Recently forty Druze, Jewish, and Muslim women — Israeli and Palestinian joined the TRUST WIN (Women’s Interfaith Network) at the Community Center in the Druze village of Daliat AlCarmel to celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week. They were greeted by Siham Halabi in the Garden of the Mothers which is dedicated to Interfaith Sisterhood. The Druze women arrived carrying pots and plates of home cooked food.

The group began by reflecting on the difficult times in the world and in our region with hatred, racism, and religiophobia on the rise. Our warm embraces and interest in each other’s religions displayed a different reality. And yet some of our members were unable to be included in the public photos because of our situation. The Mayor of the Region greeted the present and praised them for the example they set of interfaith friendship in the land and the tangible symbol that they have created with the Garden of the Mothers.

A tree was planted by women from each religion in the name of their own mothers, working hard to dig the holes and plant the trees as a permanent symbol of interfaith harmony in nature. The participants of the gathering encircled the trees and sang songs and blessings. The Jewish holiday of Tu B’shvat – the New Year for the Trees – was explained. One woman said “How meaningful that our mothers are memoralized together in our Garden of the Mothers.”

A chef in the Center kitchen instructed them as everyone rolled out dough and baked cookies together – sharing recipes and advice. She showed the special way to fold triangle shaped cookies that are made for the upcoming Jewish holiday of Purim. A Jewish woman commented “Amazing to learn to make Haman’s Ears from a chef in a Druze village! What fun! We’re sharing cultures!” The Druze women provided Druze pita and other local foods for a delicious lunch where all sat with new friends.

They had teachings from each religion about interfaith harmony and discussions. Basically, they saw that there is harmony among the religious teachings because each religion teaches peace and to treat the stranger well. The position of women in each religion was also discussed with much interest since each religion has different rights on women. Singing and dancing was led by Rabba Judith Edelman Green and Ibtisam Mahamid and was filled with laughter as women relaxed together and danced and talked with women they didn’t know. Ages ranged from 18 – 80. Three new young Muslim members said they were surprised to be welcomed by so much warmth and looked forward to bringing their friends to future gatherings. A Rabbinical student from a nearby town planned to have joint meetings with the two towns. The participants committed to return to their own families, schools, and organizations to spread the message of interfaith sisterhood and recruit more women for the future planned visits to each other’s towns.  The event was supported by California women and URI MENA.