A band of sisters

by Deborah Wright

group gathered in Muir WoodsUnited Nations Day took on a new sense of meaning for me starting back in the late 90’s when I was first invited by Elana Rozeman, an American born Orthodox Jew who had emigrated to Israel 20 years before, put out the word that a group of interfaith women were going to have a meditative walk through Marin County’s Muir Woods to the place where, in May of 1945, original charter of the United Nations had been signed.

Elana, coincidentally also the sister of the man in my life, had, in 1997, lived through a horrific tragedy – her youngest son, Noam, was attacked by three suicide bombers in a marketplace in Jerusalem while walking home from school. Noam was burned over 40% of his body, his leg bones and eardrums were shattered, and he endured scores of surgeries. Elana, a Peace Corps alum – she had lost her older brother in a plane crash when he was in the Corps – was desperate to find a creative way to deal with her anger, and decided that women might offer a key to building peace and understanding among sworn enemies. She founded a group called TRUST-EMUN, building a network of women – Jews, Palestinian Christians and Muslims, and Druze – to begin gathering in one another’s homes – to cook together, share stories, recipes, traditions and prayers. As the group expanded, they began meeting for organized discussions, meditations and readings from one another’s sacred books, holiday celebrations, and peace walks. For years they have done something unheard of – gathered in one another’s home – often requiring special permits and personal escorting for safety. Many of the women’s husbands, brothers and sons think the women are crazy. But together, they have healed one another of the deep scars that, in many cases, preceded their births. The sisterhood bonding has been profound.

Elana was a frequent visitor to Marin County, just across the Golden Gate Bridge – her mother lived here in Assisted Living, near the home of her brother, Gordon. cathedral grove signEvery Fall we would gather with Elana – Christian clergy, Buddhist nuns, Muslim women, and Jews – and celebrate these bonds with a silent walk to Cathedral Grove in Muir Woods, where, among our giant old-growth Redwoods and Sequoias, we would gather around the plaque where once, in 1945, hundreds of world leaders had gathered to sign a charter for this thing that was to become the United Nations, and we would pray – for peace, for healing, for understanding, for forgiveness – for an end to the cycles of fear and violence that divide us.

Elana’s mother passed away recently, and her trips back here are less frequent. But the tradition she began carries forth. And so, today, we band of sisters walked and prayed again, among the mighty redwoods. Let there be peace, indeed, and let it begin with me.

The Rev. Deborah Wright is an adaptive change consultant with PneuMatrix.

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