January 13, Mindful Eating

Join us for an experience of mindful eating led by Alison Shore Gaines, a nutrition and lifestyle educator who has 25 years’ experience leading personal development workshops. Her approach to experiential learning evolved through training in yoga, holistic nutrition, and Gestalt psychology. www.sacrednourishment.com

The evening program will be preceded by our brief annual meeting.

December 13, Celebration of Light

 How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains!  - John Muir
Though my soul may set in darkess,
It will rise in perfect light,
I have loved the stars too fondly
To be fearful of the night.
- Sarah Williams
'There is a light beyond light and dark.'
Deborah Lord

An ongoing tradition at Women's Interfaith is to celebrate the light during one of the darkest months of the year, December. Bring your poems, short stories, songs, prayers, and meditations ~ the things you use to engage your inner light. Facilitated by Susan Jameson and JoAnne Spies.

Rite of Passage

 Take a look at how Youth Alive's Rite of Passage Program has grown!
Shirley Edgerton and Youth Alive dancers presented  the first seed of this program at one of our potluck programs in 2009.
 Women's Interfaith is eager to support this initiative as mentors and in other ways that help this program grow.

    Youth Alive Step, Dance and Drumline

WII Supports the Monterey Meets Ngalla/People to People Project

Monterey Meets Ngalla/ People To People Project
ngalla children
Children from the Ngalla Primary School
CPC (Center for Peace through Culture) has established a Sister City relationship between a small town in the western mountains of Massachusetts and a small African city. Monterey, MA and Ngalla, Cameroon, are working together to strengthen human and financial resources to fight the spread of Malaria and HIV/AIDS. The partnership helps people of both communities to share their history and experiences while promoting greater world prosperity and peace. Here's a report on the joyful opening event in Cameroon.

Harvest Gathering Thursday, November 17

A long-standing tradition of the Women's Interfaith is to gather in the fall of the year to share the blessings of our harvest and to enrich our lives with the power of gratitude. 

Please join us as we experience an evening of:
  inspiration, connection, ceremony, prayer, and song.

This year we will be focusing on our Spiritual Harvest: gratitude for what has been~what we have received~ what we have learned~ how we have grown~the gifts we have given~ the joy we have known~ the strength we have called upon~ the challenges we have conquered~ the love we are harvesting.

We are living in intense transformational times!  This evening will provide the opportunity to join our hearts and our forces  to call down a Blessing on the Human Family, our Mother Earth and all life. 

Please bring:
   ~ Simple foods that nourish and delight the body
   ~ An object for the gratitude altar that represents the     blessings of your harvest
   ~ A short written paragraph about what you are spiritually harvesting
Bio:   Satyena Ananda is a holistic educator and spiritual counselor with thirty eight years background and training in designing and implementing programs and experiences for people of all ages.  Her work focuses in the areas of healing, personal transformation, holistic living , ceremony and spiritual direction. 
Satyena Ananda is co-founder and director of Starseed, an interfaith healing sanctuary and holistic retreat center in the northern Berkshires.  Her current focus is on: conscious evolution, feminine spirituality and leadership, earth based healing, conscious co-creation,  spiritual community and the creation and stewardship of sacred space.

'Dia de los Muertes" Celebration Tuesday, October 18

Dia de los Muertos
“Day of the Dead”

Come join Rev. Joni Carron to experience this Mexican tradition of honoring our deceased ancestors. We will discuss the different ingredients and beliefs that make up this colorful, flavorful, and important day in Mexican culture. While experiencing Dia de los Muertos as a group, we will be invited to explore our own beliefs about death and the ways in which we do or do not honor our ancestors.
Please bring a picture of a loved one who has passed over who you would like to honor.  All of the photos will be placed on "la ofrenda," our altar. In keeping with the custom of this ritual, we ask that you prepare the favorite food of your loved one to be shared at our potluck dinner. In preparation for “Day of the Dead” bring stories, anecdotes, a favorite song, poem or prayer of your loved one to share with the group.
BIO:  Reverend Joni Carron is an Interfaith Minister, ordained in 2009 through One Spirit Interfaith Seminary.Her studies over the past ten years have focused on death/dying, end of life care, spiritual pain/ diagnosing spiritual pain, grief/bereavement, and the history and skills of an Anamcara (soul friend) caring for the dying. She is currently pursuing her life’s calling as a hospice chaplain. As a hospice volunteer Joni has assisted many of her friends and family through the transition of death. She has previously worked as a drug and alcohol counselor for nine years, and currently performs weddings, funerals and various spiritual ceremonies as part of her ministry.

"Feeding Body, Mind and Soul" for those in need

September 15, 2011
In keeping with our theme this year, "Feeding Body, Mind and Soul," tonight our Women's Interfaith group raised $130. to send to Mercy Corp to help feed people on the Horn of Africa.
The Horn of Africa is withered by drought – and the people who live there are perilously hungry. More than 12 million people are at risk of starvation. The United Nations has called Somalia the “world’s worst humanitarian disaster.”
People in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya are desperate for food and water. Mercy Corp is on the ground helping more than 860,000 people weather the crisis.
Here is the link to learn how to help:

It is our intention at Women's Interfaith to raise money each month to help nurture those in need both locally and abroad. Simply passing the basket and adding your $5. makes a tremendous difference!  Thank you all.
Thursday, September 15 

Feeding Body Mind and Soul:
"The High Holy Days~
Cleansing the Soul as a Path Toward Peace"
The Jewish calendar reflects not only the physical passage of the seasons but also the journey of the soul through each year. In this program we will discover the Jewish practice of Cheshbon Hanefesh- to take an accounting of the soul.

Rabbi Kaya Stern-Kaufman will guide us through a meditation as a way of connecting to a deeper sense of self and beginning the process of inner cleansing. This practice serves as preparation for entering the High Holy Days- a period of inner cleansing and outer repairing of relationships. As we begin a new year, may we be renewed on our paths towards wholeness and peace.

Rabbi Kaya Stern-Kaufman,MSW  is one of the founders and leaders of The Berkshire Minyan- a traditional/egalitarian prayer group that meets every Shabbat morning at Hevreh of S. Berkshire. She volunteers as chaplain at Fairview Hospital and is an experienced Jewish Educator. She has taught a variety of classes in Judaic Studies and Hebrew at Sinai Academy of the Berkshires, Congregation K'nesset Israel  Synagogue, Hevreh of S. Berkshire, Simon's Rock College and Isabella Freedman Center. Formerly a social worker and Feng Shui consultant,  Kaya is currently working on a book entitled, "Between Heaven and Earth- Re-envisioning Synagogue Space."

Come join us for this women's monthly potluck  program and bring a friend.

$5-10 Suggested donation

Please bring a labeled dish to share.

Optional: You may wish to include traditional Rosh Hashana foods in your recipes such as apples, honey, pomegranates, beets or leeks.

Where: Church on the Hill Chapel
55 Main Street
Lenox, MA

(The brown building is down the street from the main church, and across the street from Nejaime's Wine Cellar. Please use entrance on right side of building.)

When: 5:45 - 8:45pm

5:45 Gathering with food

6:00 Welcome circle

6:15 Potluck supper

7:15 Program

8:45 Closure and clean up

Interesting link about the Days of Awe: Debra Darvick

Interfaith Chant for Peace

Note from Rabbi Kaya Stern-Kaufman:
Dear Friends,
After the tragic and horrific events in Norway this summer, I have felt ever more provoked to do something to express our spiritual connectedness and unity as one humanity with many diverse and beautiful spiritual voices.

I envision an interfaith group, meeting monthly to share chants and prayers for peace from all traditions.
I have spoken to several local spiritual leaders from different faith traditions and they have enthusiastically agreed to join in this vision. Thus far, Rev. Natalie Shiras from The Church on the Hill, Rev. Yaqin Aubert from the Abode of the Message,  Native American Healer Mikka Barkman, the Quaker community and others will be joining me in our first monthly gathering.

Interfaith Chant for Peace 
Wednesday, August 31st,  5-6 PM 
at The Quaker Meeting House in Great Barrington
 280 State Road-Rt. 23.
Please join us as we share the sounds of Peace from all faith traditions.
Everyone is welcome.

Rabbi Kaya Stern-Kaufman

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony
The Women's Interfaith  
                Institute presents . . .

"Journey to the Birthplace of Women's Rights "

The Women's Interfaith Institute in the Berkshires invites you to take part in a journey to Seneca Falls, New York where the first Women's Rights Convention took place in July 1848.   Every year this memorable event is celebrated as part of "Convention Days" at the Women's Rights National Historic Park.

In July 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and several other women gathered for tea at a mutual friend's home in the small upstate New York village of Seneca Falls.  Elizabeth and Lucretia had met several years before at an anti-slavery convention.  At this meeting they determined to bring the disenfranchisement of women to public attention.  Within 5 days, and without phones, faxes, twitter or facebook, the group called a convention that drew 300 people!  Resolutions were formulated that outlined the rights of women, including the right to vote, and were passed.  This year's commemoration is special because the site of the original convention will be re-dedicated.  
Ani Nadler Grosser, Board Member of Women's Interfaith, is organizing this trip.  She is excited to bring a group of Berkshire women to Seneca Falls.  "We stand on the shoulders of these courageous women, many of whom went to jail and sacrificed so that we have rights, including the right to vote" says Grosser.  She adds "this is a trip that will ground us in history and be a source of inspiration for today's challenges.  It is also a wonderful opportunity to share with daughters, sisters, mothers, and friends.  An added bonus is that Seneca Falls, along the Erie Canal, is in the scenic wine country of the Finger Lakes."

            Highlights of the trip include:
      • Attending the re-enactment of a famous lecture with contemporary themes by Anna Howard Shaw, suffragist, clergywoman and physician.
      • Walk in the Annual Parade from Elizabeth Cady Stanton's home to Women's Rights National Park and witness the ceremony to re-dedicate Convention Hall.
      • Saturday lunch with Allison Stokes, founder of Women's Interfaith in the Berkshires and Finger Lakes, and historian of women's rights.
      • Tour of Women's Hall of Fame, Women's Rights National Historic Park, and Seneca Falls Museum

Logistics: We'll leave Lenox at 10 am on Friday, July 15, sharing cars or a van.  We have reserved a limited number of non-smoking double rooms at a nearby Holiday Inn.  Cost for a shared room is $95. per person.  Costs for gas, tolls, and meals are additional.  We will return at 8 pm on Saturday evening.

For more information, please contact Ani Grosser at
413-637-2868 or anigrosser@earthlink.net

Link to Susan B. Anthony and other biographies:

June 14, 2011

June 14, 2011
Partnership in Life and Music: If Music Be the Food of Love, Play On

The Women’s Interfaith Institute in the Berkshires will host songwriters and WBCR-lp radio hosts Graham and Barbara Dean perform some of the songs they have written together, and talk about how the process of writing, arranging and singing songs together has its complement in their marriage and life partnership.  We will learn about the elements of collaboration and synergy, which Barbara describes as “the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.”

Graham and Barbara Dean have been married for 34 years and have raised 4 children. They met in Sherborne, England in 1975 during a 10-month course in spiritual development, based on the teachings of George Gurdjieff, a Russian mystic. One of the things that attracted Barbara to Graham was his guitar-playing and singing. Barbara started singing with him in the 80's and then started playing the electric bass about 10 years ago. Attending songwriting/music camps together for the past 11 years has stimulated and supported their ability to make music together. 

Their CD "Tom Paine's Blues" debuted in 2004 and they host a political/folk music radio show on WBCR-lp on Wednesday nights from 8 to 10 pm.

May 12, 2011

"An Embodied History of Women"  
In this multimedia presentation on Thursday, May 12th, Sylvia Smetana of EnlightenNext will present the evolution of women's consciousness to better understand where we are today.

In the past fifty years, women's range of life choices has changed dramatically. We are now free to create lives that our foremothers could barely have dreamed of. Yet as we try to realize our potential, too often we find ourselves living out of the motivations and patterns of the past.

We don't realize that the past-not just our personal history, but all of the history of women-lives within us. 

Sylvia Smetana was born in Austria and studied business administration in Vienna. She met spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen in 1994. Inspired by the integrity, humanity and purposefulness of his teachings, she moved to Germany in 1997 to join the movement. In 2001 she joined EnlightenNext's world center in Lenox, MA as their Finance Director.
For several years she has been working closely with Dr. Elizabeth Debold and other senior teachers to develop a new, spiritual liberation teaching for women with Andrew Cohen, based on Evolutionary Enlightenment..www.andrewcohen.org     www.enlightennext.org  www.evolvewoman.org
April 12, 2011 

"From Constriction to Freedom - 
A Journey to Our Spiritual Home" 
The Women’s Interfaith Institute in the Berkshires will host Rev. Cheryl Ann Luft, MSS, Movement Therapist and Educator, for a universal passover experience. Through words, imagery and music, she will guide participants to move and experience the journey of Exodus which is told in the Passover story. Together, the group will travel this journey creating a deeper and more personal understanding of this timeless and relevant path.  No previous movement experience is needed and all are welcome to participate.

Rev. Cheryl Ann Luft is Jewish and an ordained ecumenical, interfaith minister, specializing in practical spirituality and worship for special populations.  When not donning her robe, she is a movement therapist and educator working with dance in Jewish populations, movement classes for the general public and private work with individuals.

WBCR-LP   was host to an interview with Jan Hutchinson and JoAnne Spies on Barbara and Graham Dean's show that aired the night before the program.
Thank you, B & G!

"Poetry as Soul Rescue"
 led by poet Jan Hutchinson

 Thursday March 17, 2011

       I crack my mind
          above the page,
          and sunny side up
          it lies there
          looking for God.

As part of the Berkshire Festival of Women Artists, Women's Interfaith Institute will host a poetry reading interwoven with a presentation on how poetry (all art for that matter) can center us, save us, get us beyond ourselves. Jan Hutchinson's poetry is direct, accessible, and quirky. It asks the big questions but dances laughingly away from all dogma and certainty.

Jan Hutchinson studied psychology as an under-graduate and literature and creative writing in graduate school.  She has lived in the Berkshires for thirty-five years, working and raising a family.  In the last decade, her study, inner life and creative work have coalesced into a focus on how the writing of poetry can be a lifeline, rescuing us, and a buoy helping us to float.

          The net of laughter
          waiting beneath
          the nervous highwire
          is Grace.

Come join us for this wome's monthly potluck  program and bring a friend.

$5-10 Suggested donation
(to support our programs)

Free for members

International Women’s Day Conference: Women Write the World
on Mar 5 2011, 1:00 PM - 5:30 PM at Bard College at Simon’s Rock (84 Alford Rd. Great Barrington)

This year’s 10th Annual International Women’s Day Conference will celebrate the power of women’s words, both locally and globally. Established and emerging women authors will be invited to share their insights on how they have used writing as a tool for “righting” the world—in other words, how writing is used by women as a creative outlet and a vehicle for social justice. See full program at Women Write the World.

The event is co-sponsored by Bard College at Simon's Rock and Berkshire Women for Women Worldwide. The Women's Interfaith Institute in the Berkshires is a long-time collaborator in supporting International Women's Day.

Keynote speaker will be acclaimed ecologist and cancer survivor Sandra Steingraber, whose trailblazing book, Living Downstream, makes a lyrical, personal and scientific case for banning poisons now pervasive in our air, our food, and our bodies.

( http://steingraber.com/ ) Readings and discussion by women include Native American poet Deborah Miranda, Chicana novelist Demetria Martinez, and journalist Christina Asquith, on Iraqi and American women in the Iraq War. There will also be a panel of women writers from Nigeria, Congo, Cameroon, and Ghana and a special dance choreographed by Anni Crofut on the stories of Berkshire women. Singer/songwriter JoAnne Spies will share her original music.
Registration:  $25 paid in advance; $30 at the door; $10 with student ID; Scholarships available.

The International Women's Day conference will be held in the Daniel Arts Center at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington, MA. Contact: iwd@simons-rock.edu

Parallel events will be held throughout Berkshire County for the entire month. 

Women's Interfaith Institute in the Berkshires will host poet Jan Hutchinson reading and discussing "Poetry as Soul Rescue" at their Thursday, March 17th potluck program.

February 8, 2011 Program

from "Sounding the River"event   photo by Keith Emerling

 "An Evening of Connection: 
   Connecting with the Physical World and with the Divine"

This evening is all about building our sense of connection - our sense of connection with ourselves and the physical world, and our sense of connection with the Divine. Spiritual director and energy healer Rev. Anne O'Neil will lead us in a 6-position grounding meditation and in chanting the names of various manifestations of the Divine -  some of whom have incarnated on this planet, some of whom have not.This practice opens us to recognizing differences between spiritual guides and identifying guides with whom we relate.

Rev. AnnE O'Neil is an energy healer and spiritual director with a practice in Great Barrington.  Her primary focus is working with people in issues of grief, loss, and transition, although many clients are looking for a more general sense of healing and deepening of their spiritual life.  She was ordained in 2003 by One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in New York City and is currently enrolled in their postgraduate Interspiritual Counseling program.  She is also a Certified One Light Healing Touch practitioner, as well as a life coach trained by Coach for Life.  Her personal mission is to provide healing and inspiration to individuals so they may step more fully into lives of joy, consciousness, and purpose.

"Creating Harmony in Yourself and the World:
      Easy Sound Techniques for Everyday"

  Thursday January 13, 2011

Talented group leader and sound healer Eve Schatz will guide participants to focus awareness on feeling the sound of their own voice resonating in their body, which feels like a massage from the inside out. The program will include learning how to find your own tone or the frequency at which you vibrate, and a 'Song of the Soul' group experience which is a comfortable, joyful improvisational lifting of our voices and spirits. 
Eve Schatz earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology and was a graduate student in Expressive Therapies when she discovered the profound effects of Sound Healing as taught by pioneers Sarah Benson and Kay Gardner. She co-founded the first Sound Healing Association in the Boston area and taught sound healing in the West Palm Beach Public School system, massage and Soma schools, privately and in workshops. Her multicultural interest in music and culture brought her to join Agbekor, the Boston based 30 piece Ghanaian Ewe Drum and Dance Troupe, as a drummer, and she co-founded Cambridge Custom Percussion, a multicultural music school, performance and recording venue. She spent three months in Nigeria where she performed African and Western Music with indigenous musicians and where she met indigenous healers while participating in a medical program.  Eve joined the women's music ensemble Mother Mountain and recorded music in the pyramids and temples of Egypt.