Women walk for Middle East peace

5 November 2010

Photo by Rolinda Shonwald 


On October 19 the TRUST WIN (Women's Interfaith Network) held a Women's Peace Walk on the seam between East and West Jerusalem with 100 women -- Israelis, Palestinians -- Muslims, Christians, Druze, and Jews.   We were accompanying Anna Halprin, the 90-year-old legendary U.S. modern dance innovator, as we honored her late husband Lawrence Halprin who designed the beautiful Goldman Promenade that we walked upon. The women came from East and West Jerusalem, and all over Israel.    We regretted that after much hard work to obtain Army permits for a group of 10 women to come from Bethelem, the checkpoint was closed and they were unable to join us physically, but they sent their energy to be with us spiritually, and hopefully they will accompany us on our next walk.


We dedicated our silent walking meditation to creating and receiving peace from the land beneath our feet -- and although it was incredibly hot, the 100 women walked for almost an hour and no one said a word while we enjoyed the panoramic vistas of East and West Jerusalem stretching out to the Dead Sea and  beyond.  The picture shows the silent sisterhood that supported and nourished us as women held hands and hooked arms and absorbed the natural beauty and serenity of the setting.   When we reached the end and had water and refreshments, Anna spoke to the Druze women about Larry's years here in the 1930's when he had come with a group of young Americans to found the Kibbutz Ein Shofet in the Galilee and they didn't know how to work the land.  He told her how grateful he was to the nearby Druze village who taught them how to farm and live on the land.  The Druze women told her it is their village of Daliat HaCarmel which is next to that Kibbutz and she thanked them in her husband's name for helping them to survive -- they all cried and hugged -- it was a precious moment.  Then Anna began to clap and and move and chant and some women began drumming, the Israeli women led Hebrew songs, the Arab women started dancing and singing in Arabic, and everyone followed Anna in a joyous group dance that encircled and embraced us all.   We ended with prayers for peace from the different religions.   


Afterwards a small group of Palestinian and Israeli women gathered at my home for a delicious dinner with Anna.   The women related some of their suffering and struggles and Anna was amazed to hear what's really going on here -- including recent violence on the street in front of my home.  She appreciated and was deeply moved to experience the beautiful oasis of peace we create together.   


A few days later, we  gave a TRUST - building workshop to open a Peace and Education Conference.  Then we were privileged to assist Anna as she led a Planetary Dance with 100 Israelis and Palestinians from all over Israel and the West Bank and Gaza.  For two hours everyone ran, walked, danced and moved in concentric circles to unify our energies for peace and harmony.  We were accompanied by many drums and chanting.  We transformed the hall into a powerful energetic joyful exhilerating environment of deep and intensive healing.  One small and wiry Palestinian man who was running the entire time with such a light energy and such joy on his face explained to me afterwards that he was in jail for 12 years and everyday they let him out in a small area for exercise and he would run around and around in a circle -- so he's very fit and able to run and he loved the freedom of running with all of us.  Many others dancing began laughing or crying or hugging.  At the end no one wanted to finish, so Anna led everyone in slow winding circles together which ended in much joy and camaraderie.  We all felt connected, enriched and expanded by this deep experience together. 


We are grateful to the U.S. Embassy for a generous grant, and to the Center for Religious Tolerance CC, and to Anna's students who supported the Women's Walk and dinner. We rely on the love, prayers, and financial support of you all to continue our precious work.  We're planning another Women's Peace Walk in November which we will call a Rain Dance and dedicate to prayers from the different religions for abundant rain in our drought-ridden land.  If you wish to enable more women to participate, you can make a U.S. tax deductible donation to "CRT - Center for Religious Tolerance" - with "TRUST" written in the memo line.  Checks made out to CRT should be sent to 520 Ralph St, Sarasota, FL 34242. Or online donations can be made through PayPal and send an email to Dr. Andrea Blanch, the Director of CRT, at [email protected] informing her of your donation for TRUST.


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