Jerusalem Women's Interfaith Encounter - 3 holiday celebrations and a wedding
Dear Interfaith friends,
Our Jerusalem Women's Interfaith Encounter had a very full season of holiday celebrations:
1. Christmas party at the home of Rose Sahwani in Beit Hanina, a Palestinian village adjoining Jerusalem. We enjoyed delicious food the women had cooked -- including majedra rice and many salads, and ending with baklawa and knafeh. Christmas carols were sung in Arabic. We went around our circle giving holiday blessings to each other and acknowledging gratefully that we had just completed four years of meeting monthly in spite of all the suffering around us and enjoying building relationships and deepening our knowledge and awareness of each other's traditions, religions, realities, and pain. We look forward with great enthusiasm to 2006 and are very grateful to Barbara Meislin and Faye Straus who share our vision of women building peace in our region and have already blessed us with contributions to further our work this year!
2. Holiday Art Workshop at the Jerusalem YMCA that was part of a two day Holiday series of workshops for Jews, Muslims, and Christians focusing on art, music, and drama for reconciliation. Aida Shibli had arranged the art workshop for our group which focused on "Hands" and we did movement with our hands and meditation and eventually traced and drew our hands as an expression of ourselves. The Jewish women drew hands that were filled with warm colors and hearts, that reflected the light and darkness, that contained family and creativity. The Muslim women drew hands that were in fists, that were striking out and being restrained, that were radiating red colors, and one was tentatively leading towards victory and peace. When we decided to put them all together on a large paper, one of the Muslim woman preferred to take her hand home, and after discussion about how to have inclusion, it was decided to leave an empty space representing her missing hand and to enable her to place it with ours at a future date if she wanted. The whole experience was a moving demonstration of the different reality of our lives and our consciousness -- and a reminder that even during the Holiday season there are very heavy and intense feelings inside many of our Palestinian sisters.
3. Felicie invited us to a Hanukah celebration at the Mevashei Derech Reform synagogue where there was candle-lighting, jelly donuts, and singing. It was a beautiful opportunity for Jews to welcome Christians and Muslims to their celebration -- and for some of our women, it was the first time they had celebrated Hanukah.
4. Many of us attended the Wedding January 5 of Elana's son, Noam -- who was the inspiration for her interfaith work several years ago when he was severely injured by a terrorist suicde bombing and she turned to building peace with interfaith women and creating the Women's Interfaith Encounter program of the IEA. It was a joyous occasion commemorating his recovery, and very informative for those who had never attended a Jewish wedding and seen the bride and groom under the chupa canopy drinking the wine, receiving blessings, and breaking the wine cup. We also learned that the bride and groom immediately leave the wedding canopy and retire to a room alone where they have their first moments alone and break their fast of the day. Then they join the guests for dancing and feasting. People commented that the wedding was a demonstration of the peace and harmony we are all seeking -- there were religious and non-religious, black and white, Arabs and Jews, Muslims and Christians, locals and foreigners -- all laughing, dancing, and celebrating together to honor Noam and his bride Chaya.
We are blessed to be doing this holy work in the Holy Land and look forward to our fifth year with the continued love, blessing, and support of our friends all over the world.
Prepared by Rose Nabir, Elana Rozenman, Suheer Siham, Evelyne Savir
The Interfaith Encounter Association
P.O.Box 3814 , Jerusalem 91037 , Israel
Mr. Shlomo Alon, Chair
Sr. Karmela Farrugia, Vice-Chair
Sheikh Muhammad Kiwan, Vice-Chair
Sheikh Ali Birani
Rabbi Dov Maimon
Deacon Eng. Jirias Mansour
Ms. Rafiqa Othman
Sheikh Tawfiq Salama
Dr. Yehuda Stolov, Director
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