"Light Mandala" Women's Interfaith
                                   December 2010 program  photo by Elfi Six

Upcoming Programs:

Thursday, January 13: "Sound Healing" led by Eve Schatz

Tuesday, February 8:   "An Evening of Connection"

                                      led by Rev. AnnE O'Neil
Thursday, March 17: "Poetry as Soul Rescue" 
                                Berkshire poet Jan Hutchinson

Follow this link for an interesting overview of Women's Interfaith organizations: The Pluralism Project


November 18, 2010  
Annual Harvest Gathering

 A Time of Giving Thanks and
Harvesting Our Blessings

In our circle we will share with each other the harvest of our blessings and create an altar of gratitude. This year we will be honoring some of the traditions of our country's First Nation People. They have set before us a powerful example of generosity, gratitude and connection with the "Great Spirit" who resides within all life.

The program will be facilitated by Satyena Ananda, a Rainbow Elder with lineage from the four root races and Mikka Barkman, a member of Sachigo First Nations in Canada (Cree.)
What to Bring:
~ An object for the gratitude altar that represents the good that you are harvesting from this past year
~ An item that represents something that has challenged you as well as blessed you that will be ceremonially given away
and buried in the earth * (scroll down for more info)
~A Harvest potluck dish that expresses what you are grateful for

Please join us for our opening circle starting promptly at 6pm.

For further information about this event contact Satyena Ananda at (413) 743-0417.

Mikka Barkman, LMT, ABT is a member of Sachigo Lake First Nations in Canada (Cree.) Mikka comes from a family of healers and over the past twenty years has developed "The Barkman Method," a combination of bodywork and dialogue that helps clients understand their bodies' signals to reveal subconscious belief patterns. She lives in Stockbridge, MA with her two teen-age children and has a private practice in Gt. Barrington.

Satyena Ananda, Co-founder and Director of Starseed Healing Sanctuary and Retreat Center in Savoy MA , is a holistic educator and spiritual counselor who has spent the past 40 years creating and offering programs, retreats and ceremonies that transform and restore body, mind and soul. A certified Polarity Therapist, Satyena has a degree from UMASS in Holistic Education and Spiritual Counseling. She has served on the boards of the Women's Interfaith Institute and The Women's House of Peace. Her work has been presented for 22 years at Rowe Conference Center, for the Whole Earth Expo, for Project Aim, and for many private groups and organizations.  

*  More Information about the Give Away Ceremony
 One highlight of our Harvest Celebration ceremony will be an ancient practice known as "The Native American Give Away."  The give-away is always done in the spirit of gratitude, remembering that giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin. For this part of the ceremony, we ask that you bring a small item to give away.  This item will represent something in your life that has challenged and also blessed you. Near the end of the ceremony, this item will be buried "permanently" in the earth outside the chapel.

In choosing the item you will give away, consider the following: 
~ Something belonging to a loved one who has passed on, in gratitude for the release of any negative feelings such as guilt or resentment that you carry/carried from that relationship
~ Something from a previous marriage, in gratitude for the lessons of forgiveness
~ Something from a past career, in gratitude for the abundance discovered in your new business
~Something that represents an illness, or accident that you experienced, in gratitude for the healing that has occurred as a result
~ Something representing a hardship of any kind, in gratitude for the realization that you are stronger than you thought!
~ Something representing your  faith, in gratitude for the strength it lends you
   In the Spirit of the Four Directions, consider the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of what you are giving and receiving.  

Bring your potluck dish and two altar items: one gratitude item and one give-away item

Consider bringing a prayer or a song ~
  OCTOBER 12, 2010  
 “Programs for Peace and Cultural Exchange”     

Thank you to Gwendolyn Van Sant and BRIDGE for introducing us to PAX.
Our featured guests were scholarship exchange students and Lelia Bruun, a coordinator for PAX (Program Academic Exchange) and YES Programs (Youth Exchange Study, created after 9/11 to promote peace and understanding.) Lelia spoke about PAX and YES and her work with scholarship students from Afghanistan, India, Ghana and Russia. 

Students included: Mohammed Adawalai from Ghana, Ramiz Shaikh from India, Jamshid Zafar from Afghanistan, and Lyosha Filippou from Russia. Each student shared stories and faith traditions from home and described the competitive process they went through to be chosen as an exchange student.

A lively discussion followed and we're looking forward to seeing more of our new friends at future potlucks.

Lelia Bruun, a coordinator for PAX  works with U.S. State Dept. scholarship exchange students in the YES  and FLEX (Future Leaders Of Exchange) programs. Both organizations work with high school students between the ages of 15-18 as a diplomacy initiative designed to build bridges of peace and understanding. Lelia serves as the local coordinator for both the Fresh Air Fund and the Program for Academic Exchange. Her involvement with the Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency providing free summer vacations to inner-city children ages 6-18 in need, began nearly 15 years ago first as a host family followed by her current role as Fund Representative for Berkshire County managing the Williamstown and Great Barrington Friendly Towns.

Wendalah Rabinowitz and Susan Jameson

   September 16, 2010 
   Sacred Activism:  Giving Birth to a New Humanity

Women's Interfaith Institute in the Berkshires' board member Susan Jameson hosted the first potluck program of the year that explored the meaning of sacred activism and some of the profound conscious birthing energies that are transforming humanity. 
Through sacred activism, "the marriage of spiritual practice that deeply grounds us in the reality of oneness with effective outer action on behalf of peace and justice," we can participate in and help bring about this birth. We each can take personal responsibility for the conscious development of the human species from adolescence into adulthood.

We explored the connection between spiritual practices and activism and shared an extraordinary evening of learning and connection.
 Guests sharing stories included Rev. Natalie Shiras, pastor of Church on the Hill in Lenox, MA who recently returned from leading a youth group in Costa Rica and from a cross cultural exploration of churches in Russia and Ghana, as well as journeying to Turkey, India and Nepal; Julia Balter, a dance therapist whose work facilitates awareness of sacred connection and co-creation with the divine. Julia is fully trained in both Feldenkrais and  Alexander Techniques and holds a masters degree in dance therapy.  Since the 1980's she has taught her original work at universities, performing art schools and theaters in Germany, the U.S. and Australia; Eve Schatz, founder of the Free Legal Clinic in South Berkshire County,  is an attorney and activist who recently began a community organic food project.
 Susan Jameson is an initiate candidate of the One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in NYC and is currently compiling a book titled, "Heart-Shaped Uterus: Giving Birth to a New Universe-54 Stories from Global Midwives (and Midhusbands)."  She is co-founder of Healing Winds, the producer of the Rock, Rattle & Drum Pow Wow, founder and director of Humanity in Concert and on the board of the Women's Interfaith Institute in the Berkshires.

Thank you to Wendalah Rabinowitz for sharing her photos from recent potlucks:

Mateo Senza, Eve and Alianne Schatz

 Shirley Paukulis dancing with Harriette Joffe

 Beverly Brown and Sheila Donath

 Pauline Dongala nd Ani Grosser

Satyena and Tosca

 Eileen Lawlor

 Sonia Pilcer and Mikka Barkman

Shirley Paukulis and Pauline Dongala
Anne Barstow, Katharine Houk and Wendalah Rabinowitz

June 8, 2010 ~“WOMEN, the ARTS and the SACRED”

For the second year, former board member, Shirley Paukulis, created an inspirational evening where a panel of women in the written, visual and performing arts shared their explorations and discoveries in the creative process and their personal experiences of discovery of the sacred in everyday life. Socially engaged in their communities and other countries, Wendalah Rabinowitz, JoAnne Spies, Anne Barstow, Gabrielle Senza, June Wink and Katharine Houk told their stories and displayed their art work. The evening opened and closed with a ceremony of light, song, movement and prayer.

 Shirley Paukulis and Gabrielle Senza

  June Wink displaying artwork

May 6, 2010 ~ Women Weaving Community Together: Sharing Our Gifts
Ani Grosser, psychotherapist and WII board member, and Rosa Zubizarreta, social worker and WII board member co-facilitated the evening's program. Using the Communologue technique, participants explored new ways to bring their own work in the world and discovered commonalities of purpose.

April 13, 2010 Multicultural Women and Their Faith: Catholic and Muslim Women Share Their Faith

Gwendolyn Hampton VanSant, Director of B.R.I.D.G.E, invited women and students from Catholic and Muslim traditions to talk about their faith. Maria Soria spoke about Catholicism and Afua Tweneboah spoke about Islam and Catholic traditions in Spain. Two Muslim students from Egypt and one from Ghana, who were part of the PAX-Program of Academic Exchange at Monument Mountain H.S., shared their prayers and talked about their faith

  Maria shares Catholic traditions from Central America while Gwendolyn translates from Spanish to English

Mohammed,  an exchange student from Egypt, talks about his Muslim faith

March 11, 2010 ~ Founding Director of Women's Interfaith Institute, Rev. Allison Stokes PhD., Presents Slide Show and Lecture on Women's History 

“Unquiet Friend” quilt, by Alice Gant,
that hangs in WII Seneca Falls Church.
It portrays Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglas, and Lucretia and John Mott

Rev. Allison Stokes, Ph.D. presented a slide show and talk that recounted the story of our foremothers, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other remarkable women, ordained religious leaders, scholars and teachers. Founding Director of the Women’s Interfaith Institute in the Berkshires and in the Finger Lakes, Rev. Stokes is a scholar-activist focused on ‘the Interfaith Movement.’ While living in the Berkshires, Rev. Stokes served as pastor of the West Stockbridge Congregational Church.

Rev. Allison Stokes (l) and friend stand by Women's Interfaith Institute in Seneca Falls

February 9, 2010 ~ “Awareness of Relationship of Food and Faith”
As the Executive Chef of EnlightenNext, Katherine Miller invited us to explore the connection between our spiritual beliefs and the food we eat. She has been a 19-year student of EnlightenNext’s spiritual founder, Andrew Cohen, and is working to pioneer new ways of understanding health and wellness in the context of conscious evolution and spiritual enlightenment.

January 14, 2010 ~ “Listening Deeply through Communologue”
This month’s program, Communologue, was facilitated by WII Board member Ani Nadler Grosser, LICSW, a relationship therapist in private practice in Lenox and a member of the Imago Peace Project. The program offered an experience of Communologue, a dialogue process for creating safe communication and connection in groups. In Communologue, deep listening is a creative process where all points of view are respected and specific guidelines are followed.