Posthumous recognition of Jaipal Singh with EquaSion’s Buchanan Award
The Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati Promotes Community Education Through its Tours & Talks Program
The Tour & Talks program at the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati (ICGC) is an engaging and unique initiative which started in 1995. The goal of the program is to combat islamophobia by educating schools, faith institutions, corporations etc about Islam and Muslims via a tour of the Center or an outbound talk.
The program has three components: Tours & Talks, Outbound Talks, and Know Your Neighbor
Since 1995, we have hosted over 11,000 visitors to the Center. Tours are offered throughout the week and are open to all who want to learn more about the faith. The tours can be personalized to what the group is looking for. For example, we can help a high school history teacher who wants to bring students in as an addition to the educational process, during the time they are are learning about Islam. Likewise, we can collaborate with a faith institution that wants to connect with us to learn about our commonalities and how we can work together. The main groups entering our doors are middle schools, high schools, universities and faith institutions.
The outbound talks consists of a power point presentation on Islam and Muslims. We offer specialized presentations for educators, hospitals, corporations, and those that are looking to add to their cultural competency workshops in their place of business.
In addition to tours throughout the week and outbound presentations, we also offer Know Your Neighbor events the first Saturday of every month at 1pm which is open to the community. Families, friends, and neighbors are encouraged to attend this easy and interactive discussion with a tour guide who is happy to engage and educate groups about a topic most people know little about.
Visitors to the Center and those looking for a speaker at their place of business are encouraged to check out our website at www.icgc.us. There they will find more information under Tours & Talks in the Programs drop-down menu. Interested groups can fill out an intake form when requesting a tour or a talk for their group. We are happy to accommodate large groups and even have tours some evenings for those needing a time after work hours.
Faith Communities Go Green Marks Earth Day with Action
At our Earth Day booth, we brought together voices from many faiths to tell our Ohio state legislators that we care about Ohio legislation that impacts our environment. We are stronger when we work together. Just as a single fiber is easily broken, weaving the fibers together forms a strong thread or rope. So it is with Faith Communities Go Green (FCGG). By weaving together all the different faiths in our region, we become one strong voice for a just and sustainable environment.
At our booth, visitors of all faiths signed nearly 100 post cards asking legislators to vote in favor of two bills: HB 351 and HB 450.
HB 351 reverses the utility charges that unjustly burden low-income Ohioans. The bill will stop charging all Ohioans for obsolete, inefficient, polluting coals plants. Utility companies will continue to charge Ohioans $85 million extra each year to cover the cost to maintain these outdated plants, unless the Ohio house passes HB 351. HB 351 has bipartisan support but is stalled in committee.
HB 450 expands solar development for a cleaner, more diversified electric grid reducing harmful emissions and improving air quality. It encourages solar development on “distressed” brownfield sites and enables low-income Ohioans to take advantage of the cost-saving benefits of solar electricity. This legislation will result in much-needed jobs for communities struggling amidst the energy transition.
For tips on how to find your legislator, visit our website advocacy page at FCGG.org/advocacy/.
At our booth we also shared news about two new FCGG events in May. Both events give tools to help every congregation take better care of the environment. Working together, we will increase our impact.
1) If you have interest in gardening, supporting pollinating insects, and creating healthy soil that absorbs CO2, this program will provide new information on why and how to make your grounds more sustainable. In an event titled Sacred Grounds, three experts will share care tips via zoom on May 16th at 7 pm. Use your new knowledge for your congregational and your residential grounds.
2) Attend an in-person tour of house of worship facility to learn how a local congregation achieved net zero carbon emissions. Find out how they organized, found funding, and gained support from nearly all their congregational members. The tour will take place at Mt Auburn Presbyterian Church, May 22nd from 2:00 to 3:30pm, registration is required. (https://greenumbrella.org/event-4777710)
Visit our amazing, new, informational, website at FCGG.org/
There you will find success stories, resources, event registrations, and tools you can use to make your congregation greener. Learn how and why it is so important to form a green team in your congregation. Please fill out our brief, 7 question, survey at FCGG.org/survey/. Your answers to our survey questions provide guidance on how we can better serve our regions diverse faith communities. JOIN US to receive action alerts and news.
Faith Communities Go Green is brought to you by Green Umbrella and EquaSion.
Prayer and purpose: Cincinnati’s interfaith vigil for Ukraine bolstered unity and aid
On Sunday evening, March 27, hundreds gathered in-person at Christ Church Cathedral and online for an interfaith vigil for peace in Ukraine co-sponsored by EquaSion. In collaboration with the charity organizations Matthew 25: Ministries and Cincy4Ukraine, attendees were encouraged to donate clothing items or money for the people of Ukraine. 29 different faith organizations representing eight world religions supported and publicized the event.
The vigil program included first-person accounts from Ukrainians interwoven with prayers from faith leaders across the region and followed by beautiful musical numbers. Nazly Mamedova, a Ukrainian American attorney, narrated war experiences from Ukrainians, revealing atrocities and heartache mixed with glimpses of pride and hope. Each told by different people, the five stories reflected the perspectives of a child, mother, father, post-invasion emails from residents of Cincinnati’s Sister City Kharkiv, and those praying for all who have died in the war.
Faith representatives, Dean Owen Thompson, Bishop Marvin Frank Thomas Sr., Sasha Naiman, Inayat K. Malik, M.D, Chief Priest Acharya Kailash Sharma, Deacon John Gerke, and Bishop Wayne Smith, spoke after each Ukrainian account and offered wisdom and prayers. Representing Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism, each had messages of unity, responsibility, love for one another, and the importance of working together for peace and justice.
“For one hour I was as close as I could be, spiritually, to the suffering people of Ukraine,” said Chip Harrod, EquaSion’s Executive Director. “I was in the company of other persons of faith, of many faiths, who likewise wanted and needed this closeness and this opportunity to demonstrate our unity of concern and support.”
The evening ended with reverence for those who have died in the war. Before the final prayer in honor of the fallen, Dean Owen Thompson led a moment of silence for those who have been lost.
If you are interested in donating to Ukrainian refugees, donations can still be made to Matthew 25: Ministries, which is currently shipping aid to Ukraine and to the surrounding areas to help people impacted by the conflict through these links: Matthew 25: Ministries online donation page, Matthew 25: Ministries’ list of items needed: https://m25m.org/disaster/ukraine22/. Donations benefit Matthew 25: Ministries and their work with the Ukraine Crisis. Enter the word “Ukraine” in the Special Purpose field of the online form and 100% of your donation will go to their Ukraine relief work.
Learn more about Cincy4Ukraine, a charity founded by Ukrainian Americans residing in Cincinnati that ships donated items to Ukrainian citizens still in their country.
From Darkness to Light: Mosaics Inspired By Tragedy
At Cincinnati Skirball Museum through May 8, 2022
From Darkness to Light: Mosaics Inspired by Tragedy is the brainchild of Susan Ribnick, co-chair of the Austin Mosaic Guild in Austin, Texas. Just days after the horrific white supremacist terrorist mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018, where eleven people were killed and six were wounded, Ribnick was inspired to use her skills and passion as an artist to help her heal. She reached out to fellow mosaicists and brought together 18 artists of diverse faiths and backgrounds from around the country and the world to create a collection of mosaics that react and respond to the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States. When the pandemic took hold, and this exhibition was delayed, Ribnick expanded her reach, doubling the number of artists and works to the meaningful total of 36—the numerical equivalent of double chai—or life in Hebrew. The mosaics in the exhibition evoke themes ranging from antisemitism and injustice to hope, resilience, and peace.
Artist Rachel Davies felt a personal connection to the Tree of Life massacre: “Snowdrops are often thought to be a symbol of strength, purity and hope. I live in Dunblane, Scotland where snowdrops are one way of remembering the 16 children and their teacher who were killed by a gunman in 1996. I have created these Snowdrops not only as a way to remember the victims of gun violence, but as a symbol of hope and strength for the communities who are left to cope with the consequences of such events.”
From Darkness to Light: Mosaics Inspired by Tragedy is made possible with support from the Ohio Arts Council, InterfaithCincy, The Edward B. Brueggeman Center for Dialogue of Xavier University, ArtsWave, and the David and Barbara Kalla Fund of Schwab Charitable.
The Skirball Museum is located on the historic Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, 3101 Clifton Avenue, 45220. The museum is open Tuesdays and Thursdays 11 am to 3 pm and Sundays 1 to 4 pm. Proof of vaccination and masks are required. Reservations are recommended by calling 513.487.3231 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. More information is available on the museum website, http://csm.huc.edu.
First Lutheran Celebrates 180 Years in Cincinnati
December 8, 2021, a group of forty Lutherans gathered in Washington park to commemorate the 180th anniversary of the first worship service of First English Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1841. The commemoration was not held in the historic 1895 building located at 1208 Race Street because the 130ft tall bell tower structure has been deemed a danger to the community, an issue First Lutheran is working actively to address. The first group of only eight people in 1841 were without a building as well and were uncertain about what their future together might look like.
Congregational histories are often told, and romanticized, by “historians” of the congregation who are called upon to write something for an anniversary booklet. These booklets are distributed to members and contain pictures. This makes them likely to survive the passage of time in a special box or drawer in someone’s home or a congregational archive. The people who “lived” the history are long gone when these commemorative booklets are dusted off generations later and read by nostalgic eyes.
First Lutheran is often lifted, appropriately so, as a progressive faith community. Reverend Abram Reck visited Cincinnati in September 1841 and witnessed firsthand the devastation brought about by recent riots that were rooted in the efforts of the anti-abolitionists to put an end to the work of abolitionists. Rev. Reck committed to starting a congregation that could support the work of abolitionists. What is not reported is that it was not until 1953, 112 years later, before the first African American member was welcomed.
January 12, 1870, was a significant day in First’s history. It was on that day that the congregation voted to amend its constitution making women full voting members. Clara Baur, founder of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, was a member at the time. Her name shows up in the archives as a Sunday School teacher, children’s ministry volunteer and financial supporter. We can be confident that when the 1895 church was constructed, her expertise in music earned her a seat at the table with the architects and engineers during the design process. The acoustics of the progressively designed structure affirms that. The story of how women like Clara shaped the First Lutheran community are passed down, but what remains missing, after 152 years, First has yet to Call an ordained female pastor.
First’s progressive nature has helped it to successfully navigate several contextual shifts. One example occurred on March 3, 1950, when the newly arrived Reverend Miller boldly stated that the congregation would not leave OTR, like so many others, but would rather find a way to serve the new residents of the neighborhood, even if they were not Lutheran. The story that is not told, and perhaps should be since it increases the conviction it took to make the statement, is the story of Pastor Lutton who had just left. Pastor Lutton served First through Depression and War. He watched the congregation decline to the point of closure. The Church Council Minutes tell the story of his dedication. His departure came only when his physician told him he needed to do so or else it would kill him. He moved to Arizona where a few short months later he died.
Faith communities, whatever the tradition, are a mixture of sorrows and joys and are at their best when they faithfully name and claim both.
February 20, marked the 180th anniversary of First Lutheran’s incorporation, and more importantly its continued purpose of sharing the love of God. We look forward to sharing this good work with all the faith communities in Cincinnati.
Pastor Brian Ferguson
New Nonprofit Collaboration to help Faith Communities be more Environmentally Engaged
‘Faith Communities Go Green’ supports sustainability in faith-based organizations
CINCINNATI, OH – February 1, 2022 – Two regional nonprofits are collaborating on a new environmental initiative. Green Umbrella, the largest collective action environmental organization in the region, and EquaSion, the largest interfaith organization in the region, have formed a new collaboration to support regional faith communities in their efforts to be more environmentally sustainable. The new collaborative is called Faith Communities Go Green.
Faith Communities Go Green, originally an Impact Team within Green Umbrella, was founded to partner with religious communities to create a more sustainable and equitable future for all by mobilizing their moral voice to reduce the risk of catastrophic climate change.
“This collaboration is another way that we are living out our mission of ‘Compassion through Action,’” said Chip Harrod, executive director of EquaSion. “Actively working to prioritize the health of our environment is essential to prioritizing the health of our communities. We are grateful to Green Umbrella for contributing its leadership and guidance to this initiative.”
EquaSion is a non-partisan civic organization supporting interfaith dialogue and collaboration. It works to develop educational and community service programming to foster greater understanding, respect, compassion, inclusion, and engagement for all people and faith communities in Greater Cincinnati and beyond. EquaSion sponsors the Cincinnati Festival of Faiths and A Mighty Stream (to address racism) and many smaller interfaith projects.
Green Umbrella serves as the regional sustainability alliance of Greater Cincinnati, with hundreds of member organizations and individuals passionate about enhancing the environmental health and vitality of our region. Green Umbrella leads collaboration, incubates ideas and catalyzes solutions that create a resilient, sustainable region for all where sustainability is woven into our ways of life. Green Umbrella oversees the Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit, the Cincinnati 2030 District, Tri-State Trails, Great Outdoor Weekend, the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council, the Common Orchard Project and several other collaborative teams focused on environmental quality and climate change issues.
“We are excited to support Faith Communities Go Green as it matures as an interfaith collaborative. Bringing EquaSion into the work will be key to its ongoing success,” says Ryan Mooney-Bullock, executive director of Green Umbrella. “Thanks to the passion and hard work of the committed volunteers of the team, individuals of all ages from 15 religions/denominations and over 50 congregations are in dialogue and planning interventions to help religious communities step up their environmental stewardship. There is so much more growth to come as congregations learn how to start talking about and acting on their care for creation values.”
The new collaboration will combine the strengths of the two nonprofits with the work that has been done over the last year by Faith Communities Go Green to engage communities from all the faith traditions in our region to work more effectively to reduce emissions that contribute to climate change. All faith traditions have caring for creation and the natural world as part of their doctrine. How they actually live this moral imperative is the question Faith Communities Go Green will help them address. Combining the extensive interfaith network of EquaSion and the expertise and resource base of Green Umbrella will provide the Greater Cincinnati region with a new powerful moral voice working on behalf of the environment. For more information visit Green Umbrella at www.greenumbrella.org or EquaSion at www.equasion.org.
K’vod Outreach Center Reaches Out to the Cincinnati Community During Time of Social Isolation
Isolation is as bad for you as smoking. Lonely people are 50 percent more likely to die earlier than those with healthy social relationships. Data from the Health Resources & Services Administration shows nearly three and a half million people struggle with social isolation, loneliness, and living alone — and that was before the onset of Covid-19. More recent numbers show loneliness and social isolation have increased 20 to 30 percent, and emotional distress has tripled during the pandemic.
Throughout 2021, the K’vod Outreach Center has continued to raise awareness and educate the community on the negative impacts of isolation. Identifying at-risk seniors is why Jewish Family Service (JFS) has created the K’vod Outreach Center.
Rabbi Yair Walton, the K’vod Outreach Coordinator, has followed community outreach best practices created by June Ridgway, Director of AgeWell Cincinnati. The two worked closely throughout 2021, and continue to collaborate as the pandemic stretches into 2022. “Professionals in the field may see social isolation among older adults as a problem, but many in the community aren’t aware of the extent of the situation,” said Ridgway. “That’s why we have talked to Jewish communal professionals, family and friends of older adults, as well as older adults themselves, to help raise awareness of this serious problem.”
The K’vod Outreach Center has a four-pronged approach to its service: community education, identifying socially isolated seniors, connecting them to the K’vod Outreach Center, and engaging with volunteers.
“They’ll have a meeting with me,” Rabbi Walton explained, “to see where they are and what services they need. There will also be a survey to get an idea of who they are and what they want to get out of the program. That’s what really attracted me to this opportunity: the ability to help people by making them still feel connected to other human beings.”
There are several ways seniors can get involved — from learning technology with volunteers to teaching classes on anything they’re passionate about. “I tell the older adults you still have so much to give to this world. You still have things to share. You’re not done.”
“We’re interested in those people who, for some reason, are not picking up the phone and calling,” said Ann Burke, Vice President of Client Services at Jewish Family Service of the Cincinnati Area. “We want them to have the fullest life from all aspects — socially, emotionally, physically. Because seniors still have a lot to give.”
Rabbi Walton said he is excited to be doing rabbinic work for people who may or may not be connected to the Jewish community in other ways, but are feeling a need for more interactions. “One of my most frequent outreach contacts is Catholic. People now have an idea,” he said, “of just how much they need each other. How much a hug means to another human, or even a high five. I think Covid has made isolation so much more real. Our society now sees this as a real health issue, and treating it has measurable outcomes in people’s ability to live longer.”
For Rabbi Walton, and everyone involved in the outreach center, honor, dignity, and respect are the top priorities in every interaction they have. “That center’s name — K’vod — is inspired by our moral obligation for people who still want to be involved with the community.”
For more information about the K’vod Outreach Center, visit JFS online at www.jfscinti.org/kvod. To reach out directly to Rabbi Yair Walton, call him at (513) 368-2256 or email him at email@example.com.
Community Event Report: “How to Start a Green Team in Your Congregation”
In November, Faith Communities Go Green hosted the first local conversation “How to Start a Green Team in Your Congregation”. Panelists from six different congregations shared stories on how they got people together to form a green team. They described their green team accomplishments and provided advice to the audience based on their experiences.
The meeting was exhilarating. Each panelist shared their team’s successes, impressing us all with how small groups of people can do so many wonderful things for the environment.
Key areas of action were identified by the panelists.
- Form your team, even if your first meeting is just two people. The more people you have, the more credibility you have. Determine who the decision makers are in your congregation. Get support and commitment from your congregational decision makers, religious leaders and staff. Use available organizing tools to solicit interest and engage potential team participants. One way to find like-minded individuals is to host a symposium on a current environmental issue.
- Develop educational programming for adults and children by having speakers, film screening discussions, and outings to connect with nature. Conduct an energy audit in the congregation facility and in households. Incorporate recommended upgrades, purchase reusable tableware for events, recycle and compost. Post monthly green actions in the e-bulletin. Host a weekend retreat with workshops on becoming carbon neutral.
- Lobby for policy changes. Visit with legislators, sponsor monthly advocacy actions, become part of a coalition doing this work.
- Bring care for the earth into worship services.
Advice offered: Show people the connections between environmental issues and other issues they might care about, such as refugees or food insecurity. Use the strengths of the people on your team.
The biggest take away was that having a green team in a house of worship enables lay members to influence attitudes and daily behaviors to take better care of our planet for future generations. It was thrilling to hear all the success stories, inspiring us to start a green team in our own houses of worship.
Faith Communities Go Green provides support for faith groups to work together to protect creation. Everyone was invited to complete a survey for their congregation. The 7 question survey helps Faith Communities Go Green understand the needs of the faith community. The survey, upcoming events, the recording of this event and other previous events, can be found at https://greenumbrella.org/faith/
A PORTRAIT OF JEWISH CINCINNATI NOW OPEN AT THE SKIRBALL MUSEUM in celebration of the Cincinnati Jewish Bicentennial
The Skirball Museum on the historic Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is currently featuring the exhibition A Portrait of Jewish Cincinnati in celebration of the Cincinnati Jewish Bicentennial. Jewish community life in the city of Cincinnati formally began with the founding of Chestnut Street Cemetery in Cincinnati’s West End in 1821. The exhibition opened on November 4 and will be on view through January 30, 2022. For the opening, the Skirball welcomed several descendants of individuals whose portraits appear in the exhibition.
A Portrait of Jewish Cincinnati brings together the likenesses of many of Cincinnati’s prominent Jewish citizens from the early 19th century to the present day, gleaned from the museum’s own rich collections as well as those of local and national museums and private collections. Portraits include oil paintings, sculptures, drawings, and mixed media representations of figures who have made a significant impact on Jewish Cincinnati and the larger secular community. Augmenting the portraits are several decorative arts objects, including a tall clock made by Joseph Jonas, Cincinnati’s first permanent Jewish settler, who was a jeweler and watch and clock manufacturer.
“Bringing together almost 40 works of art in celebration of 200 years of Jewish life in Cincinnati has been an incredible journey of discovery and learning for the Skirball Museum staff,” comments Skirball director Abby S. Schwartz. “From Fanny and Abraham Aub, the couple who gave the land to build the third location of Cincinnati’s Jewish Hospital—the first such hospital in the country—to Sally Priesand, the first woman ordained a rabbi in America, in Cincinnati at Hebrew Union College—to so many scions of philanthropy, civic service, industry, education and culture who made their mark on the Cincinnati community, the narratives of these portraits are colorful and diverse and will engage viewers of all backgrounds.”
While her husband and brother were busy becoming the largest producers and merchandisers of whiskey in Ohio and Kentucky, Duffie Workum Freiberg founded the Jewish Foster Home on West Sixth Street in 1892 and served as its first president, was a director of United Jewish Charities, the predecessor of today’s Jewish Federation, and a trustee of the Cleveland Orphan Asylum. A preponderance of the subjects in A Portrait of Jewish Cincinnati are immigrants or first-generation Americans. Whether merchants, physicians, attorneys, industrialists, teachers or volunteers, in almost every instance, these men and women found ways to give back, to support their secular and religious communities, making them a source of pride for all Cincinnatians. A case in point is Milton Schloss, who began his career in the family business, E. Kahn & Sons, as an apprentice in the slaughterhouse and built the company to the pinnacle of success, eventually running a more than billion-dollar consolidated national meat company – Hillshire Farms and the Sarah Lee Meat Group. In the years leading up to World War II, Schloss sponsored several German Jews to immigrate to Cincinnati and provided employment for them at Kahn’s. He served his country in World War II, liberating a German concentration camp and earning a Bronze Star Medal. Later, he taught at the University of Cincinnati School of Business and supported local Jewish organizations, most notably the Jewish Community Center.
On December 14 at 1pm, Skirball Museum director Abby Schwartz will offer “A Portrait of Jewish Cincinnati: Up Close and Personal,” a slide talk overview of the exhibition followed by a gallery visit. The program will be held in Mayerson Hall Auditorium and will be delivered in person and via Livestream. Reservations are required by calling 513.487.3231 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by registering online at A Portrait of Jewish Cincinnati: Up Close and Personal! – Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (huc.edu). Capacity is limited. All visitors 12 years of age and older are required to show proof of vaccination for entry into the Skirball Museum. Masks are required for all visitors over the age of 2.
Event is subject to change or cancellation as we continually assess the ever-changing impace of the COVID-19 pandemic.