September 23, 2016, 4:15 PM
TRUST WIN International Day of Peace Celebration in Ranaana, Israel with seventy-five women from 12 to 93 years old:
Rabba Judith Edelman-Green and 35 local Jewish women welcomed the arriving Christian, Druze and Muslim women singing a welcome song in Arabic and Hebrew. They had prepared a home-cooked meal and the delicious aroma filled the garden. Rabba Judith welcomed everyone to the beautiful garden of Rinah Sheleff and the powerful program that she had prepared. Elana explained the 15-year history of the TRUST WIN activities, our connection to the URI - United Religions Initiative - and the worldwide celebration of the International Day of Peace that we were participating in.
Siham Halabi and Ibtisam Mahamid spoke in the name of the 40 women they had brought from Daliat AlCarmel and Fureidis to begin this gathering filled with laughter, hugs, paired sharing with new friends, sorrow and deep contemplation of the need for an end to our suffering from violence and hatred. Prayers for peace were offered from each religion. There was music both prepared and spontaneous with harp, guitars, and drums leading us in joyous dancing and singing.
For some, it was the first opportunity to meet with the Other and there were intense interactions of women coming together for the first time. The youngest girl, 12 years old, told me she had never attended such a gathering and she felt shy and happy to see everyone together. The oldest woman, 93 years old, from Furedis, simply kept hugging and smiling and radiating love from her beaming face. A Jewish woman said she felt healed to be in such a gathering. A Druze woman said she'd never been in Ranaana and was moved by the warm welcome. A Muslim woman said it was the first time for her to be with Jewish women like this and she was eager for more.
Although at times, the exuberance and enthusiasm of so many excited women was hard to contain, there were also quiet and contemplative experiences, like the paired walking meditation around Rinah's beautiful garden filled with fruit trees and flowers. Strangers walked hand in hand, with the deep awareness of the preciousness of such loving intimacy in the midst of the violent times we continue to experience.
The meeting was conducted in Hebrew and Arabic, and when each woman had the opportunity to share her response to the gathering, women expressed amazement at the ease of relating to each other, joy to experience such love and openness, hope and determination to live in peace together in our land.
We closed with a huge group hug chanting Shalom, Salaam and singing Oseh Shalom -- the Jewish prayer for peace. Guests were all given a small jar of honey - the traditional gift for Rosh Hashana - the Jewish New Year - and blessings in Hebrew and Arabic. Siham and the Druze women invited everyone to a next gathering in Daliat Al Carmel.
We are grateful to Barbara Meislin - the Purple Lady, and other international women who continue their loving support of our women's gatherings. We also felt supported by the enormous global energy for peace that is radiating around the world now. We felt blessed to spend such precious and soothing time together.
We bless everyone that the coming year will be filled with health and inner and outer peace.
Blessings and love,