Vision/Mission statements added to web site


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A Struggling Bronx Synagogue Finds Free Housing—in a Mosque – Tablet Magazine

Beautiful story:

A Struggling Bronx Synagogue Finds Free Housing—in a Mosque – Tablet Magazine.

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Turkish Cultural Center Annual Friendship Dinner 11/9/11 – notes by Rob Stall

Gulen Institute / Gulen Movement
Gulen “You cannot embrace all humanity unless you honor all faiths and religions”

East/West Institute

Peace Island Institute / Ercan Tozan sp?
Peace Islands Institute

Gibran “When you pray…”

Othman “Do we want peace?  Peace means you stay over there, I’ll stay over here.  No, we want love.  You come to me and I’ll go to you.”

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HEAL International fundraiser 11/2/11 6:30p-10:30p Buffalo State College

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The Faces of Famine


The New York Times | THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY : Exclusively for Times Subscribers

The Faces of Famine

BY Tyler Hicks

A malnourished child at Banadir Hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia. More than 500,000 Somali children are verging on starvation.Photo by Tyler Hicks Famine is sweeping across southern Somalia and sending a stream of desperate people into Mogadishu. Tens of thousands of children are said to be dying there, and there’s not enough help to meet the demand for food and medical care. The Shabab, the Islamic militant group with ties to Al-Qaeda, has made delivery of aid to remote areas, and even to the capital Mogadishu, not only difficult but also unreasonably slow, further reinforcing the crisis.I was recently on assignment to photograph the crisis in Mogadishu. Just a few miles from where our plane landed I was taken to a refugee camp where hundreds of new arrivals, those who walked there with their belongings – and children – on their backs, waited for help and a place to settle. The sight of foreigners, and their hope that help had arrived, created a steady appeal for help. A bundle under a woman’s arm revealed an emaciated child, then another in the same state carried by someone else. I motioned to my camera in an attempt to show I was with the news media and couldn’t help them with what they needed: food, clean water, medicine, mosquito nets, shelter.

The worst cases were at the crowded hospital. That’s where I found the hardest hit, mostly children, some unable to walk or even sit up, others vomiting and all suffering from dysentery. In the hallway every available surface was used for another sick child. I’ve seen bad conditions in hospitals, but this was one of the worst. Swarms of flies infested the mouths and eyes of children too weak to move. Their parents spent the day swatting the flies away from them and doing whatever else they could to keep them alive. I photographed a father carrying his lifeless daughter, wrapped in cloth, out of the hospital for burial.

Mogadishu is unsafe for foreigners, and journalists rely on local fixers and security to help do our job. Time on the street is very limited, and you’re never left in one place for long before moving. This means you’re forced to work quickly, even inside the hospital. I found this frustrating, but I reminded myself to trust our guides and allow them to make those decisions.

In early August, The New York Times ran a front-page photograph of a child who was reduced to the frail framework of a starved body. The image showed the child in a fetal position, arms wrapped around the head, almost in a protective gesture. I could see that this image, however disturbing to view, would give proof of how desperate the situation had become.

I enthusiastically support the image chosen for Page 1. The public reaction was overwhelmingly positive, and a reminder of the impact The Times can generate – not only among our readers, but also among other news media organizations and humanitarian aid groups. This is an example of the raw, unfiltered definition of news photography. It doesn’t happen every day, and it might not come your way in the course of a year. But sometimes you land on a story, a cause, something that has meaning to you, and the resulting photographs have an impact. They are seen and spur reaction. In a digital age, that’s when you’re reminded of the impact that a still, motionless photograph can have.

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HEAL International seminar – Protecting Refugee Youth and Learning the Law – 6/4/11

Notes by Rob Stall MD

1. Support group (rather than just classes) for parents with “caregiver stress”?

I. Law enforcement – “peace in the street”

II. Family court – “peace in the home” – Judge Lisa Bloch Rodwin

Types of cases:
1. Juvenile deliquent – minor commits crime (e.g. drugs, alcohol, violence against parent)
2. PINS – child out of control (joined a gang, taking drugs)
3. Abuse and neglect (Child Protective Services handles first, court if significant harm or refusal of CPS)
4. Custody issues (e.g. children of unmarried couples)
5. Domestic violence “we help the people being hurt and the people doing the hurting…”)

“We are not here to take your children away – we are here to help you have a safe, healthy home”

“Spanking with hand is not abuse… use of an object such as a belt or stick is…”

“There is evil everywhere… we hear the horrible things done to children every day… I don’t have a crystal ball to put in front of you to know who is telling the truth or not… [in Family Court] we try to get the facts, we try to find the truth…”

“We need to learn from you, and you need to learn from us… that is how we make the system better for all…”

Comment “What we have here is a culture clash”

III. Child Protective Services

“The important people in the room are you, not us… I don’t think of you as refugees, I think of you as new Americans…”

“We get 10000 reports every year about parents hurting their children. Of these, we know 7000 are just not true. Of the 3000, [many] are taken care of ny the family themselves. Of the remainder, we try to help the family get what they need to solve the problem [e.g. money, food, clothing]…”

“Of the 25000 involved in the reports, only 300 children are put in foster care, often with a relative [or someone in the same cultural community]. It used to be a lot more, but we found that the best place for the child [generally] is in the home…”

“Law says that we have to come out and tell you about the report… We don’t know anything about you except what is on the report…”

“Haven’t come into conflict with a culture [e.g. coining was an issue because it left marks, had to learn what it was about], seen a culture that approves of hurting a child…”

Yahye – “had four classes, applications were provided to ask for help…”

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Print page function added

See for plugin, installation instructions. page.php file modified as recommended.

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Fwd: Speaker from 2007 P2 conference – David Whyte – Courageous Conversations

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Turkish coffee night, student film screening at Turkish Cultural Center Buffalo 5/28/11

Hosted by the Turkish Cultural Center Buffalo

Rob, Drorah, Nadia, Tevfik attended – great food, company, films, and (of course) delicious Turkish coffee.

Presentation by SUNY-Fredonia professors Ted Schwalbe PhD, Nefin Dinç (Nefin’s latest documentary

SUNY-Fredonia project with 72 students in 6 smaller cities in Turkey (Antakya, Artvin, Edirne, Konya, Mardin, Sivas).

Sponsored by US State Department.

Summary of project and all films at

Goal to tell a story about social issues (e.g. democracy, women’s rights).

Students selected through interviews based on who came up with the most interesting ideas,  best stories to tell.Inflatalbe Games

Screenings in Diyarbakir, Istanbul, New York, Boston, Washington DC

Films from 5-20 minutes long

18 films created on essentially no budget, only 21 days of student training

Film – Love in One Breath (8 min)

About whirling dervishes & making of reed flute, analogy to human suffering and retribution/growth/maturity.

“… [best] word to describe a life fully lived is patiencethe reed flute [represents] love…” (Rumi references.)

Film – When the Plum Trees Bloom (6 min)

About 1980 coup-de-tat in Turkey

Love story, she asks ‘when will spring be for us?’. He sends a letter her, then is hung by his captors.

Symbolism of the plum tree blossoming

Film – 15 Steps Ahead (18 min)

Woman running for office (mayor/supervisor) in Sivas

Interviews with townspeople about her prospects; opinions about whether she should run for office or stay home; good or bad for the town; who would vote for her, who would never vote for her; who is  stronger and more responsible, men or women

6 local politicians died in helicopter crash during campaign

Male candidate wins

“I am a woman, I know what I can achieve…”

Gift giving after meal by host as payment for “renting your tooth” (I won a beautiful tie!)

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Notes from breakfast meeting with Rabbi Brad Hirschfield 5/26/11

Rabbi Hirschfield met for breakfast at the Temple Beth Zion Broder building with members of the Network of Religious Communities and Building Bridges in Western New York.  The following summarizes his comments during the discussion about interfaith work and its challenges. 

Hard work

“Need to get past eating hummus together and what feels good… need to get past affirming what we already believe

“The hard work is where in our lives we do things outside our comfort zone… figuring out how to work together when we disagree… how to tell someone they’re wrong without them leaving the room… if you don’t feel like giving up at times, you’re not doing the hard work… can’t ignore the hard problems without things ultimately blowing up… mediation is better than litigated divorce, but it’s rarely done because it’s hard… the most significant interfaith work is what goes on inside yourself…”

“Why do you do what you do?  Personal journey, passion, inherited, makes me feel good…  Imagine the person who is ‘the problem’ – they define why they do what they do in the exact same way.”

“Everyone needs a community to give strength by reaffirming your personal beliefs… but where do we go to disagree without savaging each other?”

“In the past, most interfaith encounters were a religious show and tell… started in Chicago on 9/11 [see 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions]…”

“Sometimes ‘working it out’ means going your separate way, sometimes it’s staying together forever…”

“Agreeing to disagree” is akin to “Besides what just happened, Mrs. Lincoln, what did you think of the play?”

“We call people ideologues when they don’t agree with us, insightful when they do…”

“It hurts the most when the community you identify with does things you don’t like…”

“We do this because it’s who we are, not because of what we expect in return… if it’s about reciprocity, you could never do anything with anyone who isn’t already where you are…”

“We all have an agenda… admit you have one… it has come to have a negative connotation… when it’s ours, it’s a ‘vision’ or ‘plan’… ”

“We assume wrongness is badness… MY vision may be YOUR vision of what’s wrong… it shouldn’t mean that I’m a bad person…”

“A serious Jewish principle is giving people the benefit of the doubt.”

Teaching, learning, doing

“You can’t be someone’s teacher unless you’re willing to be their student as well…”

“All positions are not equal… I’m not a relativist…”

“I live with the animating principle the God never made anyone so smart as to be right 100% of the time, nor so stupid to be 100% wrong…”

“A wise person is someone who can learn from every other human being… not everyone is a good teacher but everyone has something to teach…”

“Groundbreaking can be ‘they stood on the stage together and the world didn’t fall apart’…”

“Planting seeds can be scary because you don’t know what will come up… weed away, but what you think is a weed might be a gift…”

“Judaism can be everything to someone.  So can Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, etc…”

Sacred envy

“Wishing you could be like others, but deeply rooted that you’re not going there… true envy, not just admiration…”

“We love traditions we’re part of BECAUSE of certain things, and DESPITE certain things… I love my religious tradition (or significant other) not because others are stupid, ugly, or mean, but because I just love it…”

“Ask yourself ‘What is it I love the most about my faith community?  What am I most proud of?  What am I ashamed of?  What are you truly envious of in other faith communities?  What am I really angry about in other faith communities?’…”

“The claim of religious perfection only leads to strife and bloodshed…”

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