Against the background of Muslim, Druze, Christian, and Jewish women losing sons and husbands to religious violence in our region, TRUST WIN CC held their International Day of Peace celebration on the Jewish holiday of Succot (last autumn), when we are commanded to dwell in a small, temporary shelter roofed by palm fronds outside our home for a week.
Rabba Judith Edelman-Green and her Jewish friends welcomed and fed 30 women who overflowed from her succah at her home in Kfar Saba in the center of Israel. Muslim and Druze women from Furedis and Daliat Al Carmel who had never before been in a succah were thrilled by the experience of sitting in a succah, hearing the story of Succot, holding the lulav and etrog -- fronds and citrus that are the symbols of our holiday.
The Succot holiday has a universal emphasis of peace because over two thousand years ago, Jews made a pilgrimage to our Holy Temple in Jerusalem, not only to offer harvest sacrifices, but also to offer 70 sacrifices - representing the 70 known nations of the world and seeking blessings for them all. In present times, tens of thousands of Christians from all over the world come and parade through Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles seeking peace and blessing for Jerusalem and the whole world.
Blessings of peace were given in the succah from each religion. Many new women shared how relieving and satisfying it was to be with women of other faiths and to learn about religious holidays and stories together. Hediya Hassoun, who led the Druze women, related how wonderful it was for them to experience our holiday and to be a part of it, sitting in a succah and sharing our food, creating deep and personal connections to build on. Ibtisam Mahamid spoke of the importance of these social interfaith gatherings where women are able to relax in each other's homes, eat each other's food, and learn about each other's cultures and religions. They then return home to share this new reality with their family, friends, colleagues, and students.
Rabba Judith led us in a Walking Meditation through the main streets of Kfar Saba to the home of Lita Pollard to have delicious desserts in her succah. For the regular members, it was a special experience to walk through the center of town instead of out in nature. For the new women, it was a unique experience to walk arm in arm slowly and silently through the streets. Cars stopped and waited as we crossed busy intersections - calling out greetings to us. People walking on the streets stopped and stared smilingly at us, people in cafes called out "Shalom," and even broke out into applause as they watched us passing by quietly with smiles on our faces, demonstrating the power of our interfaith sisterhood to break down all the stereotypes and to create peaceful coexistence.
Rabba Judith told me the streets of her town felt transformed by our presence. The women themselves felt transformed by the effect of our demonstration of sisterly solidarity and our warm public reception. We ended with more blessings and a group hug - and an invitation to hold our next gathering in the home of a Druze woman in Daliat Al Carmel.
We were pleased to connect with all the global energies for peace at this time of the International Day of Peace, and are grateful to Barbara Meislin, the Purple Lady, and other California women who lovingly support our interfaith peace-building efforts.
Blessings and love,