February 21, 2017, 11:53 AM
On a surprisingly sunny winter day, forty Israeli and Palestinian women -- Druze, Jewish, and Muslim members of the Mada CC and Women Reborn CC's -- joined the TRUST WIN CC women at the Community Center in the Druze village of Daliat AlCarmel, where we were greeted by Siham Halabi in our Garden of the Women, which is dedicated to Interfaith Sisterhood. The Druze women arrived carrying pots and plates of home-cooked food.
We began by reflecting on the difficult times in the world and in our region with hatred, racism, and religiophobia on the rise. Our warm embraces and interest in each other's religions displayed a different reality. And yet, some of our members were unable to be included in the public photos because of our situation. We joined our energy to the World Interfaith Harmony Week celebrations around the world.
The Mayor of the Region greeted us and praised us for the example we set of interfaith friendship in our land and the tangible symbol that we have created with our Garden of the Mothers. A tree was planted by women from each religion in the name of their own mothers, working hard to dig the holes and plant the trees as a permanent symbol of interfaith harmony in nature. We encircled the trees and sang songs and blessings. The Jewish holiday of Tu B'shvat - the New Year for the Trees - was explained. One woman said "How meaningful that our mothers are memoralized together in our Garden of the Mothers."
A chef in the Center’s kitchen instructed us as everyone rolled out dough and baked cookies together - sharing recipes and advice. She showed us the special way to fold triangle-shaped cookies that are made for the upcoming Jewish holiday of Purim. A Jewish woman commented, "Amazing to learn to make Haman's Ears from a chef in a Druze village! What fun! We're sharing cultures!"
The Druze women provided Druze pita and other local foods for a delicious lunch where we sat with new friends. We had teachings from each religion about interfaith harmony and discussions. Basically, we saw that there is harmony among the religious teachings because each religion teaches peace and to treat the stranger well. The position of women in each religion was also discussed with much interest, since each religion has different rights for women. Singing and dancing were led by Rabba Judith Edelman Green and Ibtisam Mahamid. The space was filled with laughter as women relaxed together and danced and talked with women they didn't know.
Ages ranged from 18 to 80. Three new young Muslim members said they were surprised to be welcomed by so much warmth and looked forward to bringing their friends to future gatherings. A Rabbinical student from a nearby town planned to have joint meetings with the two towns. We committed to return to our own families, schools, and organizations to spread our message of interfaith sisterhood and recruit more women for our future planned visits to each other's towns.
We are grateful to California women and to the URI MENA region for their support of this event. We pray that every day will be one of interfaith harmony!
Blessings and love,
Executive Director, TRUST – Emun
Global Trustee, URI -- United Religions Initiative