Received on Dec. 27, 2001


    Women's Interfaith Encounter in Jerusalem

"Holidays of the Season from the Woman's Perspective:

        Ramadan, Chanukah, and Christmas"

On Thursday evening,  December 20, an enthusiastic group of thirty Muslim,
Christian, and Jewish Jerusalem women studied together the origins of the
holidays of Ramadan, Chanukah, and Christmas.  The Women's Interfaith
Encounter was supported by and held at the American Center in
Jerusalem.  The Coordinator Elana Rozenman of SuccessWorks opened the
evening by praising the courage it took every woman to attend such a
gathering in the midst of the difficulties and violence in
Jerusalem.      The other coordinators, Hanan Totary and Lina Yassin,
were acknowledged for assuring a balanced audience, an effective program,
and a meaningful study session.  The first of the group of women teachers
was Ruth Langer, a visiting American interfaith studies professor, who
gave an interesting historical background to Interfaith Holiday
Celebrations on the US.  The Muslim teacher Huda Ibrahim explained the
nature of the Ramadan fast, it's difference from the fasts of other
faiths,  and all the laws from the Koran pertaining to it's
observance.  The Jewish teacher Debbie Weissman spoke about aspects of
Chanukah that unify it with Christmas and Ramadan, and as a minor Jewish
holiday with simple rituals that has expanded in competition with
Christmas in the Western world.   The Christian teacher, Hanadi
Sudah-Younan, spoke about the  Middle-eastern origins of Christmas and
described the traditional Palestinian Christmas celebrations and played
lovely Middle-eastern Christmas music.  After eating holiday sweets, the
women went into small study groups where everyone had the opportunity to
get to know each other and have free flowing and lively discussions on
topics such as fasting, purity, and attitudes towards women  through the
lens of the three faiths.   Women commented on the enjoyable atmosphere of
women studying together, since interfaith gatherings are so often
dominated by men.  They expressed and demonstrated the importance of
openness, curiosity, respect, and tolerance towards each other's
religions.  Because of the unanimous  desire to continue the process,  an
interfaith planning group was set up to select topics for  further study,
find interested teachers and participants, and develop funding sources.

Christian     Hanan Totary
Jewish         Elana Rozenman
Muslim         Lina Yassin

The Interfaith Encounter Association
9 Habanay Street, Jerusalem 96264, Israel