Report on Hanukah, Ramadan, Christmas Celebration
- Dear Friends,
The Women's Interfaith Encounter held it's One Year Anniversary Celebration
on Monday nite. As we walked into the Swedish Theological Institute we
were immediately enveloped in a festive atmosphere from all the decorations
and special holiday candles burning. We were so grateful to see Tina's
husband, Anders, and their sons whose Swedish Theological Institute has
become our home. Many women brought husbands and children -- and one woman
came with her mother, sister, and sons.
Our opening candle was lit by Nadia's son and Inbal offered a beautiful
prayer. We had an emotional circle of introductions as one sister said how
amazed she was to see so much happiness as she walked in. A Christian
husband said that he wished that the energy from our gathering would expand
to hundreds of such gatherings. A Jewish woman said that the whole world
should look like our group -- all different kinds of cultures and
religions, and everyone smiling and open to each other. One Muslim woman
said that the group is the highlight in her life -- she waits all month to
be together with us. A Jewish woman pointed out how delightedly Nil,
Aida's baby daughter, was walking around our circle -- a symbol of our
hopes for the future.
Hanukah candles were lit and the Hanukah story retold by the Jewish women.
Michal played the guitar and gave out song sheets she had prepared enabling
everyone to sing the traditional Hanukah songs together. Ester had created
a beautiful board displaying lovely hanukah menorahs. A Christian Arab
woman said she had never known the meaning behind lighting the candles for
eight days. The Muslim women attired in their long embroidered dresses
re-enacted a day of Ramadan beginning with Nadia's young son beating a drum
to announce the beginning of the fast and ending with Aida chanting the
traditional prayers and the eating of dates for the breaking of the fast.
Nadia had put up a display of pictures depicting various Ramadan scenes.
The Christians read the origins of Christmas and sang Arabic Christmas
songs, Christmas carols in English, as well as "Jingle Bells" in Arabic
with Rose accompanying on the piano. The many refreshments included four
flavors of sufganiot, Swedish ginger cookies, Ramadan sweets -- and of
course, pita and hummous. A Jewish woman visiting Israel said that she
finally felt at peace. A Christian woman commented how beautiful it was to
watch the children playing together and suggested we have more activities
for the children -- our real hope for a peaceful future. A Jewish woman
said that people could not be enemies if they could celebrate holidays
At the end of the evening, everyone hung around eating and talking --
reluctant to leave the warmth and joy of the evening. Everyone agreed that
they had all learned things about other holidays they never knew before --
and were pleased to be included in the celebrations of other's holidays.
We were all aware that our small circle of candles and lights had shone
brightly for all of us and hoped that this light could spread to many other
hearts to illuminate the great darkness we are all experiencing.
To the Jews we wish Happy Hanukah, to the Muslims -- a Happy Holiday, and
to the Christians -- a Merry Christmas. May we all be blessed to share
much more of our lives together in 2003 and may we all be strengthened by
our love and understanding.
Women's Interfaith Encounter
Interfaith Encounter Association
The Interfaith Encounter Association
P.O.Box 3814, Jerusalem 91037, Israel
Yehuda Stolov, Director
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