-builders-collaborate/program-overview/
       From the Memphis Islamic Center: "We are looking for a full time Imam who shall work closely and under the guidance of our resident scholar, Shaykh Yasir Qadhi. We want a dynamic leader who can lead the prayers, provide religious guidance, establish and promote educational and extracurricular programs for adults and youth, and engage with the larger community to promote friendship and understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims in the community."
      Pleasant View School, the Muslim Day School, has an English as a Second Language Course Saturdays 11-1.

February 6.

     The Controversy at Wheaton College, Illinois, continues. (There has been a move to fire a Christian woman faculty member for asserting that Muslims and Christians worship the same god.) I mention this since it has given rise to many pointers to interesting readings.  A good Washingtopn Post article is at
http://wpo.st/8HK71     which contains...
"       The Evangelical Missiological Society published a collection of essays on the matter showing a range of views on these questions.
The Catholic Church has taught since the Second Vatican Council that Muslims and Christians worship one God, though they view Jesus differently.
http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_nostra-aetate_en.htm   "

For the progress of an interesting dispute within Judaism, see


January 26:

I want to note the existence of  a series of special movie and video events (priced higher than usual movies - check the website) from http://fathomevents.com .   This series includes operas, ballets, classic movies, and other programs most of which do not qualify for inclusion in an "interfaith" list but may interest many of you. Note that not every event in the series is available in Memphis, you must click through individually to check.
The operas, classic movies, and shows about art all seem to be at the Paradiso, but some events (including some of obvious religious interest and some excellent ballets) are in no theater closer than Tupelo or Little Rock.

Registration is open for the Prizm Ensemble Summer Camp for aspiring musicians, June 6-11.

The current online issue of "Teaching Tolerance" will be of special interest to educators (including clergy, religious teachers, discussion groups and organization program planners.)

Bridges is now offering "Team Building" services for many kinds of groups. http://www.bridgesusa.org/teambuilding

January 25, 2016:

      On January 23 we attended the Peace and Justice dinner. Steve Cohen spoke. Zandria Robinson, who teaches at Rhodes College, gave a fascinating talk on "Intersectionality" - discrimination against people with multiple identifications. An example was an early lawsuit against General Motors for failing to employ any Black women. The judge said he could hold they discriminated againt Blacks as they had Black male production line workers. He couldn't hold they discriminated against Women, as they employed white women as secretaries. Thus, he ruled, the failure to employ Black women was nothing he could act on - it was not discrimination against any protected category.
       On January 24 we attended the concert at St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, by the musicians who perform at their Wednesday 8 AM service. This service is followed by a breakfast which is like the service is open to everyone, and they say it now attracts about 200 people - providing not only a midweek church service for those who want it, but a free breakfast for a great many homeless people. If you'd like to meet some of our Memphis homeless people, every Wednesday morning provides a chance.  The social hall at St. Mary's has a remarkable set of posters about services provided by the church during the great Memphis Yellow Fever epidemic - it ought to be on the list of city tourist attractions.

January 22, 2016:

MIFA, the main interfaith charity in Memphis, needs more volunteers - for Meals on Wheels, and also people to be trained to serve as Ombudsmen to monitor conditions and heare residents' complaints in nursing homes and other facilities.
For more information about volunteering, email Isaiah at iswanson@mifa.org.

Remember to annually update your Kroger Card so that a (small) percentage goes to your selected charity.

"Three great speeches about Muslim Terrorism"  (Newspaper article):

There continues to be wonderful resource material for teachers (both regular school and religious schools) at the website of Teaching Tolerance, http://www.tolerance.org/

For a typical prayer schedule of a local mosque (in this case, the one near U of Memphis), click here.

Proposal deadline for the Gandhi King Conference is Feb 15.. See April 8 below.

75 minute movie about the Kumbh Mela Festival, now on Youtube -

An interesting essay on the conflict between "right to life" and "social justice", from a Roman Catholic magazine:

January 6, 2015. 

May everyone have a happy and peaceful New Year!

Apparently Wheaton College (Illinois) will be firing the (fundamentalist Christian) professor who asserted that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.

There are occasional reports of events in India where the Muslims and Jews, both minorities, sometimes wee themselves a friends or allies. Here is a report from Cochin, where the Jewish community is shrinking and the Muslim community is stepping forward to help preserve Jewish institutions:

Eunice and Edward Ordman have a grand-niece who works for an interfaith organization in California called the "United Religions Initiative", http://www.uri.org/.  They did an hour television special recently on CBS which is on-line at  
www.uri.org/cbs.   Our niece is Sari Heidenreich, who gives a 4-minute talk (the Christian one) starting at about 13:56 minutes into the show.    

This web page and newsletter seems to be becoming a biweekly project for me instead of a weekly one, which causes me to miss a few more events, like a Muhammad's Birthday dinner (just before Christmas this year - next year it comes the usual eleven days +/- earlier, while the Jewish calendar gets a leap month and Chanukah will just about coincide with Christmas.

How much should I comment on Islamophobia? It is hard to resist commenting. One Jewish page against it is at http://www.againstislamophobia.org/  (Thanks Janice Vanderhaar, for the pointer!)

A Jewish item on the refugee crisis is at

I was horrified recently when the US refused to admit some British citizen tourists to the US apparently since they were Muslim; I'm rather hoping that the British government will put pressure on the US over this. The US is notoriously lax in defending the travel options of its own citizens. A  few years ago a Muslim acquaintance of mine in Memphis (a US citizen) was denied admission to Israel to care for her ailing father and the US was unsupportive.  By contrast, at about that time, Israel denied admission to a South African citizen of Palestinian descent, South Africa notified Israel that admission of a number of Israeli tourists and businessmen would be held up until the South African was allowed into Israel, and Israel conceded the point immediately and let the South African enter.

And did you notice the bizarre spectacle of Wheaton College (Illinois) suspending a professor who asserted that Muslims and Christians worship the same God? 

An interesting reading on a fine point of Jewish law and practice, and for learning about some differences within Judaism - http://www.thejewishweek.com/editorial-opinion/opinion/patrilineal-proposal-bath-mitzvah

For an interesting article on the causes of conflict - I must admit I like the ventures into statistics here - see the Washington Post article
 I have discovered the reason that "Star Wars" exists in the first place  at  


       Congress is apparently close to passing the appropriations bill to  keep the US government running January-September 2016.  There are lots of add-ons, some relevant to us. The politicians wanting  to  keep out terrorists ( or keep out Muslims as some politicians say and some Muslim and Jewish and Catholic sources interpret the language) have been particularly active. E.g., there are 38 countrieds whose citizens are allowed to enter the US without a visa. The House version of the bill would deny entry (without a special visa) to citizens of those countries who have visited Syria, Iraq, Iran or Sudan since March 1, 2011, and that seems likely to pass. By far the most common reason people visit those countries is to visit their families there.


The December National Geographic has a remarkable lead article on Mary:

The annual SPARKS awards program (awards for  philanthropy, volunteerism, and impact/activation) is online at
MIFA gets an award at about 21 minutes in. 

A Washington post article on the obstacles that the US throws in the way of Muslims trying to enter the US is at 
http://wpo.st/d51y0        As that article points out, it is impossible not to see similarities with the treatment of Jews before World War II.

       With a prominent politician still making loud anti-Muslim noises it is nice to see many voices still supporting America's traditions of being religiously tolerant and welcoming to immigrants.

David Waters has another nice local piece at

The Washington Post does well reporting the Catholic pro-immigrant stance at
http://wpo.st/rdLw0   (How Catholic leaders are defying governors who are trying to block refugees)

A Jewish statement is at

A TV appearance by Imam Feisal of New York, who lectured in the Calvary Lenten series a few years ago, is at

A local TV appearance - Nabil Bayakly on Channel 3 - is on line at

The local Pax Christi (Roman Catholic peace group) mailing list forwarded a petition to the Southern Baptists about inflammatory statements by Jerry Falwell:

12/7/2015  I have to note a piece by David Waters in the Commercial Appeal, "Many voices" of Memphians on immigration,

My own essay(Edward Ordman) on immigration has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, a weekly news magazine with international circulation, published in Boston. 
(my other essays can be found by searching for "ordman" on the CSMonitor web site. Some, but not that many, are on interfaith matters. There is also a list at http://ordman.net.)

There was not a "quick" interfaith prayer service after the California shootings, so far as I know,  given the heavy involvement of   clergy  with Advent and  Chanukah. The Muslims did hold an emergency meeting the evening of December 4, with Yasir Qadhi speaking; I heard of it too late to report here. Does anyone know if that talk is available on Youtube or elsewhere? 
Tom Carlson and Randall Mullins are planning an Interfaith Prayer Service for Truth on Thursday Dec 10 at Noon at Adams and B.B. King Blvd. 

   Healthy Memphis - common Table has a website on the subject of end-of-life planning at
They can also provide speakers on this topic for houses of worship or other organizations.

Example of condemnation of the Paris attacks, circulated by the Memphis Turkish community:

David Waters' excellent column on Syrian refugees in Memphis:

Rabbi Micah Greenstein's message on Syrian refugees is at

A New York Times Op-ed is at

Details of the refugee screening process (e.g., why it can take two years;)


For teachers and others (school, Sunday School, etc: excellent materials about Civil Rights from Teaching Tolerance or the Library of Congress: see  http://www.tolerance.org/ttm  . There is a web seminar on using this material on Nov 17.

The Benjamin Hooks Institute Blog is at http://blogs.memphis.edu/benhooksinstitute/

With cold weather coming, think of the homeless. Calvary Episcopal; needs volunteers, especially on Sundays. See
http://www.signupgenius.com/go/409094cafa72ba31-calvary1.  Which houses of worship are presently active in Memphis Interfaith Hospitality Network? If yours might hbe interested, see

Organizations are also atarting to collect holiday gift packjages fopr those in need. MIFA's page on this is at


Five Memphis city council districts (2,3,4,5,7) have run-off elections. The election day is Nov 19 but early voting has started at the downtown office; it is  at satellite locations Nov 6 through Nov 14 except Nov 11.

Facing History has some nice short video clips:

Calvary Episcopal Church, downtown, reminds us that their location attracts a great many homeless people in need of clothes, toiletries, and the like. See their exceptionally fine online newsletters at http://calvarymemphis.org/chroniclenewsletter; page 4 of the October 15 issue addresses this issue.

Should I sometimes mention regular services  or events that are not at the usual hour? E.g.
St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral has a Communion and Breakfast every Wednesday at 8 AM.  St Mary's will have a new cookbook for sale from Nov 8.
Temple Israel has a regular Bible discussion group with breakfast ("Torah Study", but colloquially "Bagels and Bible") with lox, bagels, and other goodies, at 8:45 Saturday mornings - most arrive by 8:30 to start eating before class. (Yes, Temple Israel also has Sunday School classes on Sunday.)
Masjid Ar-Rahman has a Koran study Friday evenings.  (start at sunset - roughly 5 pm - 6:15 pm at present)
see also http://files.ctctcdn.com/98c2aa0a001/dcb49750-7b18-43c4-8958-88d32b5e15be.pdf

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (of New York) who spoke a couple of years ago in the Calvary Lenten Lectures, has a new book
"Defining Islamic Statehood: Measuring and Indexing Contemporary Muslim States" ("What is the real definition of an Islamic state?     How can it function in the modern world?")

University of Memphis has its "Parents and Family Weekend" Oct 30-November 1. While different colleges have such events on different dates, this is a nice reminder to let your kids or grandkids away at school how much you love them.  It was also nice to see U of M suggesting to students in a studentr newsletter that they acquait themselves with the local charity Bridges, http://bridgesusa.org/

Dorothy Day House of Memphis  (helping homeless families) http://www.dorothydaymemphis.org/   is selling holiday wreaths and garlands - order now for delivery after Thanksgiving.  They may be able to send a representative to your church to take orders; ask!

10/10/2015  Unity Productions Foundation, a Muslim-sponsored film group, is promoting a film

"American Muslims: Facts vs. Fiction" in response to anti-Muslim demonstrations. I understand that they will provide it
for free showings by appropriate groups (houses of worship, student groups, peace groups, etc.)
They also have other films available.

Teaching Tolerance has a nice essay on Columbus Day at http://www.tolerance.org/blog/reconsider-columbus-day

Most Sunday Schools are at relatively predictable hours, and I mention them here only if there is a remarkable visiting speaker or some other special reason. But I can't help noticing that Masjid Ar-Rahman, at 7906 Lowrance Rd, Memphis 38125, now has a Sunday School after its brief 6 AM service, followed by a light brerakfast. I suspect that doesn't conflict with some of your other scheduled activities...!  Imam Anwar Arafat may well be the local Imam most easily understandable by non-Muslims (that category is deliberately chosen to avoid comparison with the excellent speaker Professor Yasir Qadhi, the Scholar-in-residence at the Memphis Islamic Center.)

The Christian Science Monitor online edition (October 2 2015) has an outstanding interview with local Muslim leader Yasir Qadhi. This is especially remarkable since the press generally almost  never reports on moderates of any stripe: the only newsworthy Muslim, apparently, is a radical terrorist. Here's an article on the problems of a moderate Muslim.

The Sept 20 event at the Civil Rights Museum here was reported on the national Campaign for Nonviolence blog at
You may be able to see people you know in the pictures, although my wife and I are a bit hard to recognize at lower right in our large hats to protect us from the sun.


Letter to the editor by Edward Ordman, Commercial Appeal (Yom Kippur and Day of Arafah);

Article by David Waters, Memphis woman addresses meeting in Philadelphia instead of seeing the Pope, talks about the local Catholic LGBT group.

Death of Phyllis Tickle on Sept 22.  Nationally-known local author and frequent speaker at church events in Memphis.

Phyllis Alexander Tickle
March 12, 1934 - September 22, 2015

Dear friends,  
We are saddened to inform you of the death Tuesday, September 22, of Phyllis Tickle, popular lecturer, author, and dear friend of St. Mary's Cathedral. The author of over three dozen books, she became a leading expert on, and student of, the Emergence church movement, while continuing to maintain her interest in the religion book publishing industry.  

On Friday, October 16th, visitation will be held at St. Mary's Cathedral at 1:00 pm, followed by a Requiem Eucharist at 3:00.

Facing History blog on the refugee crisis in Europe:
I have been intrigued to get notices from both the local Islamic community and the local Jewish community on the importance of donating to organizations working with refugees from Syria.
The Jewish message is at

http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?ca=9141520a-5059-4c26-b397-a85c5f4f00a0&c=449fb2e0-d2e4-11e3-acd1-d4ae5292c3f3&ch=452fe4f0-d2e4-11e3-ad4f-d4ae5292c3f3    (I'll admit to a fond spot for the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society,   http://www.hias.org/, which was probably the group that found a job for my grandfather on his arrival in the US in 1911. They are presently active with Syrian refugees.)
Muslim information - coming - fundraiser Sept 18 at Masjid As-Salaam, I think.

An interesting comment on recent news:

News: Pope calls on Europe to take in refugees,

MIFA is taking over administration of  the emergency Memphis hotline for homeless families. They hope to have it running again by Sept 15. Thanks, MIFA!

The ACLU And several other organizations have condemned anti-Muslim rhetoric by sheriffs in Hamilton and Sevier counties, Tennessee.

Yemeni nationals in the US since Sept 3 2015 can be granted temporary emergency status in the US until 3/3/2017.

early September 2015:

Calvary Episcopal Church has a new Associate Rector, Paul McLain. He introduces himslf on page 2 of

Rabbi Danziger, Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Israel, delivered a sermon there August 28.
On line at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rftuY5hT2Eo


Seasonal change of Muslim prayer times, as observed at the Memphis Islamic Center:
Fajr    5:30 AM, Dhuhr 1:30 PM, ASR  5:30 PM,  Maghreb  10 minutes after Adhan (sunset), Esha  9:00 PM

From the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center:
"If you haven't already heard by now, the emergency hotline for shelter information has been disconnected. We are so outraged that this has happened without warning.
      Now what do our people who need emergency shelter do? It is suggested that they go to MIFA between the hours of 7:00a.m -3:30p.m.  According to Community Alliance for the Homeless, the hotline is supposed to be back up in September with a new number, but in the meantime, what are individuals supposed to do if an emergency situation occurs at night?"

August 20:
       I've been absent from the web too long./ Eunice and I have been enjoying our summer "up north", and the kids, grandkids, and great-grands descended in force - about a month of family in residence and a great many visits from old-time friends, even one who was our student in the 1970's.

       I cannot resist commenting on recent events in the Boy Scouts, who have recently increased flexibility in the matter of gender orientation. My mother was a Girl Scout volunteer leader back before I was born. When I was four my parents moved from Massachusetts to Washington, DC, and my mother shifted to the Campfire Girls since the DC Girl Scouts were still racially segregated and the CAmpfire Girls were integrated.  I spent several years as a troop mascot, and when my father asked if I wanted to be a Cub Scout, I said I wanted to be a Blue Bird (junior Camp Fire Girl).  The difference was explained to me, and I was in due course a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and Explorer.  Our Boy Scout troop leader was a career Army officer - one of the best teachers I ever had of negotiation, understanding, and how to stop and stay out of fights.  One of my uncles was a career professional Boy Scout leader, and a nephew now works for the Boy Scout organization.  So I'm a pretty strong supporter of the Boy Scouts and similar  organizations. Eunice, of course, spent some years as a volunteer for the YWCA in Memphis.
        As a result, I've been sorry to watch the difficulties the Boy Scouts have gone through in recent years over gender issues. The recent decision that the national organization would not ban volunteer leaders due to gender orientation, but would leave it to local sponsoring organizations to choose troop leaders in manners consistent with their own beliefs, seems to me an extremely reasonable solution. Of course, a great many (not all) local Boy Scout troops are sponsored by houses of worship.  We recently had a period of several years when (due to these disputes within the Boy Scouts) the national organization of Reform Judaism discouraged local Reform synagogues or temples from sponsoring Boy Scout troops.  Of course, quite a few local Jews (including Reform Jews) remained very active in volunteer roles with the Boy Scouts. I'm delighted that the national Reform Jewish movement is again encouraging Boy Scout troop sponsorship; I very much hope that the compromise reached will allow the Church of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) to continue their extremely high rate of Boy Scout sponsorship and participation.

July 13:

We have to note the passing yesterday of Judge D'Army Bailey.The Tri-State Defender notes in part:
A mentor and inspiration to many, Mr. Bailey – attorney, former judge, author, founder of the National Civil Rights Museum and always an activist – passed away at age 73, succumbing to cancer.
The New Tri-State Defender will chronicle the passing of Mr. Bailey in this week’s edition. The newspaper’s archives include this 2010 story about Mr. Bailey’s book 'The Education of a Black Radical.'...."

July 12:

The information sheet for the service committee ("God's Unfinished Business") at Temple Israel, just as an example that may interest others:  http://www.timemphis.org/sites/default/files/2015 GUB info sheet_0.pdf
I'd be interested to see comparable information or other approaches from other houses of worship.
(Balmoral Presbyterian, for example, has a web site where one can sign up for specific times to carry in meals to homebound people.)

An interesting source of brief Jewish commentaries on the weekly Torah reading in the synagogue:
Chabad Memphis has a website with lots of answers to questions about traditional (Orthodox and Chassidic) Judaism:

The Papal encyclical on environment introduced at the UN:
There are some remarks about the drafting process of the encyclical.

July 3:  
       My wife and I were traveling for the last two weeks, and missed giving notice of many of the events held in Memphis following the Charleston shootings. Maybe we need other volunteers to up date either this page or a Facebook page from time to time?  But here are a few bits of news, anyway. We really appreciate those of you who keep us on your own faith-related mailing lists.  Should we consider having a common and accessible site collecting those things?

         There is food served every Saturday at noon at the Indian Cultural Center and Temple, in Eads (about a half-hour drive from midtown, see our address page.) It is a good time to see the fascinating building and meet the people.
         The Interfaith Youth Corps ( http://ifyc.org/ )     has an interesting series of podcasts. The talk this month is about "Hindus in Contemporary America"  and I recommend it highly.  The link is https://soundcloud.com/ifyc/hindus-in-contemporary-america.   Past talks are at https://soundcloud.com/ifyc  .
        Finally, there are about two weeks left of Ramadan. Observant Muslims fast (no food or drink) from sunrise to sunset. Most or all of the mosques in the city have refreshments following the service at sunset each night, and are happy to have visitors.

        Tanvir Kazmi has a mailing list in which he sends out Qur'an extracts; it may interest those who enjoy details of other religions.  As a Jew I'm always interested in the extent to which the Talmud, a major Jewish reference text, clarifies the Jewish rules and provides work-arounds when needed. So I enjoyed this passage sent along by Tanvir:

[Al-Baqarah 2:183] [In part]  O you who believe, fasting is decreed for you, as it was decreed for those before you, that you may attain salvation. Specific days; if one is ill or traveling, an equal number of other days may be substituted. Those who can fast, but with great difficulty, may substitute feeding one poor person for each day of breaking the fast. If one volunteers, it is better. But fasting is the best for you, if you only knew. Ramadan is the month during which the Quran was revealed, providing guidance for the people, clear teachings, and the statute book. Those of you who witness this month shall fast therein. Those who are ill or traveling may substitute the same number of other days. GOD wishes for you convenience, not hardship, that you may fulfill your obligations, and to glorify GOD for guiding you, and to express your appreciation. When My servants ask you about Me, I am always near. I answer their prayers when they pray to Me. The people shall respond to Me and believe in Me, in order to be guided.

June 11:

I didn't imagine I'd ever have occasion to mention horse racing here, but I can't resist. The Triple Crown winner this year was named American Pharaoh, and is owned by Ahmed Zayat. Zayat was born and grew up in Cairo. He also happens to be an Orthodox Jew.  This gives me a chance to remark that the Jewish community in Egypt was established extremely early and was for millennia extremely prosperous and surprisingly literate. (The great Jewish Scholar Rambam, for example, was physician to Saladin, in Egypt.) The respect for (and care for) the written word was apparently common to a number of religious communities in Egypt - consider the case of the thirteen ancient texts discovered at Nag Hammadi in 1945 - but in particular the Jewish communities in Egypt as in many other places occasionally filled a coffin with old records and buried it in their cemetery, and occasionally these have been dug up by archeologists.  One discovery from such a source was the minutes of a synagogue in Alexandria, Egypt, showing that they once took up a collection to meet the needs of a sudden influx of rather unusual Jewish immigrants - parents of young children who were fleeing from Israel to Egypt feeling their children were in danger due to a new king by the name of Herod who was killing off children who might be possible claimants to the throne.  (This was Herod the Great, about 40 years before the birth of Jesus. We haven't found corresponding records from Jesus' time, but Roman records record that the later Herod was also extremely bloody.)  It's a topic I address in my talk on the Intertestamental Period whenever I can get an invitation (e.g., what were the Roman soldiers doing in Jerusalem in Jesus' time, and why did the Temple Priests get along so well with them?)

Pope Francis has taken another major step in dealing with child sexual abuse in the church -

June 7:

The Unity Church of Practical Christianity (Walnut Grove, well east) is seeking a new minister.
The couple  Rev, Judith Crooks and Rev Donald Crooks are serving as interim ministers. (Replaced in mid-July)

Pax Christi, the Roman Catholic peace group, passes on their national organization's statement on the use of torture:

May 31:

Please register promptly for the annual "Iftar" Interfaith dinner, one of Memphis's premier interfaith events
(June 21, below)

Disputes at the Vatican level sometimes make the American press.  Here's an interesting dispute at the level of  the Israeli Chief Rabbinate (which has no authority outside Israel - but the American orthodox Rabbis are taking a position on this one.) Eunice and I have not met Rabbi Riskin but have visited his synagogue in Efrat in the West Bank, to try to understand the positions of (and controversies between) Israelis living in the West Bank.   [link lost?]
May 28:   

There has been major flooding in Houston. One Memphis Organization collecting donations for relief is the
Memphis Jewish Federation Houston Flood Relief Fund . (click on that for the link)

The Memphis Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Memphis are increasingly doing things jointly, as "Jewish Community Partners." They have a calendar of Jewish events, at  http://www.memjfed.org/community-calendar

Manna House needs volunteers to serve coffee and hospitality on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30-11:30am. The rush is from 8am-9:30am. If you can only serve for part, this is when they need you most.
Located at 1268 Jefferson Ave., Manna House provides hospitality to homeless Memphians.
Click here to Send your questions  if you've got 'em. (link thanks to St. John's Episcopal)

The Common  Table Health Alliance  recently released the second edition of its Status Report on Efforts to Promote Healthy Eating and Active Living in Memphis and Shelby County. The report features 28 organizations committed to addressing the obesity challenge with programs and services to engage the community in more active and productive lifestyles. To read the entire Status Report on Efforts to Promote Healthy Eating and Active Living in Memphis and Shelby County, please click here.

If you'd like a hard copy of the report, contact Chris Owens by clicking here.

The Memphis Islamic Center offers some links to lectures about ":preparing for Ramadan", the soon-coming month in which Muslims fast Sunrise to Sunset:

There are interesting online stories at the Jewish Women's Archivehttp://jwa.org/  .
Search in the search block there, for example, for Sarah Bernhardt

Rev  Sandy Webb, who has been Priest-in-Charge at  Holy Communion Church (Episcopal) has now been named Rector.
(Very loosely, equivalent to a professor getting tenure.)

May 17: 

The Interfaith Youth Core  (http://ifyc.org)  has put up a very interesting sequence of   podcasts about interfaith activities based on a surprising number of different groups - Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Mormonism, Evangelical Christianity, and others.
http://ifyc.org/podcast  or on itunes at  https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/common-knowledge/id746005884?mt=2

May 15:

For those who have been frustrated at the disappearance of the Eroica concerts, I note the recent appearance of Daniel Gilbert at the recent Luna Nova / Beethoven Club concert on May 11. Notice of their upcoming festival and on-line listening to the recent concert is at http://www.lunanova.org/

There is a nice story about a Rabbi and Imam traveling around France on a "Jewish-Muslim Friendship Tour",  at
(I have a prejudice toward that issue, as an essay of mine - on international rather than interfaith amity - appears at
http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/The-Home-Forum/2015/0429/How-I-discovered-what-s-in-a-name  )

I don't know if it will make it to mainstream TV, but there is a nice "Muslim Family" show in the making with episodes at  http://halalinthefamily.tv/

Some synagogues celebrate May 17 as "Jerusalem Day", the day the Old City of Jerusalem was captured by Israel in the Six-Day War. There is a crowd-funding effort for a project of bridge-building between West and East Jerusalem at

There is a piece on anti-extremist cartoons by Muslim cartoonists at  http://www.newsweek.com/ignored-and-unreported-muslim-cartoonists-are-poking-fun-isis-332040

Some years ago Eunice and I spent two weeks teaching English at a children's summer camp in Eastern Poland.  This opportunity is open again if anyone is interested. You wind up paying your own ecpenses - but as it is volunteer work, it is tax deductible. And it is a chance to see Polish people and culture in a way that few tourists can.  We're happy to discuss it with anyone interested.

May 9. 
The PINK PALACE MUSEUM has available free 30-day memberships and $5 all-summer trial memberships - Pink Palace Museum,  Lichterman Nature Center, Mallory-Neely House.  A perfect activity with kids or grandkids. 
"Go to the Pink Palace Website http://www.memphismuseums.org/        Click the Free Summer Membership Icon on the right and
 register for your Free 30-Day or $5 Summer Trial
Membership today"

Unity Church of Practical Christianity  passes on a link to an essay, "Five steps from Fear to Freedom",

The Catholic Peace group's  mailing list has passed on  the original call for celebrating Mother's Day day and some history.   http://Memphisirg.org/Mother's-Day.html

April 19

The Vanderhaar symposium was fascinating. Sister Simone Campbell, sss, was stranded by weather and spoke remotely on "Radical Engagement: Pope Francis' Peace Building Strategy.  There was a great deal of something our group has stressed: to engage in dialogue, serious listening is essential.  Sister Simone is a member of the "Sisters of Social Service" (if like me you wondered what sss stood for),
http://www.sistersofsocialservice.com/,   she heads a lobbying group "Network", http://www.networklobby.org/, and her talk drew heavily on Pope Francis' encyclical "The Joy of the Gospel" found at

A newsletter of the Memphis Islamic Center with discussion of their events is online at

April 12: 

I've been asked again for the links to the Calvary Lenten Lectures of this spring, which can be watched or listed to online.
Start at http://www.calvarymemphis.org/lpssermonarchive which has links to the 2015, 2014, and 2013 sermons. I suspect that a few years before that are also available - if you want them and don't see them, ask me for help.

People interested in "doings in other denominations" might be interested in a recent pastoral letter by Bishop Johnson (Episcopal)
at http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?ca=84285f6e-7f5f-443b-a624-a5f2dd10fc47&c=f9c0c330-deb6-11e2-8ecf-d4ae5292c973&ch=f9c35b40-deb6-11e2-8ecf-d4ae5292c973

Several people  from Memphis  (yes, we can connect you) have been on trips to Israel/Palestine organized by "Interfaith Peace Builders", a group that visits activists on both sides - these have ranged from from peace-oriented NGOs on both sides to Palestinian politicians to residents of  right-wing Israeli settlements in the West Bank.  They are presently scheduling trips for the coming year.  http://ifpb.org/


April 8:

 April 3 was the anniversary of Martin Luther King. Jr's  "Mountaintop" speech.  You might enjoy the article about that speech by Scott Newstok, of the Department of English of Rhodes College (Scott and his wife are active organizers of, among other things, Jewish events in midtown.) The article is online at 

Possible useful contact in Nashville, re e.g. relations between Muslim community and state government, andf withg law enforcement re hate crimes:  The American Muslim Advisory Council,  http://www.amactn.com/
They also point to a nice page of elementary questions and answers about Islam, at

There has been a real improvement in the Indian Cultural Center and Temple website, at https://icctmemphis.org/icct/home/node
I'm hoping this listing of events will encourage more of us to visit this interesting complex of buildings and meet our Hindu neighbors.
Incidentally, they offer free Sanskrit classes on Saturday 1 - 2:30 PM    Do check their web site (e,g, for appropriate dress)  before visiting.
Directions on our
Addresses page.

Yasir Qadhi's lecture of March 29 is now online, at
American Foreign Policy and the Rise of ISIS ~ Dr. Yasir Qadhi | 29th Ma...: https://youtu.be/3y8i3hVtUYw

Some years ago I had occasion to write a brief essay about the earliest Jewish community in China, at
I was startled to see that community suddenly appear in the major press recently, at

April 1:  

I very much enjoyed Yasir Qadhi's lecture March 29 on dealing with Radical Islam.  I'm a bit frustrated that I can't find it online yet - when it appears will someone let me know?  In the meantime, you can find many of Yasir's talks on Youtube. A good way to find some of his statements about ISIS (which has publicly called for his assassination, leading to prayers for him and his family in several Memphis churches) by a search such as

The new FBI Hate Crime Date Collection Guidelines And Training Manual modifies the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program's Hate Crime data collection procedures to include collection and tracking of hate crimes committed against Arab Americans, Hindu Americans, and Sikh Americans.

The Common Table Health Alliance, http://commontablehealth.org/ is encouraging houses of worship (and other organizations) to look at the American Heart Association's "Healthy Workplace Food and Beverage Toolkit", at http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/WorkplaceWellness/WorkplaceWellnessResources/Healthy-Workplace-Food-and-Beverage-Toolkit_UCM_465195_Article.jsp

Comic book fans, anyone? I've encountered a string of comic books with Muslim superheroes before, but this is the first time I've noticed a Sikh superhero in comic  form. http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-49-spring-2015/feature/behind-shield
(My wife and I are huge fams of "Teaching Tolerance", a program of the Southern Poverty Law Center that produces free educational materials for schools, including houses of worship educational programs.) 

March 22: 
Religious  news rarely makes the front parts of the newspapers - unless you count the highly political stuff that disguises itself as "Islamism" in some of its forms. Even the so-called "Western" religions tend to make the papers only when in trouble or controversial. 
Two pieces that made it recently were the problems of a Roman Catholic Bishop from Scotland,
and the decision of one of the denominations of the Presbyterian Church (PC-USA) to recognize same-sex marriages as "marriage":

A friend has pointed out that I've never mention the local Messianic Jewish Synagogue http://www.brithadasha.org/  They describe themselves as "Jewish and non-Jewish followers of Yeshua."  I've often attended the corresponding group in Kansas City in which one of my granddaughters is active.  Largely Jewish customs but recognizing Jesus as the Messiah and Lord. I'm most comfortable by thinking of them as "James Christians", if any of my readers recall James' church in Jerusalem from the book of Acts; as a Christian religious branch I think that ended with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, but I'd love to have a scholar of the period help me out.   My favorite reading of the period (from a Jewish point of view) is "As a Driven Leaf", by Milton Steinberg, a history (fictionalized where facts are unavailable) of Rabbi Elisha ben Abuyah, a member expelled from the Sanhedrin for (among other things) attending church too often.
     Anyhow, if anyone has an urge to visit this synagogue at 6320 Quail Hollow Road, Memphis, TN  38120. (901) 685-9267, services are at 10:30 am Saturday preceded by adult study at 9 am. They will have a community Passover Seder on April 3, and their sermons are online at http://www.brithadasha.org/index.php/resources/sermon-library

Many Masjid Ar-Rahman events are now on YouTube.  Video recordings of Friday khutbahs (sermons), other main programs & events at Masjid Ar-Rahman are now posted and will be uploaded to Masjid Ar-Rahman YouTube channel on regular basis inshallah (God willing). To view/Subscribe, Click here

Another friend writes: 
Couldn't stop not to share:   'Like A Garment' series by by Yasir Qadhi:

"I found this very useful lectures for married or going to be married couples: What Women Need to KNOW about MEN - Full"

another reminder: Kroger Community Rewards: Even if you've enrolled in Kroger Community Rewards before, their system resets on January 1, so if you want MIFA or Temple Israel or Porter-Leath or (many others)  to receive credit when you make purchases at Kroger, you have to enroll again. Simply visit kroger.com/communityrewards, login or create an account, and select  your rewards recipient.

(I'm really enjoying these contributions - thanks!.  admin@memphisirg.org  Edward Ordman, webmaster

March 13 posting: 
      One event I heard of too late to get into this list was a March 7 afternoon meeting - a panel of Muslim Imams speaking on "Virtues of Islam in a Democracy", with Congressman Steve Cohen turning up to speak. While I may be a bit ignorant on some details here, I took it as an interesting bit of "interfaith" that Anthony Muhammad, the leader of the local Nation of Islam mosque, was included on the panel and willing to answer my question on the differences between the Nation of Islam and the Sunni Muslims. Teh main point was that the Sunni's feel the coming of the Mahdi is in the future, the Nation of Islam believe the Mahdi has already come to bring Islam to America.  [corrections invited, by those who know more than I do].

March 2 posting:

A note from the local Black newspaper, the Tri-State Defender:

TSDTV:  Minister Ishmael Muhammad Part One

While in Memphis Minister Ishmael Muhammad, son of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Student National Assistant Minister to The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan sat down with TSD President and Publisher Bernal Smith in part one of a four series segment.
Click here to watch this episode of TSDTV.

Another online item of interest:

The themes of Adam Curtis’ new documentary Bitter Lake should be well known to those familiar with his body of work: power, techno-politics, science, managerialism and the media. The film uses the contemporary history of Afghanistan to tell a story about how polities in the West have become incapable of understanding the complex and horrible happenings around them. Traditional forms of power in the West and Afghanistan have taken advantage of the fear and confusion to consolidate their control, but at the expense of an intellectually deskilled Western public and a world that is fundamentally less governable. Bitter Lake is more fable than scholarship, but the film is nonetheless a devastating examination of how Western interventions in Afghanistan refract the vacuousness of our own politics.Jacob Mundy reviews the documentary in "McJihad, the Film," now at Middle East Report Online

I am increasingly impressed by Farid Zakaria's columns in the Washington Post.

Posted Feb 18.
A member of the Texas legislature, on a day when local Muslims were coming to lobby, left her office and instructed her staff to greet Muslim visitors with and Israeli flag and a demand that they pledge allegiance to the United States. The (Jewish) Anti-Defamation League has issued a statement saying it was "shocked and outraged" by this, It said in part "access to elected officials is core to American democracy and should be celebrated, not impeded....this kind of rhetoric and bigotry is antithetical to our cherished American values."  http://www.jta.org/2015/01/30/news-opinion/politics/auto-draft-47

Posted Feb 22

The Benjamin Hooks Institute has put on-line a new 16-minute film, "The Civil Rights Movement: A Cultural Revolution."  It is part of "The People's Telly Awards" competition, so you can evaluate the film and vote (until March 6) as well as watch it, at 

Posted Feb 17:

March 2 order deadline for March 16 event at Grizzlies game. See March 16 below.

(NASHVILLE, TN) Feb. 12, 2015 The American Center for Outreach & the American Muslim Advisory Council released a sign-on statement against targeting people for their identity.
The statement reads:
We offer our condolences, thoughts and prayers to the victims of the Chapel Hill shooting which claimed the lives of three Muslim students.
  (..much more)
Congregations and religious organizations can join this effort by signing up at www.acotn.org or emailing a request to info@acotn.org.
(Signed by Temple Israel, Memphis Islamic Center, Memphis Inter-Religious Group, many others.)

An article on "Islamophobia":


posted Feb 9, 2015:

Rabbi Joel Finkelstein of Memphis synagogue Anshei Sfard-Beth El Emeth has an unusual collection of videos on Youtube, at

Prof. Shaul Bar is the author of a recently published book, "Daily Life of the Patriarchs, The Way It Was."

Travel possibility:  Professors Stephen Haynes and Jonathan Judaken of Rhodes College and Prof Daniel Unofsky of the University of Memphis will lead a Holocaust Travel Seminar  May 17-30, open both to college students and to lifelong learners. Cost estimate $4400. Numerous places in Germany and Poland, at least.  This will be an exceptional inter-generational experience with remarkable interfaith  leadership.  Register, or at least indicate interest, as soon as possible (target is Feb 15 for initial information).  Contact Prof Haynes at 901-843-3583 or email haynes@rhodes.edu.

The Movie SELMA is an important piece of American History and deserves to be seen. If you need further background, or especially if you are a teacher wanting material about the period, there is quite a bit of useful material on the website of the nationally noted "Teaching Tolerance" program, at http://www.tolerance.org/voting-rights-web-package
This website has a number of important teaching packages (including videos) which are free for teachers, and are also often extremely valuable for Sunday School and Adult Education programs. (MIRG has an example or two on hand if you'd like to look.)

Obviously, the trauma facing the Jewish Community in France following the events related to the "Charlie Hebdo" attack are in many ways mild compared toi the traumas of Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and so on. But I thought people might be interested in some of the ways responses in France are being organized. There is an interesting report circulated through the Memphis Jewish Community Center, on line at https://files.ctctcdn.com/7c3c2e9b001/871c0511-e5df-4fa1-990e-054b5e973e99.pdf

There is a particularly good essay on making the Jewish community inclusive of people with disabilities, that will also be of interest to other faiths and other organizations, at 


posted earlier:

Lichterman Nature Center is normally closed Sundays. It is inviting churches in need of a place to meet on Sundays to arrange to use its facilities, Indoor spaces available in sizes 50 to 200, outdoor spaces also. Parking, kitchen, etc. 
For more information, call 901.636.2213 or visit our website: www.memphismuseums.org"

A midtown Jewish group is starting a variety of activities - e.g. a children's Hebrew School in the Central Gardens area Monday afternoons, a monthly family program on first Sunday afternoons, possibly a youth group and other activities.  If interested contact Sarah at newstok@mac.com

There is much too much to be said about "Charlie Hebdo" to say it here. So I've put it at

Late January 2015:

Yasir Qadhi has completed his "Life of the Prophet" series of lectures at the Memphis Islamic Center, Wednesday evenings. I haven't hear what comes next from this outstanding speaker. For anyone who has never listened to him preach to Muslims, an excellent place to start (an exposition of the Muslim equivalent of Christian parables) is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMPyCujPl_g

Marcus Borg died January 21, 2015. He preached in the Lenten Lecture series at Calvary Episcopal Church in downtown Memphis for twenty years, and several of his sermons there in recent years are avail;able through their website. 
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Borg
An interesting introduction to his mode of Biblical interpretation is available in a YouTube of a debate with the much more traditional William Lane Craig  at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OU1h0tk2Pss

Edward Ordman was delighted to give a talk on the Intertestamental Period recently to the Presbyterian Women at Germantown Presbyterian Church. What happened between the Old and New Testaments? (For some reason, this is rarely addressed in Sunday Schools.)  What happened between Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar? (Roughly the same period, equally rarely addressed in history courses.) What were the Roman soldiers doing at the Temple in Jesus' time, and why were the priests in cahoots with them?   (Other topics Edward and Eunice like to speak on are the state of Interfaith life in Memphis, and the Israel/Palestine problem. We can also help arrange speakers or visitors to classes on other subjects.)

December 2014

Christmas and Chanukah.  I often get asked if there is any connection between the Christian Christmas (always December 25) and the Jewish festival of Chanukah (lunar calendar, this year starts the evening of Dec 16 and runs for 8 nights and days.)  Basically, none. Chanukah is a minor Jewish holiday that gains importance in the US and other Christian countries in pert from its proximity to Christmas.  The origin of Chanukah is a revolt by the Jews against a Greek king ruling Syria, roughly from 167 to 160 before the common era; details are primarily in the Books of the Maccabees, which are in the so-called "Old Testament Apocrypha, which are part of the Roman Catholic Bible but not in Protestant or Jewish Bibles.  The candles lit on the 8 nights are in honor of a story that after the rebels (The Maccabees - the word means "Hammers") recaptured the Temple in Jerusalem, a container of oil that should have lasted only one day kept the lamp burning for eight days until new oil could be obtained. The anceint rabbi presumably preferred teaching children by talking about this relatively minor "miracle" to haviung the holiday introduced as one celebrating a rather bloody military victory.  My own father did use the holiday, as we kids got older, to talk about the problems of guerilla warfare and the moral problems associated with war.  I have more of his version of the story at http://ordman.net/Edward/Chanukah.html
with a link there to somewhat more details and dates.  I occasionally get invitations h=this time of year to speak to Sunday School classes or other organizations about the Intertestamental period (I have one invitation so far this year): What happened between the end of the "Old Testament" and the start of the New Testament?  What happened between Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar? (These are roughly the same period, but the first is neglected in Sunday School and  the second is neglected in regular school).  This involves Chanukah and goes on to consider what the Roman soldiers were doing in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus, and why the Temple Priests were in cahoots with them. (Hint: Antony and Cleopatra get into the story.)

Temple Israel traditionally finds volunteers for helping with Starry Nights on Dec 24 and Christmas Lights at the Zoo Dec 25th.

I've occasionally had people ask about prayer schedules at a mosque - usually in the sense of "is the schedule anything like a church?".  The big service (with the long sermon) is at Friday, usually around 1 PM.  Here is a recent monthly schedule (December 2014) from Masjid Ar_Rahman:
Iqama Times: (December 2014)
The five daily prayers, usually brief and with modest attendance, are
Fajr: 6:00AM
Dhuhur: 12:30PM
As'r: 3:00PM
Maghrib: 10min after Adhan       (in this context Adhan=the call to prayer at sunset, sunset is about 4:40 this month in Memphis)
Isha': 7:30PM
The longer service is
Friday prayer: 1:00PM 
For more detailed prayer schedule, please click here

Join us for weekly programs at the Masjid:
Friday Night In -After Ishaa: Program & Activities by Imam Anwar Arafat
Saturday: After Dhuhur - Sisters Class by Imam Anwar Arafat
Sunday: After Ishaa - Tafseer Halaqah [Arabic] by Sh. Zaghloul
Monday & Wednesday - After Ishaa - Quran Class by Sh. Elkadi
Wednesday: After Dhuhur - Sisters Halaqah [Arabic] by Sh. Zaghloul
Thursday: After Ishaa - Class by Imam Anwar Arafat  

November 2014

    On November 9 there was a rather remarkable interfaith "Peace"  Service organized at the Unity Church of Practical Christianity, 9228 Walnut Grove Road, Cordova, also sponsored by the Sri Viswayoga Foundation.  While it is not that unusual for Jews and mainstream Christians to have interfaith events (there will be a nice Thanksgiving Service in a couple of weeks) and Muslims often join in, the variety of faiths represented November 9th this year may even have exceeded that at the Sri Viswayoga event a year ago.  It is probably unfair to group as examples the Jains, Mormons, Bahi'as, and Sikhs, but there were too many others for my note-taking to keep up.  Anyhow, I enjoyed the discussions immensely!   And many thanks to the several people who helped push and pull my wife's wheelchair on that hilly trail through the woods!
    The event included a group walk through a particularly nice outdoor labyrinth in a clearing in the woods behind the church.  It is one of the nicer labyrinths in Memphis and I strongly encourage you to visit it if you have not.  For those unfamiliar, let me distinguish a labyrinth from a maze: a garden maze (or a hedge maze or cornfield maze or amusement park maze) is a path with many branches and dead ends, a sort of a puzzle to get through, often with visual barriers so you cannot see the end.  A labyrinth, in the sense used in houses of worship, is a winding path without branches, so that if you follow it all the way - often around many loops - you always arrive at the end or center, and usually there are no walls to conceal what is going on.  They are very popular with children: I've spent happy times with grandchildren and nephews and nieces at labyrinths in children's parks.  In churches and monasteries, they are used for meditative walks or praying while walking; they may give a sense of "moving to the center" or simply a form of gentle exercise while praying. I have Jewish friends who are in the habit of reading the whole book of Psalms every month, five a day - some of the psalms are quite long and walking while reading them can be more comfortable than sitting or standing still, when you have available a nice walking route without danger of bumping into anyone. While I'm not a scholar of these things, maze  walking while praying seems to me one of the nearest things in Christian practice to some eastern practices such as some yoga or sufi contemplative customs.

October 2014

      October 24 is the New Year on the Muslim Calendar, the year 1436.  If I understand Yasir Qadhi's explanation correctly, a committee meeting about 17 years after Mohammed's flight from Mecca to Medina decided the new Muslim state needed a calendar for administrative reasons, and set the year 1 as the year of Mohammed's move.  The set the start of the year as the first new moon following the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca since the pilgrimage was viewed as giving people a sort of "new start."  I know at least one person on the MIRG e-mail list who just returned from the Hajj - is there anyone else this year?
     The Muslim calendar, like the Jewish, is lunar. But the Qur'an dictates a twelve-month year - so the year winds up being about 10 or 11 days shorter than the solar year, and the holidays migrate from one season to another at the rate of about one month every three years. Every holiday eventually gets a chance to be in every season. The Jewish calendar differs from this by having a thirteenth month whenever needed to move the holidays back to the "right" season (seven times every nineteen years.)  The Christian calendar solves the problem by making the months a day or two longer than a lunar month, so holidays stay in the same season but you no longer know the phase of the moon by which day of the month it is.

     This month (and given the operation of lunar calendars, posssibly for another couple of years) the Jewish month of Tishri and the Muslim month of Dhul Hijaah coincide - bringing together principal holidays of both faiths.  Yom Kippur, the Jewish "day of Atonement", a fast day for repentance for sins, is October 4. And Eid Ul-Adha, the great Muslim holiday, is also October 4. Both religions attach special values to prayers and have special prayer customs for the ten days leading up to the holiday. Expect major parking problems around the synagogues on the evening of  October 3 until after sunset October 4.  The mosques recognize that they can't fit in everyone who wants to come the morning of October 4, and will have a major service in the southwest hall of the Memphis Cook Convention Center (9:30 AM).  They will also have an Eid carnival Sunday Oct 5, 11 AM - 5 PM at Incredible Pizza in Germantown.
     Actually, the theological connections are much closer between Rosh Hashanah (Sept 24-25) and Eid Ul_Adha. The principal reading from the Jewish Bible for Rosh Hashanah is the willingness of Abraham to offer his son (Isaac) as a sacrifice.  The principal Qur'an reading for Eid Ul-Adha is the willingness of Abraham to offer his son (Ishmael) as a sacrifice.
      Rabbi Arthur Waskow adds:  And even more!  October 4 is for Catholics and many other Christians the day for remembering and honoring  St. Francis of Assisi.  The present Pope chose to affirm Francis not only in naming himself but in living simply and preaching compassionately.  St. Francis went to Cairo to study with Muslims how they prayed, in order to deepen his own prayer.  He committed a holy act of both heresy and treason by opposing the Crusades. And he was deeply in touch with the more-than-human life of all the Earth.

September 2014

After a long search, Masjid Ar-Rahman has appointed a new Imam, Anwar Arafat.  We expect that he will be a meaningful addition to the group of clergy of all faiths in the city.  He will preside at the city-wide Eid Ul_Adha prayers October 4.

Memphis has a number of new Halal restaurants (Muslim equivalent of kosher.)
Tannoor Grill is located on 830 N. Germantown Pkwy Cordova, TN 38018 901-443-5222.
Barakat Middle Eastern Restaurant is located at 5800 Raleigh Lagrange Rd Bartlett, TN 901-674-1666
Sharks Fish & Chicken has three locations in the Memphis area - Midtown, Hickory Hill and Summer Avenue.www.sharksmemphis.com
The Burger Joint is located at 5844 Poplar Ave Memphis, TN 38119.901-537-3533.
(I think this means we now have more Halal restaurants than Kosher restaurants. Of course the Halal rules are somewhat simpler.)

Ramadan begins about June 28 this year, 2014 (can vary a bit based on moon sighting.)

May and early June 2014

June 5. The Washington Post has an article and map showing the second largest religion (after Christianity) in each state. It is probably not a surprise that it is Buddhism in most Western states, Judaism in the Northeast, Islam in twenty of the southern and middle states. But it is of interest that Hinduism is the second largest in two states, and Baha'i in one state.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2014/06/04/the-second-largest-religion-in-each-state/?hpid=z5 
I was surprised that Judaism came in second in Tennessee and (even more unexpectedly, for me) in Arkansas. 

Healthy Memphis Common Table has changed its name to "Common Table Health Alliance"
This is a good time to remind people that this group provides speakers on issues such as how to deal with your doctors and how to take control of your own health, talks very well received by Sunday School classes and other religious (and other) groups.

MidSouth Peace and Justice Center has a new Executive Director, Brad Watkins, a long-time staff member there.

Along with other religious organizations, Pax Christi USA signed this letter supporting voting rights legislation

There are several health-related events on the Common Table Health Alliance website,
http://www.healthymemphis.org/upcoming-events.php  which I have not included below.

Feedback on what I should include here is always welcome.

MIFA wants participants and volunteers for the COOL (College Offers Opportunities for Life) program. Kids are to be from the 38126 zip code and/or attend Carver or Booker T. Washington high schools, have at least a 2.0 GPA. Adult mentors who can put in two to five hours a month are wanted. Details at http://www.mifa.org/cool?utm_source=Memphis%20Inter-Religious%20Group
Temple Israel sisterhood is preparing snacks for the kick-off event for this, June 11, 5:30. Contact Jane at 901.239.7536.

Healthy Memphis Common Table has changed its name to "Common Table Health Alliance"
This is a good time to remind people that this group provides speakers on issues such as how to deal with your doctors and how to take control of your own health, talks very well received by Sunday School classes and other religious (and other) groups.

MidSouth Peace and Justice Center has a new Executive Director, Brad Watkins, a long-time staff member there.

April 9, 2014. Jerusalem 3D - From April 19 through December of 2014, the Pink Palace will be showing “Jerusalem 3D” in its IMAX theater. This is a travelogue about the Old City of Jerusalem, prepared by the National Geographic, with references to the ancient history of the city from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim viewpoints and using narrators of all three faiths.  It has been very well received by local religious leaders of all three faiths. It does not consider modern problems or controversies, but does allow you to see the insides of holy places not normally available to tourists because of the modern problems.  I found the 3D effects attractive even though I have very poor vision in one eye.
There is a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/jerusalemthemovie
Further information on the Pink Palace including movies and exhibits is at       
and the movie schedule is at

April 3, 2014.  It is hard not to be concerned about the refugees in so many places around the world.  How long will the world allow people to be confined in refugee camps?  In some of the Palestinian camps in some of the Arab countries, refugees have been effectively confined for about 65 years.  They suffer even more when civil wars, as in Syria, effectively blockade the camps and keep food and medicine from getting in.
     And what will happen to the refugees now streaming out of Syria? There is a rather remarkable article about Syrian refugees in Lebanon, at  http://www.merip.org/mero/mero040314

March 23, 2014.  I can't resist commenting on two plays presently going on in Memphis.
The Diary of Anne Frank  at Playhouse on the Square continues until March 30. It is an outstanding production, wonderful set, excellent acting, and well worth seeing.  Do be aware of what you are getting into: as one friend commented, "it is a little difficult to watch at times, since you know the ending."  I've also heard it said that the characters are a bit one-dimensional. Well, yes - and that is not due to bad acting. The script is from the Diary of Anne Frank. She was, after all, a twelve-year-old: the characters are as they were seen by Anne, just the things she saw and the things she understood.  It is, in addition to being such a classic story, a wonderful study of "the world as seen by a 12-year-old."    http://playhouseonthesquare.org/  
       I wonder if anyone younger than me noticed that the one brief song sung in the show, in Hebrew, was in the wrong dialect - the one used in most American Hebrew Schools today, not the one used in German Hebrew Schools in the 1930.s and 1940's? (This does not detract in the slightest from the play.)
     If Anne Frank, with a cast of  over a dozen, is still a one-viewpoint story, another interesting and genuinely one-man production in town is being put on by Rabia Louis Haynes:  If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Were Alive Today is a 75-minute show in the gorgeous new theatre at the Kroc Center (the Salvation Army building at 800 East Parkway South, south of Central), Friday and Saturday at 7 PM, Sunday at 2 PM, through April 6.  ($20, $15 students and seniors).  This unusual show is one man's recollections and thoughts about King,  colored by experiences in Vietnam and Birmingham; it is more about peace and freedom and justice than about the civil rights struggle itself. Haynes does a remarkable and moving job of reciting some of King's famous speeches. He stretches things a bit in the last scene, when he tries to preach in the way he thinks King might preach today:  he may not be quite the writer that King was, but it is still interesting and effective and I found it as interesting to see his view of the world as it was to see Anne Franks' view, and a very interesting juxtaposition.

March 16, 2014, was the Jewish (minor) Holiday of Purim.  There were far too many Purim events to list here; I'm giving a small sample. Purim is sunset March 15 to sunset March 16, but the celebrations of this joyous early Spring festival go on for some time before and after. It is, canonically, an extremely minor Jewish holiday, celebrating the events of the Book of Esther in the Bible.  It is not one of the more theological, shall we say, of the biblical books. Ian Fleming pointed out that James Bond was based on Esther, the principle differences being that the sexy undercover agent in the Bible is female, that M's full name is given, and that the road races in the Bible have to be done on fast horses as the Aston-Martin had not yet been invented.  If you'd like a different look at the Bible, read the Book of Esther thinking "Goldfinger" rather than "Biblical Epic", or attend Temple Israel's annual musical comedy version  (which is not as risque as either the Bible or the James Bond movies.)

        People who have never attended a traditional synagogue service on Purim will be amused to know that any children attending are issued noisemakers to use during the Bible reading.  The Book originally came in a scroll, in Hebrew a "Megillah", and the fact that the whole book is traditionally read on the holiday, "The Whole Megillah", has passed into many languages as an idiom roughly for "reciting the whole story with nothing left out."

December 12, 2013.  Our good friend Tanvir Kazmi has sent along some quotations from the Qur'an appropriate to the (Christian) season.

[Al-Imran 3:33]   GOD has chosen Adam, Noah, the family of Abraham, and the family of Imran to the people. They belong in the same progeny. GOD is Hearer, Omniscient. The wife of Imran said, "My Lord, I have dedicated (the baby) in my belly to You, totally, so accept from me. You are Hearer, Omniscient." When she gave birth to her, she said, "My Lord, I have given birth to a girl" - GOD was fully aware of what she bore - "The male is not the same as the female. I have named her Mary, and I invoke Your protection for her and her descendants from the rejected devil." Her Lord accepted her a gracious acceptance, and brought her up a gracious upbringing, under the guardianship of Zachariah. Whenever Zachariah entered her sanctuary he found provisions with her. He would ask, "Mary, where did you get this from?" She would say, "It is from GOD. GOD provides for whomever He chooses, without limits." That is when Zachariah implored his Lord: "My Lord, grant me such a good child; You are the Hearer of the prayers." The angels called him when he was praying in the sanctuary: "GOD gives you good news of John (Yahya); a believer in the word of GOD, honorable, moral, and a righteous prophet." He said, "How can I have a boy, when I am so old, and my wife is sterile?" He said, "GOD does whatever He wills." He said, "My Lord, give me a sign." He said, "Your sign is that you will not speak to the people for three days, except through signals. Commemorate your Lord frequently; and meditate night and day."

[Al-Imran 3:42]   The angels said, "O Mary, GOD has chosen you and purified you. He has chosen you from all the women. "O Mary, you shall submit to your Lord, and prostrate and bow down with those who bow down." This is news from the past that we reveal to you. You were not there when they drew their raffles to select Mary's guardian. You were not present when they argued with one another. The angels said, "O Mary, GOD gives you good news: a Word from Him whose name is `The Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary. He will be prominent in this life and in the Hereafter, and one of those closest to Me.' "He will speak to the people from the crib, as well as an adult; he will be one of the righteous." She said, "My Lord, how can I have a son, when no man has touched me?" He said, "GOD thus creates whatever He wills. To have anything done, He simply says to it, `Be,' and it is. "He will teach him the scripture, wisdom, the Torah, and the Gospel." As a messenger to the Children of Israel: "I come to you with a sign from your Lord - I create for you from clay the shape of a bird, then I blow into it, and it becomes a live bird by GOD's permission. I restore vision to the blind, heal the leprous, and I revive the dead by GOD's permission. I can tell you what you eat, and what you store in your homes. This should be a proof for you, if you are believers. "I confirm previous scripture - the Torah - and I revoke certain prohibitions imposed upon you. I come to you with sufficient proof from your Lord. Therefore, you shall observe GOD, and obey me. "GOD is my Lord and your Lord; you shall worship Him alone. This is the right path."

December 7, 2013.  We are having a spate of bad weather, and quite a few events cancelled.  Yasir Qadhi, the scholar-in-residence at the Memphis Islamic Center, reports that in the early days of Islam there were days when the weather was so bad that Mohammed instructed the muezzin to announce prayer times with the call "God is Great! Stay home and pray!"  instead of the customary "God is Great! Come to Pray!"  (Yasir then went on to encourage those who could safely walk to mosque to do so, so that those wanting to pray in a congregation could do so.)

October 8, 2013.  It is is a busy season for several faiths right now. Muslims are in the ten days leading up to Eid El-Adha, the Festival of the Sacrifice, the most major Muslim holiday. It commemorates the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his young first-born son Ismail (Ishmael) as an act of submission to God's command and his son's acceptance to being sacrificed, before God intervened to provide Abraham with a lamb to sacrifice instead.  It begins Monday evening October 14 and ends Tuesday evening October 15. Since crowds at the Tuesday morning service will far exceed the capacity of local mosques (including the social halls, which tend to be crowded with overflow worshipers this week) the main service will be held in The Cook Convention Center at 9 AM Tuesday.  The festival is on the tenth day of the lunar month of  Dhul Hijjah and during the ten days there is special value to good deeds and fasting, much as in the ten days leading to Yom Kippur (the day of atonement) for the Jews or the period of Lent for the Christians.

By a coincidence of calendar, these ten days essentially coincide with the Hindu occasion of   Navaratri and Brahmotsavam Celebrations, October 4th to 13th, nine nights and ten days. During the  nine nights, nine forms of Shakti/Devi are worshiped. The tenth day is commonly referred to as Vijayadashami or "Dussehra." The first word "victory on the tenth" refers to the tenth day of the lunar month; the second refers to "the removal of ten",  referring to Lord Rama's victory over the ten-headed demon king Ravana.  Unlike the Muslim holiday which migrates seasonally due to the Muslim lunar year, the Hindu holiday is also a harvest holiday.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vijayadashami

Sept 15, 2013 is the 45th anniversary of the founding of MIFA, the Metropolitan InterFaith Association, one of the city's major service organizations. Their newsletter about it is at

Porter-Leath reminds me that Kroger now has a system whereby you can sign-up on-line so that when you shop at Krogers and use your Kroger Plus card. a small percentage of your purchase gets donated to an organization you choose. Many Memphis churches, synagogues, and religious schools are among the listed organizations (no Muslims, Hindus. Buddhists? I didn't notice any in the list) or you can have the donation given to local charities such as Porter-Leath, MIFA, Bridges (who else should I mention here?). 

Late May 2013  

A surprising number of local groups - Jewish, Christian, and Muslim - have been holding fundraisers or collecting donations for the Oklahoma Tornado victims.

Reminder: The Lenten lectures from the Calvary Lenten Lecture series are on line, some with videos.

Mid-May 2013

You might find of interest  an article on efforts at Jewish-Muslim dialogue in India. In India as in the United States, Muslims and Jews are both minority religions. 


This seems a week more crying out for commentary than for lists of events.  The attack in Boston has led to the usual "why don't the moderate Muslims speak out?" complaints. Of course they do speak out - the press releases from the local Muslim community were immediate - but the press loves drama and excitement and would much rather talk about violence than about solutions.  I occasionally find an excuse to give a sermon or talk quoting Psalms 137 and 126. The first chronologically (137) is at the time of the exile to Babylon and one frequently hears quoted "How can I sing the song of the Lord in a foreign land" and "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem..." but no one ever quotes the rest - it is a bitter, vindictive, song of a war lost, ending (translations vary) "happy will be he who dashes the children of the Babylonians against the rocks."  There are people who like to quote unpleasant verses of the Qur'an out of context but forget that the Bible has them too.  The antidote is Psalm 126,  on the return from Babylon: a man may sow seed while weeping, but will return in joy from the harvest, bringing in his sheaves of grain.  Tragedy may lead to thoughts of retaliation, but if one is thinking of retaliation one is not moving towards peace.  Individuals, groups, and governments, need to be thinking of the future - what must we do now, (even making sacrifices like using something we could eat now as seed for the next crop) to bring in the sheaves, peace and prosperity, in the future?

There is an interesting article in the Washington Post by a Muslim author,

I also heard an excellent sermon in the Memphis Islamic Center by its president, Dr. Bashar Shala, who stressed to his congregation, many of whom are immigrants, the importance of teaching their children that they are Americans, that it is absolutely consistent to be both a loyal American and an observant Muslim, that one can and should work for the welfare of all Americans.  It is important that they teach their children enough about Islam to avoid the risk that the children will be tempted by anarchists who misleadingly represent themselves as pro-Islam, and that they keep a close eye on their children's internet use since there is so much false and misleading information out there.

Changing the subject, it is impossible not to remark on the passing of Maxine Smith, one of the original leaders of the modern Civil Rights movement and a towering local figure, present until recently at so many local events.  She was 83.


There was a remarkable talk by the Gary Shorb, president of Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare, at the Memphis Theological Seminar dinner on February 21.  He pointed out that the United States spends far more on healthcare than any other nation on earth and yet on most measures of health care we are at the very bottom of the list of industrialized nations. (On many measures we rank lower than, say, Cuba.) He strongly urged people to write state legislatures urging Tennessee to accept the proposed US expansion of Medicaid.

I heard a very nice talk recently by Prof. Earnestine Jenkins at the University of Memphis. Instead of the "melting pot" or the "salad bowl" model, she spoke of "acculturation" - the process by which different groups or cultures learn to accommodate, provide space, learn to live alongside one another. She stresses that is is a gradual process involving learning and adjusting on all sides.

    We note with deep distress the death of Harriet Stern on December 22. She was 79, very active until shortly before her death,  a tireless volunteer for many causes and a strong supporter of interfaith activities in Memphis.

On the issue of the difference between "respect", "pruralism", etc. -- and on the general issue of working together with people with whom one disagrees -- there is a very interesting essay recently in the Jewish press.

We had an excellent visit to the Hindu Temple on January 1.  I now have a much better schedule of what is going on there and some offers to help explain activities there, if anyone needs information on such things.

12/08/ 2012
Since the newspapers seem so rarely to print statements from moderates, it was nice to see a recent statement from a member of the Syrian opposition quoted in the Christian Science Monitor. The Imam Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib is quoted as saying  to a crowd near Damascus "My brothers, we lived all our lives, Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites, and Druze, as a one-hearted community. And with us lived our dear brothers who follow Jesus, peace be upon him. We should adhere to his bond between us and protect it at all times."

Church Health Center
We recently became aware that the national organization serving Parish Nurses has merged into Memphis's  Church Health Center. There is some information at  http://www.chreader.org/parishnurses.aspx?listWebPage_id=1
For those unacquainted with the concept, some houses of worship have attached to them a trained person, often a nurse (on salary or retired and a volunteer) who may assist with hospital visitation and may be available to answer health questions for members of the congregation or nearby community.  This can be critically helpful in communities that have considerable numbers of uninsured, or where there are numerous expectant mothers or preschool children, where someone who can say "this can wait a few days" or "go see the doctor today, I'll call and say why it is time-critical" can be a big help.  And while the elderly receive remarkably good telephone advice from the AARP Nurse (if you don't know about that program, ask!) , the AARP nurse cannot make house calls and a parish nurse can.  If you can use more information about this program (which is by no means restricted to Christian groups), contact the Church Health Center. http://www.churchhealthcenter.org/fcnhome   Their next course for "community health promoters" will be
Tuesday nights, March 5 - April 23, call 901-261-8833
We've been pleased at the very large turnouts at several recent events. "A Taste of Hunger" on Nov 4 drew a large audience and provided a guide to many programs in Memphis assisting the hungry - food banks, soup kitchens, and other programs.  If you'd likje a .pdf of that guidebook, let us know and we'll send one. One unexpected treat at the dinner, at Anshei Sphard-Beth El Emeth Synagogue, was an announcement that the local Muslim community was starting a halal food bank; that is now in operation.

The Nov 14 conference on "how neighborhoods can come together" sponsored by the Center for Transforming Communities (http://ctcmidsouth.org ) had a packed house, over 300 participants, and wonderful ideas for working together.  See the blog on their website for more.

There was also a very full house for the interfaith Thanksgiving service on Nov 20 at Balmoral Presbyterian Church, with a huge combined choir and participation by clergy from quite a few churches and Temple Israel.

It was interesting to see Thanksgiving meals put on by Hindu and Muslim organizations, as well.

October 2012
Haaretz Sunday, October 07, 2012:  Jewish, Christian groups urge tolerance toward Muslims in New York subway ads
Initiative by Rabbis for Human Rights and Christian group Sojourners aims to counter pro-Israel ads pitting 'civilized man' against Jihad.

September  2012:

Sept 12: A California real estate developed produced a short anti-Muslim film.  Its circulation was followed by attacks on Americans in Egypt and Libya, resulting in the death of the American Ambassador in Libya. 

Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), condemned both the killings and the film. Awad said in a statement:

“We urge that this ignorant attempt to provoke the religious feelings of Muslims in the Arabic-speaking world be ignored and that its extremist producers not be given the cheap publicity they so desperately seek.

“Those who created this trashy film do not represent the people of America or the Christian faith. The only proper response to intentional provocations such as this film is to redouble efforts to promote mutual understanding between faiths and to marginalize extremists of all stripes.”

Sept 4:
Are you familiar with "The Mindset List", a review of what is "normal" for American college freshmen?
http://www.beloit.edu/mindset/2016/    (Yes, you can enter earlier years to compare!)

We note the arrival in Memphis of Prof. Mark Kaplowitz, who is David Bornblum Visiting Scholar at the University of Memphis. Dr. Kaplowitz is an authority on the philosophy of Spinoza and commentators on Spinoza such as the German philosopher Hermann Cohen. He has also studied such writers and philosophers as Maimonides, Kant, Franz Rosenzweig.  I hope the general community will get chances to hear from him!

In a somewhat bizarre situation, the Florida prison system has decided to save money by no longer serving kosher meals to inmates who request them. The U.S. Department of Justice has sued Florida saying this is unfair. (Apparently about 250 inmates typically requested kosher food.)  What makes this of interfaith interest is the fact that kosher food is also halal, that is, it meets the dietary restrictions of Muslim as well as Jewish observers of religious practices.  So the US suit is receiving support from both Muslim and Jewish groups.  People may be interested to know that the rules are not identical - a Muslim friend said to me "The Muslims are not allowed to drink alcohol, the Jews are not allowed to eat shellfish - I'm not sure which of us is getting the better deal."  

August 2012:
Obviously, the big news recently was the attack on the Sikh house of worship in Wisconsin. 
There is a nice writeup of local response in The Commercial Appeal,
The website of the local Sikhs is  http://www.midsouthsikhsabha.org/
Since so few people know much about the Sikhs, this may be a good occasion to mention Teaching Tolerance,
http://www.tolerance.org/  which provides free educational materials to teachers about other religious and racial groups and materials to help teach respect and understanding and fight prejudice and discrimination. Their e-newsletter was the first I received after the tragedy that actually had information about the Sikh religion and about the problems and misunderstandings they have suffered.
Teaching Tolerance is a program of the Southern Poverty Law Center, http://www.splcenter.org/
One of their posts on this is at

July 2012:
Somehow I missed advance notice for the PBS program Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World but it may be of interest that 15 minutes of "bonus footage", just video, of the material is on-line at http://video.pbs.org/video/2251483761  If there is someone out there better at watching for upcoming programs, or finding on-line versions of them than I am, I'd love help. I was fascinated to discover an eight minute clip about the Jewish Ghetto in Shanghai during the Second World War, as I had good friends who spent the war in the Ghetto in Shanghai. http://video.pbs.org/video/2224183518  Shanghai was possibly the last place in the world that would admit Jews without a visa, if they could find a way to get there from Europe.

May 2012:
5/18  Last night was the Annual awards dinner by Diversity Memphis. Two of the honorees were people we have worked actively with, Dr. Manoj Jain and David Waters.   Others who spoke whom we have worked with or talked about here in the past include Rabbi Micah Greenstein of Temple Israel and Father Nicholas Vieron of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, whose talks at Calvary last Lent are still available to listen to, Dr. Bashar Shala of the Memphis Islamic Center and Memphis Friendship Foundation, and mediator Jocie Wurzburg. Eunice and I got to sit with (among others) Janice Vanderhaar and Ed Wallin.

We were sorry to learn of a death a few days ago.  Janice Vanderhaar sent this message:
Dr. Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz, a true prophetic woman of peace, passed on to eternal life on Sunday, May 13. 
Please read the moving message below sent to me earlier today by a close friend of Ada Maria's.
 It is hard to believe that Dr. Ada Maria passed this way less than two months ago to share with us her incredible message of Compassion and Solidarity at the Vanderhaar Symposium on March 15 in Memphis.  
We sent the remarkable pictures taken that evening to her family.  They capture her essence beautifully.  Please scroll down the email to see photos.
We were indeed blessed by her powerful presence in our midst.
 We send our prayers of deep sympathy to her beloved mother and all her deeply-grieving family. 
 May she rest in Eternal Love and Peace!  Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz Presente!
Let us (or Janice) know if you want the photos.

May 22: 
MEDICAL NOTE: The Interfaith Medical discussion at Masjid As-Salaam last Sunday was excellent, and I'm particularly proud since it very clearly was enhanced by the presence of people who came and participated because of this mailing list.  Hey, we can make a difference on the obesity issue. Consider suggesting to your house of worship that they experiment with not putting out donuts at coffee hour and instead put out small tomatoes, carrot and celery sticks, grapes, if you want to get fancy you can add pineapple and watermelon chunks.  You may be able to link up with others through http://www.healthymemphis.org/

 Pentecost and Mi'raj
         Today (the 21st or 22nd of May this year) is the new moon, when the Hebrew and Muslim calendars start new months. For the Jews it is Sivan, for the Muslims it is Rajab.  This year (as in about one in four) the Jewish and Christian calendars are in pretty good synchronization, so the holiday of Pentecost  (seven weeks, or 50 days, from Easter), when the Holy Spirit enable the apostles to "speak in tongues", comes on Sunday, May 27.  The Jewish holiday of Shavuot, "the feast of weeks", seven weeks from Passover, and also referred to as Pentecost, starts the evening of May 26; it ends the evening of May 27 for Reform Jews and the evening of the 28th for Orthodox and Conservative Jews.  For Jews it celebrates the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai; the ten commandments are read,  and parties with ice cream (that is, dairy rather than meat dishes) are common.
         In English this is the only holiday for which Jews and Christians can use the same word (Pentecost), although in some other languages Easter and Passover have the same name (e.g. French "Pâques", derived from the Hebrew "Pesach").  Apparently the choice of a different calendar calculation, so that they do not always coincide on date, was a decision of the Roman Emperor Constantine who wanted to clarify that Judaism and Christianity were separate religions.
        For Muslims the month is Rajab, and the date I know of in it with the most interest is Mi'raj, the 27th of Rajab, about June 18, which is the anniversary of the night when Mohammed was transported to Jerusalem and  ascended from there for a visit in heaven.  While I gather some Muslim communities have customs associated with this, it is not an official holiday.  The explanation I have read is that Mohammed did not encourage any celebration of "past events", only celebration of "what is happening now". The two principal Muslim feast days are Eid El-Fitr, the "completion" or end of the fasting month of Ramadan, and Eid El-Adha  which celebrates the pilgrimage to Mecca but also (presumably not coincidentally) remembers the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son. This latter event is very frequently spoken of by the Jews (e.g. the talk just mentioned at Temple Israel  last week) but oddly the Jews don't have a particular day to celebrate it.
May 29:        I ran into or recalled some remarkable phrases this week.
       On Saturday at Temple Israel, we were studying some early statements by meetings of  American Rabbis. The Pittsburgh Platform of 1885 (this was before Rabbis organized themselves into Orthodox/Conservative/Reform groups, although most of the signers were the "liberals") included the sentences "We are convinced of the utmost necessity of preserving the historical identity with our great past.  Christianity and Islam being daughter religions of Judaism, we appreciate their providential mission, to aid in the spreading of monotheistic and moral truth."
       The Pentecost story in most churches talks of the need to talk to people "in their own language." I found myself recalling a January 2008 conference at Trinity Church, New York, which I watched by video in the company of Dr. M. Moinuddin. The participants included the  U.S. Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, and the Muslim Oxford Professor Tariq Ramadan.  In the discussion afterwards, someone asked them (I haven't looked up the quotes, I'm giving you how I recall them) "How is it possible for you two to agree on so much?".
       Jefferts Schori replied, in part, "God has given us the gift of continuing revelation."
       Prof. Ramadan jumped up almost indignantly. "Absolutely not. I disagree completely. Revelation stopped with Mohammed. Allah has given us the gift of continuing interpretation."
      I had a story appear in The Commercial Appeal on Saturday, May 26, on an interesting intersection of Memphis-In-May with interfaith relations.  David Waters and Connie Binkowitz (featured in the article) helped significantly.
The link is 
Connie Binkowitz is with Health Memphis/Common Table.  http://healthymemphis.org/

April 2012: 

4/23  There is a group in Damascus, Syria, working with Iraqi refugees. One thing they do is try to arrange college in the US for a few outstanding Iraqi refugee students.  At the present time they have a candidate, a son of a physician working in a tuberculosis clinic in Baghdad whose family fled to Damascus after violence in their neighborhood at home. Christian Brothers University apparently will waive tuition if they can find pledges of support for room, board, incidentals. They have pledges of over half the funds needed so far. The interfaith aspect here of course is CBU's willingness to do this for a Muslim student; David Waters has indicated an interest in writing about the project. More info at http://memphisiraqistudentproject.weebly.com/about-isp.html   I'll provide the local contact information for anyone interested. (I'm at admin@memphisirg.org or 327-9735)

4/23 Memphis Islamic Center's Resident Scholar, Yasir Qadhi, was featured on PBS special program "Finding Your Roots" alongside Pastor Rick Warren and Rabbi Angela Buchdahl.   It's a nice interfaith program. The program aired on PBS, or WKNO in Memphis, on Sunday, April 15, 2012.  However, the show is also available online at PBS' website at the following link:     http://www.pbs.org/wnet/finding-your-roots/video/   Update: This link takes you to the most recent episode of this show, but you can scroll down and click on the episode "Rick Warren, Angela Buchdahl, and Yasir Qadhi". They have another Yasir Qadhi episode, "The growth of Islam in America."   (We can possibly provide off-line copies if needed.)

The local Jewish History group recently circulated a review of "Arab and Jewish Women in Kentucky: Stories of Accommodation and Audacity (Kentucky Remembered: An Oral History Series)"  by Nora Rose Moosnick. You'll probably enjoy the review on Amazon,

4/8 We aren't recruiting volunteers here, that happened elsewhere, but it's always fun to notice that on Easter, Temple Israel recruits volunteers to serve at the Soup Kitchen at First Presbyterian Church downtown, so that the usual Christian volunteers get the day with their families.  Many of the chartities and activities in town are also manned by the Jews at Christmas.

4/7  Note that Edward Ordman's essay about interfaith activist Stanley Engelberg appeared in the Commercial Appeal on April 7, 2012.   http://ordman.net/Edward/Engelberg.html   "Helping Others was Stan's Life Mission"

March 2012:

3/31: The inaugural concert of the Balmoral Chamber Orchestar was a major success. We hope to see a lot more of them.

3/30: The big news among our friends recently was the death of Stanley Engelberg on March 21. I hope that an essay about him will appear in the On Faith page of the Commercial Appeal, probably April 7.
        Non-Jews will be amused to note that it wasn't until I was at least in high school, maybe later, that I realized that "Spring Cleaning" did not have a specific date on the national or Christian calendars.  For the Jews it does: the day before Passover. The calendar put out by the local Hasidic Jewish group (Chabad) admonishes that in Memphis this must be completed by 11:49 am on Friday, April 6.  This is derived, from centuries of discussion, from the biblical admonition that "you shall have no leaven throughout your habitations", hence all the corners of the house have to be cleaned to get rid of any breadcrumbs that may have accumulated.  There are accompanying prayers and rituals.  I was really quite startled when I discovered that the "spring cleaning" of the popular press was not this ritualized or specific.
        My events listings for the next week or so won't be as elaborate as recently, partly since the events of "Holy Week", Easter, and Passover, tend to be more specific to the specific religions and less inter-faith oriented.  The number of joint programs involving multiple churches is simply too long to list.  All the synagogues will have special prayers and some other programs on at least April 6-7-8 for Passover. So I'll include mainly a few concerts and other things that appeal to me.

3/19: In an e-mail I sent, I evidently was wrong about the reason that the lecture on March 15 by Dr. Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz was moved from Christian Brothers University (which is normally very supportive of peace-related and interfaith-related events)  to First Congregational Church (which is even more so.)  Apparently the trigger issue was not her support of the ordination of women, but her preaching at the same-sex wedding ceremony of her nephew.  The Commercial Appeal write-up of this is at
http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2012/mar/02/seminar-speaker-canceled-by-02/  \
The very brief wedding sermon in question is linked to from her home page at http://users.drew.edu/aisasidi/
where you'll also find copies of some of her more substantive talks, if you either miised her talk on March 15 or (like me) heard it and would like more.

3/16: I have to note as of special interest the 2012 issue of the magazine of the American University in Beirut, Main Gate, which can be downloaded at  http://staff.aub.edu.lb/~webmgate/MainGate-Winter2012.pdf  (a big pdf, takes awhile to download.)  There are excellent pieces such as "The Citizen and History Return to the Arab World", p. 28 and several others.
We also have a paper copy if you'd prefer to borrow that.
3/2:  I note with mild distress that man of the Calvary Lenten lectures from earlier years no longer seem to be on the Calvary or iTunes websites (or maybe they are just hard to find.)  I have saved a  great many of the 2008 and 2010 lectures, and a selection of the 2009 lectures. Let me know if you would like any.

January 2012:  We had a good meeting on January 27. One interesting feature is that we are now feeling confident enough with each other to start telling some of our groups' interior stories and conflicts, beginning to learn e.g. of similarities between the differences of opinion within the Muslim community to those within the Jewish community.  We had especially good turnouts from Balmoral Presbyterian Church and from Pax Christi, the Roman Catholic Peace group.

There is a nice sequence of videos by Rabbis for Human Rights - North America, of individual rabbis speaking out against Islamophobia.
It can be found at http://www.youtube.com/rhrna    
 The main web page for Rabbis for Human Rights / North America is at http://www.rhr-na.org/

Another religious-group website of interest is the Pax Christi website, the Roman Catholic peace group: http://paxchristiusa.org/
Their local group has a web page of interest at http://www.paxchristimemphis.org/

Janice Vanderhaar has pointed out  the international group http://www.religionsforpeace.org/  WHich has interesting reports recently on Catholic-Muslim cooperation in Nigeria.

Can anyone point out similar web sites, from clergy or laymen from other groups?  Of course "30 mosques" is still there, a national blog out of New York with Memphis reports at  http://30mosques.com/archive2010/2010/09/day-27-the-muslims-in-memphis-part-1/  about the Ordmans
and http://30mosques.com/archive2010/2010/09/outtakes-the-memphis-islamic-center-and-their-neighbors/  about Memphis Islamic Center and Heartsong Church. This has the nice interview with Danish Siddiqi, who has been invitred to speak at an evening program in the Calvary Lenten Lecture Series this spring, March 21, 2012.

Added late December 2011:

It wasn't a mass-participation thing, but several of our regulars were at the press conference Monday, December 19, concerning the suit against Delta Airlines over the refusal of a pilot to carry two local Imams.  Rabbi Micah Greenstein, Rev Steve Montgomery, and Rev. Steve Stone, among others, spoke to the press on the importance of not discriminating. The Channel 5  report and video link are at    http://www.wmctv.com/story/16351402/2011/12/19/religious-leaders-to-file-racial-profiling-lawsuit-monday#

My own comment, which I don't think anyone in the press reported, was that it was 100 years ago this month (December 1911) that my own grandfather, then a young Orthodox Jewish Rabbi, arrived in the US from Lithuania. He spoke no English. Five years later he was the founding Rabbi of a small synagogue in Peabody, Massachusetts, which is still there.  100 years ago many people still doubted that Jews could fit in as "normal" Americans (or, in Western Europe, as Europeans). About twenty years after that  some politicians discovered that they could get donations and followers by preaching hatred of the Jews. The consequences of this, for the entire world, were rather traumatic. I don't think I need to say more.

December 2011:

Chanukah is a rather minor Jewish holiday -it doesn't make the Bible - and its contemporary importance probably stems from its proximity to Christmas. But there is a connection between the two.  When the Maccabees revolted against King Antiochus Epiphenes, the descendent of one of Alexander the Great's generals then ruling the area, it was a rather bloody and nasty revolt. (Think terrorists. In my younger years my father compared the Maccabees to the Viet Cong.)  The war is recounted in the books of the Maccabees (Old Testament Apocrypha).  Even in those days, you couldn't run a good guerrilla war without foreign aid, and the Maccabees signed a mutual defense treaty with the Senate of the Republic of Rome; it is reprinted in Chapter 8, First Book of Maccabees.  It was eventually under color of that treaty that Roman troops came to Israel, and that in turn led to the presence of Roman soldiers (and a priestly class allied to them) in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus. I have this story in slightly more detail at http://ordman.net/Edward/Chanukah.html

Interestingly, the best Advent sermon I ever heard I heard at Masjid As-Salaam, the mosque on Stratford Road. A visiting preacher, a few Decembers ago, preached on the birth of John the Baptist (who gets even more praise in the Koran than he does in the New Testament.) He commented - wouldn't all of you like your children to be as self-confident, as knowledgeable, as kind to their parents, as faithful to God, as John the Baptist?  Well, then take a serious interest in your children's education. (Long riff on education.)  And remember that John, like Jesus, was a very successful preacher of the story of the One God.  In fact, John was remarkably good at it - after all, he was the one who had to baptize Jesus, not the other way around. So when your kids are being overwhelmed by toy advertisements and multiple Santa Claus-es, be prepared to sit down and talk about John and Jesus, those wonderful preachers of God, because the whole season is really about God.

October 2011:

It was hard not to be excited by the program October 4 at the Church of the Holy Communion, where a panel of Muslim speakers answere questions for a very eclectic audience, the session chaired by David Waters. A very good turnout by the Muslim community allowed ample opportunity for people to mix and talkj in the social hour following. Thanks, all!  This was an event sponsored in part by "Faith in Memphis",  http://faithinmemphis.com , the continually improving "religion" online presence of the Commercial Appeal.  Thanks, David Waters!

October 2 was an interesting evening at Temple Israel - a live from New York video of  Alan Dershowitz  being iunterviewed by Eliot Spitzer.  No one may heve been surprised by Dershowitz's support for a two-state solution in Israel / Palestine, but I was interested in the delicacy with which he atttempted to distinguish between the desires of the Israeli public, Primne Minister Netanyahu, and the actual behavior of the rather unwieldy Israeli coalition government.

Sept 2011 Notes:

09/30 There is a new flood in Pakistan. Collections for emergency relief are being made at all  Memphis mosques. 
Also, Muslim Social Services is opening a new second-hand shop on Mendenhall north of Summer Ave.

09/24  Congratulations on the recent Peace and Harmony Days where so many of our friends spoke and attended (speakers included Cantor John Kaplan of Temple Israel, Nabil Bayakly of Muslims in Memphis, Janice Vanderhaar of Pax Christi, as well as Hindu, Buddhist, and American Indian speakers...)

09/20  In the recent Kosher Barbeque Contest at the orthodox Jewish synagogue Anshei Sfard-Beth El Emeth, the team from the Memphis Islamic Center placed third in Kosher barbequed beef brisket!  Perhaps more important, this got a very nice writeup by the national Jewish Press agency!  The article is at
It was nice to have a dignificant number of Muslims visible and well accepted at this event. Once again, Memphis is helping show the rest of the country (and even the rest of the world) that people CAN enjoy being together and doing things together. 

09/18 I just noticed a very nice essay in The Commercial Appeal, Wendi C. Thomas: Faith leaders recast Samaritan parable, at

09/14 The Fares Center at Tufts University, http://farescenter.tufts.edu , has a great many good lectures on the Middle East available on line.
e.g. Michele Dunne: Egypt: From Evolution to Revolution (April 13, 2011)
Salim Tamari: What Future for Jerusalem? (April 4, 2011)
Rami Khouri and Mohammed Younis: What they fear, what they seek: Understanding young Arabs who are reshaping their societies (February 22, 2011)
with many more upcoming.

09/14 The cooperation we have in Memphis continues to serve as a role model. If you missed the recent CBS news piece (with a lot of Dr. Bashar Shala of the Memphis Islamic Center and Rev Stone of Heartsong) it is at
This has text of their interview as well as the video. (Thanks, Tanvir, for pointing this out.)

09/14 You might also enjoy an essay on religious eductaion in the Internet age by Rabbi Dr. Gil Perl, Dean of Margolin Hebrew Academy/Feinstone Yeshiva of the South in Memphis, Tenn.

  June 11, 2011:
    It was very nice to see a an essay by Janice Vanderhaar in the Sunday Commercial Appeal "Souls, spirits in rhythm are essence of our community",  at
     Janice is of course chair of the Vanderhaar Symposium which honors her late husband, as well as a spokesman for the Catholic group Pax Christi and a past recipient of a major interfaith award from  Muslims in Memphis.  And in the essay she quotes Arnold Perl as chairman of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority but doesn't mention that he's also a recent past president of Temple Israel.

      My wife Eunice and I had another chance to appreciate the interfaith richness of our city recently when on May 23 she was diagnosed with an Aorta Dissection, a major tear in the inner lining of the aorta which is frequently fatal.  She received wonderful treatment at Germantown Methodist Hospital and is recovering well. I couldn't help but notice that the initial diagnosis was by the gastroenterologist Dr. Gary Wruble, who just may be the only gastroenterologist in the city ever to have been a student at a Torah College (loosely, Jewish Bible) in Jerusalem, and that her Cardiologist Dr. Bashar Shala is President of the Memphis Islamic Center and during Eunice's hospital stay was honored at a Diversity Memphis dinner, along with the pastor of Heartsong Church and several others.  For those who like such things, the before-and-after pictures of the stent placement in the artery to get blood to her digestive tract is at
She's getting out of the house a little now, but still enjoys phone calls at 327-9735.

      During several days in the emergency room and intensive care, I managed to drop and break a computer, so my e-mail list has been restored from a backup a few months old.  Any help people can give me in getting others on this list is appreciated. Please forward this e-mail to a few friends you think ought to be on the list, and e-mail me if you need to be removed from the list or get a forwarded (not original) copy and need to be added.  Email  admin@memphisirg.org

June 2, 2011:
Our openhouse 5/22 was very nice and veryinteresting and productive - Jewish, Christian, Sunni, Shia, MIFA representation.
Unfortunately, the next day Eunice Ordman had to enter Methodist Hospiatl Germantown, with serious problems. By now she is stable enough that we hope to be home in a few more days. Details at http://ordman.net/Eunice_sick.html

So updating the website and getting out e-mails has been postponed for awhile.  I hope to be active again next week.

Notes of 5/21/2011:

If you haven't read it, look at
an essay in the Commercial Appeal by a vice-president of LeBoheur Methodist Health Systems.

We continue to accumulate some intersting DVDs, CDs,  etc.  As some of you know, the Ordmans audit a lot of courses at the University oif Memphis and can recommend interesting ones (this is free if you are over 60).  We also occasionally find time to look at the free courses some universities offer on the internet or at coures from "The Great Courses", a/k/a "The Teach Company".  We have quite a few on hand we can lend, or if people are interested it might be fun to assemble a small goup to meet every week or two to watch and discuss one together (perhaps in the Fall?).  Three recent acquisitions -

DVD, Beginnings of Judaism,  24 lectures (most of these courses are half-hour leactures), by Prof Isaiah Gafney, Hebrew University

DVD, The Holy Land Revealed, Prtof, Jodi Magness,  (Archeologist), UNC-Chapel Hill, 36 Lectures, lots of video.

CD, Religions of the Axial Age, 24 lectures, Prof. Mark Muesse, Rhodes College.

If anyone indicates potential interest, I'll look around the shelves and add more to the stuff already listed her or on our Book list (link above.)

Notes of 4/17/2011:
We have DVDs available to lend of -
    The Vanderhaar Symposium lecture, March 6:  - "Peacemakers, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim"
    Movie, "A Prince Among Slaves"

  and others, see our "Book list" page.

    Edward and Eunice Ordman's talk to the Collierville Civitan Club, March 10 is now available online
     at http://vimeo.com/20981027
   The Calvary Lenten Lectures for 2011 are on-line:

    For example, Yasir Qadhi's talk, "The Most Beautiful Names of God", is at http://www.calvarymemphis.org/media/audio/podcasts/lps2011/20110413.mp3
Micah Greenstein's "Where Are You?" is at http://www.calvarymemphis.org/media/audio/podcasts/lps2011/20110404.mp3
and his "God is Watching and Waiting" is at http://www.calvarymemphis.org/media/audio/podcasts/lps2011/20110405.mp3
(on PC's, click on those to listen; right-click and "save target" to download to your own disk.)
For others, check the Calvary web site http://www.calvarymemphis.org/news/lentenseries.htm#Preachers

Notes of 3/11/2011:

Oh, my! I've talked of Memphis being an exciting place, but the more I learn the harder it is to keep up. On Wednesday March 16 I want to be in three places at once. David Waters, the religion specialist at the Commercial Appeal, is speaking at Balmoral Presbyterian Church on "Tough Issues in Memphis".  Patrick Gray, a Religious Studies professor at Rhodes College, will be speaking at Beth Shalom Synagogue on "Tikkun Olam and the New Testament."  This is part of Beth Shalom's Interfaith series: "Tikkun Olam" is  Hebrew for "repairing the world."  And on the U of Memphis Campus there will be a free showing of  "A Prince Among Slaves,"  a movie about the life of a very literate West African Muslim prince who was captured and wound up spending most of his life as a slave in the US.   With events under Muslim, Jewish, and Christian auspices the same night, it may be hard for any of them to get the large and interfaith attendance  all three events deserve.  I remind everyone: the best way to get interfaith discussions going is to go listen to the other guy first, at his place.

While Memphis seems sometimes like a showplace for mutual recognition and respect,  the rhetoric in the rest of the state and nation is not very good right now.  Congressional hearings are being held by a congressman, Peter King, who seems to feel that we have too many mosques and 85% of the mosques are run by terrorists. The speeches are awful, the reminders of Joe McCarthy (and of anti-Jewish investigations in Europe a few generations ago) are great.   And the Tennessee House and Senate have had bills introduced to prohibit practicing or advocating Sharia.  I'm not clear exactly how far those bills go: I take it they would prohibit washing ones hands before eating (a great deal of the Sharia is about personal hygiene)  and probably would prohibit saying that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary (since that is in the Koran). The Tennessee bills are patently unconstitutional, but the debates are clearly designed to promote hatred.   I strongly urge people to write their legislators (state and federal) pointing out the absurdity of the proposed laws and hearings.  Find Eunice Ordman's suggestions on letter writing  and congressional/senate contact info at
E-mail addresses of your state legislators are not on that page but are easy to find by putting in your 9-digit zip code at

David Waters has pointed out to me that the Commercial Appeal has an on-line listing of houses of worship, at http://faithworksmemphis.com/
Check to see that yours is there!  Their coverage of churches and synagogues is pretty good, but they are weak on other religions - make sure you are listed under appropriate search terms and let them know if the listing doesn't come up.
 (I can forward requests or comments to them if you prefer: admin@memphisirg.org )

3/05/2011: Events are moving thick and fast at the moment  - sometimes one a day, sometimes two a day. I'm putting the things Eunice and I wish we could be at on the events list, but we can't get to all of them!   We enjoy seeing as many of you as we do when we get to them.  And of course we are giving a talk ourselves in Collierville on Thursday March 10.  See the Events page!

Memphis Muslims in March month was off to a nice start at the lecture Saturday evening March 5; several more events are coming March 14-18.  In the meantime, if you haven't visited Temple Israel, consider the events March 8 or March 20, and be aware of the dinner series coming up at Balmoral and the noon series (lunch optional) at Calvary. 

As of Feb 19, David Waters and the Commercial Appeal have a new "Faith in Memphis" section and website!  The website is at http://faithinmemphis.com/  and the introductory article from the paper is at

The website -does- have an events of interest listing, and David has asked me to ask all of you to help submit events to it. I'll try to handhold if needed as we get started. If it gets good enough that I don't have to work as hard at maintaining the list here, I will be delighted. So far, there isn't much overlap; look at his list as well as ours.

They are also building a website listing houses of worship, a searchable list. Once again, our help ius needed. It has the principal churches and synagogues but is very weak on mosques and probably on other religious groups.  Please check that your place is on it and properly indexed (does it come up on appropriate search terms) and let the paper know if it needs to be added or edited. The list is at    http://faithworksmemphis.com/  and it has a phone number to call to get things fixed.

Events are now back on the Events page with new things added regularly.  I owe apologies to people who ask me to post things but with only a few days notice - I do sometimes have other things to do, and don't want to send e-mails too often.  (Should I senmd more often? Let me know your opinion.)
We've also added a bunch of new things to the "Book List"  page - links to videos of interest, including the lectures by Rabbi Marmor at Temple Israel, one of which was a wonderful talk about Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, the important Jewish philosopher and teacher who so often marchged arm-in-arm with Rev. Martin Luther King. -Also- the lectures from the Trinity Instute in New York which were shown and discussed Feb 18 and 19 at St. Mary's (Episcopal) Cathedral in Memphis, and some of Yasir Qadhi's talks at the Memphis Islamic Center.

One new feature: We will try to provide one-page printable events listings that you can print out to hand out or put on a bulletin board.
To find them  CLICK HERE

Some nice reports about Memphis.

Feb 11. What a week - in the last few days there have been talks locally by Rigoberto Menchu Tum, the Guatamalan Nobel Peace Prize Winner, and talks about Frantz Fanon (the black psychiatrist born in Martinique who became an important leadert of the Algerian war for independence) and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, the Jewish philosopher who often m,arched arm-in-arm with Rev. Martin Luther King.  And a week earlier a lecture at U of M about the role of an Indonesian volcanic eruption in the spread of Islam in Indonesia and the expulsion of the Duitch colonial regime there. It's a complicated world, isn't it? Plenty more is coming, see the events page.  Oh, the Commercial Appeal will soon be launching expanded coverage of religious events, both online and in the paper!


Memphis seems pretty nice just now.  It is hard not to feel encouraged when the Memphis Jewish Federation mails out fund appeals for flood victims in Pakistan, The Memphis Muslims e-mail list has an appeal to bring in warm clothes to be distributed to the homeless at the Union Mission, and the Memphis Islamic Center is one of the sponsors of an event at Temple Israel.  At one of our meetings Masjid As-Salaam and New Church Memphis discovered they were involved in the same program for providing food for the poor, and we discussed cooperation between Muslim Social Services and Jewish Family Services over issues like providing kosher/hallal food to hospital patients.

Following the troubles in New York over the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque," a Muslim writer and photographer from New York traveled around the US to see how Muslims were faring elsewhere.  In Memphis, they were told, things are remarkably good.  They quote Danish Siddiqi, the communications director of the Memphis Islamic Center, as saying “The Christians here are very welcoming of Muslims because they actually adhere to what they believe.”   The New Yorkers go on to write about the relations between the Memphis Islamic Center and Heartsong Church at
and about the interfaith activities of the Ordmans at
It is nice to see Memphis get this recognition, and nice to feel so appreciated.

Please let me know of things that should be included.


Stories of some of our past activities have been evicted to a HISTORY PAGE. >>

See the events page.   And PLEASE tell us what else we need to put there!

Basic information about our group and links to Balmoral Presbyterian, Temple Israel, and Masjid As-Salam are now found  on the "About us" page.