Michigan Hospitals Offer Free Diabetes Prevention Program Classes to Clergy this Summer

Michigan Hospitals Offer Free Diabetes Prevention Program Classes to Clergy this Summer

Many faith traditions teach that caring for the body and guarding one’s health are one of life’s highest priorities. Despite this commitment, studies have shown that clergy and other faith leaders suffer from poor health and chronic illnesses, including diabetes. 

This is why the IFLC, along with the Greater Detroit Area Health Council and the Southeast Michigan Hospital Collaborative, are seeking clergy and faith leaders in southeast Michigan to partake in a one year, 22-hour long Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) specially tailored for faith leaders. This special program is at no cost to clergy. To see if you qualify, or to learn more about prediabetes to share with your congregation, contact Lisa Mason at 586-747-7793 or lmason@gdahc.org

“By the selfless nature of their calling, it has always been a challenge for clergy to take care of themselves,” said Rev. Stancy Adams, IFLC president. “But in the age of a Coronavirus pandemic, there is an even greater urgency that faith leaders take steps now to guard the health of their congregants. They can lead by example, making healthy life choices themselves. The DPP for faith leaders is a great resource that has been made available to them this summer.”

Through this outreach, we aim to educate clergy and their congregants on the importance of learning about prediabetes, how to screen for it, and prevent diabetes through participation in DPP. In fact, studies show that participation in DPP reduces the risk of diabetes by 58 percent. 

“Everyone knows diabetes is a pretty challenging condition. Historically, our healthcare system has had many answers to treat it,” said Lisa Mason, Vice President of Program Partnerships for GDAHC and member of the IFLC healthcare committee. “But what if we can educate a population to prevent it from ever happening in the first place?  This is a new way our healthcare system is thinking.”

DPP is approved by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fifteen years of research has shown that DPP participants reduce their risk of diabetes by 58 percent. 

The challenge, though, is getting the word out to at-risk people that they may have prediabetes so they can be tested. According to statistics, 86 million Americans have prediabetes, but eight out of 10 of them do not know they have this diagnosable condition.  Down the road, this could lead to further complications, especially in the age of Coronavirus. 

According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes face a higher chance of experiencing serious complications from COVID-19. In general, people with diabetes are more likely to experience severe symptoms and complications when infected with a virus.

Statistically, Coronavirus has disproportionately impacted African American and Latino communities; this is due at least in part to the unfortunate, lack of access to preventative healthcare as well as underlying chronic conditions such as diabetes, which also has a higher incidence in these populations. 

The DPP workshop for faith leaders is a year-long commitment. The initial 22-hour coursework is completed in 16 weeks. Then, participants come to classes twice a month for the remainder of the year. Classes will be held either through online conferencing, or, when pandemic conditions permit, in person. 

Classes offer tips and ways to be physically active, how to eat healthfully and lose body fat, and how to manage stress. Participants will also receive peer and professional support during the workshop.  

For detailed information on the class and how to sign up, follow the link to view and download the flyer. 

Yossi Klein Halevi urges deeper interfaith dialogue at upcoming Glazer Institute March 16


Israeli author Yossi Klein Halevi is no stranger to engaging in conversations with people who deeply disagree with him. 

Through decades of work, starting with the years that were the source of his first book, At the Entrance of the Garden of Eden (2001, HarperCollins), Halevi has come to terms with his own misgivings about Christianity and Islam as he traversed areas of the Middle East to learn with other religious groups while explaining to them the history of the Jews. 

Halevi will be the keynote speaker at Temple Beth El’s Rabbi B. Benedict and Ada S. Glazier Institute 7:30 Monday, March 16 at Temple Beth El in Bloomfield Hills. “Entering Each Other’s Faith Narratives” is free and open to the public. 

Program is free of charge but RSVP strongly suggested –> https://bit.ly/2UvqIVb

The event is sponsored by IFLC as well as the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Anti-Defamation League of Michigan and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.

Halevi’s lecture in Detroit will be divided into two sections. He will first share his stories of the spiritual journeys he took 20 years ago as he learned and prayed alongside Christian and Muslim communities in Israel and the Palestinian territories. These explorations were the basis of At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden

Secondly, Halevi will discuss how his career pivoted into what he describes himself as a reconciliation activist, and how his book, Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor (2018), was the beginning of that experiment. 

Halevi believes that people should be seeking out dialogue with those whose opinions differ most from their own. This is the only way to bring about understanding and peace. 

As part of his work as senior research fellow and co-director of the Muslim Leadership Initiative of Jerusalem’s Shalom Hartman Institute, he has welcomed young American Muslim leaders – sometimes secretly and unbeknownst to their community – to Israel to learn about Israel and Zionism. 

“Some are pro-Palestinian activists who are hostile to Israel and who deeply disagree with me. These are the people I actively seek out,” said Halevi in an interview with IFLC. Halevi is a Brooklyn, N.Y., native who has lived in Jerusalem since 1982. “I am not phased by disagreement. Because within those disagreements one can find many openings into a continuing conversation.”

Halevi said Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor has been download in Arabic for free thousands of times. Since the initial printing, Halevi received many letters from Palestinians and Arabs throughout the Muslim world, some hateful but many empathetic and constructive. 

“Some of these letters have been printed in the new paperback edition of the book,” said Halevi. “They are printed at the end of the book as an epilogue. In the letters, Palestinians and Arabs tell their narrative. I wanted to give them respect and therefore in my book’s reprint, gave them the last word. By showing each other honor and respect, I wanted to use this as a model of a new kind of conversation. We can have respectful disagreements over irreconcilable narratives, this is the only way we will have hope in breaking through: by listening to each other’s narratives.”

Halevi, a traditional observant Jew, listened to church bells toll and calls to prayer from Jerusalem’s ancient churches and mosques in his neighborhood. Yet Halevi admits that he knew little to nothing of these two Abrahamic faiths outside of his own. 

“I would hear the call to prayer from the Muezzin at four in the morning, yet I knew nothing of the Muslim faith. This ignorance (of each other’s faiths) is reciprocal among most Israelis. So, in the late 1990s and into 2000 I took the impetus to explore these two religions for myself.”

Halevi said he had to overcome mental obstacles to explore Christianity and physical and logistical barriers to learn about Palestinian society and get access to prayer times in Mosques. As he gained entrance and acceptance into these holy spaces, he, in turn, would explain to Christians and Muslims what it meant to be a Jew. 

“I wanted to learn not so much as what they believe – that can be learned in books and texts – but what they do and how they observe.”

After maneuvering some logistic difficulties, he joined Muslims in a prayer line, meditated with Christians at a monastery and sat with the Sufis, the Muslim mystics. He learned to love and appreciate the two faiths as paths to God that are quite different from his own Jewish path. 

Halevi cautions about the “banality and blandness” of interfaith dialogue. It is important to have deeper conversations and to take risks by asking uncomfortable questions or going to uncomfortable places. Visiting a mosque as a kippah wearing Jew in Gaza in the late 1990’s, Halevi said, was a risk that gave him and his hosts many new perspectives. 

Halevi hopes that people across the religious spectrum will come to his lecture, though they should know “gulfs between us cannot be overcome with one talk.”

“Do not expect breakthroughs from my talk,” he said. “Interfaith dialogue is a long process. And it is not enough to compare dietary laws (like kashrut and halaal) and feel good about oneself that we had that conversation. We must have deeper and more difficult conversations about conflicting narratives. A large part of Jewish history and our identity is the connection to Jerusalem and the land of Israel. You cannot have a conversation about Chanukah without discussing the Temple that stood on the Temple Mount. We must enter deeper dialogues and conversations about conflicting narratives. There is a gulf there that we cannot overcome with just one lecture, but I hope people can begin from it to start to have deeper conversations.”

About the Shalom Hartman Institute

The Shalom Hartman Institute is a leading center of Jewish thought and education, serving Israel and North America. It strives to strengthen Jewish peoplehood, identity, and pluralism, enhance the Jewish and democratic character of Israel, and ensure that Judaism is a compelling force for good in the 21st century.

In 2019, The Hartman Institute established an outreach office in Metro Detroit, focusing on Israel engagement. It will offer the tools to have difficult conversations about potentially divisive issues. The Davidson Foundation has been pivotal in helping to bring these new learning opportunities to Detroit and our partnerships with area congregations, day schools, and agencies has been extremely helpful.

The Hartman Institute is known for its ability to engage in challenging conversations across religious and cultural boundaries. The institute in 2013 launched the Muslim Leadership Initiative (MLI) under the directorship of Imam Abdullah Antepli and Yossi Klein Halevi to build relationships of understanding, respect, and trust between North American Muslim and Jewish communities. Through a rigorous academic curriculum and exposure to diverse narratives, MLI seeks to expand participants’ critical understanding of the complex religious, political, and socioeconomic issues facing people in Israel and Palestine. The program invites North American Muslims to explore how Jews understand Judaism, Israel, and Jewish peoplehood.

Coming to America through the Eyes of Women

Coming to America through the Eyes of Women

 In honor of International Women’s Day, WISDOM (Women’s Interfaith Solutions for Diversity and Outreach in MetroDetroit) will host an international and interfaith panel discussion

on immigration from a women’s viewpoint 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday,  March 8, 2020 at the Bloomfield Township Library, located on the corner of Telegraph and Lone Pine Roads.

Every panelist has a story of the hurdles they had to overcome to be U.S. citizens and how they have adjusted and built their lives in America.

They include:

Parwin Anwar, 62, born in Kabul Afghanistan and escaped the Soviet invasion by traversing over the mountains to Pakistan when she was six months pregnant. Six months later, she received refugee status and became a U.S. citizen in 2004. The retired grandmother of five worked for 23 years as a bilingual tutor for Macomb Intermediated School District.  She now lives in Sterling Heights  over the mountains to Pakistan when she was six months pregnant before arriving in the U.S. in

Audrey Sobel, Jewish, 76, emigrated from South Africa to Israel in 1970 before moving to the U.S. in 1976 with her physician husband, Jack. After another brief stint in Israel, they returned to the US in 1981. Audrey, who has a daughter, two sons, and five granddaughters, became a citizen in 1986.

Keiko Fujita, 47, is from Japan and came to the US in the late 90s. She and her husband lived in the San Francisco Bay Area before coming to Michigan. Keiko worked for Japanese companies for almost 2 decades. Her first job here in the US was an Administrative Assistant for Japanese expats, providing translations in Japanese and English. ‘

Fatou-Seydi Sarr, 45, a US citizen since 2011, finds love and strength inside her West African community in Detroit. Seydi is a social justice and human rights activist and the founder and executive director of ABISA (African Bureau for Immigration and Social Affairs) a nonprofit that helps African and Black Immigrants in Michigan and nationwide to know their rights, access resources, become socially invested and civically engaged. A Senegalese native, Seydi is a graduate of Wayne State University School of Social Work (BSW) and Marygrove School of Social Justice (M.A. SJ).  To Seydi, being part of her African Muslim community as an American woman means that “you no longer are on the sidelines, that you have a voice and can speak up and be engaged,” as she expressed on a video on her Facebook page.

Lucie Mills, 30, was born in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic. The physical and massage therapist first came to America as an aupair in 2015. Lucie and her husband Jon are Christian who attend Woodside Bible church, are part of small group and also serve twice a month in the community.

Maria Valencia, 45, first came to America on a student visa from Mexico in 1996. A trained firefighter and EMT, Valencia became a U.S. citizen in 2008 with a green card and works in Waterford as a cosmetologist.


Immigration Attorney Ellie Mosko will moderate the panel, as they share their experiences about immigrating to the United States with a brief overview of laws and practices behind how people immigrate to the United States and in some instances obtain paths to citizenship.

Prior to entering private practice, Ellie worked for a non-profit legal immigration service provider, offering free legal aid to the immigrant community throughout southeastern Michigan.

Ellie is an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Michigan Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and State Bar of Michigan. Ellie is also a co-founder and Director of the Jewish Bar Association of Michigan and serves on the Client Protection Fund Committee for the State Bar of Michigan

Through their varied stories and different paths to American shores, Mosko said there is a common thread and emotion that all her clients share: a sense of relief.

“These processes (to immigrate and attain U.S. citizenship) are often long and difficult.  When clients are finally able to achieve their goals in the United States, there is a sense of comfort and happiness. For those who have been fortunate to naturalize the sense of pride and joy is paramount.”


Clergy are Invited to Attend Diabetes Prevention Leadership Summit

The IFLC, together with the Southeast Michigan
Hospital Collaborative
(SEMI-HC) and Greater Detroit Area Health Council (GDAHC) wants to let our
clergy from all faiths know that we care about your health and well-being.

That is why we invite you to attend the
Diabetes Prevention
Leadership Summit as a faith leader representative.
  Tuesday, March 24th at
the Federal Reserve Bank at 1600 E, Warren in Detroit from 8:00 am to 1:00 p.m.

The Summit is an opportunity to join with other
leaders from healthcare, employers and faith and community-based organizations
to address the challenge of preventing diabetes and
promoting the effective Diabetes Prevention

Though attendance is by invitation only to area
clergy, it is the hope of (SEMI-HC), the GDAHC  and IFLC that
clergy who participate can then go back to their congregations with a wealth of
knowledge about the importance of preventing chronic diseases such as diabetes
and set an example for their congregants on the importance of taking care of
the whole self: body and spirit.

While working long
hours and tending to the needs of their congregants, clergy often neglect their
own health. Working in ministry is stressful and not finding the time to eat
right and exercise takes a toll.

2019 Clergy Well-Being Report Summary

The declining health of clergy has been studied and documented. For example, a 2019 Wespath survey of 1,200 Methodist clergy found that 81 percent are overweight or obese, up from 78 in 2012. But the good news is that the survey concluded that Methodist clergy are getting more exercise: 4.75 hours each week, that’s more than the average American, who only exercise 2.75 hours weekly.

Another decade-long study by the Duke’s Clergy Health Initiative (CHI) that focused on southern pastors found that an increasing number of this population suffers from diabetes, arthritis, asthma, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. But these ailments are not limited to Methodist pastors and can be found in clergy populations of all faiths.

“Faith leaders, by
their nature … tend to neglect their own health as they put everyone else’s
needs ahead of their own,” said Lisa Mason, GDAHC’s vice president for program
partnerships. “What more powerful way is there to lead their faith congregation
members than to set the example and lead the way?  By enrolling in a Diabetes Prevention
Workshop, we hope their faith community members will be inspired to do the same
for themselves.”

By attending the Summit, clergy can go back to their
congregations to help raise awareness
 about prediabetes and the
national Diabetes Prevention Program that’s
been proven to work. The Diabetes Prevention
Resource Center
 can help people understand what prediabetes is,
how to find out if they have it and what to do about if they do have it.

There is no cost but clergy must register by clicking this link. Breakfast and lunch will be served.