Link to
        interfaith events list


Memphis Inter-Religious Group

LINKS:  Home Page    About Us    Events page  Addresses   Book List   Some History

page added to March 22, 2021          Click here to jump to bottom

HISTORY PAGE - some notes on past events       

some are placed here so people have the contact info-
( Does anyone actually read this page? Maybe it needs to be replaced by a blog, or discussion, for example.)

For 2018-2019 go to  this page
For 2017 events and earlier, see
"News and notes" from the past are  at

2021 notes

February 22, 2021

I hope most of you have come through the recent severe weather unscathed; I know Memphis has experienced a great many broken pipes, the building code not having foreseen weather this cold. Do get a vaccine when you are eligible; the people I’m in touch with have said that the Appling site so far has run much more smoothly than Pipkin, although the city says it is trying to improve things.  And do stay home when you can, wear a mask and social distance when you must go out, and stay in close phone touch with homebound friends and neighbors.


I’m still not advocating in-person events, although many houses of worship now have in-person events with limited attendance, normally  requiring signing up in advance.  I’m not much advocating them since the pleasure I take in visiting other houses of worship is in meeting and talking with the people – and it is really easier and safer to do that by Zoom right now. And of course a great many houses of worship have their services streamed, or recorded on Youtube, Facebook, or other places.  Usually you can find these by a simple search on Youtube, Facebook, or on the organizations home page – and many of those homepages are listed on the “addresses"  page (link at the top of this page).

 But I did feel it appropriate to mention that there are now a number of “one-off” or seasonal things that are well worth watching online.

Please let me know of things that should be included.


Purim is the minor Jewish holiday celebrating the events of the Book of Esther (Old Testament)  The book is generally regarded by Jewish scholars as fiction, and Iam Fleming, who wrote the James Bond books, said that Esther was the model for James Bond. It is worth reading the book with that in mind. There are a few differences: the spy is female, M's full name is given, and the race to head off the bad guys before the bad guys launch the final attack has to be done on horseeback, the modern sports car not  having been invented yet.  There is a Jewish tradition of "Purim Plays" (Purimspiel; "spiel" is "play" in the sense of childs game as well as theater) which do not necessarily take the story too seriously.  With that in mind, you will probably enjoy Temple Israel's take on the holiday:


"Laugh In" Purimspiel
Thursday, Feb. 25 | 7 PM

via zoom or Facebook Live
"Laugh In" this Purim with Temple Israel!
Join us on Thursday, February 25 at 7 PM CST for 60 minutes of Purimspiel and comedy featuring Temple Israel members, clergy, and three relentlessy funny comedians: Pamela Rae Schuller, Gianmarco Soresi, and Matthew Broussard. You will definitely want to "unmute" for this interactive, virtual event. 
Click here to register. Questions? Email Lynn Owen.

2020  EVENTS and BLOG
January 1 usually has interesting ceremonies at the Indian Cultural Center and Temple.

January 5, usual Sunday Service at St John's Episcopal, 10:30 AM. Final sermon of Father Bob Van Doren, Reception follows.

January 5, 2 PM. Jewish Community Center, Jewish Historical Society. Rabbi Micah Greeenstein
speaks on  "Cuba nd the Jewish Journey" Film: Cuba's Forgotten Jewels: A Haven in Havana. Free, open to all.

January 5, 6 PM. Feast of Lights service at St Mary's Episcopal
(Bonfire with Christmas trees, wreaths, etc. but you must bring them before Sunday)
They still have a brief service and breakfast at 8 am Wednesdays - a good chance to visit with the homeless,
or volunteer to help, or see the excellent Yellow Fever historical exhibit in the social hall.

Jan 6, 12:10 PM Epiphany Service, St John's Episcopal.

Jan 6, Indian Cultural Center and Temple. 6 - 8 AM

Vaikuntha Ekadasi, which falls on the 11th day of Shukla Paksha (the growing phase of the moon) during Dhanur Masa every year, is considered very auspicious day for worshipping Lord Vishnu.
According to legend,  it is believed that those who have darshan of Lord Vishnu through Uttara Dwaram on this auspicious day will be blessed by Lord Vishnu to receive Moksha (Salvation).

January 8    7 PM. The Laugh in Peace Comedy Tour, at Crosstown Concourse. Z(1350 Concourse Ave.)
Sponsored by the Memphis Freindship Foundation, one of Memphis's most interesting interfaith projects.
$27, all proceeds to the Memphis Friendship Foundation.  Limited seating so book promptly.
Buy tickets at
Press release is at

January 9, 7 PM Temple Israel. "Little Night of Broadway" Cabaret.

January 8, noon, 2nd Thursday, Healing Eucharist at St Marys Episcopal.

January 11. Masjid As-Salaam, Interfaith Panel Discussion: Death and Dying. 10 Am - 12 Noon, then lunch. Free, open to all.
(Dr. Md. Moinuddin for Islam; Prof Edward Ordman for Judaism; Rev Will Christians for Christianity)

January 10-12, CHABAD retreat (Nashville.)  Jews don't run much to retreats, I associate hem more with churches. And the Jewish word for a campout or trip for an elaborate Sabbath celebatioin is "Shabbaton". This one is expensive, I think, but, hey, outside of New York, organizing a very kosher hotel weekend with Jewish leadership is complex.  So I post the link in case anyone is interested.

January 10-12. Anshei Sfard- Beth El Emeth Synagogue, guests Rabbi Micheal Rosensweig, Prof Smadar Rosensweig.
Details at
Friday catered dinner $25, talk on "King David." RSVP by Jan 3.
Saturday morning sermon, "Human Responsibility".
Saturday 3:45 PM, "Gleaning the Philosophy of Judaism from the Laws of the Talmud"
Sunday 9 AM "Who are our Learned Role Models in the Bible?"
Sunday 10 AM complimentary youth breakfash, RSVP by Jan 3

Jan 12, 10:30 AM. Temple Israel, Prime Timer's Brunch and Concert. $22. A memorable performance by Julianne Thomas and Dom Fosco.
Julianne and Dom have been making music all of their lives. Julianne offers a stirring vocal style with a joyful presence, while Dom is an amazing instrumentalist on keyboard, sax, and backgrounds. Their repertoire includes traditional jazz, standards, blues, and R&B. Everyone will sing and smile, swoon over the tunes, and tap their toes while Julianne and Dom create a journey back in time that is “Unforgettable.”a
Registration is $22/person and includes brunch and entertainment. Click to register: 
Register by Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020.

January 13, Lynching Sites of Memphis Project, 2nd and 4th Mondays. The time is from 5-7 p.m. in the Jones Building, 3rd floor at Idlewild Presbyterian. Excellent speakers and discussions. It's OK if you can only come to part of the meeting.

January 14, Jewish Community Center - Author discussion, "The Color of Love - A Memoir of a Mixed Race Jewish Girl", Maria B. Gad, author and film-maker. 7 PM. $15.

Jan 14, 7-8 PM Temple Israel. Planning meeting for the Annual Purim show.


January 16, 10 AM. Coffee and Conversation, Temple Israel.  Why is Israel needing a third election?

January 16. Jewish Federation Fund-raising Luncheon, women only, minimum household annual pledge $180. Tuitle of the luncheon is "I'm not really a Waitress."  Details

January 16, 23, 30, 6 PM, Indian Cultural Center and Temple. Saibaba Puja & Aarti.  Sai Baba of Shirdi, also known as Shirdi Sai Baba, was an spiritual master who is regarded by his devotees as a saint and a fakir. He is revered by both Hindu and Muslim devotees during, as well as after his lifetime.
  His teachings concentrate on a moral code of love, forgiveness, helping others, charity, contentment, inner peace and devotion to the God and guru.

January 17-20. Martin Luther King, Jr., Days of Service. Numerous volunteer opportunities. See site of United Way of Memphis at

January 17.  9:30 to 11 AM. Congressman Steve Cohen, District Issues Meeting, Federal Building, 167 North Main St., Suite 369
phone 544-4131

January 17, 6 PM - 9 PM. Family Fun Night, Memphis Islamic Center. Free.

Jan 17-18. Masjid Ar-Rahman. Visiting speaker.  Several talks Friday and Saturday, but people may be especially interested in Saturday 5:30 PM: "Unity Through Diversity: An Islamic Perspective on Co-Existing with People of Other Faiths."

January 18, 9:30 AM.  Malco Powerhouse, $10. Special Screening of "Just Mercy" sponsored by Lynching Sites Projhect of Memphis.
 $10 gives you a ticket, popcorn, and a drink!  We have a limited number of tickets. If you’d like tickets, e-mail Jessica Orians ( no later than Friday, Jan. 17.  You can pay $10 cash/ticket at the door, write out check to "Thomas Momberg" (Board President), or contact Jessica Orians ( with PayPal and Venmo payment options. 

January 18, 7 PM. Trivia Night & Dinner at Chabad. $25.  Bagel, Bialys, Schmears, Smoked Fish Buffet. 

January 19, 3 PM.  Martin Luther King, Jr., commemoration at Parkway Gardens Presbyterian Church, 1005 E Shelby Drive., Memphis 38116
(wide sponsorship by area PC-USA).

January 20, 8 am - 6 PM Free. National Civil Rights Museum. Open all day, extended hours, free. If you or your kids have not visited there in the last few years, ti8me to visit! Children's programs. Blood donations and canned good donations accepted but not required.

January 21, Third Tuesday, Pax Christi, the Roman Catholic peace group, meets at the Friend's Meeting House, Walnut Grove and Prescott. Pot luck supper, 6:30, speaker at 7. Highly recommended, all welcome. often contains interesting news.

January 22, Annual Point in Time Count

Point in Time (PIT) Count, Wednesday, January 22, 2020 from 4:00 am – 8:30 am

Volunteers will gather at CalvaryEpiscopal Church  at 102 North Second Street.  The Point in Time Count is required nationally by HUD and provides a snapshot of homelessness in Memphis and Shelby County. The count is done all over the country on one of the coldest days of the year. Volunteers go out in groups of 4 to count those who sleep outside. Flashlights and training are provided. If there are not enough people to count our homeless neighbors, we end up with the inaccurate count when we know there are so many in need of services. We know where they are and simply need more help counting and completing the surveys.

January 23, Noon. Artist Lunch and Learn at Memphis Jewish Community Center (MJCC). Re. art exhibit at MJCC.
    Artist isCarol Buchman of Memphis.

January 26, 9:30-11:30 Am. An unusual Yoga program at Indian Cultural Center and Temple. Dr Indranill Basu Ray, Cardiologist, Yoga and Meditation expert. (bring your own yoga mat and water bottle.)

January 26. Sunday morning at St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral. 11 AM service, 12:30 reception, 1 PM World Premier Concert, new composition by Dennis Janzer (Director of Music at St. Mary's)

January 26, 4 PM. Open House, dedication of the THIRD house in the Dorothy Day House Village.

presided over by Bishop David P. Talley.  1161 Peabody Ave.

January 26, Memphis Grizzlies' Faith and Family Night on Sunday, January 26, 2020, at 5 pm at FedEx Forum. Tickets are $35 per person for children and adults. I know that the Episcopal Diocese is trying to organize a big block of seats so that their youth group can stand on the court during the National Anthem. Othere theme nights at the Grizzlies are listed at

January 29 Soul Supper at St John's Episcopal, good dinner and speaker -
Eli Morris of Hope Presbyterian Church.
January 29 (Last Wednesday). League of Women Voters - a few interested people meet over lunch at Fratelli's at the Botanic Garden,Cherry Road. If you'd like to meet them and find out what the League is doing, you are welcome.

January 30 Jewish Community Center - Opening Night of Jewish Film Festival. 
 Film:  7PM  "The Keeper"  (German prisoner of war in England becomes a goalkeeper for Manchester, raising anti-German sentiment) $

February 1., Crosstown 5K and 10K benefiting Church Health Center. February 1, 11 Am - 1 PM, Turkish Cooking Class (No, you don't have to be Turkish to come - most of the audience is not, and it is great fun.) Ladies only. 7829 Wingate Park Cv Memphis, TN 38119   $10.  RSVP: February 1, 7:15 PM. Chabad - Songs to Inspire the Soul; Memphis String Quartet. $25 includes Wine, Cheese, Dessert Buffet. February 4, first Tuesday, Catholic Ministry to Gay and Lesbian Person potluck. see monthly events list. All welcome.  February 4  Temple Israel fundraiser at GPAC, An Evening with Jason Alexander $80 to $100.

February 6, Jewish Film Festival at MJCC: 7 PM FILM: "Flawless" (Organ donation, transgender...) $7

Feb 7, First Friday of month, 6PM. "The Art of Dinner" fundraiser, Church Health Center, $65. In this interactive cooking class, Chef Joshua House will guide you through seasonal, delicious dishes in the Church Health Nutrition Hub at Crosstown Concourse. Come with an appetite and your favorite wine or beer! February’s dinner menu includes Tuna Poke Nachos, Hearts of Palm Salad with Pink Grapefruit and Avocado, Huli Huli Grilled Chicken Thighs with Coconut Rice & Mango Salsa, Chocolate Haupia Cream Pie.

Feb 9  Jewish Community Center-  MJCC Film Festival
        Feb 9, 2 PM Film Golda's Balcony  (Based on Broadway play about Golda Meir.) $7  (Free to MJCC members)

Feb 11, second Tuesday, monthly meeting of MICAH.

Feb 11, MJCC Film Festival, but this one is shown at the MALCO Ridgeway. $7.  7 PM Film: "Crescendo"      

 February 11 (Save the date) Tentative date for major League of Women Voters dinner.

Feb 13.  MJCC Film Festival  $7. 7 PM. Film "Skin".
(Graphic, violence - see the website for info.) (Man leaving white supremacist group.)
Feb 14-16. ALIM, the American Learning Institute for Muslims, 
has an educational program "Where do we go from here? Chaos or Community?"
Friday at the Civil Rights Museum 6:30 - 8:30 PM FREE, , Sat-Sun 9 Am -6 PM at the Memphis Islamic Center, $30/person.
The link  may be broken, if it doesn't get fixed check with MIC for details.

Feb 17, MJCC Film Festival with Indie Memphis at the Malco Ridgeway.
    4 PM.  $7.  "Abe". Life of a half Israeli-Jewish, half Palestinian Muslim young man in New York.
Feb 18. Healthy and Free Tennessee - "Day on the Hill", Nashville, Lobbying. 

February is Black History Month. I have not had enough advance notice of events, but a Google search on "Black History Month 2020 Memphis" from tyime toi time during the month is worthwhile. The Civil Rights Museum and the local colleges and universities, as well as the Hattiloo Theatre, have several events. February 20, 7-9 PM. The 33rd Annual Dr Henry Logan Starks Scholarship and Awards Dinner, First Baptist Broad Church, 2833 Broad Avenue.    (For the Memphis Theological Seminary).  Info about sponsorships or reservations call 901-334-5808 or February 20, 7 PM, MJCC Film Festival at the MJCC. $7, 7 PM. "King Bibi", about Netanyahu.   February 22 - April 3. The Lenten Lecture Series at Calvary Episcopal Church is one of the major events of the Memphis year. The speaker list is now available at February 23. 5:30 PM, Jewish Community Center, R L Maizes will read from her book  "We Love Anderson Cooper," then a program of short films.     "Short Stories, Small Bites, Short Film". $25    RSVP needed     also on
Feb 23, 4 PM, St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, LeMoyne-Owen Concert Choir (? I have been unable to confirm this. Help?) Monday, Feb 24, 7:30 PM.  ASBEE Synagogue, Rabbi Yonah Reiss will speak on "Election Ethics." Rabbi Reiss is an authority on Jewish law and jurisprudence. February 25. MJCC Jewish Film Series.  At Temple Israel. "Fiddler: Miracle of Miracles." Documentary about the impact of "Fiddler on the Roof". $7, 7PM, February 25, MIFA sponsors the film "Just Mercy", Malco Paradiso, 584 S. Mendenhall (At Poplar). Reception 6: PM, Movie 7:10.   tickets $25 proceeds go to the PLUS-1 program  of MIFA and MLGW. February 25, Holocaust Survivor speaks at Rhodes College. (Sam Weinreich, age 100, the olkdest Holocaust survivor in Memphis).  7 PM at McCallum Ballroom, Bryan Campus Life Center. Enter off University Avenue, the gate person can give directions. February 25, Calvary Episcopal, Gumbo Cook-Off. The traditional fancy dinner before Lent starts the next day.      5:30 PM - 8. Admission is free, but donations accepted; $1 per vote to vote for your favorite recipe. No RSVP needed.     There are  other "Shrove Tuesday" Dinners - e.g. St. Marys' Episcopal 5-7 PM, New Orleans Jazz by Jeremy SChrader Band, Fried Chicken, Red Beans and Rice, etc., youth games, $7/person, $25/family, RSVP appreciated     St John's Episcopal has a pancake and King Cake supper at 5:30 PM. Feb 26, Ash Wednesday,  is the start of Lent, the Christian season of reflection and repentance in preparatiuon for Good Friday and Easter. Many churches have special services on Ash Wednesday.  E.g. St John's Episcopal has services at 6:30 AM, 12:10 PM, 6 PM. Calvary Episcopal at 7:30 AM, 12:05 PM, 7 PM.    The Episcopal Bishop will preside at the 6 PM service at St Mary's Episcopal.  During Lent Calvary Episcopal has lectures at noon Tuesday-Friday (starting Thursday Feb 27)  and Wednesday evenings; the "Waffle Shop" at Calvary (breakfast and lunch Tues-Friday) is a major long-standing Memphis tradition not to be missed. Initial speakers are 2/27 Rev Debbie Blue;  2/28 Marti Tippens Murphy (Facing History);   March 3, 4, and evening of 4 Micah Greenstein, March 5 and evening of March 4, Rabbi Judy Schindler The whole list, with biographical sketches, is at Tuesdays during Lent at 6:30 PM  the Germantown Cumberland Presbyterian Church is having conversations with selected guests about how they live out their faith in the world.   March 3 - Pater and Kathleen Bathje, Manna House.  March 10 - Rev Eileen Farmer, Thistle and Bee; March 17, Rev Ayanna Watkins, MICAH;   March 24, Rev Liusa Anderson, Room at the Inn;  March 31, David Waters, longtime reporter/religion newspaper editor. February 26, The Great Big Sandwich Make", Baron Hirsch Synagogue, 6-7 PM, the goal is to make over 10,000 sandwiches for soup kitchens around the city, especially St. Mary's Soup Kitchen, downtown,  Info 683-7485, or sign upo at  Everyone welcome. Donations accepted. February 26, Black History Month event at the Brooks.
Wednesday, February 26, 2020  Literacy Salon: Just Mercy  In honor of Black History Month, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art will be highlighting the work of Bryan Stevenson by holding a discussion around his #1 New York Times bestseller Just Mercy.  

This free event takes place on Wednesday, February 26 from 6 to 7:30 pm at Cafe Brooks

February 27, 4 PM. Marcus Orr Program, "Works in Progress" series.
Bradley Dixon (U Memphis, History) "Neither Vassals nor Subjects: The Politics of the Native South, 1670 – 1700"
African American Reading Room, Patterson Hall 221
Works-in-progress are pre-circulated one week before the meeting. For more information or to subscribe to the mailing list, please contact Donal Harris   678-7851

February 27, 6 PM Universal Language Musical Participatory Workshop and Potluck, Thursday, Feb 27 at 6 p.m at the current Baha'i "Gathering Place", 1461 Robin Hood Ln., Memphis.  Presented by Jason Caplan, of the Universal Language Room, which guides participants to exchange  ideas and communicate through melody and rhythm. Potluck: 6 p.m; Workshop 7:30 p.m . Come out and have some fun, uniting through music. Call 901-336-2806 to RSVP or for more information. The Universal Language room is a non profit organization funded by the Bridge Institute.

February 27, 6 PM,  The National Civil Rights Museum brings author, photographer and documentary filmmaker Candacy Taylor to its Book and Author Series. Having driven over 300,000 miles to explore how traveling across America might have looked during the Jim Crow Era, Taylor reveals in Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America that there is still a long way to go regarding race relations.
Register at
Feb 28, Beth Sholom Synagogue, Shabbat Dinner. Service at 6, dinner at 7. Fried Chicken, $20 adult, $10 child, max $54 family.
call 901-683 -3591 or

February 29, 6-8 PM The Turkish House invites all to a coffee discussion, "The role of love in faith". Free. RSVP appreciated.
   details at    

February 29, 7 PM. Concert at Balmoral Presbyterian Church, "Acoustic Eidelon", free, CDs foi sale, donations accepted.
  Spoinsored by The Peace Alliance,
March 1, Youth group show at Jewish Community Center. 3-4PM,
$5. "Summertime", skits written by Okeon AZA members.

March 1, 2 - 5 PM. An afternoon with Islamic authors and artists, Germantown Community Library. 1925 Exeter Road. Free, no registartion needed.

March 1, 3:30-6:30. workshop at Memphis Islamic Center. "Acts of Love";   Lessons in Islam and the Prophetic way on different topics of love, intimacy, and marriag e. Imam Mohammad Faqih.   $5 per person, $8 per couple. 
Registration (password "Love" for discount)

March 4-5, special short course at Rhodes College, $110. THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF SLAVERY AND ITS LEGACY IN THE US SOUTH details March 5, "Hamentashen Bake" at Baron Hirsch Synagogue. 6 PM. Free with reservations. email gwen (at) or call 683-7485  A demonstration of how to make Hamentashen, a pastry tradiutionally associated with the Jewish holiday of Purim. March 5, Hooks Institute at U of M
Stax Music Academy: From Soulsville to Italy

Thursday, March 5, 2020
University Center, Bluff Room (304)
University of Memphis
499 University St., Memphis, TN 38152

Reception 5:30 PM | Viewing of Film 6 PM.

March 7, 10 AM- 3 PM. MOSQUE OPEN HOUSE.  Mosques in Memphis are having Open House, inviting neighbors to drop by, see what the place is like, ask questions. Strongly recommended. See our address page for addresses of mosques.

March 7, 11 AM-1PM.  The Turkish community has a cooking class for women,
very popular (the teachers are Turkish but the attendees come from all over - highly recommended. $10. Details and RSVP at

The Jewish Holiday of PURIM
is from sunset March 9 to sunset March 10.  It is a minor holiday, based on the events in the Book of Esther in the Hebrtew Bible (Old Testrament).  It is a festive holiday, not at all a serious one. You mayget the flavoir if you are reminded that Ian Fleming, the author oif the Jams Bond novels, said that James Bond was based on Esther. There are a few differences: The spy who is so good in bed is female, they have to race to prewvent the final bloodbath on fast horses as the Aston-Martin has not yet been invented, and M's full name is given.  But it is fun to read the biblical book and picture it as a James Bond movie inseta of a biblical epic. (The standard English translations are slightly less racy than the Hebrew.)  When the book is read as part of the synagogue service, since the story is not appropriate for children, the children are issued noisemakers to drown out the bible reading. (If you don't believe this, come to Temple Israel and watch.)

March 8. Temple Israel Purim Carnival

March 9  Temple Israel Purim Celebration. Play at 6:30 PM, party until 9.  The (humorous) musical version of the biblical story this year is entitles "A Very Frozen Purim".  Free. Free childcare for 18 months and up but advance registration needed for childcare.

March 9, Lynching Sites of Memphis Meeting. see the "weekly" list above.

March 10. Purim party at Chabad,
5 PM Kickoff (Read the story), 5:30 PM supper, $25 adult, $12 child, "Purim at the Stadium",
sports and sports-bar themed. Spoirts actiovities, memorabilia raffle, fun for the whole family.
Info and RSVP by March 5,

March 10, MICAH monthly meeting.

March 10, 6 PM, Program about the Memphis Massacre of 1866.  Details at
held at the bookstore "Novel"  (387 Perkins Extended, in the Laurelwood shopping center)

<<At about this time, Most businesses were closed and most meetings canceled due to the new coronavirus pandemic>>

The coming days at Calvary (noon):
March 12, James Alison;

March 17, (POSTPONED) Pax Christi meets at the Quaker Meeting House, Walnut Grove and Prescott. A video presentation by Shane Claiborne.
Pot luck supper at 6:30 or just come for the meeting at 7.

March 18 - ICE Rapid Response Training.
Vecindarios: ICE Rapid Response Training
Vecindarios (Neighborhoods) 901 is a local rapid response organization made up of volunteers standing in solidarity with undocumented community members to ensure that ICE respects their rights when they are conducting an activity. Vecindarios 901 will train community members to become standby Confirmers and/or Legal Observers on Wednesday, March 18, from 3:15 to 5:15 p.m. at Calvary. There is no requirement to speak a foreign language, only a willingness to be present and stand courageously with our neighbors when needed if you are available.
This will take place at Calvary Episcopal Church. Sign up at

March 18. Movie, Malco Studio on the Square 7 PM (Indie Memphis). "The Rabbi Goes West", a Crown Heights Chabad rabbi moves to Bozeman, Montana.

POSTPONED UNTIL FALL.  March 19. 6- 8 PM How to Fight Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia,
Hosted by Rhodes College Communities in Conversation.
Hardie Auditorium, Rhodes College.  (Enter at the University Avenue gate, the guard thyere can give directions.) Let's see a big turnout for the one!
event info 
group info

Cancelled, speaker advised not to fly. March 22 2 PM Jewish Community
Center - Jewish Historical Society - Schelly Talalay speaks on research on Sephardi and Converse Jews

    (The Jews expelled from Spain in 1492, who settled around the Mediterranean including Muslim conutries, or disguised themselves as Catholic.
      Very possibly of interest to those interested in church history and/or history of Jewish-Muslim relations.)

March 22, 12:30 -3. Art Show Opening at St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, "Imago Dei". Local photographer has photos inspired by the men and women who come to the Wednesday morning breakfasts at St. Mary's  (one of the best places in Memphis to go pray, sit and eat with the homeless, highly recommended to all).

MARCH 25 ONLINE  Concert at Temple Israel.    Joe Buchanan. I think they plan this every Wednesday at 7 PM

March 27 to 29 Cancelled Guitar Festival, (Eight International Memphis...)  This certainly qualifies as an interfaith event due to the sponsorship and leadership of Lily Afshar, the guitar professor at U of M whio is an expert on Iranian music. Highly recommended.
The poster, with details, is at 2020_Festival_Poster.jpg. Her performances will be 3/28 at 7:30 PM, 3/29  at 3-4:30PM and 7:30 PM.

March 28. The major annual MUSLIM FESTIVAL at Agricenter  has been cancelled. May be rescheduled later.

(Cancelled as the Jewish Community Center has closed)
March 31,  Tuesday 7 PM Jewish Historical Society
at the Jewish Community Center, Book Talk and Discussion,
  "Extracted: Unmasking Rampant Antisemitism in America's Higher Education, by S. Perry Brickman, D.D.S.   Free, book available to buy.
April 3, 6 PM, St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Marek Kudlicki, International Concert Organist

APRIL 3 ONLINE. At Temple Israel, Rabbi Micah Greenstein will deliver the sermon delivered by Rabbi Wax after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr in Memphis   THIS WILL BE ONLINE ONLY

(as of March 16, the Civil Rights Museum is closed until April 1. Check with them then...)
April 4, National Civil Rights Museum,
commemorate the death of Dr MArtin Luther King, Jr.
   4 PM - 6:01 PM. Other events,  starting with children's activities 10aM- 3 pm.   APRIL 4 EVENTS WILL BE ONLINE ONLY

April 4-5 Beethoven Club Young Artists Competition.
Apply by March 23

April 5 Cancelled. 12:30- 3:30 PM Meal packing event at Pleasant View School. A major interfaith event! And a chance to see the Muslim day school
This has been a wonderful event in past years, e.g. 50,000 meals packed for overseas famine relief, iun a social and fun environment. Preregistration helps them to estimate the number of people coming.

April 5 -12, Christian "Holy Week" starts with Palm Sunday April 5, Good Friday is April 10, Easter is Sunday April 12.
   Lots of special services and events. Most will take place online; some will no doubt be cancelled. E.g. Holy Communion Episcopal has services April 5 (first services in their newly restored sanctuary)
at 8 & 10:30 AM, 5:30 PM, barbeque 11:45 AM.  April 9 6:30 PM, April 10 noon and 6:30 PM, Aptil 11 8 PM (White Station High School Choir, reception follows), April 12 at 6:15 AM, 9 AM, 10:15 AM eastrer Egg hunt, 11 AM, 5:30 PM

April 5,
(Cancelled as the Jewish Community Center has closed)2:00 PM Jewish Community Center, Jewish Historical Society, filmmaker Donna Cantor, "The Presence of Your Absence"
the story of a holocaust survivor tracing his parents history, and the resulting incredible journey of discovery.

April 14, Postponed to October 5, 5-7 PM, (if possible then)  Annual Banquet of the Memphis Friendship Foundation.

April 20,  Cancelled  MICAH Spring Soiree at the Children's Museum. $50

April 30th, 2020, at 6:00pm CDT, ONLINE EVENT:  six community organizations are joining forces to make the new PBS documentary “Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations” accessible for an advanced public online screening, followed by a discussion with Professor Jonathan Judaken of Rhodes College and Dimitry Anselme of Facing History and Ourselves. The discussion will be moderated by Marcy Stagner, M.A. Ed. and Program Director of Cultural Arts and Adult Services at the Memphis Jewish Community Center.
    the Press Release is here, and the Poster is here

 You have to go in advance to the link  to RSVP and open an account to sign up. Given the sponsorship (Rhodes College, Facing History, WKNO) I believe that the sign-up site has been properly vetted. 

X   May 1-2-3 Beale Street Music Festival. Discount early tickets:  POSTPONED

X   April 23, Hooks Institute Fund-raising luncheon. $75. "Join Hands for Change."

X   April 30,  Boys and Girls Clubs fundraiser, "Steak n' Burger, Elvius Presley's Memphis SOundstage, speaker is Ryan Silverfield, coach of U of Memphis football.
X    May 7, 7 PM,
( Cancelled as the Jewish Community Center has closed) Jewish  Community Center, $15. Prof David R. Dow on criminal justice reform. His book is "Confessions of an Innocent Man" 

June 6    League of Women Voters, online

X    June 7, 4 PM  St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Beale Canto concert

June 8  Lynching Sites Project, online

June 12, J Historical Society event online

X   June 16, Pax Christi meets at the Quaker Meeting House, Walnut Grove and Prescott.
The national director of Pax Christi will come and speak.
Pot luck supper at 6:30 or just come for the meeting at 7.

X June 19  JuneTeenth has been postponed until next year (announced March 24)

June 26. J Historical Society, online

April 20,  Cancelled  MICAH Spring Soiree at the Children's Museum. $50
April 30th, 2020, at 6:00pm CDT, ONLINE EVENT:  six community organizations are joining forces to make the new PBS documentary “Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations” accessible for an advanced public online screening, followed by a discussion with Professor Jonathan Judaken of Rhodes College and Dimitry Anselme of Facing History and Ourselves. The discussion will be moderated by Marcy Stagner, M.A. Ed. and Program Director of Cultural Arts and Adult Services at the Memphis Jewish Community Center.     the Press Release is here, and the Poster is here. 
 You have to go in advance to the link  to RSVP and open an account to sign up. Given the sponsorship (Rhodes College, Facing History, WKNO) I believe that the sign-up site has been properly vetted.  X   May 1-2-3 Beale Street Music Festival. Discount early tickets:  POSTPONED X   April 23, Hooks Institute Fund-raising luncheon. $75. "Join Hands for Change." X   April 30,  Boys and Girls Clubs fundraiser, "Steak n' Burger, Elvius Presley's Memphis SOundstage, speaker is Ryan Silverfield, coach of U of Memphis football.   X    May 7, 7 PM, ( Cancelled as the Jewish Community Center has closed) Jewish  Community Center, $15. Prof David R. Dow on criminal justice reform. His book is "Confessions of an Innocent Man"  June 6    League of Women Voters, online X    June 7, 4 PM  St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Beale Canto concert June 8  Lynching Sites Projest, online June 12, J Historical Society event online X   June 16, Pax Christi meets at the Quaker Meeting House, Walnut Grove and Prescott.     The national director of Pax Christi will come and speak.      Pot luck supper at 6:30 or just come for the meeting at 7. X June 19  JuneTeenth has been postponed until next year (announced March 24) June 26. J Historical Society, online  


The following section is blog-like, March 12 to Nov 4, 2020, shown in reverse order, and has been lifted from the "Events" Page of that period, as a sort of diary of the Coronavirus period.

Nov 10 event

November 4   (partial update only)

The election has still not been called when I'm writing. 
As of this morning the Washington Post Website expects Trump to win, CNN expects Biden, NY Times does  not know. I expect we won't know for a week.  There is an interesting discussion in the Jewish Talmud (think Christian "Fathers of the Church", or Muslim "Hadith") which says that before a pregnancy begins, it is appropriate to pray for (e.g.) a boy or a girl; once the pregnancy begins the gender is determined and one should stop praying for a particular gender and merely pray for a safe delivery.  Perhaps that is an appropriate thought for the present situation.

I'm trying to decide on a costume to wear for Guy Fawkes Day, Nov 5, a day for costume-wearing and fireworks in most of the British Commonwealth.
It commemorates a major plot by Guy Fawkes and others to overthrow the government of England in 1605. The kegs of gunpowder under the Parliament were discovered before they exploded. Perhaps this is not the time to remember attempts at violent revolution, or perhaps a good time to remember that on that occasion the explosion was prevented. One version of the poem goes "Remember, Remember. The fifth of November / Gunpowder treason and plot./ I think of no reason why gunpowder treason/ Should ever be forgot."

The Jewish Historical Society will have a live stream Nov 15, Sunday, 2 PM:  Author Margery Kerstine, "Merchants on Issaquena: Avenue of the Blues in Mississippi." Cultural history of Clarksdale, Mississippi.   details

October 20

EARLY VOTING continues until October 29. 
Vote early (or absentee). Vote in all the races, not just for President.  Be prepared to stay home in the days following the election, if necessary, as there is a real risk of rioting and violence due to a prominent individual who, in my personal opinion, may possibly incite violence against Blacks, Muslims, Mexicans, Chinese,  Jews, and immigrants generally. (I hope and pray there will be no violence, but have enough food at home and be prepared.)

I still encourage people to be in close touch with friends and especially with shut-ins, but but to avoid large meetings for health reasons. Use this opportunity to look in on or participate in  online programs at houses of worship and organizations you might not visit in "normal times".

October 25 4 PM is the major annual public meeting of MICAH, online this year. Details and register at

The synagogue Anshei Sphard - Beth El Emeth (ASBEE) has left its building on East Yates and is seeking a new location nearer the center of its membership. In the meantime, they are having their own meetings in spaces provided at Baron Hirsch synagogue, 400 South Yates.  They have not been good about updating their website at and phone and e-mail access is tricky at the moment, but most of the usual events are happening at Baron Hirsch.  Advance registration is required for live events - size limitations for social distancing - and some of the early events have filled up. There are daily Zoom events at 6:45 and 7:15 PM, Thursday class at 8 PM.

Many church, synagogue, mosque, etc. websites list multiple on-line programs during this period. I can give only a few examples.

Temple Israel will be having Zoom workshops (as part of their "Lunch and Learn" series) "The Jewish Prayer Service: The Logic Behind It All" at noon on October 23 and 30 (Fridays - if you are Muslim, it will be over in time for the major Muslim service of the week, held at 1 PM Friday at most mosques.) 
Click here to register. Questions? Email Lynn Owen. 
At 7 PM on November 11, Rabbi Greenstein will have a Zoom session discussing the World Zionist Congress and the relationship betweem "Reform Zionism" and Israel.
Click here to register. Questions? Email Lynn Owen.

Rabbi Klein (Chabad)
is offering a course from a Orthodox Jewish perspective, "Secrets of the Bible", live Tuesdays or Zoom Wednesdays, starting Nov 17. these are outstanding courses, there is a charge for them.

It is pledge season ("stewardship season") for many religious groups. and that too is affected by the limitations on live events.  The umbrella Jewish Charity in Memphis, Jewish Community Partners, is having a fundraising drive-in movie and kosher dinner at Shelby Farms as a fundraiser (turn in your pledge) event  on October 22, reserve dinner by October 20 at

Holy Communion Episcopal Church says "Whenever someone shares his or her story, you are standing on Sacred Ground. Come share your stories with Hester and Jonathan on Wednesdays from 7-8 pm." 
To sign up for the live Zoom discussion on Wednesday, please click here or call the church office at 901-767-6987.
They traditionally have a big picnic to launch the stewardship season; this year those who want to gather will have an event at noon Sunday Oct 25, details of how they are managing it at

From St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral: 

Wednesday, October 21st- 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm - Meet Rev. Jean Vargo, our new Interim Dean. Rev. Vargo will join us for a discussion of her life and ministry, and we can ask questions and discuss issues and questions close to our hearts. To join, send an email to with INTERIM DEAN in the subject line by 6:30 pm October 21st. Julie will respond with the Zoom information. Or join us on Facebook Live on the St. Mary's Cathedral Facebook page. Click the "video" button to begin watching live.

The mosques of Memphis have some online program essentially every day.  See
for a significant slection.  I am particularly enthusiastic about "Stories of the Prophets and the Companions", Saturdays at noon.
(While it is a bit early to recall it, the best Advent sermon I ever heard was at Masjid As-Salaam. The speaker spoke of the life of John the Baptist, recognized as an important prophet by the Muslims - he gets somewhat bnetter press in the Quran than in the Bible.  One theme of the sermon was  - yoru children are about to be bombarded by toy advertisements and Santa Claus stories. Be sure to review your John the Baptist and Jesus stories so that you can regularly tell your children interesting stories more appropriate for the season.)

My occasional urge  for a Black church servcie is often most conveniently met by First Baptist Broad which always has a recorded service online at

I'd appreciate people telling me of other services they recommend that are available "online, any time."

October 4

 The New Encyclical by Pope Francis  "Fratelli Tutti"
is reported in the Washington Post at
and commented on at
I'm sure there will be interesting discussion of this at the Catholic Ministry to Gays and Lesbians (and friends - all are welcome) Tuesday evening Oct 6.
The Full encyclical (in English) is a

   An article on difficulties of Islam in France is at

October 2

A very nice article about Father Vieron at

 Sept 30 2020

Asked about right-wing extremists, Donald Trump
specifically named a group called the "Proud Boys" and asked them to "Stand down and Stand by".  A comment on this in the Jewish press is at

Sept 29, 2020

Father Vieron, a long-time peace and interfaith activist in Memphis, died Sept 29.
His death is being widely covered in the local news.

MIFA's tribute to Linda Marks is  at  MIFA_Marks.pdf

The Art Museum at the University of Memphis 
is reopening starting Oct 5, Mon - Sat 9 am to 5 PM.  Maximum ten people at at time e-mail  a couple of days in adavnce with what day and hour you want to come.  While I've urged against going to places with lareg grousp of people, this does seem to provide a possible outing without exposure to too many people.

Sept 28, 2020

  Changes in clergy at St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral.
Patrick Williams' last day will be Sept 30. Eyleen Farmer's last Sunday will be Oct 4. Deacon Drew Woodruff will be preaching through October, with parishioner Adam Nelson. New Interim Dean Rev. Jean Vargo will arrive in November and is expected to be here 18-24 months during the search for a new permanent Dean.

     Remember the Civil Rights Museum event Sept 29  (listed on Sept 21 news just below.)

Sept 26, 2020

    The Supreme Court nomination controversy
has spilled over into an article giving an interesting story of a religious support group, appearing in a Catholic magazine. I find the article very interesting, if one ignores the political overtones and the concern about one individual. I've known many small religious or religion-focused groups that remind me of teh one described here.
    The annual Templeton Prize, typically awarded for coinrinutions to the relationship between science and religion, has been given to the director of the National Institutes of Health.
    Pope Francis addressed the UN on Sept 25.

Sept 23, 2020

   Fox 13 news coverage of Campaign Nonviolence week:

    Linda Marks has died of Cancer.  A longtime mainstay of the interfaith community in Memphis, she became the interfaith coordinator of MIFA in 2005. I'll put pointers to obituaries here as soon as I can.  She will be very sorely missed.   
MIFA's tribute to Linda Marks is  at  MIFA_Marks.pdf
Sept 21, 2020

There are a huge number of online events.     

There is being a revival (old recordings found) of a Maya Angelou TV series, "Blacks, Blues, Black" from 1968
(an earlier year with major race-related demonstrations and riots),
beginning Tuesday, Sept 22, at 7-9 PM (episodes 1 and 2, of 10). Free, but register to get the link, at

The Benjamin Hooks Institute,,  will have an online event Tuesday Jan 22 at 6 PM, at
"Voter Rights, Apathy and Suppression: A Conversation with the Experts"
They will also have a program "A Complete Embrace: The LGBTQIA+ Black Community and the Black Lives Matter Movement", October 1 at noon.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2020 • 6:30PM     Info and registration link at
    On Sept 29 at 6:30-8:00 PM the Civil Rights Museum will have an online event, "Where do we go from here? - Economic Justice.".
Information and link at

Campaign Nonviolence Week is in progress.
Today, Sept 21, 5-6:30 PM  has a Peace And Harmony Days zoom event with Khenpo Rimpoche, the first part of a three-day program.
and then at 7 PM     a discussion of Peace Movements from WW II to JFK, with well-known local activist Charles Belenky, 
    Wednesday Sept 23 7 PM will have a Concert a Nonviolent Memphis 
by Midsouth Main Sounds and the Memphis Songwriters  Association,  link is
     Thursday Sept 24 at 7 PM, a panel of youth activists, the MICAH Youth Council, offer their perspective on Peace and Justice.
     Friday, 7 PM, Yoga for half an hour, guided online,
     Saturday, 6-7:30 PM, a MICAH Panel of lay and clergy. "discussing why justice work is relevant,  important work for all of us, how the work can be done, and what needs to happen."
    the link for Saturday is again

The Indian Cultural Center and Temple has a special series of services on Saturday Sept 26. Due tio the epidemic, they have extremely limited on-site attendance.
However, the picture in the announcement for this one is so striking that lots of people (especially if you have never been to ceremonies at the ICCT) may enjoy just seeing the web page:
Videos of these sorts of ceremonies are available online, e.g. Google "Sri Venkateswara Sahasra Kalasa Abhishekam"

The Memphis Islamic Center continues tio have daily lectures online on Islamic subjects.

Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Repentance, is sunset Sept 27-28

Next Lynching Sites of Memphis meeting is Sept 28, on Zoom

The next part of the Jewish holiday season is Sukkot, the fall harvest festival, remembering the years in the wilderness after the exodus from Egypt (celebrated, for example, by eating outdoors in a temporary booth, a "sukkah." From sunset on October 2  to sunset on October 9.
There is a nice supplementary source of peace-and-justice information (which is relevant, following the Exodus!) at  In particular, many Jews decorate their sukkah (booth) with pictures of important teachers, and the selection of posters downloadable from this site may be of interest to other peace, justice, and civil rights activists.
For example, they have a Ruth Bader Ginzburg poster at

Sept 13, 2020

The Sept 13 Virtual Pilgrimage to Elmwood Cemetery
is at
    (Memorial to the Martyrs of Memphis, the health care workers who died in Memphis in the 1878 epidemic.)

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year,
starts at sunset Sept 18 (Friday) and goes through sunset Sunday. The ten "Days of Repentance" end with Yom Kippur, the holiest day for the Jews, on Sept 27-28 (sunset to sunset).  These are normally the days of highest synagogue attendance; this year, of course, most Jewish organizations are encouraging participation via Zoom or online services. Note that some traditional Jews are reluctant to use electrical devices in some ways on the Sabbath and holidays; so, for example, Baron Hirsch Congregation  will hold a major Rosh Hashanah program on Thursday evening Sept 17 at 7:30 PM, with the major sermon being that evening rather than at the usual time in the sanctuary.
    Synagogue gift shops often have found this a busy time, and of course have to cope like other organizations with the pandemic. The Temple Israel Gift Shop, for example, will discuss needs and accept orders over the phone, for pickup or local delivery: 901-937-2782

ASBEE synagogue (Anshei Sphard-Beth EL Emeth) has voted to move from their present location on East Yates north of Walnut Grove, seeking a location probably nearer Yates and Shady Grove.  Many members live in that area and would like to have a location within walking distance, as many traditional Jews prefer not to drive on the Sabbath. The  present building will probably close October 16. From October 1, 2020  through December 31, 2021,  ASBEE will share some of the facilities of Baron Hirsch Congregation on Yates Road.

    The Bornblum Jewish Day School has erected covered outdoor spaces and is trying to have as many classes as possible outdoors.

Sept 1
   Chabad (orthodox Jewish, but everyone is welcome) will have a Labor Day
/ New Year's Party Outdoors, Sept 7 (Monday), 11-12:30,    
 register at Intended for children 6-13. $8 per child.  Social distancing observed, favors individually packaged.

August 30.
    On the web page of Calvary Episcopal Church,
Rev Amber Carswell reflects on how difficult it is to remember the darker parts of church history.
In a comment there, I remind people of Stephen Haynes' book "The Last Segregated Hour"   about what Second Presbyterian went through in the effort to integrate.
Rabbi Micah Greenstein
will be in the Zoom "Rector's Forum" session at Calvary on Sept 6, 9 AM with Rev Scott Walters,

I missed (mentioning here) an August 15 article in the Daily Memphian in which the CEO of St. Jude discussed the pandemic.

Among the many interesting churches one can visit online during the pandemic is the Washington National Cathedral (Episcopal)
The August 30 service at   has the sermon by Rev. Marianne Budde starting at about 43:30

Sept 10, 5:30 PM, Rhodes College "Communities ion Conversation" series.  Renowned author Safran Foer. his book "We are the weather: Saving the planet begins at breakfast."
Register at

I've been watching the soap opera "Shtisel" on Netflix.
  It is an Israeli soap opera, the adventures of an extended ultra-orthodox Jewish family (named Shtisel) living in an ultra-orthodox neighborhood of Jerusalem.  In mixed Hebrew and Yiddish, with English subtitles, for those who'd like practice in listening to those languages, and interesting insights into the family and social dynamics. No politics, and no "religion" except as it is interwoven into the family life.  But a nice look into a religious subculture, and nice language practice if you want it.

Sept 1, 1 PM. "Married to The Rabbi" - title of the book to be discussed (Zoom) by the Jewish Historical Society.
Hear from panelists Janice Rothschild Blumberg, Pat Bloom, and Jeanne Danziger as they share insights about being a Rebbetzin in the American South during the transitional years of the second half of the 20th century. 

Registration: Zoom | Register Here

Cost: Free

Note - the Zoom page refers to 2 PM EASTERN Time - 1 PM Central
Panelist: Jeanne Danziger is a first generation American born in Ohio and transplanted to Memphis in high school. While in college she met and married the newly ordained assistant at Temple Israel, Rabbi Harry Danziger. Harry later became Senior Rabbi in Memphis where they have lived virtually all their married lives. Jeanne is an educator with an M. A. in History who has taught high school, preschool, and continues to tutor public elementary school students. Jeanne furthered her goal to change lives by becoming the Director of the Job Bank and later Marketing Manager of the Mid South Food Bank at MIFA , Metropolitan Interfaith Association, which became the largest social service agency in West Tennessee. MIFA was formed after the assassination of Martin Luther King. Jr by a broad religious coalition to address critical community needs. Jeanne remains involved in her Memphis community and advocates especially for cultural, educational, and social justice issues. She is also devoted to Temple Adath Israel in Cleveland, MS, which Harry serves as visiting Rabbi.

August 28   

In a reach across ethnic or religious lines, 
it was interesting to see a note of appreciation from The Memphis Jewish Foundation to the
Greater Memphis United Chinese Association,
which donated 1,000 medical face masks for "our partner agencies." The Memphis Jewish Federation spoke to GMUCA’s Wang-Ying Glasgow, who said: “I really believe that we are all in this together against the virus. All of us need to be united and get together in the fight against the virus, so we can all get back to normal. Our organization was fortunate to get a lot of masks, which will help save lives.”

I've agitated for the census before, but The Daily Memphian reports Memphis is still way under-counted, potentially losing representation, hospital beds, and government funding. The article says so far less than 61% of the households in Shelby County have filled out census forms.

While I was originally drawn to the author G K Chesterton by his Father Brown Mysteries and his religious writings, I've recently been reading "A Miscellany of Men", written I think about 1912. Its diatribes about the state of English politics of that day could have been written about American politics of today.  E.g. the politicians were debating whether the British annexation  of the Orange Free State should be managed by Liberals or Conservatives, rather than about whether it ought to be annexed at all.  Was British democracy working as it ought? Chesterton thought it was not. I recommend the book as an amusing and enlightening read. Free for Kindle on Amazon or in other formats at, as is most of Chesterton's wonderful writing.
August 27

Henry Littleton, a Roman Catholic Deacon and a long-time mainstay of the Memphis interfaith community,  has a new position that will be of great interest to many of us. He writes"
<<  I have a new position with the Diocese, the Bishop appointed me the Diocesan Director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) in West Tennessee. The national office for CCHD is in DC, and it is a Catholic foundation that awards grants to 501c3’s Social Justice Organizations that develop community based programs based on input from the residents of impoverished neighborhoods, and provide training so the residents manage the day to day operations. An example is a county wide tenants association for those living in Section 8 Housing. This is new for West Tennessee, and I need find ways to get the word out so groups that qualify will contact me and apply for grants. If you would be so kind to put the word out to you contacts I'd be most grateful. Peace,      love & joy, Deacon      Henry Littleton       Diocesan Director CCHD Office of Justice & Peace Catholic Diocese of Memphis TN     901-553-3924 >>

St Mary's Cathedral   is making major plans for Martyr's Week, which will be of unusual interest to all of us this year. This week (ending Sept 13) commemorates the lives of the nuns who chose to remain in Memphis during the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878, when many of the residents of Memphis fled.  The nuns stayed in Memphis to act as nurses and care for the sick and dying - and many of theese nuns died in the effort.  The week leading up to Sept 13 will have special programs online; on Sept 12 there will be special gift bags distributed to the needy at Constance Abbey; starting bat 6 AM on Sunday Sept 13 there will be available online both a special service and a virtual pilgrimage to Elmwood Cemetery.

A recent study by the Episcopal Diocese of Memphis suggests that approximately half of the Episcopal parishes in Memphis are in less strong financial health than they would like (This does not mean, typically, that they are in any real trouble, just that they would like to improve.) Some more detail about this process is available at

Hurricane Laura is due near Memphis this evening. Presumably, there will be a lot of electric, telephone, and internet outages. One supposes that mopst church's online programs will be back by Sunday.

It appears from the internet that First Baptist Church - Broad is still having large in-person services on Sunday.  I hope this does not cause disease spread; I still urge people to stay away from large group events.  But I do enjoy some of the traditions of the mainly-Black churches in Memphis, and enjoy these services online:

August 24

The "positive test rate" for Memphis was down to 11.4 percent - still viewed as unacceptably high. Stay away from large live meetings.

There are still enough online meetings
to keep one fully involved in whatever one wants to be involved in - just don't forget to be in touch with housebound friends by phone or computer. Just this evening, for example:

This evening, MICAH: Monday, August 24, 6-8pm Issues Night:
Issues Night is when we focus on what we're working on for our Issues and Actions to move forward together.
Register    HERE    to receive the Zoom link     Their next major public meeting will be October 25.

This evening: Lynching Sites Project of Memphis.
   Structural Racism, Part 2:  The March Continues    Monday, August 24, 2020 at 7:00 pm CST
For our 4th Monday LSP Community Meeting, we will be joining the American Psychiatric Association's Dr. Altha Stewart, Dr. Aletha Maybank, Dr. Kevin Smith, and Dr. Jeffery Geller for a virtual town hall meeting.

     It is time to plan for Absentee Voting.  has the rules as to who can vote absentee and a link to print the absentee ballot application. It is not too early to request an absentee ballot for November 3 , and given possible mail delays I would strongly encourage you to apply before October 3 if at all possible.  If you are over 60 or have any health problems, or are a caregiver for such a person, (doctor certificate is NOT required) seriously consider whether you should vote absentee.  If you will not be voting absentee, consider finding a time for early voting when there is minimal crowding or waiting at the early voting site. The registration deadline for new voters is October 5; generally, first-time voters musty either register or vote in person. 
     If you know anyone who has not been counted in the Census, time is drawing short.
PLEASE contact your clergy and suggest that they urge everyone in the congregation to be counted at   (whether or not they are a citizen. The object is to count all US residents; the result determine how much federal aid our cities, county, and state receive, among other things.

     I have, in a sense, been away traveling. Not physically, but online. Having been feeling the lack of an opportunity to travel, I've been visiting some places that were important to my father as a young adult, places he took my mother to visit when they were courting or newlyweds.  A couple of these are churches that have interesting places in modern American history, in religious and even political activism.  I'm speaking of the Arlington Street Church in Boston ,,   and The Riverside Church in New York,
Both have excellent libraries of sermons and videos, and interesting discussion groups. In particular, the Riverside site led me to two lectures, starting with ,
Bonhoeffer Otherwise: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Religion of Whiteness,, one of the most interesting speakers I've heard on the "problem of whiteness".  The talk wanders a bit at first, but in part it says that Western Europe tried to come up with a doctrine that would justify taking resources from Africa, Asia, and the Americas. It did that by inventing the notion of racial superiority. This came home to roost, Bonhoeffer argued, when Hitler decided that the doctrine of racial superiority could be applied even within Europe. This, the speaker argues, shows the great risk of recognizing race as a dividing feature within humanity.  I'm oversimplifying of course, but trying to tempt you to the lectures. 

  The Jewish Foundation of Memphis is a donor-advised charitable foundation, similar to the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis    Such an organization accepts donations at a date convenient to the donor and holds the funds (invested), later distributing them to a charity when and where the donor chooses. This is extremely convenient for tax planning, record keeping, and estate processing.  (I'm happy to tell you more, so are they.)  The Jewish Foundation is celebrating its silver (25th) anniversary with an online lecture by a distinguished Jewish scholar, Rabbi Daniel Cohen of Stamford, Connecticut, 6:30 PM on August 25. Free; register at

Planning continues for the Campaign Nonviolence Action Week  September 19-27:

The Southern Poverty Law Center has an interesting audio series on extremism:

While most churches are not having Wednesday evening suppers at this time, many are going to continue Wednesday evening acrtivities on-line. One example is ST Mary's Episcopal Cathedral,

August 27, 9 PM, online from Memphis Islamic Center: "When bad theology leads to bad psychology". And many other on-line offerings:

Memphis Theological Seminary will be meeting online this semester.
The YMCA is trying to organize appropriate forms of Day Care and/or places where pupils who lack supervision or computer facilities at home can particpate in on-line learning.

August 15.

The July 2020 issue of "the Crisis", the NAACP magazine, can be read or downloaded free online at
If you've had the urge to produce an online magazine (many churches etc. now do their newsletters and servuice programs this way) see

August 14

Do continue to connect with houses of worship through on-line services and activities - and then let them know by e-mail or phone or other means that you are still paying attention! And keep in touch with friends by phone and any other means that work for you.  But large in-person gatherings are still a very dangerous thing to do.

The City of Memphis still has a Covid information page at   including information on when and where to get tested.

on August 15, 7 PM, Playback Memphis will have an online performance, "Virtual Memphis Matters",  a program in honor of Congressman John Lewis. Charge $5 up
on August 16 - 22 the NBA and WNBA sponsor a week-long "anti-racist teach-in". I think the price for each event is $50 which insludes a book. But the program is well worth reading even if you don't want to spring for $50, not least to see the books they are selling.

Lynching Sites Project of Memphis will have a Zoom meeting August 24, 5 PM. Several excellent videos of their earlier meetings are at

We are reminded to GIVE BLOOD. 
While the Bloodmobile is no longer doing the usual circuit to houses of worship, you can go to any donation center and crtedit it to your favorite house of worship.  What used to be "Lifeblood" is now "Vitalent",

Missing out on Church trips?  Temple Israel is going to try a "Zoom tour of Israel", Sundays 11 AM, August 23 | Ashkenazi founders and Israeli culture 
August 30 | Mizrachim/Sephardi founders and Israeli culture.    September 6 | Soviet emigres, Ethiopian Jews, and the new Israeli culture through photographs, videos, music, and other sources.

Are other Memphis organizations trying other substitutes for church trips?

Of course, in this period of on-line travel and on-line conferences, national and international organizations provide fascinating opportunities.
For a "tour" of Israel
, West Bank, and Gaza with a group that defines itself as primarily pro-human rights, see the symposium (charge) August 16 (Israel) and 23 (West Bank-Gaza) at

MIFA needs volunteers to deliver "Meals on Wheels".  (Some earlier volunteers are now unable due to age or other conditions.) "Our current model—delivering hot meals and shelf-stable or frozen boxes on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings—will continue for the foreseeable future. Due to the box deliveries, some moderate lifting is required.....If you would like to deliver meals or help with phone check-ins to senior meal clients, please contact Kristi Estes at or (901) 529-4521."
They are also planning an online event:
Anna Word and the MIFA team are working to engage the community and donors in ways that are conducive to the current environment. It will host its first virtual event on Oct. 7, featuring Matthew Desmond, author of “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.”

A church newsletter has reminded us of an August 2 essay by Dr Scott Morris:

Many churches are figuring out ways to start up their usual Fall Sunday School classes on an on-line basis. For an illustration of several ways of doing this, see

This month at the Indian Cultural Center and Temple has included special devotions and bathing of the symbol of Krishna.  My friend VV Raman has provided an essay about Krishna for those who wonder what the "Hindu Sunday School" equivalent of Krishna stories would be like.  Click Here.
August 9  Noon

     I can't resist recounting a bit of early Memphis history and other stories. 
(Prompted by the LGBTQ item just below).   Well before the Civil War, Temple Israel (then located down in the Pinch district, near the river) hired a rabbi. The rabbi's brother had a store, and kept the store open on Saturday (the Jewish Sabbath). The rabbi, one Saturday afternoon (not at the synagogue) urged people to patronize his brother's store. The synagogue board, feeling he had violated the sanctity of the Sabbath, voted to fire him. The case went all the way to the US Supreme Court, which ruled that the courts would not interfere with a house of worship's decision to fire a minister, if the decision was based on theological questions.
     A decade or two ago, in an earlier stage of the disputes over homosexuality, a church committee asked me (a Jew) if I'd be upset if my rabbi was a homosexual. I replied that in Jewish law, in my view, being a homosexual was exactly as offensive as eating a ham sandwich (which is somewhat more offensive, than, say, eating a cheeseburger.) All are prohibited by traditional Jewish law; I personally very much doubt that today a majority of Memphis Jews would propose firing a rabbi for eating a ham sandwich.  Most branches of Judaism would put the ham sandwich and homosexuality in the same category.
     I've always been a fan of the small church in Memphis which, early in the days when other churches were proposing to turn away homosexuals, erected a sign "We are not a museum for saints, we are a hospital for sinners."
     My family has  for decades been unusually willing to relate to other religions. In the 1960's, my mother met a young lady whose Roman Catholic Bishop had turned down her request for a marriage annulment. My Jewish mother said, "Let me call the Pope and see what I can do." The lady got a papal annulment; some details are at

A report on the funeral for Steve Montgomery is at
The service (an hour an a half) can be viewed at   This includes tributes by Rabbi Greenstein, Rev Dr. Scott Morris, and many others. The Muslim tribute,  from about minute 51 to 57, is particularly moving, and is well worth seeing.  Further activities at Idlewild Presbyterian can be found at

Memphis Islamic Center, with very limited in-person events, maintains its live-stream programs. The weekly "Jummah" Sermon is Friday at 1 PM; on August 14 it will be given by Imam Anwar Arafat, one of my favorite Memphis preachers. They continue a variety of online programs; the new one Thursdays at 9 PM is "Let's Talk About It", about difficult or taboo topics, by Sheik Yasir Fazaga.   Anwar's regular talks on difficulties faced by Muslims are Saturday at 9 PM.

A Memphis Jewish Federation newsletter, reporting on a new game to keep up and extend contacts while homebound, is at

    On August 10 and 17, the Indian Cultural Center and Temple continues the practice of bathing the image of Shiva. Due to the virus, attendance is very limited. "Shravan month is dedicated to Lord Shiva.The entire month is considered auspicious to seek the blessings of Shiva. Shiva Abhishekam [bathing the image] is performed with milk, curd, honey, ghee, sugarcane juice, coconut water, bilpatra, flowers etc. This kind of abhishekam gives prosperity, achievement of all desires, eliminates negative forces, getting rid of negative karma and will give you immense joy and success in life."

August 9  7 AM

     I've been quiet for a few days
for a bizarre reason - a microburst from the remnants of Hurricane Isaias hit the street in rural New Hampshire where I'm sitting out the virus.  I describe the location of New London as "a village in the woods, 15 miles north of the nearest McDonalds" although the small college here will be having students start to return in a few days and our town status of "no local community transmission" may not survive that change.  At least a dozen trees were down near houses on our block - I don't know how many more in the woods we own behind our house. The pine coming down in our front yard was 90 feet tall, 32" in diameter, blocked the driveway, and just missed the house.  The one in the back yard crushed our lawn furniture; the next door neighbor had one land on and damage a rear deck. No injuries in our neighborhood, but cleanup will take a while and we'll probably need to have a bunch of other trees (no longer "protected" by the end ones on the row) taken down.
      The local LGBTQ community is upset by a recent action in the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit banning two such groups from meeting in church facilities. Memphis was (I think) the first diocese in the US where the local Bishop invited them to meet in the cathedral (monthly pot-luck suppers advertised here, prior to the epidemic) to actively pursue the task of keeping these members and their supporters active in the Church and having their religious needs met by the church.  Many other religious groups in Memphis have shared this inclusive view; Temple Israel was one of the first to perform same-sex "commitment" ceremonies back before same-sex marriage was allowed.

The Commercial Appeal article about Steve Montgomery is online HERE

I'll almost certainly post more later today.

August 3
    The city of Memphis website   now has a link to the Centers for Disease Control Website at  which has excellent general information about, e.g., when to stay home. The CDC no longer has
detailed nuimber of cases conspicuously available, perhaps because some politician decided that that was not a good idea. has made the link to its county-level statistics much harder to find, but they are still there-  was the Shelby County statistics this morning. The graph for Shelby County there is jagged but, on the whole, still rising.

A large group of Jewish physicians have issued a statement opposing indoor gatherings and also opposing large outdoor gatherings. The full statement is at

There have been a very large number of notes about the passing of Rev Steve Montgomery, from charities (e.g.MIFA) and  other churches. While it is just one among many, I've saved and reproduced the letter from the Memphis Islamic Center  HERE.

August 2.
David Waters, in his wonderful article about Rev Steve Montgomery
(link in my July 31 note below) provided the link
to a full book of Steve's sermons published in 2015. The introduction is a wonderful piece of autobiography. I know that many people don'y expect old sermons to be important reading, particularly today when we can listen to sernons online, but I do have to offer as bait  that the first sermon in the book starts "Prayer: Dear God, all we have to do is open the morning newspaper
to realize that there are dividing walls of hostility all around this world you created, even walls in our own hearts. So we come to you seeking your peace, because sometimes that’s all we have. Help us to hold tightly to your vision of a world at peace, beginning with our own lives. Startle us with your love for the whole world. Amen."
David's May 2019 article, on the occasion of Steve's retirement, is at

Memphis Islamic Center has issued a partial reopening statement sililar to that I noted on Jul 31 from Masjid Ar_Rahman; MIC will start August 9 and intends that all group services will be outdoors under large covered area.

July 31
       Rev Steve Montgomery has died.  Among many tributes is
a letter sent by Rev Sandy Webb of Holy Communion Episcopal which I have taken the liberty of putting online HERE.
He will be very much missed.  There is a good obituary at

      Some Memphis Mosques will  be experimenting with very limited reopening.  Again, I am reporting this but very much urging people to stay away from large group gatherings; The Muslim religious leadership continues to stress that protecting health is of the highest importance and that praying may always be done in private, the obligation to attend the noon prayer and sermon on Friday (Jummah) remains suspended.  I've reproduced the announcement from one of the mosques HERE, which may be of interest.   (The Friday sermon - the Khutbah - will be ten minutes instead of the usual thirty.   One other word non-Muslims may find puzzling is "wudu". This is the ceremonial careful washing of the hands and feet before prayer; there  is normally space to do this at the mosque but people are now requested to do it at home.)

 July 30
      Rev Steve Montgomery of Idlewild Presbyterian was badly injured in a bicycle accident July 28. 
He has long been a leading voice in The Memphis religious community and a strong supporter of interfaith activities and work for minorities and the oppressed. At last report he is the ICU at Methodist Hospital. on a ventilator but responsive to voices of family. The instructions being sent are to pray; if desired send notes/cards to the Montgomerys at 189 Belhaven, Memphis, TN 38117; hold off on gifts of food or flowers due to allergies.  AT present word seems to be circulating through the ministerial community rather than at or   but those sites give the opportunity to pray with members of Idlewild.

      If you haven't yet heard a talk by Rabbi Jeremy of Temple Israel,  he'll give a talk about  the importanmt modern Jewish Philosopher Abraham Heschel (also a major Civil Rights figure) at noon Tuesday, August 4. Go to, click on "Join a meeting" and enter the code 504-358-591. You can also call 1-312-626-6799 and enter the same code. Questions? Email Steve Kaplan at
     At a time when much of the news is depressing, I found a long New Yorker article on the work of the US Army Corps of Engineers to be very affirmative.

   In response to the request of the group of Muslim physicians, the mosques of Memphis are still not reopening. This means that the major holiday of Eid Al-Adha on July 31 will not be celebrated with the usual mass prayer meeting. One of the online services in Memphis will be at 8 AM July 31 at
July 27

     VV Raman
( a Hindu philosopher amd physicist) has sent another episode of reminiscences, this one about the history of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, built as a church. later a mosque, later a museum, which Erdogan has recently converted back into a mosque.  Click here for the essay.  A nice historical review but he might add "not PC" - i.e., a bit unexpurgated.

July 26
      One of the most comprehensive articles about Covid-19 risks (and how to avoid them)
is at

    The current state of events at the Indian Cultural Center and Temple (Hindu) is at

   In Muslim practice, July 22 to 31 are the last ten days of the Hajj (pilgrimage) period, when good deeds count extra (as they do for Jews in the ten days up to Yom Kippur).
July 30, The Day of Arafah, is a fast day, followed on July 31 by Eid Al-Adha, a major feast day.  Usually the Muslims have a mass prayer service on Eid Al-Adha, often in the Convention Center; that will not happen this year.  An interetsing but long article with more detials about this Muslim season is at
July 23
      The Indian Cukltural Center and Temple
still admits only donors, by prearrangement, to events other than the public  Saturday 10 AM -12 programs. They do still send out notices of Hindu celebrations that are celebrated by the priests with a limited audience. E.g., July 25: "Naga / Garuda Panchami is a traditional worship of snakes or serpents observed by Hindus throughout India, Nepal and other countries. The worship is offered on the fifth day of bright half of Lunar month of Shravana (July/August), according to the Hindu calendar. The abode of snakes is believed to be patala loka (the seven realms of the universe located below the earth) and lowest of them is also called Naga-loka, the region of the Nagas. As part of the creation force, their blessings are sought for the welfare of the family. Performing abhishekam and puja to Naga Devatha by qualified priests will rectify Kuja and Kala Sarpa dosha’s and is highly beneficial for the welfare of the family."
Anyone who has visited India, and many other counjtries with Hindu influences,  will be aware of the quantity of snake (naga) statues.

July 22

    The epidemic news continues discouraging. The Daily Memphian
reports "With testing sites at full capacity and local labs backlogged on processing those results, Shelby County is now encouraging only those who are symptomatic or directly exposed to a positive COVID-19 patient to be tested.  That’s a significant shift from a few weeks ago when the Memphis and Shelby County joint COVID-19 task force was encouraging patients with even mild symptoms to get tested because capacity was underutilized."   Testing rates are stable but positivity rates are increasing and utilization rates of emergency rooms and intensive care beds are increasing.
       I hate to tell people not to go to church - but it really seems like a bad idea to do so. Continue to enjoy the many live streams and recorded services, lectures, events, and use this as a chance to "visit" places and ideas you'd not otherwise see. Browse the notes below for interesting ideas and on-line resources. Do I have anyone in the group with the skills to tell me how better to organize these resources for longer-time use?
       St Mary's Episcopal   is still posting daily musical offeriongs and a variety of services and sermons.
       The Memphis Islamic Center, has a large variety of offerings =- including a program this evening at 9 PM about the end of the Hajj season.
      The Catholic Diocese of Memphis,, has interesting statements and pointers to programs. The Vatican statement on "What is the role of the Parish?" may be of interest to other houses of worshiop also.

      You can find Jewish online events at e.g. Chabad (orthodox),
         Temple Israel (reform) and others.  ASBEE  (orthodox) has a brief daily online Bible (Torah) study at 7:25 PM     
         Pema Karpo (Buddhist)  has some rather esoteric things on Youtube at
               but it has some nice older talks at

July 20

      Campaign Nonviolence is having a zoom planning meeting this evening (Monday) at 6 PM.

The National Campaign Nonviolence online conference will be August 6-8th with an exciting line up of speakers including Dr Erica Chenoweth, Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr. and Rev. Richard Rohr. Heres the link for more information:

The Muslim holiday  Eid al-Adha starts at sunset July 30, until sunset July 31. It marks the end of the Hajj (pilgrimage) season and also commemorates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son (Ishmael) on God's command.  It is the custom to offer food to the needy. One interesting way the Muslims do this is to purchase food at the Muslim markets in town, designate a share for the needy, and then the mosques collect it from the stores to arrange distribution.

The regional Jewish Historical Society Lecture Series is being a big success
with over 400 listening to the last talk. The next one is July 24 at 10 AM
You can register at   (Scroll down to where you see “Zoom registration.”)  There is no cost but registration is required. 
     Ann Woolner, journalist and author, traces Georgia’s first Jews from the torture chambers of the Portuguese Inquisition through escape to London and then onto a forbidden voyage to Savannah. Unexpected and unwanted, 41 Jews landed in the infant colony 1733 in the midst of a deadly epidemic there — seemingly quelled by one of their own, a Portuguese-born doctor. His curative treatments brought respect and equal treatment for Jewish settlers. When the Revolution came, these families fought as patriots, ran supplies and helped finance the war.

On July 26 at 5:30 pm, Judge Richard Gergel and Robert Rosen will launch Sunday Conversations.   The topic is “Reaping the Benefits of a Tolerant Society:  Jewish Public Service in South Carolina from the Colonial to the Modern Era.”  For this first program, they will be joined by Mayor Billy Keyserling (Beaufort, SC), former Senator Joel Louirie (Richland County), and Representative Beth Bernstein (Richland County).


To register, go to

July 18 PM

EARLY VOTING is Monday through Saturday, through August 1. Further info at 
      You can also get personalized information from a fill-in form on the League of Women Voters local website

Another important Civil Rights leader who died yesterday - Rev. C. T. Vivian

If you are interested in how schools may function this Fall, the Germantown School District has a detailed plan online at
(At the bottom of that page, you can download the pdf of the printed version.)
If you are interested in things like city hall meetings but never time the find to go, Germantown's July 13
Board of Aldermen meeting is online at
       There is an important podcast by peace activist John Dear at  
You'll also find links there for the major Campaign Non-Violence online events August 6 to 8.
The Hiroshima Day commemoration event on April 6 is free, tehre are modest charges for the full conference,
whuich can be participated in live-streams or watch later online.

       Rhodes College has an upcoming webinar July 22, 7 PM Central time, part of their program about " Black Communities and Law Enforcement". 
The title is  “LOOKING TOWARD THE FUTURE: What’s Next? Reimagining a Just Tomorrow”

      The Institute on Religion in an Age of Science  is a "science and religion" conference group I've attended for many years. As it could not have its usual live conference this year, it has been holding on-line programs The video recordings are free for anyone interested at .  In particular, there have been two excellent talks on "Will Modern Civilization be the Death of Us? Reflections on the Earth's Future"
      If you happen to be an astronomy or space-travel fan, The Smithsonian Institution is doing on-line events since the museums are still closed; there will be a talk about the thirty years of the Hubble Space Telescope, July 28, 8 PM (Eastern time) at  (you can sign up there for a reminder e-mail)

     The Unity Church of Practical Christianity is having live services limited to 50 people.  They also have Zoom Sunday School and other activities, and a large collection of recorded prior sermons.

July 18

      The death of Civil Rights Leader John L. Lewis is in the headlines today.
Many of the articles stress the role of  Rev. James Lawson, who was such an important figure in Memphis' history, in how Lewis developed.
      Balmoral Presbyterian provides this link (click here)  to Down by the Riverside (and study war no more).
      Plans are being made for a Beale Steet statue of Ida B. Wells.

Obviously I cannot list all the online sevices and classes, I try to give a sample sometimes here so you can see techniques of putting things online and look in on religions or events you might not otherwise find the time to visit. So view these as samples.

Pema Karpo Meditation Center (Tibetan Buddhist) remains online-only, which I highly approve of.
Monday, July 20th will be the 108th session of the Padmasambhava Daily Practice at 5 PM. Please join Khenpo Gawang Rinpoche as he practices for all who are impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Download liturgy - Practice Session tab for this daily practice:  
If you are not familiar with the practice this page has three videos by Khenpo Gawang Rinpoche explaining Padmasambhava, the practice and the mantra.
Khenpo Gawang Rinpoche teaches weekly live.
Sunday Dharma Teaching at 11 AM.

From July 17 to 24 the Church Health Center is having an on-line Crafts Fair.

St John's Episcopal
is still having in-person Sunday  8 AM and 10:30 AM services indoors, 5:30 outdoors (children) but saying the best idea is still to watch the 10:30 AM service online. For Service leaflet click here;  find the service itself live-streamed at  Previous services are at

My Hindu friend VV Raman
provides a commentary on IBN RUSHD (AVERROES) (1126 - 1198), a Muslim theologian who had a significant impact on St. Thomas Acquinas as well as Jewish thinkers.  Click here for it.    (If you'd like to be on VV's mailing list, let me know.)

Mayor Strickland's graphs, and his plea to wear face masks, is at

The annual  Benjamin Hooks Book Award goes to "Occupied Territory - Policing Black Chicago..."  Details (and other finalists, also books worth reading) are at

Muslim online programs -  Sunday, Wednsday, Friday at 9 PM -

has one remaining School Board Forum, July 20,

July 17

     The Newberry Library Video series
has a history of the plagues of 16th-century Mexico.
     Not much religion in it, but if you like history of the Biblical period, a nice hour+ lecture on the years around 1177 BC:

     With cases of Covid-19 rising again in Shelby County, I continue to discourage attending large events.
     The Indian Cultural Center and Temple still has public live services Saturday 10 AM - noon. Attendance has over 100. Instructions are at   
    First Baptist Church Broad  also has very large live services

One synagogue will experiment with small in-person services, outdoors. ASBEE (
Anshi-Sphard - Beth El Emeth) will ahve services
  Shabbat Afternoon July 18th Mincha 7:30pm Please register before 3:00 pm        Sunday Afternoon, July 19th Mincha/Maariv 7:55 pm, Tuesday Afternoon, July 21st Mincha/Maariv 7:55 p
Limited to 15 people. Pre-registration is required.
Safety procedures at
Registrations at
Online Toragh Study Thursdays 1 PM, online services Friday 6 PM, Saturday 9:25 PM.

"To access our Zoom programs, Go to"

July 16.
     A remarkable (and long) article on Biblical Archeology, in The New Yorker:
July 15

     One of the very strangest Jewish sermons (lectures) I've ever heard
is at  Rabbi Friedman on the soul and the afterlife. I would not hold it up as "standard Jewish beliefs"; it is a very large collection of Jewish ideas, myths, and tales, and in it I find things suggestive of Catholicism, Hindism, Buddhism, and many other ideas. While it is 44 minutes long and a bit heavy in Hebrew and Yiddish in places, people may enjoy some of the unusual ideas and analogies he comes up with from a variety of Jewish sources.
July 14

  Temple Israel has a new cantorial soloist, Happie Hoffman,
coming on in August. While the position is not quite the same as a "church music director", she'll be the one to contact for musical exchanges and joint musical events. Please make her welcome!  Temple Israel has online services at 6 PM Friday and 8 PM Saturday evenings, a Zoom class on Kabbalah (a form of Jewish mysticism) at 7 aPM on August 3, 10, and 17, and many other online classes and meetings. All welcome.

    Mayor Strickland's graphs of the virus are at
There is a real danger that it is again growing exponentially, at least for a few weeks. I again urge people to be very cautious and avoid most group events.  I remind you that the Address Page linked above has links to the home page of many houses of worship, and you can often find on-line events at places you might not ever find time to visit. While it is slightly less convenient now for me to provide copies of DVDs (many are discussed on the "Book List" page linked above' I can still provide DVDs from other religions if you'd like to look at some.
     I'm frustrated that the usual news sources 
are so concentrating on the virus and devioting so much space to diatribes pro-or-con Trump that there is little other news being reported.  How does one find out what is going on in Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Central Africa?  The BBC is a start, but I'd love other suggestions (write to
Suggest, e.g., foreign news sources with English-language web pages. Recently on
I've seen atrticles on US policy re Netanyahu's plan to annex parts of the West Bank, and about difficulties between the Jews iof Yemen and the Houthi rebels there.

July 12.
      The Christian Science Monitor,
not too surprisingly, has a rather different take on the recent Supreme Court decisions about religion than either the left-wing or right-wing press.
     While I'm on that site, An older story, but a heartwarming one.
There has been a great outpouring of donations from Ireland  to assist the Navajo tribe, which is suffering particularly badly from the coronavirus. Why Ireland?  Because the Irish remember that in the famine of 1847,  a very significant donation to assist them was raised by the Choctaw Indian Nation, which the United States had recently exiled to what is now Oklahoma (under a treaty which the US Supreme Cout has recently held still to be in effect, as I understand it.)  In 1847 the Choctaw felt that the Irish, like the North American Indians, were being maltreated by the English - in Ireland and America, respectively.  So some  Irish still have an interest in the American Indians.

     I've found very interesting graphs and statistical data (about the epidemic, in particular) at the site

July 14

      Temple Israel has appointed a new "Cantorial Soloist,", Happie Hoffman,
who will start in August. While this is not identical to the "Music director" position in churches, I believe she will be the person to talk to about music exchanegs or joint projects. Try to make her welcome.  Live-streamed services are Friday 6 PM and Saturday 8 PM. A three-part class om Kabbalah   (loosely, a form of Jewish mysticism)  Mondays August 3, 10, 17 at 7 PM. There are (as at many house of worship) a multiplicity of online classes and meetings.

     The Memphis Botanic Garden  remains largely but not completely open (e.g children's garden and the red bridge are closed as "high-touch" areas). They have take-home "summer camp" kits fior kids through baout grade 5. See the website.

     With the US newspapers and news sites so full of Covid-19 news and pro-and-anti-Trump diatribes, they seem to have no room for any international news. BBC helps.  But you really ahve to look in local papers all over the world. For a recent piece giving a bit on the US-Israel-Palestine issue,
    Anyone have good sources on what is happening in Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Afghanistan? There is a bit from Yemen at

July 11

      One of the very best lectures on the history behind the"Civil War Monuments",
with a great deal of reference to Memphis,
is at      "Jeffery Robinson, the ACLU’s top racial justice expert, discusses the dark history of Confederate symbols across the country and outlines what we can do to learn from our past and combat systemic racism."

July 9

 There have been some interesting graphics produced on "what is safe and what is not"
One of my favorites is this one:  RisksV2.pdf

Rachel Shankman's talk yesterday on "Racial Justice in Memphis" is available online at

 St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral is one of many still its services online, with links at

       The variety of views out there on how to cope seems to me much wider than I see in the press, even in the range from NY Times to FoxNews.  I spoke earlier today with a physician practicing near Dartmouth College.  He was horrified at Dartmouth's decision tio have a large number of students back: he says inevitably they will drink, party, and bring a lot of Covid-19 to an area with lots of elederly residents that so far has had almost none of the disease.  On the other hand, he wants to see public schools fully reopen as soon as possible: he says the Peditric association feels that very few children will have serious symptoms or side effects, and the damage being done to pupils for whom school is the "safe place" exceeds the risk of the virus. He argues that if schools place emphasis on younger teachers in the classroom and put the older staff in desk or rem,ote-learning jobs (I don't know how feasible that is) the rsik to teachers should be less than the benefit to society. He is especially concerned with children of poorer families, where the parents have to work and are ill-equipped to do home schooling or provide the computers and related equipmenty available to better off families.   The decisions are difficult ones, I pass on his opinions as an example of the way people are wrestling with the questions.  And I'm still mainly sheltering in place, except for groceries, some carry-out meals,  and a few other essentials. To quote a song of Maurice Chevalier, in some ways "I'm glad I'm not young anymore."

July 7

      St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral is still putting on a musical piece daily -

      Racial Justice in Memphis 101  a talk by Rachel Shankman, founder of the Memphis office of Facing History.
Noon July 8,   
(you may have to altar the name of the registrant, if this does not give a blank form to register)
       Temple Israel will have adult Hebrew classes (beginner through advanced) August-December, Sunday 10 AM     
   Their weekly Torah (Bible) study has moved from 8:45 AM to 10 AM on Saturday.
Participate by Zoom
or watch on Facebook,
Lots of other Judaica at

    Anna Kathryn Word
has returned to MIFA as Chief Development Officer. Arnetta Stanton Macklin is now Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer

     Online discussion by four women poets. sponsorship by Jewish organizations and the Interfaith Youth Core 

"Poetry in Times of Peril". July 14, 8 - 9:15 PM (Eastern Daylight Savings Time)     
More Programs from the Interfaith Youth Core:    (Organized by Eboo Patel, Muslim interfaith effort)
    Campaign Nonviolence will ahve a Zoom Meeting on July 20 at 6 PM, to check in and brainstorm for this year's CNV Action Week September 19-27th. Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:
Also, the National Campaign Nonviolence is holding an online conference August 6-8th with an exciting line up of speakers including Dr Erica Chenoweth, Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr. and Rev. Richard Rohr. Heres the link for more information and to sign up:
July 5
      I found time this morning to watch a couple of church services,
and if you like different styles the fact that many churches now live-stream and save the whole service to YouTube provides good ways to see different approaches.

Balmoral Presbyterian Church is a small church doing online-only services. A small group (the pastor, liturgist, musicians) gather at the church with large spacing and wearing masks for the entire service, to demonstrate that it is possible.

First Baptist Church Broad
is having full-attendance services with a large, unmasked, choir, and a large mainly unmasked congregation,  in a very traditional Memphis Black Baptist style - a style I happen to very much enjoy. I' ve enjoyed visits to that church, near Binghampton, in the past. I frankly would not attend that church (or any comparable large-attendance service) at this time, so I really enjoy being able to watch it online.

In both cases, during the live stream on Youtube, there was a "chat" sidebar so that one could swap greetings with friends or comment on the service as it was proceeding. So if I could not hug old friends, I could know they were there online and say hello or even agree to get together by phone or e-mail.

With many summer camps and camp-like programs run by religious groups not happening this summer, I'm interested in hearing of on-line substitutes.  Star Island is a  small island off the New Hampshire Coast, jointly owned the the Congregationalists and the Unitarians, and I've frequently attended week-long conferences in the old hotel built there in the 1800's.  Since they can't have meetings in that hotel this summer, they are having a long string of online events.  Many are listed at
     Two recently past presentations there: 

Video recordings of the first two presentations of IRAS’s 2020 Online Conference, June 29 & 30, are now available on You Tube. 

June 29th

Dr. William ReesWill Modern Civilization be the Death of Us? Does our modern techno-industrial society destroy the biophysical basis of our existence?

June 30th

Ruben Nelson: Will Modern Civilization be the Death of Us? Envisioning Tomorrow’s Earth.

There is as yet no credible estimate of how serious it is to actually get infected with coronavirus. According to the New York Times, 14 percent of diagnosed cases in Britain and Italy have resulted in death; 1 percent in Iceland, under two percent in New Zealand and in Israel. The best estimate presently available in the US is that about 4.6% of those diagnosed long enough ago to recover or die have died.  Of course the number of those diagnosed has skyrocketed since our President announced that the worst was behind us, but there has not been time yet to see how that will effect the death rate. Perhaps I should apologize for the phrasing of that last sentence, but I won't.

July 3.
    An animated video graph in an article in the New York Times (as online Friday evening)
dramatically showed the upsurge in Corona virus cases in the area around Memphis (Arkansas and north Mississippi) in the last few days of June. (This reference may not be stable)
In Shelby County so far one resident in 84 has been diagnosed with the virus. In Crittenden County Arkansas, across the river, one  in 63. Going south from there, St. Francis County Arkansas has one in 29 and Lee County has one in twelve as of the time I write.

Hospitalization rates in Memphis are twice as high as six weeks ago, according to Mayor Strickland. Mayor Strickland's newsletter, which also addresses some of MICAH's concerns about the police, is at

     The Memphis Islamic Center July 6 to 17, 9 PM daily, has an intensive Quran (memorization) course.  $20

     Rhodes College: "As part of Rhodes’ efforts to offer expertise to the public on the most important issues of the present, the college is launching a second Rhodes Responds series, Black Communities and Law Enforcement." Three public Zoom "webinars",
on July 8. 15. and 22 at 7 PM CDT

      LeMoyne-Owen College has received a donation of $40 million.  This is the largest gist in the college's history, one of the largest donations ever received by a Historically Black college or university. Given the important role of LeMoyne-Owen in providing leadership to Black community ofMemphis and to teh City of Memphis as a whole, this is extremely iomprtant news for Memphis.

I'm impressed with the way St. Mary's (Episcopal) Cathedral puts its recent news at the bottom of its home page on its web page.

While I regularly mention the concerts of the Beethoven Club, which are mainly free and many of which are done in connection with churches, I owe it to them tio mention that you can contribute and become an official member.  for some interesting history

 July 2
     The rate of new Coronavirus cases diagnosed in the US as a whole 
rose nearly 50% last week, with some commentators saying this was due to effort at reopening and the resumption of indoor group activities.

      The Washington Post reports that Palestinians outside Palestine are having severe difficulties getting home, as Palestine has no airport and no seaport (Israeli blockade of Gaza) not only Israel but also Jordan, Syria, and Egypt have severely restricted entry of anyone but their own citizens.
July 1

     Rev Miranda Cully has been promoted to  Associate Rector at St. John's Episcopal. 
"in addition to the pastoral, preaching, and sacramental duties that she will continue to hold, will be oversight of our outreach efforts in the city and oversight of Adult Christian Formation."

      A distressing article in the New York Times
on Chinese government spying on Uighurs (the largest group of Chinese Muslims) discusses the planting of spyware in religious software, e.g. websites discussing the Qur'an.
     (I don't know how many Uighurs we have in Memphis; I've met at least one.)
June 30

      Southern Poverty Law Center
has a downloadable guide on how to prevent online radicalization of young people, which may be of interest to people working with youth.  Clicking on 

 Building Resilience & Confronting Risk in the COVID-19 Era    will download it.

      The county general  election and national primary election is August 6.
Last day to register, for anyone who has not registered or voted here previously, is July 7. The last day to request absentee ballots is July 30 but you are urged to do it earlier. Being uncomfortable going to the polls on account of the epidemic is an adequate reason to request an absentee ballot;  further information at .  Urge your house to worship to put this in an e-mail to members (suggestion from Temple Israel).

       Holy Communion Episcopal reports modest attendance at its Sunday morning inside and Sunday afternoon outdoor services; it stresses the importance of having everyone fill out an on-line questionnaire in advance before deciding whether to attend. It also points out that the online streaming is still the preferred way to see its services.

June 29

     It us now painfully clear that nationally,
the virus is not at all under control. Effectively, travel restrictions are increasing as many states ask arrivals to quarantine for 14 days.  The local Memphis situation as shown in Mayor Strickland's newsletter yesterday, at, are equally distressing.  The issue of whether houses of worship should reopen is now almost a political question rather than a religious or medical one.  I'm pleased to report that Balmoral Presbyterian Church has decided to remain closed for July and continue to decide on a month-to-month basis.
 (While on the subject of Memphis,  I also noticed Strickland's e-mail onPolice Reform, at

  The Benjamin Hooks video on "Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter", is at

    At 6:30 PM Central Time June 30 (Tuesday), the National Civil Rights Museum will have a Zoom program, "Where do we go from here? To the polls"

     I have a niece who is a physician in San Diego, California.  She writes  a newsletter for her patients, with interesting thoughts on coronavirus testing. While its local information is for San Diego and this is not an invitation to contact her with questions (please don't click on those links!)  you may find her comments of interest
June 27

       One of my friends, Paul Carr, has posted some interesting slideshows
from talks he has given on, e.g.   "Are Near-Death Experiences Proof of Heaven?"  and  "Are Scientific Worldviews Converging with Religious Ones?"
He posted these, I think, in connection with the annual meeting of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science, which is holding its annual conference (on-line this year) starting June 29.
      Paul and I had a friend, now deceased, a psychiatrist who did MRI scans of people with unusual religious experiences.  He claimed he could distinguish from one another, from looking at fMRIs (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the brain) four classes of people - (a) those who had had near-death experiences affecting belief' (b) those who had had religious visions, e.g. of the Virgin Mary; (c) those who had attained satori or some eastern religious equivalent; (d) none of the above.
      In Charlotte, NC, there is a monument to to Judah P. Benjamin, a Southerner and a Jew, who played an important role in the Confederacy. The synagogues there are now much involved in the controversy over that monument - wanting it down.  For a letter from the synagogues, see

   Commenting further on that sort of question:   Princeton University has decided to drop the name of Woodrow Wilson from its famous Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, as part of the current round of iconoclasm (e.g. removal of confederate statues.) I'm inclined to agree with the decision.  I've had somewhat mixed feelings about these issues, as I happened to be in Germany when the statue of Confederate General McPherson came down in Memphis and a right-wing German politician made a speech thanking the people of Memphis for showing that in due course all the Holocaust memorials could be removed in Germany.  I'm rather more pleased with some of the tactics of the Lynching Sites Project of Memphis in adding markers and commentary - e.g. leaving the original historical marker about General McPherson located behind Calvary Episcopal Church, but adding a few yards away a newer marker stressing his undesirable aspects, e.g. details about his career as a slave dealer.
June 26

        Here is one of the mosque statements on delaying the previously announced partial reopening :  "
After a second round of deliberation, planning, several meetings and discussions with experts from our infectious disease, religious leadership, and local masajid leaderships, IAGM has decided to delay the Phase I of the Reopening for Masjid Al-Noor and Masjid Ar-Rahman until further notice. In the past week, there has been a net increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Shelby County. The county recorded its largest day to day increase of the COVID-19 this past weekend. There are also discussions in the City of Memphis to return to Phase I. These facts along with the advice and recommendations from our infectious disease experts and discussion with religious and masjid leaderships played a huge part in this decision. Our priority remains first and foremost safety for every member in our community."  [from IAGM, Islamic Association of Greater Memphis, which operates the two mosques memtioned - plural of mosque is "masajid"]

      June 25

       The Church Health Center,
which offers medical care to people without health insurance, is of course very busy as people lose jobs and lose the health insurance that goes with it. They write: "
Reminder: Existing patients and new patients without insurance and in need of medical care may call 901.272.0003 for appointments. " Individuals and employers interested in guidance from the Church Health Center about its offerings and insurance may start at

     Some online reading:
     There is a fascinating story of the history of "virtual" communion in the medieval Roman Catholic Church, at
If you've never looked at  you may well find it of  interest. JSTOR is an online scholarly archive, typically subscribed to by college and university libraries and used for faculty and advanced student research. But it does put on line for free access some articles and essays  relating well to current news. Another interesting piece there, which  isn't about religion, but  may be of interest to activists reading this,  is about the Bonus Army march on Washington in July, 1932. It was of course another time of economic and political crisis, but important historically  for being the first use of tear gas against a demonstration in the United States.     

    Healthy and Free Tennessee, 
/ ,which promotes sexual health and reproductive freedom in the state of Tennessee, (that is, among other things, pro availability of abortion) will be hosting  a series of online training sessionos on "Transformative Justice"; this may be outside the usual run of Healthy and Free Tennessee's activities. I'd be happy to get more detail about the training sessions. Signup is at

       As I don't get too many notices of live-streamed funerals (I've been very impressed by the video memorial services placed online by Balmoral Presbyterian Church), I note a funeral from Calvary Episcopal coming 2 PM Sunday June 28, for  Taylor "Nick" Nickles French, April 26, 1939 - June 23, 2020.

       June 24,

 Chabad is still celebrating the anniversary of the death of Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson. 
There is a fascinating 80 minute video at    Christians may be interested to know that after his death, some people claimed that "The Rebbe", as members of the Chabad movement called him,  was the Messiah and would soon be  resurrected; at one time this movement may have had a few hundred thousand believers.  Such movements are not uncommon in Jewish history. While the New Testament tells people not to believe in claims that someone is the Messiah,  the Jews have no such restriction - talking with someone who thought "the Rebbe" was the Messiah, I might feel the sort of denominational difference that a Methodist feels from a Presbyterian.  I met Rebbe Schneerson several times during his lifetime, heard him speak,  and admired him greatly, but I personally have no reason to think he was the Messiah.  I enjoy the videos about him, perhaps you will also.

    The Indian Cultural Center and Temple has now had public access on Saturdays, noon to 2 PM, for three weeks, and reports excellent cooperation to distancing, hand-washing, masking, etc., by all attendees. Their guidelines are at

    Tax time is coming up July 15, instead of the usual April 15, which inspires me to comment:  Since I've often posted notices of fund-raising suppers and such put on by the Muslim community, I thought people might be interested in a newsletter of the Memphis Jewish Foundation, a local donor-advised charitable fund.
A similar secular-sponsored organization is the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis,
Among the uses of donor-advised funds (not a full list) (a) get the tax donation in one year, distribute funds to charities in another year or over time; (b) donate appreciated securities and get the tax benefit while dividing the money between multiple charities (c) distributing money in your  will to multiple charities while avoiding complex accounting for you executor; (d) avoiding the substantial taxes that may be incurred if you pass tax-sheltered accounts such as IRAs to an heir.

      June 23.  AT Calvary Episcopal Church, which posts clergy writing online as blogs, Rev Amber Carswell has written remarks about the US Supreme Court ruling on LGBTQ rights:

      Memphis Islamic Center has decided to delay "Phase one" of opening   - that is, to rescind some of its opening plans, in view of the increasing rate of infections in Shelby County.(they had announced first steps of reopening about two days previously).
     June 22:
          Lifted from The Daily Memphian newspaper:
It’s Monday, June 22. The Ben Hooks Institute at the University of Memphis will hold an Online Community Conversation at 1 p.m. with Amanda Nell Edgar and Andre E. Johnson, university faculty members and authors of the new book “The Struggle Over Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter.” The Shelby County Commission will meet at 3 p.m. And a group called Fellowship of Young Adults is hosting a Civics 101 Zoom event at 7 tonight with Chalkbeat reporter Laura Kebede and Kingsbury High history teacher Dexter Britt>>

 June 22 events include MICAH "Issues Night" on Monday,  June 22, 6-8 PM.    for link  to register
           Also Lynching Sites Project of Memphis speaker Monday at 5 PM
Meeting ID: 814 9980 9151 Password: 304396    Speaker Janay Kelley, writer and filmmaker on Black Southern themes.

   News from BBC,  Uighur issue. Between Coronavirus, Black Lives Matter, and Pro-and-con Trump, the US press seems to have almost no foreign news. While we may not have a lot of Uighur Muslims in Memphis, I do no at least one, of I've decided that this piece on US relations with China re suppression of Uighurs qualifies here:
       (Note: in onepart of China, there was a time when the Uighur Muslims were in slang the "White-capped barbarians" and the Jews were the "Blue-capped barbarians", barbarian simply having the sense of "non-Chinese".  My related essay (on this piece of Jewish history) is at  )

American religious organizations are generally viewed as not supposed to take "political" positions on US partisan issues (they can support or oppose a proposed law, but not a candidate. Of course, this rule in controversial and not always followed.  A congregational leader can enunciate views on a list of issues and urge people to vote taking those into account. But nothing prevents them from taking a position onm a political issue in another country, and Jewish groups often take positions on Israeli questions. An example is a recent statement on the proposed Israeli annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank (Palestine.)

     June 21 - As mentioned earlier. the mosques in Memphis will be doing a slow and limited reopening. They stress that attendance is NOT mandatory for anyone, and that young, elderly, and people with compromised health should especially stay away. Normally, observant Muslim men are required to attend the "Jummah", the mid-day prayer on Friday, just as that Roman Catholics are required to attend Sunday Mass.  The services at Memphis Islamic Center will be outdoors, six foot spaced; normally Muslims pray "shoulder-to-shoulder", physically touching the adjoining congregants.  Bring your own face mask and bring your own prayer mat, sign a risk disclaimer, etc. The first in-person service at MIC will be at 10 PM Monday Evening. I found the whole announcement interesting enough that I've copied and posted it here.   Of course, MIC will continue to have a full program of on-line activities, including many talks that will be of interest to non-Muslims interested in interfaith, at

   June 20 - the Poor People's Campaign, which had its main webcast on Saturday, will repeat it Sunday at 6 PM (Eastern, I think)
     At least one Memphis Church has reopened its gym - 
on a members-only, advance sign-up, very well restricted and cleanliness rules basis. 
And a couple more are now doing small live services as well as live-streaming; in particular I note the idea of outdoor services Sunday evenings for families who want to be able to bring children to a church service.

      I'm still very cautious about large gatherings - recall that about half the states still have increasing numbers of cases, and that often large numbers of cases have been associated with meetings where people come from other places (including family reunions, religious servcies, political meetings).  The epidemic is by no means over.  I'm delighted to see that some progress is being made in finding ways to treat severe cases.  But I still feel that if I resume being as meeting-prone as I was last December. Im very likely to get the disease - and I'd rather do that as late in the process as possible, when treatment methods have improved much more than they have now.

      Since the "Black Lives Matter" movement has attracted "Defund the Police" signs - and I know some Memphis interfaith activists have been involved in the question of how much power a civilian oversight board ought to have - I will point out Mayor Strickland's weekly e-mail, which addresses the correlation between plice staffing levels and violent crime rates in Memphis in the last 14 years.

Rabbi Klein of Chabad (an orthodox Jewish group many of my readers will never have visited) has a 12-minute sermonette at    (subjects: the spies sent by Moses and Joshua into Canaan, and - what does God want us to do?)
    Somewhat more colorfully, we are coming up on the anniversary of death of Manachem Schneerson, the "Lubavitcher Rebbe", the long-time leader of the Chabad Jewish movement. A collection of talks will be given online Tuesday June 23, 7:30 PM CDT,
     There is a lot of other interesting (orthodox Jewish) material  at

June 18 
     MICAH will have a Zoom  "Issues Night" on Monday,  June 22, 6-8 PM.    for link  to register

June 16

event - on June 18 - talk by and Israeli and a Palestinian who have lost family members in the fighting

Join us for our upcoming live webinar

(co-hosted by American Friends of the Parents Circle - Families Forum)
Dialogue Meeting: Stories of Bereavement and Hope
 Thursday, June 18, 2020 @ 2:30 pm ET   (1:30 Central)


An event next week, June 25 at 7 pm CST hosted by the Memphis Jewish Community Center and the Jewish, Islamic, and Middle East Studies Program at Rhodes College. We will have a conversation via Zoom (meeting id: 667 280 6665)  with Pamela Nadell, author of America’s Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today, winner of the National Jewish Book Award for Jewish Book of the Year. Professor Nadell is immediate past president of the Association of Jewish Studies.

   The Memphis Museum System (Pink Palace et al) has a fascinating blog on the history of slavery in Memphis, at

   Today, 7PM Central time - Cuban Affairs. A discussion between "Pastors for Peace" and the Cuban Ambassador to the US.
Registrants for this discussion will receive a special invitation to join an interactive event with medical professionals, elected officials, and activists who are building the campaign for medical collaboration with Cuba, to save lives.
To register,

     The Metropolitan Opera is still live-streaming whole operas daily, usually a different one each day. In honor of Juneteenth, they will have Verdi's "The Force of Destiny" June 18 and 19.
Details at

      The Church of the Holy Communion (Episcopal, Walnut Grove between Perkins) will have a live service indoors on Sunday mornings at 9 AM and an outdoor service Sundays at 5:30 PM weather permitting. Livestream services Sunday at 8 AM and 5:30 PM.  Advance sign-up with screening for live services.  They expect to continue this sytsem until Labor Day. They add, "
it is important to me that we continue to regard our livestream offerings as a principal, if not even preferred, means of engaging with worship at Holy Communion."
Sign-ups close on Fridays at 3:00 p.m. Sign-up by calling the parish office (901-767-6987) or clicking the link below:

June 15

      An increasing number of churches nationally are resuming live services.
In West Virginia, whuich started earlier than some places, several churches have been identified as major sources of infection - in one case, according to The Washington Post, 28 church members have been tested positive for Covid-19.  I'll continue to urge people to be active online rather than attending group meetings.  I will report live meetings here, but be very cautious.

     The Indian Cultural Center and Temple now has one open in-person program a week, Saturday noon to 2 PM. Other in-person programs require advance arrangements.

     I don't know who the "Democratic Socialists of America" are, but they are urging attendance at Tuesday's City Council meeting. 3PM, subject: Police.

     Memphis area Mosques will begin some live activities June 22. However, the joint announcement says further "Our priority remains first and foremost safety for every member in our community. Therefore, compliance with the guidelines is a must and will be enforced strictly. Community members are still encouraged to pray at home. In addition, we request that all members over 65 years of age to stay at home. "

    Thursday June 18, 7 PM. Memphis Muslims on-line program  about issues relating to converts to Islam. Click for details
     The National Civil Rights Museum will reopen June 22. Limiter hours, on-line advance timed ticketing to avoid crowds. Free for Tennessee Residents Mon 3-6 PM.

      An interesting essay on how stereotyping affects minorities -
       Belvedere Chamber Music Festival online starts June 17:
      Recording of a recent presentation to The Lynching Sites Project of Memphis:
 (two families whose ancestors were on opposite sides of a lynching)

    Tuesday June 16, 7 PM - online meeting of PAX CHRISTI, a talk by the national director,
Join Zoom Meeting: 
Meeting ID: 830 0753 2090
One tap mobile
+19292056099,,83007532090# US (New York)
+13017158592,,83007532090# US (Germantown)
There is no password for the event so everyone should be able to get on directly. We'll start the call about 15 minutes before our start time.

June 14
     A demonstration today in Washington, DC, was a "prayer walk" organized by a local church.
While I like the idea of houses of worship taking an activist role in social and moral issues, I'm still unenthusiastic about large gatherings at this stage of the  pandemic.

     Senator Lamar Alexander's latest newsletter is on line at

June 11
     We are coming up on "Juneteenth", the 19th of June, celebrated by many Blacks as a major celebration of Black freedom in the US. It was the day Emancipation was announced in Texas, after enough Union troops reached Texas to enforce it. 
Many of the usual celebrations will not take place this year, due to the pandemic. Unfortunately, our President has announced a major political rally that day, to be held in Tulsa, the site of one of the most major slaughters of free Blacks following the Civil War. (Memphis. of course, al;so had such events.)  Hence the best essay I've seen so far rthis year on Juneteenth is in a report criticizing Trump;s planned rally.
To add injury to insult, see

A historian's reporrt on the Tulsa massacre is at    
and an historian's report on the 1892 Memphis lynching is at

For an interesting historical piece on an earlier epidemic, based on St. Gregory of Tours' report on the 588 CE Plague of Justinian; this involved a case of too-early reopening:
June 9.

    The covid-19 reproduction rate seems to be creeping up,
as the effects of relaxing the rules begins to show. Thuis is discouraging for those hoping for more large meetings (e.g. regular religious services, movies, concerts.)

The New York Times reports the same phenomenon is worldwide, and has an article very discouraging about the reestablishment of church choir rehearsals and performances.

Senate candidate Mackler is the subject of a recent article in the national Jewish press (also appearing in the local Jewish newspaper) .

     The issue of liberalizing absentee voting rules continues through the courts.  Do continue to urge people in your communities (especially minorities, immigrants, new arrivals) to complete the Census foirms ( and to register to vote if they have not done so.  If you are at Geroge Floyd related events, remember to pass these ideas to those around you.  Whatever effects demonstrations may have, voting is more important.

     If I may be permitted a more light-hearted note. the small village in New Hampshire where we are for the summer has had two demonstrations, marches of a couple of hundred people. Getting into the spirit of the thing, our puppy Molly has been wearing signs that say "Defund Dogcatchers".

June 8.  

    The Benjamin Hooks Center statement about the George Floyd
death is at

June 7

    The Memphis Botanic Garden is now open.
    The Church of the Holy Communion (Episcopal)
(online tour reported here yesterday) is the subject of a Daily Memphian article
June 6 

     The Church of the Holy Coommunion (Episcopal, between the Perkins)
has finished its major rebuilding. No live services yet, but the online tour is at
     The movie "Just Mercy" about racial injustice is streaming free on amazon Prime and some other platforms. this church urges you to watch and will have a Zoom discussion on Friday June 11 at noon.
     Many in the interfaith community know
Dr. Alim KhandekarHis elder sister, Kohinur Hassan,  was hospitalized with COVID  and has passed away  in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Please include her and the Khandekar family in your prayers.

    Balmoral Presbyterian Church has invited people to set a timer and sit quietly for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in memory of George Floyd,
and then listen to the classic recording of Paul Robeson singing "Let my People Go" at
The rather different Charley Armstrong version, which may follow it on Youtube, is at

   Because I'm still very nervous about large gatherings, I'm limited in my reporting of live religious services - but yes, some are happening, usually with great care about spacing, number of people in a room, and other heath considerations.    
      Catholic churches are now holding masses (wafer only). 
     St John's Episcopal Church will have Morning Prayer services (no communion) on June 7. People are still encouraged to watch online instead of coming in person, at    Multiple rooms are available for seating. There will be an 8 AM service for  elderly/ at risk only, a 10:30 AM   (also online) for adults, and a 5:30 PM outdoors for families with children (bring blankets and lawnchairs).   Line up at doors for seating by ushers, masks provided, individual service leaflets instead of Bibles/prayerbooks, etc.
     Unity Church of Practical Christianity will have a service at its usual time Sunday, limited to 50 people.
     So far as I know, all Muslim and Jewish establishments are still on-line only.
     Calvary Episcopal, downtown - online only, Sunday 10 AM, 5 PM Evensong
      St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral statement on not resuming in-person services is at

   The Lynching Sites Project of Memphis has a Zoom at 5 PM Monday June 8,  Speakers: Dr. Jacqueline Jordan Irvine is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Urban Education Emerita at Emory University and the author of numerous books and the recipient of countless awards. Karen Branan is the author of The Family Tree: A Lynching in Georgia, A Legacy of Secrets, and My Search for the Truth, published by Simon & Schuster in 2016.    To RSVP, email to  subject=6%2F8%2F20%20LSP%20Zoom%20RSVP   so they can put your name on the  list and send you the link to the Zoom.

The Memphis Muslim Community Statement on George Floyd
is at Muslim_statement.pdf

The Memphis Jewish Community letter on George Floyd is at
(by the way, this is a remarkably complete list of Jewish community leaders)

I am very sad to hear that CARITAS VILLAGE has closed for the summer.  I hope that it will be back, and stronger, as soon as possible.
It did a remnarkable thing in providing free meals to laid-off restaurant workers for as long as it could.

   Lots of data is now available on the epidemic in Memphis - see the last line in the next item.
     With so many recent reports of drug overdoses in Davidson County,
(I think I recall news reports of extra funding there for that reason)
I found myself  exploring and comparing the health department websites there and in Shelby county.  Their pages on Covid-19 are very differently organized
but give somewhat similar information.  At present. neither shows any pronounced increase in the number of tests being given.
Nashville   June 5 report is
    Latest daily seems to be
    That  last page in particular has a huge amount of data - keep scrolling down!
June 4

   PAX CHRISTI has provided a link   to an article in America Magazine,
an excellent Catholic periodical, "What Black Lives Matter can teach Catholics about Racial Justice."
    The week has been so eventful in the streets, and in the press, that there is not much more I can say. 
Simply since eventually a copy of all this is likly to be in the University of Memphis archives of the period, I will add the lnk to a (now somehat out of date) call to actiuon of the period:

June 3

I'm afraid this next two paragraphs are just blog and not news,
but after so much denunciation and commentary about Trump tear-gassing an entirely peaceful demonstration so he could stand in front of a church holding a Bible  (without even telling the church in advance), and the press asking "Is that a family Bible?", I can't resist:
      These events definitely remind me of Berkeley in the late 1960's. There were demonstrations that got out of hand. But there were also days that would have been entirely peaceful if Gov. Reagan had not directed the National Guard to start riots so that he could brag of having stood up to the protestors. (I'm talking of the days when the National Guard declared the Biology 101 large lecture an  unlawful assembly and chased them out of the lecture hall into the street, or the several occasions when they tear-gassed the students waiting in line to go into the cafeteria on the other side of Sproul Hall plaza.)
         Another time, another place: On one occasion when my father was being sworn into a federal position, Justice Brennan asked, with a big grin, "Can anyone tell me if this is really a Bible?"  My father had brought an old family Bible, which of course was in Hebrew.

June 2.  

A group of Memphis Interfaith leaders,
apparently involved with MICAH, including Bishop David Talley (Catholic)   have called for a conversation about Racism.

The Episcopal Bishops of New England have issued a statement strongly condemning President Trump's misuse of St. John's Church, Washington.
I've provided a copy of the statement HERE.
In part,

"What President Trump did in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square on the evening of June 1 was disgraceful and morally repugnant. Displaying a Bible from which he did not quote, using as a mere backdrop an Episcopal church where he did not pray, and – more callously – ordering law enforcement to clear, with force and tear gas, a path through demonstrators who had gathered in peace, President Trump distorted for his own purposes the cherished symbols of our faith to condone and stoke yet more violence."
Do read the whole thing.

I'm terribly upset about the deployment of a unit of Tennessee National Guard (from Knoxville) to Washington, DC. 
I had the fortune or misfortune of being a student at the University of California, Berkeley, in the late 1960's, when then-Governor Reagan deployed the national guard to Berkeley. At that time, they were neither trained or prepared for the duty involved. Ordered to "Break up large gatherings on campus", they chased the entire large lecture class of Biology 101 from the lecture hall out into the street, with perhaps predictable results. A girl was bayoneted on the front steps of the house I was living in - nothing a few bandaids wouldn't fix, it just happened when a young guardsman heard a noise and swung around too quickly.  And of course quite a few students were shot  (always "accidentally".)  I do recommend James Michener's book "Kent State" on the problems that may result from National Guard troops being placed in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Southern Jewish Historical Society will have an online speaker series in June and July.

We are excited to announce an on-line speaker series in June and July, in co-sponsorship with the Breman Museum in Atlanta, the Savannah Jewish Federation and the Savannah Jewish Educational Alliance.  


The dates are June 12, June 26, July 10 and July 24. Each event will begin at 10 a.m. EST. They are being provided free, but registration on the Breman Museum website is required. Here’s the link for the first in the series:    

June 12: The life of Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, the spiritual leader of Atlanta’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation, The Temple. Speakers: Jeremy Katz, senior director of Archives at the Breman Museum, and Eric Lidji, director of the Rauh Jewish Archives in Pittsburgh.

Temple Israel's weekly events list
is at

Two weeks ago (May 19) I wrote below
- at least two weeks until Stage 3 of reopening - and worried that it took two weeks to see what results any change had. Cases seem to be increasing - slowly - now, but of cousre it will be another two weeks before the nation as a whole sees if new cases arise from this weeks' demonstrations. (One hopes that the virus transmits less well outdoors, but the Florida Spring Break experience was not too encouraging.)

Playhouse on the Square
is planning to live-stream a production, apparently for free, July 10-19.  They still have interesting free materials on their Youtube page at
June 1
       During last night's demonstrations in Washington, DC.,
a fire broke out (and was quickly extinguished) in the basement of St. John's church near Lafayette Square, the church traditionally attended by presidents. Reportedly, it was intentionally set.  I do not know ifthere have been other attacks on churches during the recent riots.

       St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral staff changes -  Rev Patrick Williams will be Interim Dean srtarting June 1 as they search for a new Dean, and Rev. Eyleen Farmer will be on the staff part-time during this period.

      Temple Israel's statement about the current unrest is at
       The Memphis Jewish Federation has its statement at
       All the synagogues and many other Jewish organizations in Memphis reaffirmed in late May their "go slow" decision and plans to act jointly on deciding to hold live events (reported in an article in The Hebrew Watchman,  the local Jewish weekly newspaper.)

       The Indian Cultural Center and Temple will be celebrating its 26th anniversary June 3 to 7, but primarily online with very limited live attendance

       The World Jewish Congress has put a number of talks about dealing with the pandemic online.  Wednesday morning they are having a web talk about problems between the British Jews and the British Labor Party, and that should also be on-line by Friday, I think.

        Martin Luther King. Jr.,  ended his 1967 speech “The Other America” as follows:
“Somehow I maintain hope in spite of hope. And I've talked about the difficulties and how hard the problems will be as we tackle them. But I still have faith in the future. And I still believe that these problems can be solved. … However much America strays away from the ideals of justice, the goal of America is freedom. And I say that if the inexpressible cruelties of slavery couldn't stop us, the opposition that we now face … will surely fail.”

      My undergraduate school, Kenyon College (Ohio), has been e-mailing both current students (now off campus) and alumni with advice and guidance on how to safely participate in demonstrations. They don't seem to have put that guidance online, but not long ago the president of teh college blogged on the subject of the propensity of students to demonstrate.

May 31, 
    It was nice to see CNN broadcasting a Muslim praying about America's problems
  (over 4 minutes, long for a TV news segment!)

     The Atlantic Magazine has an excellent historical article
  on the interaction between race, covid-19, and the recent crises.

      The Tennessee State Legislature is resuming work.  I don't know a good way of keeping track of everything going on, but Healthy and Free Tennessee has a page at    keeping track of issues of interest to them.  The list is of interest not least because it gives a sense of the large number ofproposals that fail very early in the process; I found it very surprising that so many bills were introduced.  It is possible to watch the legislative process live online at

     An announcement by Mayor Strickland about Covid numbers in Memphis is at   Two points of interest: First, By giving daily numbers, it lets everyone judge trends.  You might conclude, for example, that the number of hospitalized cases is (very roughly) stabilizing, but that the number of cases in ICU beds continues to creep upwards.  A second point of interest is that the medical spokesman is Dr. Munoj Jain, well known to most of us in the interfaith community as an interfaith activist, leader of the local Jain community (I don't know if all members of the Jain religion have the last name Jain, but it seems so), and a founder  (maybe the founder?) of the Gandhi-King conference series.
May 30.

       The Supreme Court by a 5 to 4 vote (Roberts voting with the liberals)
refused to immediately prevent states from restricting meets in churches. Note that this was just on a motion for an immediate, emergency, banning of state rules. It does not predict how the court will rule when it has a full hearing on the case, if it does, many months in the future. The Washington Post report is at
but this is a case where it may also be interesting to see Fox News'  take on it:

     Covid-19 Testing is still very sparse outside major cities. As an illustration, look at Tiptonville, TN, north of Memphis. has charts of cases reported by county; the chart at    (scroll side to side on the bar graph) makes it painfully clear that we have no information at all on how many cases there are in that county right now, we only know when a carload of people came through administering tests.

There is fear that there was a major virus spreading event at Lake of the Ozarks a week ago (Memorial Day Weekend)

    Baron Hirsch Congregation  (orthodox Jewish)  has a nicely organized page for information on its on-line activities, at
Observant traditional Jews do still practice periodic ritual immersion (yes, the practice that led to John the Baptist's practices, and the baptism iof Jesus)  and following the "Mikvah" links on the Baron Hirsch page will lead to information on how they are coping with that during the epidemic.  (If you are just learning about other religions, note also that they also still have provisions for immersing cooking vessels etc. for making them kosher.)  These are among the more interesting examples I've seen in Memphis of the need to keep a building open even if there will be no group assembly.

   COGIC, the Church of God in Christ, a large denomination headquartered in Memphis, had planned its annual Convocation thisd November in St. Louis, planning to return to Memphis next year. The November convocation has been cancelled.
COGIC has joined the groups of churches that do not plan in-person group worship until at least the end of June.

The Lynching Sites Project of Memphis    has issued a statement about the death of Floyd. It begins
"On behalf of the Lynching Sites Project of Memphis, we write to share our profound distress over the totally unwarranted, unnecessary, and theatrical murder of George Floyd.  We stand with our brothers and sisters protesting in the streets over this egregious, outrageous murder. "     

May 29.
       With riots in several cities 
over the Floyd death in Minneapolis, Memphis' demonstrations have been relatively calm. The Friday morning Commercial Appeal piece is at
As I write on Friday evening, the situation on the street is ongoing.

      FACING HISTORY has issued a statement about the Floyd death in the ciontext of teh pandemic and with links to Facing History's lessons on reconstruction, among other materials:

      St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral is presently planning NOT to resume in-person services in June.  At the moment this is not on their web page at    but an e-mail from the Rev. Canon Patrick Williams explains in part "we approach this task from the standpoint of trying to follow what Jesus called the greatest commandments - love of God and love of neighbor. The way that we seek to live into these commandments is by keeping YOUR health and safety as our utmost priority. To state it plainly, YOUR health, safety, and overall well-being is our highest concern in our decision making process."  They urge continued participation in on-line events and call attention to their dasily on-line music offering.

Crosstown Arts is unable to host live events at the Crosstown Concourse but had an on-line event Friday evening that should soon be online at
The e-mail said 
the full concert video premiere of Don Lifted with Blueshift Ensemble performing in The Green Room at Crosstown Arts. The video will also be available at after the premiere.

    Idlewild Presbyterian will host the "Presbytery-wide Pentecost service on Sunday. While many other Presbyterian churches will still hold their usual on-line services, the Idlewild wservice will be live-streamed at 11 AM and then available online for those wanting to watch later.

Presbytery-wide LIVE STREAM Link
Link for the Worship Guide for the Presbytery-wide Service

May 28

      The Unity Church of Practical Christianity
will be having an on-site Sunday Service, June 7, 10:30 AM.  Their announcement of procedures and the cautions they are taking is at     Like many other houses of worship, they will continue to live-stream services on Facebook and upload the service to YouTube as soon as they can after the service.  I continue to be reluctant to attend public meetings in person and continue to urge people to support their houses of worship and other local organizations through contributions and active participation by Zoom, e-mail, telephone, and other means.
      You may recall that the "Poor People's March on Washington" had been scheduled for June 20.
Of course, it won't happen that way. There is going to be a "mass" online program on that date.This 2 hour program will be broadcast on Saturday, June 20th at 10:00am EST and 6:00pm EST and again on Sunday, June 21st at 6:00pm EST. Visit to tune in.

      On coronavirus, Tennessee continues to rank very low in the list of states in "cases per 100,000 population" and in "deaths per 100,000". It is, unfortunately,  much higher in the list ranked by "new deaths in the last week" and  "percent of new cases in the last week". Mississippi is substantially worse off, on all these criteria. There are nice interactive charts at
 May 26
      The New York Times data set
shows the number of covid-19 cases in the Memphis "area"  has generally averaged 100 a day or a little more for six weeks now, still on average rising slowly. Deaths continue to average about 2 a day, over time.  By contrast, as the disease spreads to smaller places, the Fayetteville, Arkansas area is one of the fastest growing, with cases still doubling every 6 to 7 days.

      The Jewish Foundation of Memphis  has an online "needs list" of requests from multiple Jewish organizations trying to adjust to the pandemic.  Are there other similar lists out there?
       Temple Israel has its full summer newsletter online at

   St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral is still putting up a "musical offering" each day, at

      Playhouse on the Square continues to post excerpts from past musicals, a new one each Friday, at  
Coming next Friday: "The Gospel at Colonus"

       Chabad Memphis  (an orthodox Jewish group) is trying an innovative solution to a memorial prepare that Jews normally recite in a congregation, honoring loved ones who have died. People may be interested in reading this idea, at
 (it has a very minor typo - he copied it from a similar Passover message so at one point it says "Pesach" instead of "Shavuot")

      Lynching Sites of Memphis Project has put one of the talks from their "Virtual Meetings" online - the May 11 talk on how to construct landmarks to counter Confederate iconography.      (33 minutes)

May 25
     The NEW YORK TIMES has a remarkable article praising Wendi Thomas and her news project MLK50.
Much of the information at the MLK50 website will be of interest to readers of this page.

A great deal of local information about the epidemic is on the Shelby County  Health Depoartment website at
May 24
     NPR has an interesting article about the spread of misinformation about the epidemic. 

      A Church service in Germany caused infections, according to the NY Times.  Some days after a service where everyone was supposed to stay five feet apart, 40 attendees were diagnosed with the virus, six hospitalized. The church, which had resumed live services when the government permitted it, has gone back to on-line-only as a result.  (This was in the live feed about 10 AM Sunday and did not seem to have a separate link as of that time.)
     To quote from elsewhere in the NY Times live feed, speaking of a federal medical official, "Asked about President Trump’s announcement on Friday that he had deemed houses of worship “essential” and directed governors to let them reopen immediately, Dr. Birx said, “Although it may be safe for some to go to churches and social distance, it may not be safe for those with pre-existing conditions,” and urged vulnerable people to stay at home.

      Many seasonal areas continue to exclude outsiders, even in the US .

May 22

      Rabbi Micah Greenstein, in his Friday evening sermon, paraphrased: Our houses of worship are essential. Our congregants are not expendable. -
in explaining why Temple Israel was not hurrying to resume large-gathering services.  Like many houses of worship, Temple Israel continues to have both "large-audience" streamed services, programs and recorded sermons and talks avaiklable on its web-site and Youtube, and small-group Zoom meetings where people can speak up, interact with both clergy and individual friends.  
      Rev. Mickey Quinton, Associate Minister at the Unity Church of Practical Christianity, has recovered from coronavirus, now has a clean bill of health and will be preaching again this Sunday (10:45 AM) on Youtube. 
       I've heard several sermons I might describe as "forward-looking", in that they raise the question of what changes we might make in society as a result of the pandemic that woukld be constructive: good lessons to be learned.  One proposal: there are small ways in which we could decide that public health outweighs productivity.  Large-scfale or univerality of sick leave would be a very good idea. Encouraging sick people, especially contagious people,  to not be out interacting with others not only aids to the recovery of the person who is sick, but protects the health of many others.  Have other people heard constructive ideas worthy of repeating? If you have extra time available at home, or any spare time, do consider listening to sermons and classes and ideas from houses of worship you might not otherwise have time to visit.

May 21
      I skipped yesterday and not much time today -
with doctors and dentists now scheduling appointments again, I'm catching up on several months of missed stuff in those areas. Many of these offices are having to reschedule lots of people (e.g. space them further apart to avoid crowds in the waiting room) and a couple have scheduled me on very short notice when a patient called in sick just before an appointment. If you've put off such things, now is the time to be in touch with your doctor(s).
     The Census is going distressingly slowly - Germantown estimates that only 77% of its population has been counted. PLEASE contact your clergy and suggest that they urge everone in the congregation to be counted at
      Chabad - Rivky Klein is having a class at 11:45 AM Monday May 25. "Leadership: Served Strong", with live music.
      St John's Episcopal - Father Jay Biedenham is doing Wednesday evening 8 PM classes on the Episcopal Prayerbook- "How to Pray the Daily Office.   
      Temple Israel still has on-line Zoom Bible study Saturday morning 8:45 AM and a servuice Saturday evening at 8 PM, but to get the link yiou need to e-mail a day in advance; details at    The Friday evening 6 PM is streamed, no advance prep needed, start at the same website. 

May 19,

Memphis entered "Phase 2" of reopening today; it will be at least 21 days to phase 3. 
If anyone is interested in the extremely long details of the phase 2 rules, they are at   -- no, I have not read the very long document.  

While the rules permit "purposeful" gatherings of up to 50 people, and I know some churches will be experimenting with services limiting the number of people in the room and sopacing them adequately apart, I must admit that I'm skeptical about how safe it really is - I'll be sticking to on-line meetings and have been very much enjoying Youtube programs and Zoom or similar discussions. Most houses of worship I know of are keeping their main activities online and some are keeping their buildings essentially closed for another week or five (to be determined, in some cases.)

Catholic churches are, I think generally, offering masses again. St. Louis Church, for example (203 S. White Station Rd.),  has  masses that can be attended in person or watched live-streamed at 4:30 PM Saturday, 9 and 11 AM Sunday, and "Drive-thru" communion at 5:45 PM  Saturday and 12:15 PM Sunday

Rabbi Feivel Strauss, the Senior Educator at Temople Israel, and his wife Abbie Strauss, the Cantor, will shortly be leaving Temple Israel for posts in Florida.  This is the last week to see them live on-line or particpate in Feivel's on-line discussion groups. There will be an online farewell party May 28, 5-6 PM; sign-up details are at

The Very Rev. Laura Gettys, as I mentioned previously, will be leaving the post of Acting Dean at St. Mary's Episcopal on  May 31 for Grace-St.Lukes.  There is expected to be be a live party in her honor at a later date, since she'll still be in Memphis, but there will be chances to give her best wishes by Zoom on May 28(noon)  and May 31 (3 PM) - her last on-line service will be May 31.  Anything to go into a book for her (cards, message, drawings...) 
may be sent by May 31 to

The mosques in Memphis have issued a joint statement saying that they will not have an in-person gathering for Eid.
Eid el-Fitr, the feast of the completion of Ramadan, is one of the most important Muslim holidays. The turnout for mosque attendance istypically so large that there would be no way to have the service in any of the mosques and it has often been held at the Convention Center. Tonight is the 27th night of Ramadan, "The night of power",  and there will be a major on-line program at 9:30 PM. Anyone interested in watching a major Muslim event is invited.
On Sunday, May 24, the Memphis Islamic Center will be having a "drive-through" Eid celebration, 11 AM - 1 PM, with goody bags  passed in through car windows! Last I heard is $7 for hamburgers, $10 for barbecue, reserve in advance.  The call is to dress up, decorate cars, drive through a route with stations, stay in the car.  Info / registration at 

June 17-20 there will be a major classical music festival online,
the Belvedere Chamber Music Festival by Nova Luna Music and the Beethoven Club. Details at
The Facebook link is

May 18.

      While it does not address houses of worship, t
his essay by a professor of health policy is one of the best I have read on re-opening.
       I've mentioned before the importance of supporting our local charities at this time. The Commercial Appeal has a piece by the Boys and Girls Clubs:
       Does your house of worship have immigrants, minorities, or others who are nervous about the census? An article about the importance of the census is at    You can get further information,
and fill out the form if you have not yet done so, at    
     The Memphis Islamic Center  will have a major online event for the 27th night of Ramadan,  Tuesday May 19 at 9:30 PM.

Announcement    Live link will be       
     St. Mary's Episcopal has posted a video of a chikld reading the Lord's Prayer:
     Calvary Episcopal  has an on-line coffee hour after its 10 AM Sunday morning prayer: at 11 AM at
      Chabad (orthodox Jewish)  has its on-line events listed at   There is a noon class on Tuesday, among several others. I also enjoy the
on-line videos of past vevents that they link to at
May 17.

      The online "Historically Black Colleges and Universities" commencement
TV program is online at
Barack Obama's 8 minute remarks start at time 1:47 into the 2 hour program. 
(Of course, schools had their own online commencements in addition to this.)

      Ramadan celebrated in a video game:

  The Jewish holiday of Shavuot, also called "the feast of weeks" or "Pentecost" ,the fiftieth day after Passover, starts at sunset May 28 and ends at sunset May 30. (in the Bible it is  a one-day holiday, but outside of Israel Jewish one-day holidays became two day holidays in the centuries when no one was really sure what day the new moon would be sighted in Jerusalem. The Muslims keep one-day holidays as one-day holidays  but sometimes you can't find out which day it will be until the last moment...)  COming seven weeks after Passover, it celebrates the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. Absent the current epidemic, it is celebrated with ice-cream parties (and, of course, reading the ten commandments in synagogue services.) Services will of course be available online. If anyone would like some readings, I like those at  The "haftarah", what some Christians call "the second lesson" or the "reading from the prophets" is the Book of Ruth.

     The Christian holiday of Pentecost will be Sunday, May 31.  This is the only holiday that retains much the same date calculation and meaning between Judaism and Christianity; Shavuous is of course when the apostles next gathered in Jerusalem after the crucifixion, seven weeks after Passover, hence seven weeks after Easter.

May 16.

      I was quieter than usual yesterday
since a bad storm came through the rural area where I'm living just now - a tornado 50 miles south or so, numerous trees down in the enxt village over, and electricity and internet service spotty much of the afternoon and evening,
      The thought that there would be a cell phone app that would keep track of who was near who, to facilitate infection tracing and let authorities notify people they had been near a covid-19 case, seems to be fading in the face of invasion-of-privacy concerns.  There is even an issue now of to what extent the police are entitled to know who has been diagnosed. There is an interesting point of view at
      The Memphis "Group of 18" clergy have called for continued delay in large in-person worship gatherings. Among them are Imam Anwar Arafat, Rabbi Micah Greenstein, Bishop Pheobe Roaf, Rev Dr Scott Morris, Rev Rufus Smith, and others most of us know. There is an article about this at       with a delightful picture of all 18 in face masks - it is fun to see how many you can recognize!  There is a wonderful video of the 18 of them, well worth the brief time to see it, at
        I don't often get to delve into Buddhist history here, but my friend V.V. Raman, thinking about women in religious stories, has sent an essay about Buddha's wife (I hadn't even known he was married1)  I've put it here.  (let me know if you want more of VV Raman's writing)
       Other groups might be interested in seeing one way the local Jewish community involves teens in charitable work, giving a group of them a choice in where to distribute some charitable funds.    I think some  churches do this on an individual-church basis but hadn't seen a similar group effort elsewhere.

May 15  
     Episcopal Bishop Phoebe Roaf's letter
about progress toward reopening churches is at

May 14.  

    The local Episcopal Diocese is considering resuming live worship services in early June 
subject to medical advice as that time approaches. According to the the notice from St. John's Episcopal, they will still live-stream services but are   considering having two Morning Prayer services June 7  (8 AM for seniors and vulnerable,  10:30 for others, individual printed programs and no prayer books or bibles in the pews, seating spread out through the prayer hall and social hall, no touch contact with anyone, face masks, no communion, no nursery, no cookies or coffee hour, and other  provisions to encourage safety.         (But see the note above, May 15)
      I must admit to some personal skepticism about this; I go to services largely for the human contact and conversation around the service, and I have close friends who don't care about those things but do care about communion.  But UI do assume there are those whose ned is met by being in the same rooms and singing/praying with others. 
      We'll see how things develop. As I've said too often already, two weeks ahead is too far to make a forecast.
   The largest group of Reform Jewish summer day camps (including the one that serves Memphis)
have announced they will remain closed this summer.
    Jewish communities often have "Free Burial Associations" to bury those without family or where the family has no  funds for a burial. A report recently from New York City said that in April and early May the Association there has done 134 burials, four times the number in the same period last year.

May 13.

    The Turkish (Muslim) community will hold an online Zoom event May 15, 7:30 PM,
in lieu of the usual "Iftar" dinner they would hold during Ramadan. They are a very congenial group and love visitors. COnsider participating.     Meeting ID: 872 4313 1268  Password: 032501   

An article on how epidemic models have evolved,
in the New York Times, makes me feel I've been right all along when I said "I can't even guess what will be going on two weeks in the future."

Some odd bits of "religious" news that may be of interest to some:
      In some instances, German prisoners of war were buried in US military cemeteries. In several instances, the "religious" symbol used on the grave was a swastika. Someone is demanding that these be removed; the VA says it will not removve them as they are a piece of history and it is supposed to preserve history.    (I agree with the VA on this one.)
       In Lakewood, NJ, a fundamentalist Jewish rabbi and a Christian minister have sued the state saying it cannot ban large religious gatherings. I happen to agree with them as a constitutional matter - I don't know how the courts will rule -  but I also think they are real dangers to public health if they hold large gatherings.  The rabbi held such a gathering and was arrested.
(I had not mentioned the very minor Jewish holiday of Lag B'Omer here this year  since the customary outdoor  events in Memphis did not happen and I got word of on-line events too late to post.) 
      An excellent and interesting editorial by an orthodox rabbi, giving a lot of interesting Judaica and critical of the rabbi who held the service and was arrested, is at
   ("minyanim" is the plural of "minyan", a meeting of at least ten men.)

May 12, 

The Muslim holiday Eid El-Fitr,
the completion of Ramadan, is sunset May 23 to sunset May 24.   As with Jewish and Christian holidays, mosques take up special collections to try to provide funds so that everyone in eed can have extra food or whatever else is needed for the holiday.  A typical mosque in town is requesting donations of $10 per family member; part of the phrasing of the request for "Zakat-ul-Fitr", the "charity for the festival"  is  "It is obligatory on each Muslim young or old, male or female, rich or poor to give Zakat-ul-Fitr if he/she has food exceeding his and his dependents' needs for one day and one night. A Muslim must pay on his own behalf and on the behalf of financial dependents that he is obligated to support such as his children and wife."  (Jews will notice the Arabic "Zakat", cognate to the Hebrew "Tzdakah". 
Jews will perhaps also not be surprised that good deeds in the last ten days of Ramadan count double, as do good deeds for the Jews between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.)

While I'm not sure there is anything really new here, these may be worth reviewing: (Links courtesy of Jewish Family Services)

May 11.

       "J Street"
is an American Jewish organization that works for liberal policies in Israel; e.g. it lobbies for the "two-state" solution and rights for Palestinians.
It has a series of online videos and streams, at     In particular, upcoming streams include
Weds May 13, 2 PM (Eastern, so 1 PM Memphis) - the Bereaved Families Forum (talks by activists on both sides who have lost family members in the fighting - Eunice and I have met with the two main speakers) and Thursday May 14, 2 PM Eastern = 1 PM Memphis, Palestinian leaders talk about the threat of annexation.
May 10.

9 am      I've previously mentioned Story Corps,  an organization that records video interviews -
memoirs, for NPR and for the Library of Congress. In the past these were recorded in a studio by appointment. During the virus, they have arranged to record video interviews online - you can interview a spouse, a child, a parent, a friend, about the experience of this year or about family history or the like.  I've urged people to keep diaries; this is another step in documenting this period of time for future generations.
     Incidentally, that page has a link to a "great questions" list, that is useful for memoir or diary writing. And I highly recommend this as an online activity for youth groups and adult on line Sunday school classes or similar.

The argument against reopening houses of worship is made very effectively here (the virus spread article I mentioned yesterday drew on this:)

Another very interesting essay, by a Canadian, on the lockdown question:
May 9,
     An outstanding article on how the virus spreads: 
(OUCH - since I listed the link below, Norton has tentatively listed it as an infected website (computer analysis, no human attention). So I've disabled the link.
Then again, shortly later, McAfee says they have checked carefully and it is safe.  Are we confused yet?) 
Instead, I've provided the text of the article  as a pdf, HERE      That unfortunately deletes the diagrams which I'll get online shortly after cleaning them.
An apparently safe article with much the same data, but less readable, is at
I try to read the Tri-State Defender partly on the assumption that many readers of this page do not. It currently has two interesting articles about local colleges that I enjoyed.  On U of M on-line teaching, a piece that might interest church youth groups:
      And about the situation at LeMoyne-Owen College. I've often said that I'm not sure Memphis works without the leadership in the Black community that comes from graduates of leMoyne-Owen, so I worry about it during the epidemic.

    And a reminder of the Memphis Islamic Center on-line program tonight at 9:30 PM -
(If non-Muslims are puzzled by the late hour - it is to give people time to eat dinner after sunset and evening prayers, during Ramadan)

May 8.

    Youth groups, Sunday School classes, home schoolers, or various equivalents might enjoy some of the short videos
in the "Kindness 101" series on CBS:
    A website that might be useful to some educators - 
Here is an article on a program by Apple to assist homeschoolers with disabilities:
     Laura Gettys, who has been Acting Dean at St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, will be leaving there at the end of May. Beginning July 1, she will be the Associate for Outreach and Engagement at Grace-St. Luke’s Church, Memphis. (St. Mary's is searching for a new Dean.)  Her video statement is at
     The National Civil Rights Museum has an on-lione survey asking advice of supporters on reopening. It may be helpful to them for you to fill it out; it might also be a model for houses of worship who may want to gather similar information.  It apperars in a pop-up window at

May 7
      The churches I've heard from so far are still planning on staying closed through May, and deciding later in May on future plans.
      For the continuing closure statement issued by the mosques, collectively, see
Some churches  are feeling the pinch, as no collection plates are being passed. A few are organizing on-line events instead of more traditional fund-raising events.
The Memphis Islamic Center will be doing a major on-line fundraiser, in lieu of a dinner, May 9, 9:30 PM, on Youtube:

May 6

     The Indian Cultural Center and Temple
is opening very slightly. An individual or family (maximum 6 people) may be appointment coem to the temple for a ceremony perormed individually for them by one of the priests.

       I've had a very interesting discussion with one friend, with her wondering how her church could possibly function at 25% of capacity - it is a catholic church whose Spanish-language mass was already bursting at the seams. Multiple services, surely - but would you need to make reservations and have tickets?
       Ida B. Wells, Memphis Civil Rights icon, has receibved a posthumous Pulitzer Prize.

      A great many restaurants in and near Memphis reopened as soon as it was possible, and I think a lot of other things are opening.  New Covid cases in Shelby Couty are down.  I've said before: this situation has changed so rapidly that  it is viry\tually impossible to say what the situation will be two weeks in the future.  We hope and pray that the reopening will not cause an increase in cases, but it may well take two to four weeks to tell. I continue to urge everyone to be very cautious and avoid being in groups of more than a few people for the next several weeks. And I hope I'm being more cautious than necessary.  Nationally, cases seem to be on the rise almost everywhere excwept the big cities that had the initial surge, so the country isn't out of this yet.

May 5.
 There is an excellent article on the legal/constitutional questions
about freedom of religion and church closings, which addresses questions much wider than those in New York and goes across multiple religious groups and practices, at

A judge in Davidson County has ruled the the Tennessee school voucher program due to go into effect this fall in Davidson and Shelby counties violates the Tennessee constitution.
This is a question of intense interest to many of us, and there are sharply differing views.  I believe strongly that a good, well-funded, public school system is essential to American democracy. It is also true that the Catholic Schools are important to our society and are in great financial difficulties; their collapse would severely burden the public schools. And of course Memphis has Jewish and Muslim day schools as well as the many other church and private schools. I don't think that we, as a society, have at this time any consensus as to how to handle the cost of education.

The Benjamin Hooks Institute at the University of Memphis gives an annual book award.  The hour lecture on the occasion of last November's award is now online at

Temple Israel has a nice way of putting its full week program online. Here is this issue:
It includes, for example, music May 6 (Wednesday) 7 PM,  services Friday 6 PM and Saturday 8 PM, classes Wednesday noon, Thursday 10 am, Saturday 8:45 AM,
a career transition group, and links to several sermons and talks.  Several of these programs require you to check in in advance by e-mail, so look in advance.

In my view, it continues to be almost impossibel to guess what the situation will be two weeks in the future.  If President Trump actually thinks "it is over" and a lot of states try to resume "normal life", including gatherings of large groups of people, I think matter could get much worse than they are now.

May 4.

A significant number of synagogues, nationally,
have announced they will not reopen, even if their governors permit it, regarding it as too unsafe.
In New York, Mayor deBlasio's denunciation of the large crowd that gathered for a Jewish funeral has led to interesting discussions, with a lot of support for the mayor from the Jewish community. There is a fascinating article on the relationship between the  traditional (maybe read this as  "fundamentalist") Jews of New York with the government there, at

A request - I find the Jewish Telegraphic Agency an interesting source of information, Are there any coparable Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Busshist, or other sources that I should be reading?  Recommendations requested.

It is the 50th anniversary of the Kent State shooting. James Michener wrote an excellent book on the subject.  Very briefly, the National Guard was sent in to try to control a demonstration against  the Vietnam War on a college campus which some expected to get out of hand. The young National Guardsmen, probably not having been adequately trained for such a situation, got scared and opened fire, killing a bunch of students. I recall this now because  due to the coronavirus and resulting emergency restrictions,  and due to armed demonstrators in some state capitals, demanding "reopening" with the apparent support of President Trump,  governors are necessarily aware that the Police and National Guard forces available to them are increasingly faced with situations far different for the situations for which they have typically been trained.

Chabad (orthodox Jewish) will again have a Tuesday Zoom discussion, "Cultivating Character, 12-12:30 PM Tuesday
and a Wednesday cooking class, baking some sweet desserts, 11-11:30 Wednesday .    They will be at

The Lynching Sites of Memphis project has put two fascinating pieces online. One is a video from their recent virtual meeting:
A Presentation by David Johnson, Thomas Watson Fellow '19 to the Lynching Sites Project of Memphis (LSP) on his independently designed global exploration of how countries reconcile with their past in Northern Ireland, Germany, Rwanda, South Africa, Chile, and Peru.  (1 hour 21 minutes)
The other is a presentation by the Hattiloo Theatre and Ballet Memphis, Lola's Southern Fields", about the life of Ida B. Wells. Ida B. Wells is one of the major figures in the history of Memphis and of the US civil rights movement. Online at    (1 hour 12 minutes) 

May 3.   11 AM

    The present time gives us a chance to see  a variety of religious services and sermons online.  This morning I enjoyed the very different techniques employed by two churches -
St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral which has various parts of the liturgy read by a variety of people, each in their own home, and Balmoral Presbyterian Church, which puts its worship bulletin and hymnbook pages online,  has a very small choir perform (with appropriate spacing) in the church sanctuary and uses a variety of still pictures and movie clips as background for the service.
for a sample online worship bulletin:
Services online live and archived      (or on a smart TV, search for Balmoral Presbyterian Church on Youtube.)
St Mary's:
has its services at 
and musical offerings at    
Youtube search    even turns up an interesting history of the church.

May 2       9 PM

You can watch the Hindu ceremonies at the Indian Cultural Center and Temple
online at
I believe there are live-streamed events, as well as a collection of recorded cermonies and events at

The city is considering what venues can reopen sooner.  I;'m obviously not an expert on many things, but it would seem to me that outdoor exhibits at the zoo and outdoor areas at the Botanic Garden might possibly be able to be enjoyed without the forming of closely-packed groups. Then again, with schools not open and a limited number of places to go, the result might be unacceptable crowding.  There are times I'm glad that I'm not the one who has to make the decisions.

The Memphis YMCA is planning to move its headquarters offices to a vacant office building in the Goodlett Farms Office Park and establish a new "resource center", 71 Goodlett Farms Parkway. No information on when.

The Memphis Women's Foundation, unable to hold its scheduled fundraising luncheon, did a food and medical sup0ply give-away instead.

Covid Testing sites still seem to pop up relatively unpredictably, but the tests are getting somewhat easier to find.

May 1, 6 PM

Gov. Lee has ordered that cities not restrict houses of worship. 
So while Shelby County mayors had agreed not to significantly reopen church services (they would allow groups of up to ten in house of worship, but not full services) Governor Lee has taken the position that the government should not restrict religion, and that while the government may ADVISE small groups and social distancing, it cannot REQUIRE houses of worship to do that. They may have usual services if they wish.  I'm going to editorialize. This is a very bad idea.  I'll comment below on my agreement with Gov. Lee in principle.  But it would be a terribly bad idea right now to hold  services that put groups of people close together and endanger both those attending and the general public health, for the reasons I've given in the last couple of days.  Please, Please, do not hold or go to large gatherings.  We've seen a remarkable range of  on-line and virtual programs spring up in the last month - from online religious services, classes, lectures, to beautiful and memorable online memorial services for the deceased and online movies with lively sidebar and post-movie discussions. Let's continue this for at least a few more weeks, and taper off slowly as cases of virus decline significantly.

At least some pastors in the "group of 15"  (see April 28 below) have said they will wait at least until mid-May to decide about reopening; at least one church has said they will reconsider toward the end of May.

     I highly value the freedom of religion in the US. I recall a time around 1990 when  students from Eastern Europe (communist bloc countries) began to arrive at the University of Memphis and someone sent a delegation of them to me with a question - "Why is there a church on every street corner?"  That's almost  true just west of the University of Memphis campus, and of course in communist countries churches were few and far between.  Abbreviating my longer answer: in the 1500's and 1600's, Europe had religious wars. Sometimes the king chose a church and persecuted people who did not go to the church the king chose. So sometimes people who did not want to go to the king's church packed up and moved to North America. North America was selectively settled by people who did not want to be required to attend a church someone else chose.  From the earliest times, our laws have been written to make it as easy as possible to go across the street from a church you don't like and build one that you do like.  The government never says "there are too many churches in this neighborhood."   Early state constitutions are fun to read: one said approximately "we will allow the freedom to assemble and worship peacefully to any group that does not interfere with the right of other groups to assemble and worship peacefully."  
        So there is something to be said for Gov. Lee's position that the government should not say "you cannot assemble to worship."  But let us not be foolish and endanger people.

The Memphis College of Art is having its last commencement (online) this week.
It has produced a remarkable legacy website, including a "catalog", a memorial book about the college which is viewable and downloadable for free.
As sorry as I am to see the Memphis College of Art pass away, I am extremely impressed and proud of the way they have carried the process out.          On the closing process:

May 1  8 AM

The detailed rules for "phase 1" reopening
are at
I'm afraid I stand by my advice of yesterday - on the whole, stay at home.  When testing increases and number ofd new cases reported locally shows a distinct downward trend, we can be much more confident that a spike in cases will not overcrowd local hospitals; the mayors seem to have decided that the risk iof overcrowding local hospitals is now small. But as happ yas I am that we may not overcrowd local hospitals, I'd still rather not be one of the patients. Apologies for editorializing that way, but I couldn't help myself.

I will clarify  my statistics of yesterday somewhat - it was late at night and I botched the calculation, As  of April 27, about 2.7 people  per 1000 in Shelby County had been confirmed as having the virus. That number had doubled since April 12. Since many people are considered to have recovered after about 14 days - and are then believed to be no longer contagious, the number of diagnosed cases not yet considered recovered is somewhere around  1.3 per 1000.  The number of undiagnosed cases is, of course, unknown, but most estimates put it much higher than the number of diagnosed cases. Luckily, many cases seem to be so mild that they don't get diagnosed.

April 30

A nice Hebrew singing group (thanks to Rabbi Feival Strauss for the link)

the film "Viral" about Antisemitism which was shown on-line on April 30   will appear on WKNO-TV May 26 at 8 PM.
A very interesting film with sections about England, France, and Hungary among other things.
 There was an excellent Zoom discussion after the 90 minute movie, with  a very large particularization.
Special thanks to Johnathan Judaken, Dimitry Anselme, and March Stagner, the panel.

THE NUMBERS I PUT UP YESTERDAY HERE WERE WRONG. I'M TRYING AGAIN (I amended this paragraph this morning.)
I'm trying to understand statistics
about the coronavirus, in attempting to understand the issues about reopening. Very roughly (my calculations) in Queens, New York, about 23 people per thousand have been diagnosed with the virus.  In Shelby County, about 2.7 in 1000.  In many rural areas, an average of about 1 or less per 1000.  (In Tennessee as a whole, about 1.5 per 1000.)
Now, suppose your house of worship has a service attended by 100 people. It is entirely possible that none of them have the virus. But if one does and is actively contagious (not necessarily showing symptoms yet) it would be very easy for 5 or 10 to be exposed to it, and if those 5 or 10 come the next week, it would be very easy for  25 to be exposed - and if a bunch of churches (etc.) do that, it would be easy for local hospitals to be overwhelmed with cases, as they were in Queens.  Now those "1 in 1000" numbers may just mean that people in rural areas have not been tested yet, we don't know.  My own thinking is - I think if I go to enough meetings, I'll get it. I will not give up going to meetings (churches, theaters, etc.) indefinitely - but in September they will know how to treat the disease much better than they did in March, and we are already seeing signs of that.  So if I'm going to get it, the later I get it the better. I want to resume going to meetings, but I'm in no hurry.  When Germany loosened restrictions, the number of new cases started to grow again; the trick is to do reopening slowly enough that cases don't increase to the point where hospitals have trouble coping.  The two-week delay in being able to see responses to changes in social activities makes it hard to do this. Do keep in touch with friends, watch on-line events and participate in Zoom meetings and the like, and do find ways to support the local economy - on-line purchases, carry-out meals, donations to local charities - but, on the whole, stay at home.

April 29

On April 30th, 2020, at 6:00pm CDT, six community organizations are joining forces to make the new PBS documentary “Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations” accessible for an advanced public online screening, followed by a discussion with Professor Jonathan Judaken of Rhodes College and Dimitry Anselme of Facing History and Ourselves. The discussion will be moderated by Marcy Stagner, M.A. Ed. and Program Director of Cultural Arts and Adult Services at the Memphis Jewish Community Center.
    the Press Release is here, and the Poster is here.   You have to go in advance to the link  to RSVP and open an account to sign up. Given the sponsorship (Rhodes College, Facing History, WKNO) I believe that the sign-up site has been properly vetted.

      A lawsuit settlement in Memphis supported the right of workers to wear a hijab at work
.  Since it is a settlement rather than a legal ruling, its value as precedent may be limited. But it is of considerable interest.

Temple Israel has put together a large collection of its recent videos at
The Friday evening 6 PM service is online each week,
While many houses of worship have their services online, the interesting item here is that the full prayerbook is now online, for free, at
(If you are a first time user, you may think turning the pages does not work. Be aware that in a Hebrew book, pages turn in the other direction. Use the < arrow to go forward and the > arrow to go backwards!)  The table of contents is on page 7; you can just type a 7 between < and >.

The Memphis Jewish Community Center has a speaker on "Unity without Uniformity", 10 AM April 30.
To register, please CLICK HERE.

St. John's Episcopal has a "Tour of the Pipe Organ" at

Calvary Episcopal will stream its Evensong this Sunday
May 3 5 -6 PM

Since I'm Jewish,
I feel I should point out that it is not just a few fundamentalist Christians whose refusal to "Social Distance" is a problem. For a Jewish funeral that got out of hand, see

       Massachusetts has joined the list of states that tells new arrivals in the state to quarantine for 14 days. I must admit to bewilderment at the notion in so many places that the infection comes from "elsewhere". Apparently the more serious the problem already is in a given place, the stronger the desire to prevent it entering from "elsewhere."  Perhaps more productively, several cities in Massachusetts have now enacted local ordinances requiring wearing face masks in public, with substantial fines for violation.  Massachusetts says they will continue the full stay-at-home system until at least May 18.

    At least one airline now requires passengers to wear face masks, which I'd have thought would have been one of the first places to require them. 

April 28

A large group of local clergy, including many most of us know and respect, have signed a letter "calling for what they label a moral, thoughtful approach to move the community forward instead one driven solely by political, economic or even health concerns." They stress 
paying attention to scientific and medical principles . There is an article on this at
The letter itself is HERE.

   An example of future planning: Good News from Luna Nova Music!
This summer Luna Nova Music will present our 14th Annual Belvedere Chamber Music June 17-20. Because of Covid-19 we will be offering these concerts only online by means of Facebook, YouTube, and other digital services. Each evening a new concert will be presented and the content will remain online subsequently. Some of the composers represented will be Bach, Bartok, Debussy, Poulenc, Boulanger, Prokofiev and others. We are so grateful to be able to carry this tradition into its 14th year despite these completely unexpected circumstances.

On the other hand the Botanic Garden has had to cancel its :"Live at the Garden" summer concert series.

The University of Memphis says it hopes to reopen in the fall but is "studying all scenarios."

April 27  9 pm
     Chabad  (orthodox Jewish) has two zoom classes in the next couple of days -
if it is not a group you usually go to, it is a nice chance to look in -
        Tuesday Noon, 1/2 hour - Rabbi Klein, Cultivating Character: Life Wisdom from the Ethics of Our Fathers  (The "Ethics of the Fathers"
           is a traditional Jewish text often studied between Passover and Shavuot, and fun to read for anyone.)
        Wednesday 11 AM, half hour , Baking with Mrs. Rivka Klein, Yummy Bars, find the ingredients list here.
         Both classes are live-streamed at

April 27   9 AM

      The Daily Memphian reports that Memphis now has enough tests available that people can be tested even if not showing symptoms.
Commercial Appeal has an article suggesting that pastors (etc.) be tested as a way of urging members of their congregations to be tested.
In my judgement, those who have a need to deal with multiple people in a typical day, even indirectly (e.g. grocery store and restaurant employees) should probably want to be tested as soon as they can make an appointment.  While Tennessee yesterday had its largest increase in number of cases to date, this may be a reporting result due to increased testing rather than increased spread.  Maybe we will know better in another two weeks.

      I've commented earlier on the differences between Kentucky and Tennessee in covid statistics. There is finally a serious article on this, at
comparing Memphis with Nashville as well as Tennessee with Kentucky. It does not answer many of my questions, but does better than I could do alone.
And it is important data for those trying to understand race and poverty in Memphis.

I'm continuing to enjoy the orthodox Jewish live-stream and recorded lectures at
and the current Muslim lectures at     Their older videos are at

     The next ELECTIONS in Shelby County will be August 6 and November  3.  Deadline to register for the August 6 election
(if you have not registered in the past, or haven't voted for a few years) is July 7,
 Helpful links are at
There may be additional reasons this year to vote early (smaller group of people at the polls) or vote absentee.
Absentee voting information is at
If you are new in town, be aware that you can register by mail, or vote by mail, but that for your first vote here either the registration or the vote must be done in person.

      While there has not been the big wave that my partner Heidi feared of bans on interstate travel, one coastal town in Massachusetts (Salisbury) is presently refusing to turn on town water for residents who had their water turned off when they went away for the cold season.  Some other towns with large seasonal populations are imposing two-week quarantines on arrivals, in addition to the several states that request two-week isolation of arrivals (without legally compelling it.)  The US Department of Defense still has mandatory isolation orders in place on most of its military and overseas employees.

April 26

A friend who works with the visually disabled
passes on this website of helpful resources. Does anyone know of a church (or other...) youthgroup (or other...) that works with or wants to learn to work with blind or low-vision people?  If so, I have access to more resources.
The blind of course often depend on touch to get around, which is complicated by coronavirus social distancing. There is
an article at

A few more places have begun restricting people from traveling to seasonal homes.

According to Breitbart (but it seems plausible anyway) Britain is expanding the use of 14-day quarantines and threatening to criminally prosecute those who violate quarantine.

There is a fancy all-day Israel Indendence Day celebration on April 29, charge is $18 and up.

April 25

The Lynching Sites Project of Memphis will have its regular (virtual) meeting
Monday April 27 at 6 PM. 
Speaker is ,David Alan Johnson.  David is a native of Brownsville, TN, and is a graduate of the University of the South in Sewanee, TN, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Politics with a minor in Economics. In March of 2019, he was selected as 1 of 41 Thomas J. Watson Fellows throughout the United States, for a project he independently designed exploring how countries reconcile with their past in Northern Ireland, Germany, Rwanda, South Africa, Chile, and Peru.
By Zoom;  

Email RSVP to 4/27/20 LSP Zoom Meeting
Click here to learn more about our speaker, David Johnson

MICAH will be having a major (virtual) meeting
on Monday April 27, 6 PM. (Each 4th Monday) The link for information and to register is at
Also, MICAH is collecting stories of what is happening to individuals -  how the current crisis interacts with major MICAH interests and initiatives.
To have an individual interview, see

April 24   11 AM

Ramadan Mubarak!  (Have a blessed Ramadan). 
Today, Friday, is the first day of the month of Ramadan, when observing Muslims fast (no food or drink) from sunrise to sunset, if they are able (there is a lot of flexibility for those who are pregnant, ill, and so on.)   Ordinarily, there are many extra prayers at the mosques during this time. Also, the mosques typically have "Iftar", a break-the-fast just after the sunset service, which can vary from something equivalent to a church coffee-and-doughnuts to a full meal.  This year, of course, all these things will have to be done online via Zoom, Facebook, or similar media.
       The mosques do want to do food distribution for those in need, both Muslim and non-Muslim. Masjid As-Salaam, at the top of Stratford Road, to give one example, is distributing boxed meals on a drive-up basis between 6 and 7 PM for people to take home and eat after sunset. Memphis Islamic Center will do this 6-7 PM Fridays through Sundays and is hoping for donations so they can do it more evenings.   Present estimated cost is $1000/day.
       Of course, for many years the Islamic community in Memphis has has a large celebratory Interfaith Iftar dinner with speakers one evening; that is also impossible this year. I expect there will be talks and sermons that readers of this page will want to look at on-line in lieu of that wonderful evening, and I'll post links here from time to time. 
      If you'd like to see a local Muslim Imam explaining the rules of fasting, a talk at the Memphis Islamic Center is at

The Shelby County Health Department now says that covid-19 testing is available to anyone "having even mild symptoms"

St. John's Episcopal has services available online at
Beth Sholom synagogue has some classes and groups on line at
   (If you are puzzled by a word on that page, "Meditations on the Parshah", the Parshah is what Christians would call "The first lesson", the first Bible reading in the Saturday morning service. It is the same text in traditional synagogues throughout the world, roughly six chapters; in the course of the year synagogues read the entire first five books of the Hebrew Bible.  Since the lesson is a long reading, the discussion usually is based on a smaller selection from it. )
The Jewish Community Center has an every-Thursday 8 PM  program,  
The Indian Cultural Center and Temple has a calendar page which has links to descriptions of many of their ceremonies.

Crosstown Arts  has a website where local musicians can (for free) post performances, and viewers can (for free or a donation) watch them.

An increasing number of churches are having Zoom meetings or the equivalent of small groups so that one can have discussions, keep up with friends, etc.  If they are advertised too widely there have beem occasional problems with "Zoom bombing", e.g. a Jewish meeting that suddenly had a large number of trolls displaying Hitler faces sign in. So often they are publicized only on a church's own mailing list, or there is a "register in advance" provision so that only known real people can get in.  St. Mary's Episcopal, for example, is doing Sunday School with a passworded sign-in, and a "Meet with Clergy and Friends" on a basis of  "sign in in advance a way that we can see your name and recognize it."  So if you are interested in those and are not on their regular e-mail list , call the church (or e-mail me of the church for help).   If other houses of worship are having any troubles in this regard, I suspect that St. Mary's has a tech person who could help.

An interesting feature of modern times
is the availability of many whole books for free on the internet. I've recently found myself browsing in (which keeps trying to sell me a full membership so I can see who is reading my papers, but the free membership is quite adequate since I'm not doing much mathematics research these days.)  I recently found the book Paradise & Paradigm: Key Symbols in Persian Christianity and the Baha’i Faith (SUNY Press, 1999) available for free download, which interested me since I don't much about Baha'i in many places, and comparisons between otherwise quite different religions intrigue me.
You can just go to  , do a search on a few words of interest, and browse.

Some US government organizations are taking quarantine orders much more seriously than others.  On Facebook at  
is notice of a disciplinary action by US Armed Forces Korea (USFK)  against a civilian employee.
(In explanation, being excluded from the US military base for two years, for a civilian, means "you are fired"; that is the typical term of civilian contracts on such bases.)

 April 22, 7 PM

Daily Musical offerings from St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral
are at

Calvary Episcopal Church has a weekly podcast series, perhaps an attempt to make up for the cancelled part of the Lenten Lecture Series.
The current one is at
Topics this week include the effect of Covid-19 on communities of color.  This link also provides further linkls to other talks from Calvary.
Calvary still needs clothes for its clothes closet for the homeless,
The Memphis Theological Seminary will award degrees in May but the commencement ceremony will be postponed, probably until October 3.
President jody Hill says: I will be offering the sermon at our virtual chapel service at 11:10am on Thursday, April 30th. We will use this worship opportunity to give thanks to God in celebration of our graduates. Please join us on Zoom:
Meeting ID: 951 2817 8190    Password: MTS2020

The Church Health Center is being very successful in adding telemedicine meetings. They have been able to connect with patients who rarely manage to come in in person, improving care in such cases.  They have partnered with the Food Bank and are able to passout food boxes to qualified people who come to their drive-through corona-testing.

The Memphis Botanic Garden is still selling nursery plants, order on-line and pick up in your car.

By extending the stay-at-home program for two weeks at this time, Mayor Strickland seems to be agreeing with what I said yesterday (in agreement with so many others) - life is changing so rapidly that it is unreasonable to make guesses more than two weeks in advance.

April 21, 8 AM

It remains impossible to predict what life will be like, even two weeks in advance. 
Gov. Lee wants to reopen as much as possible in a week or two, saying there are enough virus tests available. Urban counties will probably come later, but no idea how long. Shelby County still can only test health workers and people with symptoms or known exposure, and is unlikely to open many places as soon. (I'd rather not go into a store unnecessarily if the employees have not been tested, at least at present.  )
    Houses of worship, because people tend to be close together, may come later rather than sooner. At least one church has announced they are planning on keeping the building closed at least through May, although of course that too may change.  Mosques, incidentally, tend to closer contact than even churches and synagogues; for prayer the men stand in rows  with feet  touching the feet of the man on either side (feet slightly spread, to give adequate space to prostrate at the appropriate times.)

    Online music group at Temple Israel April 22 at  7 PM.  Annual meeting online and services online Feb 24.  Details and more at
    I encourage more houses of worship to put newsletters online; it is easier for me to link. Note that I list the home pages of many houses of worship on my address page.

It is interesting to watch the different approaches to emergency needs  taken by various religious groups in the city to help those hurt by the unemployment surge and coronavirus-related problems.  Many charities are issuing the expected pleas for added donations, and the needs are very obvious, from churches handing out packaged meals to the homeless (e.g. St. Marys), a meal program for unemployed restaurant workers (Caritas), added need for meals-on-wheels and other packaged meals ( and far too many others to name. 
Church Health Center        now has Covid-19 testing among its services.

The Community Foundation of Greater Memphis ( and Jewish Foundation of Memphis ( two examples of places maintaining lists of special needs and helping to raise money for them or route money to them.

 Two organizations that have "political" complications need mentioning too: 
     The state has been trying very hard to starve Planned Parenthood   of funds and state cooperation,
     As an alternative the state has been routing funds to Christ Community Health, but as a result it is Christ Community Health  that gets to do the Covid-19 testing, and really does have special needs as a result.

While Jews and Christians have at least an inherited tradition of "tithing", that is, donating ten percent of income to charity, the Muslim tradition is different. Called "Zakat" (an obvious relative of the Hebrew word "Tzedaka" for charity)  the traditional amount is two and a half percent of capital, or more technically,  of "capital less what you need for present living expenses". One of the major fund-raising times for Muslims is the run-up to the fasting month of Ramadan, which begins the evening of April 23.  One appeal presently being made by local mosques is for anyone who has the cash on hand to donate $300, which they figure will provide food for a typical family for the month of Ramadan.

April 20, 10 PM

The evening of April 21 is celebrated buy many Jewish Groups as "Yom HaShoah", a day of remebrance of the Holocaust.
There are a number of forms of online celebration this year. Information of the Memphis Jewish Federation's program is at
The program starts at 6:30 PM Tuesday evening, but check out the site before that for any necessary preparations (e.g. downloading the program),
and plan to sign in about 6:15 PM to go through the check-in process.

Has everyone found the census questionnaire online, and filled it out?
The "national origin" question turns out to be optional - a very interesting fact for some immigrants and those with nationally-mixed immigrant backgrounds (me, for example).
There is an interesting article on this at
(The article discusses  Middle Eastern and North African - origin immigrants as well as European Jews.)

Another page with covid-19 statistics, which includes the number of tests administered, is

There is an exceptionally well done article on civil liberties implications of cell phone ocation tracking  (which may be important to control virus spread) at
April 19  3 PM

 You have to sign up in advance for the April 30 movie -details fixed in the April 18 entry below.

I remain bewildered about virus testing.
President Trump feels there are enough tests out there. Governor Lee appears to agree, having announced that anyone can be tested, for free, without regard to symptoms.
However, that website talks in terms of pop-up National Guard testing centers weekends in rural counties.  So far as I know, the test centers in Shelby County still require appointments and prioritize those with appropriate symptoms or insist upon appropriate symptoms.  A recent example is   about a test center in Frayser.   It is obvious (at least to me) that we can't get back to anywhere near normal unless a large numbert of symptom-free people have been tested (as a simple example, medical establishment employees, grocery store employees,  then almost everyone who has to have contact with considerable numbers of the public.) 
I assume that the testing information at   remains correct.

Senator Alexander's office has provided a link to the list of schools, colleges and universities  receiving federal grants to allow them to help students with COVID-19 related expenses (The University of memphis is on the list but hard to find - alphabetized under "U")

Memphis Islamic Center has daily online classes at 2 PM as well as every evening. Evenings are mainly 8 PM.     

Have you ever wondered how Ramadan (the month of fasting sunrise to sunset) works? There is a werokshop this evening at 8:30 PM

April 18, 9 PM

On April 30th, 2020, at 6:00pm CDT, six community organizations are joining forces to make the new PBS documentary “Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations” accessible for an advanced public online screening, followed by a discussion with Professor Jonathan Judaken of Rhodes College and Dimitry Anselme of Facing History and Ourselves. The discussion will be moderated by Marcy Stagner, M.A. Ed. and Program Director of Cultural Arts and Adult Services at the Memphis Jewish Community Center.
    the Press Release is here, and the Poster is here.   You have to go in advance to the link  to RSVP and open an account to sign up. Given the sponsorship (Rhodes College, Facing History, WKNO) I believe that the sign-up site has been properly vetted.

The Unity Church of Applied Christianity, which hosts many interfaith events, has a new Associate Pastor, Rev. Mickey Quinton. Since going to meet him in person is impractical, I note that he'll be introduced on the livestream 10:45 Sunday morning at
and the message will be available later at, the pages of Unity Church.

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center has a coronavirus fact sheet for kids, at

One religious group that covers the news in interesting ways is the American Friends Service Committee. You might enjoy looking at their website at

Chattanooga has decided to allow drive-in church services, everyone to stay in their own car, no passing of collection plates or camparable contacts. Last week some people were charged with improper assembly after a similar service.

I'm not sure whether to be pleased or distressed when someone else notices something I noticed earlier. On March 23 on this page I noted that in early March the US was still shipping medical equipment to  China, to fight the virus in China. The Washington Post had an article on that this evening.
(and no, I'm certainly not claiming that "I knew better". My March 23 remark was about the fast rate of change in the situation catching everyone by surprise).

With the press so polarized, it is easy to see how badly each side misunderstands the other's beliefs.  It is so very easy to assume the best of one's own side and the worst of the other. I am unable to resist quoting a story from an on-line Orthodox Jewish class I listened to a few days ago, on the subject of how our preconceived ideas cloud our vision: Two older Jewish women are sitting on their porch, from which they can see the door of a whorehouse down the street.  One day they observe the local priest go in. “It’s a shame to see a man of the cloth backsliding”. The next day they see the local minister go it. “That’s terrible, He’s married. How awful. His poor wife.”   The third day they see their rabbi go it. “Wow, one of those poor girls must be really sick, if they’ve had to call the rabbi.”

April 17, 3 PM

Bridges, unable to do in-person gatherings, is developing on-line activities.
If you know a high-school student, or have contact with a church youth group, scout group,  or the equivalent, point them at  where Bridges is looking for good ideas to help Memphis.

An article about MIFA and Meals-on-Wheels is at

Idlewild Presbyterian Church has its services online (live and recorded) at

Apparently, Shelby County is not doing quite as well at social distancing as it was two weeks ago.  Many people in the interfaith community will know Dr. Manoj Jain, quoted in the articles, an interfaith activist and a founder of the Gandhi-King conferences in Memphis.

The latest word on getting tested (from the Commercial Appeal article)
"    "As it stands right now, we are testing only those individuals who are presenting symptoms of the virus (i.e. running a fever, cough, body aches, etc.). In the future and as our supply of tests increase, it is our goal to be able to test asymptomatic patients; however, we are not there yet," Strickland wrote in his update.
"      While COVID-19 tests may not yet be plentiful enough to start testing asymptomatic individuals, the testing availability for symptomatic individuals is underutilized, officials said on Wednesday and reiterated on Thursday. "

Johns Hopkins has a map with statistics by county, and some details I had not seen elsewhere, at

April 17. 8 AM

St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral is not having the 8 AM prayers and breakfast with the homeless, but they still need food.
They are passing out food packages at 8 AM Wednesday mornings,
you can bring or send prepackaged food   to Constance Abbey - 215 Hamlin Place, 38105.  Further info on how to help,  call 901.336.1103
St. Mary's daily musical offerings are at

As long as you have a car, it is now increasingly easy to be tested for coronavirus. 
If you've been out of the house at all in recent weeks, it is a good idea to get tested. A good article on this is at
(But the authorities now say - IF you have symptoms, get tested.)
As of 9 PM Thursday evening, the number of reported cases in the US was 675,640
, per the unofficial site Looking back [in my comments below]  to March 23, at that point there were about 30,000 cases, and the growth rate was such that if unchecked we'd have reached a million cases by about April 7.  The  growth rate has slowed, considerably (although the actual number of new cases stil increase daily). The numbers of cases and deaths was up about 4.5 % yesterday, compared to about 20 to 26% a day in late March.  Tennessee's growth rate is also in the 4% range, evidence that social distancing is helping considerably. If the daily increase remains about 4.5% the United States will be at a million cases in two weeks; we all hope that the rate will continue to slow.
I've commented earlier on the discrepancies between Tennessee's statistics and Kentucky's. They have a comparable number of deaths (141 and 129, respectively) but a huge difference in diagnosed cases - Tennessee reports 6,262 and Kentucky 2,429.  But in the site just mentioned  there is a column for number of tests done: Tennessee 85.049 and Kentucky 29,747. I don't know why Kentucky has tested so many fewer, but one may now reasonably guess that the number of cases in the two states is comparable (since the death totals are so close) but that Kentucky is testing only the gravely ill, and Tennessee is testing more people who are not quite as sick, and getting a smaller percentage of positive results. Of course, the local press also conjectures that many of the Tennessee results are false negatives, that the tests are not accurate enough.  But the approximate 2% death rate in the early stage (2% of 6,262 would be 124) is very comparable to what was experienced in the early stage in other places. That rate seems to lower as experience is gained, as testing and treatment become better.

April 16

There are interesting animated charts
(of the virus) at 
They are downloadable if you want to save one for a computerized diary.

There have been security problems reported with Zoom.  If you have a zoom account, be sure the password is completely unlike any of your other passwords.  I've heard from at least one church that says that because of these security concerns, it is not listing Zoom meetings on its website, just sending notices by e-mail to those on its mailing list.  So I may start to have trouble linking to information about Zoom meetings. If that happens I'll try to find some other way to help (e.g. saying "xxx has a Zoom meeting, call yyy for details".)

With the Memphis Botanic Garden closed,
it cannot have its usual Spring Plant Sale. But you can order plants from its nursery online, and they'll bring them out to your car. It's a way to support a local organization and get yourself some exercise planting things. (But do remember MIFA,, Bridges, Church Health Center, Union Mission, and so many other local charities bearing an extra burden now. And if you haven't donated blood in six weeks or so, check if you are eligible to give now.)  Plant sale:

I'm a bit frustrated that MIFA does not put is excellent monthly newletter, the MIFA MINUTE, online. They want people to subscribe, and I urge people to do so, at
(the signup is at the bottom right of that page).  But I'll quote a bit here to give the flavor:
"     One of the first changes we made in March in response to the growing coronavirus threat was moving our emergency assistance and housing applications online to decrease traffic in our building. Since then, we have received more than 1,200 applications for assistance, more than twice the requests in the same period last year. Of those applicants, 86% cite coronavirus as their reason for applying; 65% of them report job losses, and another 15% have had their hours cut. The volume of requests has created a backlog, but our staff have approved 230 households for assistance since they started working remotely.
"     The meals team rewrote their entire program model to ensure continued service to our senior clients. They scaled back deliveries to three days a week but have managed to deliver even more meals, adding shelf-stable and frozen boxes to their hot meal deliveries. As a result, staff and volunteers, with the help of City of Memphis employees, have delivered more than 50,000 meals in the past four weeks. Each home-delivered recipient has received a supply of 15 extra shelf-stable and frozen meals, which they can store until they need them."
  And their newsletter has lots else worth knowing, including e.g. lists of cooperating restaurants.

     Where I am now, in central New Hampshire, it is below freezing at night, we had fresh snow this morning, but hopes of  getting above 50 degrees one day in the next ten.  The state of New Hampshire has less cases of coronavirus reported than Shelby County. But our small village has just had its first case reported, so it is arriving. Obviously, below-freezing weather does not stop the virus completely.

      Several meat-packing plants have closed due to virus among the employees. The FDA so far reports that the virus is not spread through packaged meat. Fresh fish is unavailable where I am, the delivery system having broken down. Heidi (who was right when she said some travel between states might become limited) suggests that some meat products might get into short supply; you might want to lay in a few canned goods in case there are short days.  Most states, including Tennessee,  have said schools will not reopen before Fall, if then. While social distancing is slowing the spread quite a bit, it is not stopping it, at least yet. All the evidence available from my reading  suggests that we are in this for quite a few more months. A friend on Facebook posted "Our parents or grandparents were called to go to war. We are called to stay home and sit on the couch. We can do this."  If we view this as a wartime situation, with milder shortages and without the blackouts of a major war, it may seem less distressing.
April 15

One of my favorite preachers in Memphis is Imam Anwar Arafat, who teaches at the Memphis Islamic Center.
He gave a class a couple of days ago in his series on "Dawah", which Christians would translate as "Mission": How you convey or explain your faith to others?
It is at 
 I hope he won't be offended if I recommend this talk to anyone who wants to convey a message of belief to others, or explain a belief, whether the belief is Islam or Christian or Jewish or other. His talk is of course also educational about Islam, but I think members of other faiths will enjoy it..

Going there on Youtube also led me to a series of discussions on the Memphis Islamic Center website a few years ago, between Yasir Qadhi, the major Muslim scholar then in Memphis, and Rev. Dr. James White. These  rather long discussions on the similarities and differences between Christianity and Islam start  at

VV Raman's reflections on the Lotus are here.   (my Hindu theologian friend)
April 14

Tomorrow, April 15, at 2 PM     The Church Health Center is having a web seminar on ministering to families during the pandemic.

Church Health Center resource information:

Coronavirus testing locations:
Telephone first
for arrangements or appointments. The ones I know require you to coem by car, but I don't know if all do.

The Benjamin Hooks Institute is continuing its local history series of quick videos.
If your writer's group is not meeting, or you'd like more,
you might enjoy the flash writing program being put on by Playhouse on the Square:
    They are also doing readings for children, at
Obviously, large gatherings of people now are dangerous.
In some places, people have been arrested or charged after there were large religious services.
A more interesting question is whether a group can gather, each person or each couple in their own car. Apparently, we are going to see that question tested.

I can't resist a few other notes on the odd intended or unintended consequences.  A few governments in areas that have nude beaches have announced that in addition to staying six feet apart, the bathers must wear face masks. In Georgia, there is a law forbidding wearing face masks in public, enacted years ago to control the Ku Klux Klan. The Governor has announced that while it is unfeasible to have a legislative session to amend that law, the police will not arrest anyone wearing a face mask for health reasons.

April 13.

A major producer of educational films with Muslim sponsorship, is making uits films available online FREE at this time, primarily in the hope that they will be used in home schooling programs. But we all are allowed to watch them, send the link to children or garndchildren, or to use them, for example, in online Sunday School classes and the like. I strongly encourage people to make use of this opportunity.  If you have not seen, for example, "The Sultan and the Saint", now is your chance. Go to     If it wants a password,
use    BY3$2T6  

For people interested  in technicalities of religious law and practice and how religious authorities deal with medical emergencies, there is an excellent article on how some groups of Orthodox and Conservative Jewish rabbis are dealing with the present problem.

There have been interesting interfaith discussions in Memphis on medical ethics, with an inteest in whether religions differ on these in some cases. Here is an article on this issue in the present crisis:

A reader recommends,  in particular his post of April 11, 11:51 AM, of a musical excerpt "O Fortuna"
             lower down on that page, at least at present, are an "Ave Maria" and an "Ode to Joy".
Note on the below - I'm finding some of the advertising on Youtube rather offensive (political. ethnic)

 I'd love to find music and dance from other religious cultures, preferably with some explanation.  Quick searches turn up performances such as  these three presumably Hindu performances, but they lack explanations and are nowhere near as evocative of religious stories (to me at least) as the performances I have watched in person at the Indian Cultural Center and Temple in Memphis. 

There is a Buddhist monastic dance at

Muslims do not customarily use music in their religious services (there are a few hymn-like chants in some of the Eid services). But there is a Muslim musical tradition close to Christian hymn-singing. An example is at

There are some Sufi (Muslim Mystic) dances at   and  

Have you been to any of the Muslim comedy shows in Memphis? You can also find "Muslim Comedians" on Youtube, e.g.
(but I'd love to have someone point out one or ones they recommend! Are any of the ones who have been in Memphis on Youtube or another web place?)

       Cecil Rousseau has died. Many in the interfaith community will know his (surviving) wife Jane Rousseau, who was a very early interfaith activist, especially when visits between houses of worship were organized shortly after the 9/11 attacks.  There will be  a virtual memorial online presented this morning and then available to watch, link at    

     While the map in the Washington Post yesterday is striking in showing the concentration of the virus in the US  -  several are around  airport hubs which are international entry points - the virus is spreading "everywhere".
 We've just had the first report of cases in the little village of New London, New Hampshire where Heidi and I hope to stay for "the duration".
April 12.  Have a Happy and Blessed and Healthy Easter!

    I'm sure there are many services and sermons worth listening to, and many will remain online.
I particularly like Episcopal  Bishop Phoebe Roaf's  sermon at 21:30 of 

   Have you watched a Black church service? It's a long video, but First Baptist Church Broad put online a rather spectacular Easter Service, including a small but remarkably talented live musical performance.

    Information about streaming of Roman Catholic Masses in Memphis is at
A great deal of downloadable material is found at 
I found Bishop Talley's Easter service at,
with the homily starting at about 19:20 into the video

The last day of the Jewish holiday of Passover is     April 15, and there is a solemn "memorial" service called "Yizkor".  10 AM
Temple Israel will stream its Yizkor service at

Temple Israel's next "Coffee and Conversation" with Rabbi Feival Strauss will be at noon April 16,   10 -11AM, by Zoom or phone.

The vocabulary of very orthodox Judaism may have a few words that are a bit hard to follow at first, but the website of the Lubavitcher Chassidim (the very orthodox group represented by Chabad in Memphis) put up an hour-long lesson today on the issue of "Tolerating Tolerance", at   that is worthwhile.  This may involve a style of Jewish story-telling that will be new to some.

    Close to twenty years ago I wrote an essay about economics in the time of Jesus. I was reminded it of when thinking about the eventual economic consequences of the present pandemic. I have grave fear that our government is thinking about preserving capital and may arrive at a system which leaves many of our poorer people in great debt and workers in a far weaker position relative to employers.  My essay, which may actually be timely in thinking about Easter and the time following, is at

J Street, an organization describing itself as "pro-Israel and anti-occupation", is running an online     (Zoom) virtual Passover Seder on  Sunday, April 12, at 4 PM Eastern (3 PM Memphis.)
I believe you register for it at
The haggadah - the text for it - is at
   I'll download and save a copy of the haggadah in case that link goes away and someone wants it later.

I continue to find many of the published statistics bewildering. According to the tables in the Washington Post today, Kentucky has about one-third as many coronavirus cases diagnosed as Tennessee, but almost an equal number of deaths. Since I cannot believe that the difference in care of coronavirus cases is that dramatic, it seems more likely to me that Tennessee is much better at diagnosing (testing for) less serious cases, or (less probably) that Tennessee is being much less active in assessing coronavirus as the cause of death.   But I do have friends (in other states) whose doctor has said "yes, you seem to have coronavirus. But testing you would not affect how we treat you, so we won't get you tested unless your symptoms get much worse."  I don't know how much that affects the statistics.

April 11

The Christian Science Monitor
has a nice piece on understanding the difference in virus spread estimates.
The New York Metropolitan Opera is streaming operas on line, free. Information is at

A brief video introduction to "Hindu Temples of India" is at   (some adult images)
A longer piece - 50 minutes - on Buddhism - is at

North Carolina has prohibited people from going to second homes on the outer banks.
April 10

     "Combating Extremism Using People Power" -
as a somewhat similar talk in Memphis was cancelled this Spring, you might be interested in this talk put online by the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire. The talk was given yesterday, April 9.

Turkey has stopped using ethanol to add to gasoline, and is instead using it to make hand sanitizer.

If you are interested in current theory about Free Will  there is an interesting series of videos Here on BBC,

I am thrilled to see many places
showing rates of increase (in infections and deaths) only 6% to 12% day-over-day.  While those are still major increases compared to most epidemics, they are much less than the 20% to 26% a day reported from around March 25 to April 3 or so. So social distancing (which is believed to take 14 days to show its most major effects) is seeming to show progress. Data from The number of US deaths in a day has less than doubled in a week, compared to doubling in 4 days a week or so ago.
Michigan has prohibited people from traveling to second homes. So Heidi's decision to move us to New Hampshire in a  hurry, 3 days ago, seems a justifiable use of "hurry". I've been lucky to have some extremely wise women in my life.

A video tour of St, Peter's Basilica, at The Vatican, is at
The Vatican newsletter about adjusting Easter to the epidemic is at
I have not figured out how to get all the Vatican streams but as I write this there is one at
and it may provide links to others. 
(voices are in Latin or Italian.)
    If you prefer a brief video as a sample,
April 9

  (late evening -) There is an excellent Passover seder under curfew
essay at

I have not been able to find a link for the Good Friday service being streamed from Notre Dame in Paris (ceremony done in the rubble inside)   
 In New Zealand,
where the lockdown is so tight that the Prime Minister is working from home, the Easter Bunny has been declared an essential worker and can visit homes without reference to social distancing.
    (at time of writing) There is still time to sign up for Temple Israel's Passover Seder this evening (Thursday).
See under April 8 immediately below.
Rabbi Micah Greenstein has a very brief (3 and a half minutes)    Passover talk,  of interest to anyone , at

Many local churches will have their Easter Services streamed online and/or placed on Youtube.  Just as one example, there is a full menu (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday. Words From the Cross, Saturday, eve of Easter Vigil, Sunrise Service, other Easter Services, at

Going beyond the local area, there  are many things online for a special weekend:

    Jesus Play: The "Sight and Sound Theater", a religious showplace from Lancaster, PA and Branson, Missouri, has a stage show about Jesus that is supposed to be outstanding. They are streaming their on-stage production  free on-demand from April 10 to April 12.

     Andrew Lloyd Webber     will be streaming his Broadway shows for free during the time of social distancing - one a week, as I understand it. The information comes from .      One show is available each weekend, 24 hours starting  Friday at   1 PM (Central time) .
The show for this weekend is Jesus Christ Superstar.     The link is
Some information (with advertising) on watching other Broadway shows online is at   
In particular, consider supporting WKNO at this time; a $60 donation gets you lots of on-line access.

Want to spend a bit of time on something "interfaith"?  Well,

A half-hour visit to Jerusalem that is of interest to interfaith people (frim German Television, but in English) is at

An informal video made by a Muslim visiting the Dome of the Rock and El_Aqsa Mosque is at

An architect's design proposal for a competition for The Iconic Mosque in Dubai
is at

An architectural/historical tour of the Santa Sophia Mosque in Istanbul  is at  (much of this is of its history as a church; it is now a museum).

A travel-oriented piece about The Blue Mosque in Istanbul is at h
     (Can someone find  me some  more religion-oriented videos about major mosques?)
April 8

The Jewish holiday of PASSOVER    
begins this evening  Wednesady April 8 and continues for 8 days; observant traditional Jews refrain from work teh first and last two days.  (In Israel in ancienmt times, the refraining from work was one day at each end; as Jews scattered over the world, they were not  always sure when the new moon was being declared in Jerusalem and took to ibserving two days as a precaution.  The same problem is reflected in the modern Muslim practice of sometimes not being sure in advance exactly which day will be, for example, Eid-el-Adha, as this depends on when the moon is sighted in Arabia - if I understand the custom correctly. But the Muslims know that they can spread the word quickly!   
     Passover commemorates the Jews escaping from slavery in Egypt, as reported in the Bible book, Exodus. It is traditionally celebrated at home, with an elaborate dinner ceremony called the "Seder" (pronounced"say-der") on the first two evenings.  Temple ISrael for many years has had a large group Seder on the second night (April 9 this year). As they cannot do that this year, the Temple Israel Sisterhood is organizing a "virtual, progressive" Seder, with many homes participating in contributing a small paert of the ceremony. Anyone interested is invited to watch and listen on-line; there is a link to further information and the registration page (and a way to download the printed program for the service, called the "Haggadah", which means "the story", at Temple Israel's page,  (a more direct link is now at )
New Tax rule: 
I don't know that it will affect the behavior of readers of this page, but the new emergency economics bill will allow anyone who takes the standard deduction to deduct an additional amount up to $300 if they make cash (or check, but apparently not in-kind) deductions to most charities (direct charities, not donor-directed funds.)  I do hope my readers are donating more than that, whether or not the take the standard deduction. 

Heidi and I have retreated to our summer place in central New Hampshire, a small village with no crowding problems and where we have  a large yard instead of our tiny condo patio in Memphis.   Last week we  saw real growing threats to the ability to travel. The Governor of Kentucky advised people not to visit Tennessee; Ohio erected signs at the state line with Kentucky asking people entering Ohio to isolate for 14 days;  Vermont erected signs on the state line from New York requiring people entering the state "in order to to stay" to isolate for 14 days;  and New Hampshire has closed all hotels and BnB's (they say they may use them for health workers and domestic violence victims).  So w
e came earlier than planned, driving 1340 miles in 22 hours.   The highways were almost empty of cars (between cities), and had many fewer trucks than usual. Toll booths were not manned.  I'm back working on this website now, still reachable by e-mail and phone. "working from home" like so many others. 

Since traveling is not easy right now, I think those of us who like visiting houses of worship might like to do so "virtually", as that word now seems to be used.  Heidi Tobin points out that there are some remarkable Youtube videos. A  good starter might be the Architectural Digest video, "21 Beautiful Houses of Worship",  at  But I'm hoping we can find interesting interior tours of selected mosques, churches, synagogues, Hindu and Sikh temples, etc.  Suggestions (and especially pointers!) are welcome/. e-mail to

April 5
     My friend V.V. Raman, a retired physics professor and Hindu theologian,
occasionally sends me drafts of chapters of books he is working on. (If anyone is excited by this example, I can get you on his mailing list).  He has just sent out an essay on "Dance:", the history of dance. Since dance plays such an important role in the life of the Indian Cultural Center and Temple, I thought people might enjoy an essay on the subject by a Hindu.  I've put it here, at Dance.pdf.

   For news I usually read (online) from the NY Times, Washington Post, Commercial Appeal, Tri-State Defender, Daily Memphian, sometimes the Atlantic or New Yorker.  Heidi checks Yahoo, CNN, NBC, etc.   But in the present crisis I also check in at Fox News now and then to see what "that side" is saying. Typically, the whole mess is the fault of (a) The Chinese, (b) the Governor of New York, (c) The Communists, or (d) the Democrats, not always in that order. But I just did discover there a piece by James Otteson, a few days ago, on the importance of friendship. Despite its location and context, some might like it:

 One of the perhaps lesser-known religion-sponsored organizations around is Brigham Young University TV, an internet TV channel.  I mention them at this time since with local concerts canceled, you might like to know that they will broadcast the Mormon Tabernacle choir performing Handel's Messiah on April 11 at 8 PM and April 12 at 3 PM.
Links are at   The general program guide is at

St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral has a facebook page at

Nancy Berry has died.
She was very active in Balmoral Presbyterian Church.  I'm giving the link to the virtual funeral service video here not only for those of you who knew this wonderful woman, but as an example for anyone else trying to design on-line ceremonies.

The New York Times article
on "How to Self-Quarantine" was updated March 30:

April 4.

     The livestream of the MLK  commemoration at the Civil Rights Museum is running now (April 4 afternoon) at    

     Last Night's Medical panel discussion put on by the Memphis Islamic community is online at

      Recent videos from Temple Israel are at    but    I don't yet see the expected "Rabbi Wax" talk.

      Calvary Episcopal has its sermons and services at
Their livestream links and April 5-12 schedule (Palm Sunday to Easter) are at  

   I've found one local Catholic Mass online, at St Patrick's,   but need help finding more.  I'm a big fan of Father Val.

      (Anniversary of the death:)What I think was the last Sunday sermon of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., (in Washington, DC) is at
            I find it very stirring at present.

      American politicians sometimes quote the phrase "A city upon a hill", dating to 1630, in describing the United States.
The closing of our borders makes me wonder if some people want us to be "an impregnable  fortress on a hill." On the other hand, the possibility that China will ship us significant quantity of medical supplies, may make some of us realize that thinking broadly of "who is my neighbor?" cuts several ways.

       A fairly complete article on the rules in effect in Memphis is at
In particular, it points out that single day-to-day totals in Memphis display some inaccurate variation depending on at what hour hospitals etc. submit reports later than expected. If a large numb er of reports come in late in a day, they are added in to the next day's report.

April 3.
     I've been busy today, getting ready to get out of town
(e.g. took the car in to be serviced. Instead of sending me to a waiting room, they had me sit in the car the whole time to push any buttons that needed pushing, turn engine on and off as needed, etc., so that they did not have to get in the car,  It seemed an intelligent solution,) 

     My land-line telephone is out of order and AT&T seems to have given up trying to find the loose connection (they think it is in a flooded manhole); my cell phone is 913-755-8453 if you need it.
     Many notices I get of on-line events come only an hour or two before the event.  So I'm not able to post as many as I like.  This evening the local Muslim evening on-line program got a bunch of doctors online to answer questions.  They are now doing a daily 8:pm session (new time). I think you can get it via  

    Do spend some time telephoning friends (local or distant) you know you have not been in touch with for awhile, or friends with health problems, for telephone visits.

     A resident of The Villages in Germantown tells me her physical therapy center told her not to come there as residents of complexes for the elderly are presumed to be high risk. She is not convinced she is - she is basically alone with her husband in her apartment, all group activities have been cancelled, if there are any cases at The Villages she has not heard of them.

     My first cousin in Massachusetts, age 71, was diagnosed with coronavirus about March 23 - fever of about 101.4 for three days, "a very bad flu" he called it. Not hospitalized, now pronounced cured. His wife said she felt she had a milder flku and presumed she had it, but the authorities refused to test her since her fever was not high enough and they were short of testing ability. this is one anecdote suggesting that the number of cases is much higher than actually reported - but also that the mortality rate is much lower than reported, since mild cases don't get into the statistics.

     As I rather suspected might happen, the press is starting to downplay the statistics, presumably so as not to scare people. I did not see a yesterday's death total for the US on the front web pages of the NY Times, the Washington Post, or the Commercial Appeal. Do note my links given at March 29, below - the page at      which aggregates data from health departments etc. is reporting 1263 deaths in the US in the past 24 hours, when I just looked (10 PM).  That was up 20.6 percent, which coincidentally is exactly the percentage my model I mentioned a few days ago was predicting.  This is one time that I really regret being correct (for several reasons). I really am interested in these numbers, as well as the local numbers at, in trying to get an idea of where social distancing and shutdowns seem to be working.

April 2. 
      Well, today may well be the first day with 1000 US deaths in a day. 
I'm afraid the earlier predictions - an increase of 20% to 26% a day, for at least a week or two, is being accurate. One hopes that social distancing will start to show a reduction in that rate within two weeks from now. The rather depressing Washingto Post article is at

      I'm seeing a lot of interesting on-line efforts at "virtual events".  Temple Israel Sisterhood is doing an on-line discussion group and an on-line "progressive" Passover Seder - a few minutes each at a lot of consecutive dinner tables.  But many of these events are still primarily intended for the group's own members.  One to which clearly anyone is invited is a "virtual havdalah", an end-of-the-sabbath ceremony at Temple Israel on Saturday evening April 4 at 8 PM,    

One local Muslim group has a daily 2PM Zoom session which may be of interest. CLICK HERE for the notice. I think the log-on is via
 and the question link is   but I haven't found the session number for the question link. (I'm still not very good at Zoom.)

    One event that is specifically interfaith, nationally, is by The Women's Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality ("WISE"). The information for the April 6 event is here (click here)  . M impression is that one gets info via twitter -but I do see the event on their Facebook page at   

April 1.  (No jokes here, although I do have one on my Facebook page,.. Edward Ordman).
    An interesting (but potentially controversial) Roman Catholic essay
on Covid-19 and the absence of communion-
     As the following article about St. Corona appeared six days ago, I think it is not an April Fool's joke:
   I know little more about her: e.g.

One of a number of local maps of  concentrations and testing problems in our area:

I'm starting to receive advertisements from internet companies seeking church business, e.g.

A letter from Temple Israel/ Jewish physicians about the need for STRICT self-quarantine:
Again, those who do not need to strict self-quarantine should look for ways to assist those who do -
  e.g. delivering food to leave on the doorstep.

I understand that many Muslim authorities are urging people not to go on the Hajj to Mecca this year.
An interesting source of explanation of fine points of Islamic practice, in language that makes sense to those who have an interest in (for example) Jewish or Roman Catholic religious law, is a site of the Kingdom of Jordan - the English language version is at
By way of illustration, one of its statements on group activities during the epidemic is at

A nice musical hymn from St Mary's Episcopal.
I think they put one up every day, but have not yet figured how to access them (or presentations from other Memphis churches) as a group. Help?

March 31.

     Pastor Tim Russell of Second Presbyterian Church has died of covid-19 complications.
There are many news reports, easily found on Google. For example

     I don't know how authoritative it is, but now has a "covid-19" tab.
It has a graph of number of infections, if data is available, for each county and state. A map lets you click on counties throughout the US. A rather remarkable site, created by a high school student,  that tries to give world-wide data, is at     An article about the student who built that site is at

     Many in the Memphis Interfaith community are fans of CARITAS, the restaurant/community center in Binghampton.  Like other places, it is now carry-out only - but providing free meals to out-of-work restaurant employees, among others.  Nice article at  The fact that so many restauranteurs are contributing food is one of the nice things about Memphis. 

      Rev Carla Meisterman, the pastor at Balmoral Presbyterian, has written a wonderful piece on the technological problems that the pandemic causes a pastor. It is at

Monday evening the Memphis Islamic Center held a "virtual" community meeting. It is online at