Annual Meeting and The Female Hero January 22nd

The Female Hero

Jungian analyst and psychotherapist Sarah Jackson will share her overview of the traditional hero, heretofore male, and the contemporary hero, who is not so strictly gendered. This lecture, accompanied by images, and discussion will focus on Sarah's particular interest: the new female heroes who are showing up in contemporary film-- cinema being the medium where our mythology is most visible.  We will explore what these new heroes have to tell us about our own heroism as women.

Sarah Jackson holds a BA from Bennington College, a Master's in Fine Art and a Master’s in Archetypal Psychology from Lesley University. She has studied group dream work with Robert Bosnak, archetypal & alchemical psychology with James Hillman, Sandplay Therapy at the C.G.Jung Institute in Boston, family therapy at the Family Center at BMC in Pittsfield MA,  and Process Work with Arnie Mindell. 
In addition to being a psychoanalyst and psychotherapist, Sarah is a professional visual artist, as well as a writer.  Her paintings, drawings and paperworks have been exhibited widely in the Berkshires, New York City, and elsewhere.

There will be a brief annual meeting @ 7:00.


Women's Interfaith is a proud co-sponsor of:

The Second Annual Interfaith Forum on Death, Dying and the Afterlife

Sunday, February 9, 2014 - 1:00pm to 5:00pm

Berkshire South Regional community Center
Great Barrington, MA

In Feb. 2013 Rimon held the first Interfaith Forum on Spiritual Views of Death and the Afterlife.  Upon conclusion of the event there was a resounding request for another opportunity to delve more deeply into this topic.
This 2nd Interfaith  Forum will have two parts.
Part 1 will include Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim and Hindu clergy/representatives to present their tradition's views in a question and answer format with a moderator and also in a community conversation.
Part 2 will include smaller break-out discussion groups led by experts in a variety of fields pertaining the following topics:
Topics to be covered will include: spiritual preparation for death,  the journey of the soul, traditions around preparation of the body of the diseased, perspectives on suicide including physician assisted death with dignity, hospice care, grief rituals and support systems for the bereaved, the home funeral movement.
Suggested Donation: $10, to help defray the costs of the forum.

Kwanzaa Celebration at Whitney Art Center January 18th

Over the years, Women's Interfaith's focus has been on encouraging and nurturing meaningful conversation.
Here's a link to an interesting article:
the power of conversation

Wednesday, December 18

WII altar with lights December 2011

Annual Celebration of Light 
The season of light is upon us. Now is the time to reconnect to the light within ourselves, which is the essence of our being. How can we each share that light with the world? Join the Women’s Interfaith Institute in what has become a beloved tradition on Wednesday, December 18th for our annual celebration of Light, Spirit and Community. Through sacred music, healing prayer, divine dance and guided meditation we will share the ceremonial illumination of Light as expressed through various faith traditions. Rabbi Kaya Stern Kaufman, Rev. Susan Jameson, Shirley Edgerton, JoAnne Spies and others will guide the evening as we call forth brightness and hope, and set our light-filled intentions as 2013 comes to an end and the New Year approaches.
If so moved, bring an object for the altar that represents what brings forth your light.


 "There is a crack in everything.  
 That's how the light gets in."  
Leonard  Cohen

Wednesday, November 20

Harvest Gathering
with Satyena Ananda

Your gratitude is one
of your greatest powers,   
for only when you find gratitude
do you begin to be liberated     
Grace, Gratitude, and Joy
We gather together at this time of Harvest to give thanks for our many blessings and to share with each other the fruits of our lives as well as the gifts we have received. We all know the power and grace that comethrough gratitude. When we imagine a circle of "women of faith," connected and focused on Gratitude and Blessings, we tap into the incredible goodness that we have the power to unleash in the world.
Please join us for our traditional gathering as we share an evening of:
Connection, Inspiration, Ceremony, Gratitude, Prayer, Song
And a Harvest Feast
This year we will be using the power of our voices to acknowledge our appreciation for what we are harvesting: 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,
the action we have been called to take.
Please bring an object for the gratitude altar that represents the blessings of your harvest along with a short written paragraph about the greatest blessing you have given and the greatest blessing you have received. 
There is such Power in collective Prayer and Intention
 Let us take this opportunity
to join our hearts
To call down a Blessing on all life!
Bio:  Satyena Ananda is a holistic educator and spiritual guide with thirty eight years background and training in designing and implementing programs and experiences for people of all ages in the areas of healing, personal transformation, holistic living , ceremony and spiritual direction.  Her work promotes spiritual connection, peace, self-acceptance, love and spirit-empowerment.  She is co-founder and director of Starseed, an interfaith healing sanctuary and holistic retreat center in the northern Berkshires. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013   

  First Congregational Church
        4 Main Street, Stockbridge MA   

Maya Angelou 
"Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to welcome good into your life."  


Meaningful conversation has been at the heart of Women Interfaith gatherings. Here's an interview with poet David Whyte about the importance of wholehearted conversation:
David Whyte on 'Courageous Conversation'

Wednesday, October 16



Transforming Your Relationship   
with One who has Passed
with AnnE O'Neil 
  First Congregational Church
        4 Main Street, Stockbridge MA     

Most psychological models of grief focus only on coming to emotional closure. New age practices often look at the ongoing spiritual connection but do not deal with the pain of having lost someone dear to us.  

In this evening, we will find the middle road between these paths by looking at the hard realities of mourning while also inviting a new and more open spiritual connection with our loved one's soul. This will be accomplished through writing exercises, one-on-one sharing, and guided meditation. Join us for an evening of healing, sharing, and opening.

*  *  * 
Rev. AnnE O'Neil, founder of your soul path,
is an energy healer, Interfaith minister, and grief counselor. She was ordained by One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in 2008 and is a Certified Instructor and Practitioner with One Light Healing Touch.  

Her work is primarily with those who have experienced a significant loss in their life, supporting them through the healing process to a place where they are once again excited by the possibilities of life.  

AnnE's recently published memoir, If You Want the Rain, Welcome the Rainbow: A Memoir of Grief and Recovery, recounts her journey with this process and looks at the damage we do when we dismiss and/or diminish our feelings of grief. She also teaches energy healing classes to help people learn to release heavy and foreign energy and raise their own vibration.  For more information, go to 

Guests are asked to arrive at 5:45 pm and bring a dish to share 
for a pot luck dinner which begins at 6 p.m.
AnnE''s program begins at 7 pm. 
WII’s monthly gatherings meet at the First Congregational Church of Stockbridge,
 4 Main Street, Stockbridge, MA.
All are welcome; suggested donation for non-members is $5-10.

For more information, call Alison Gaines at 413-442-3604.

Wednesday, September 18

The Art of Mindful Conversation

What is mindful conversation?    What does it have to do with creating a healthy community? Wendy Krom, a community organizer and student of Shambhala Buddhism, is currently organizing local congregations to form the Berkshire Organizing Sponsoring Committee. The foundation of this congregation-based approach to community organizing is relationship building. As we get to know each other one-on-one  and learn one another's stories in community, issues of concern reveal themselves and leaders naturally emerge.Wendy will lead us in the practices of mindfulness meditation and conversation.  In describing the work of community organizing, the practice of meditation and the study of Shambhala Buddhism, she will help us discern how our relationships with one another form the fabric of enlightened society.
Wendy Krom 
Wendy Krom is Founder and Director of Community Consulting Services, which provides training and technical assistance to non-profit organizations and community groups.

She has extensive experience in community coalition building as a means to prevent alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse and has helped neighborhood groups become organized and young people to form peer education groups in their schools and communities.


A Prayer For Our World

Holy One of Blessing,  Source of Life                                                                                                     we offer our prayers for our Great Mother, our world of unspeakable beauty 
and unspeakable tragedy.
May the light of compassion grow in the hearts of all human beings, to transform the darkness of greed into the growing awareness that all life is sacred.
May You guide us with wisdom and strengthen us with courage to make the changes we need to make
to safeguard the future for our children and generations to come.
May You awaken our leaders to the one simple truth that we are all inextricably connected to one another.
At this time of particular danger and struggle in the Middle East we pray for all peoples who long to live under your canopy of peace.
Keep them safe when they are threatened and
protect them from harm.
When they are wounded and bereaved
grant them healing and comfort.
May they find strength and courage in the days ahead.
(this paragraph adapted from Rabbi Karyn D. Kedar)

Dear God, hear our prayers, grant us wisdom, courage

and the holy chutzpah
to continue the work for healing and peace .

received from Rimon in the Berkshires

Resouce Center for Jewish Spirituality

Share your prayer for peace.. 

Wednesday, June 19

 Women's Interfaith is honored to host Francesca Margulies as our June program presenter.
Francesca Margulies
Remembering Who We Are Through the Art of Eurythmy                                                                                                                                   presented by Francesca Margulies

'I feel myself within myself. Myself and the world are one.'
Rudolph Steiner

Eurythmy is an art of movement that expands the way we think and feel about ourselves and the world. Developed by Rudolf Steiner, creator of Waldorf world-wide education, Eurythmy is language and music made visible through movement. Eurythmy transforms physical and emotional imbalances, and encourages the body, heart, and mind to come to a state of inner warmth and strength. 
Francesca Margulies came to Eurythmy as a classically trained ballet dancer in the School of American Ballet under George Balanchine, having danced with professional ballet companies in televised productions and on Broadway.  She taught Eurythmy at the Rudolph Steiner school in Great Barrington and will share some of its history as well as lead us in a gentle guided session.  
"I bear within myself  the forces to make me strong." - Rudolph Steiner

Guests are asked to arrive at 5:45 pm and bring a dish to share for a pot luck dinner which begins at 6 p.m.
Francesca's program begins at 7 pm. WII’s monthly gatherings meet at the First Congregational Church of Stockbridge, 4 Main Street, Stockbridge, MA.
All are welcome; suggested donation for non-members is $5-10.

For more information, call Alison Gaines at 413-442-3604.

Wednesday, May 22

Our Narratives: Seeking God, Finding Faith
While our culture offers many occasions to share our psychological selves, it is rare and beautiful to have an opportunity to share the stories of our spiritual journeys. Women's Interfaith Institute (WII), in conjunction with facilitators Ani Grosser and Wendy Rabinowitz, will be offering that chance to Berkshire women at our pot luck gathering this month.

The program, "Our Narratives: Seeking God, Finding Faith", will lead you through a reflection on your own spiritual life and invite you to connect with others with their stories and challenges.

We will specifically look at four aspects of one's spiritual evolution: 
1. The Discovery 
2. The Inner Journey and the Struggles 
3. How Your Faith Manifests in your Life and in the World 
4. Going Forth 
Wendy Rabinowitz

The program format includes guided meditation, the skills of deep listening from Communologue, and the connectivity offered by The World Cafe model. 
The evening will be facilitated by Ani Grosser, counselor and facilitator of empowerment groups, and Berkshire resident and Wendy A. Rabinowitz, an artist, workshop leader, and spiritual journeyer. 

Both Wendy and Ani are former members of the Board of Directors and dedicated friends of Women's Interfaith Institute. To learn more about these passionate and effective women please see their websites: Wendy's website: Living Threads Judaica 
Ani's website: The Center for Compassionate Relationships 
Ani Nadler Grosser, LICSW
Ani Nadler Grosser


Time and Location:
First Congregational Church
4 Main Street, Stockbridge MA 

SRI Kirtan Wednesday, April 17
                                SRI Kirtan
Ishwari - vocals, acoustic guitar; Sruti Ram – Vocals, Harmonium

The April program at Women's Interfaith will focus on the practice of kirtan. Kirtan is a devotional practice that involves singing mantras in a call and response style that leads to a calming of the mind and opening of the heart. 

Women's Interfaith is pleased to host SRI Kirtan for an evening of Bhakti Yoga, yoga of the heart.
With unsuppressed enthusiasm, SRI Kirtan unites their distinctive harmonies in joyful Mantra Music. Sruti Ram & Ishwari are regulars at Bhakti Fest, Omega Ecstatic Chant and travel worldwide chanting joyfully as their offering to their love of the Divine.  Their CD "Live Your Love"on Mantralogy records reached #10 on the Billboard World Music Chart. SRI Kirtan

Guests are asked to arrive at 5:45 pm and bring a dish to share for a pot luck dinner which begins at 6 pm; the kirtan will begin at 7 pm. Consider bringing lighter fare as a potluck dish in preparation for an evening of nurturing sound. Feel free to bring cushions or backjacks to sit on during the chanting should you prefer that over chairs.  WII’s monthly gatherings meet at the First Congregational Church of Stockbridge, 4 Main Street, Stockbridge MA. All are welcome; suggested donation for non-members is $5-10. 

The Women's Interfaith Institute in the Berkshires is comprised of women of different faiths, traditions and diverse backgrounds who practice their beliefs through dedicated action. For more information on the Women’s Interfaith Institute of the Berkshires, visit  or call (413) 442-3604.

Illumination: Memoir Writing as a Path to Peace, with Laura Didyk ~ March 20, 2013

Writing about your own life means more than merely reporting on your past. When you bring the perspective of who you are today to bear on stories from your life, not only will the stories shine with new and surprising significance but you, the writer, will be transformed in the process. Approached in the spirit of discovery, memoir writing becomes a vehicle for illumination, insight, and wisdom that can bring the writer a sense of peace while inspiring and changing her readers. Writer and teacher Laura Didyk will lead memoir-writing exercises and give a short reading from her memoir in progress. Following the usual format of Women’s Interfaith events, the potluck dinner starts at 6 p.m., and the program will begin at 7 p.m. Please bring a dish to share.

Laura Didyk, MFA
, published writer and former editor in chief of a national literary magazine, has earned a local reputation as an inspiring and inventive teacher. Her work has been published in the Comstock Review, Diagram, Post Road, Fence, the Sun, and New Orleans Review, among others. She has been awarded residencies at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, and her work has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes.

Guests are asked to arrive at 5:45 pm and bring a dish to share for a pot luck dinner which begins at 6 p.m.; Laura’s program begins at 7 pm. WII’s monthly gatherings meet at the First Congregational Church of Stockbridge, 4 Main Street, Stockbridge, MA. All are welcome; suggested donation for non-members is $5-10.

Women's Interfaith is a proud supporter of the 
 Berkshire Festival of Women Writers

Let us know about your event.. 
  Friday, March 22nd at 2:30 pm                       
 at the Norman Rockwell Museum                                
a collaborative and interactive performance created by JoAnne Spies, with songs and poems on the theme of trust, in a guided tour of the Rockwell Museum.

 JoAnne Spies TRUST event on Facebook                                                                      
Wednesday, March 27 
Wind and Rain: Poetry and Song 
Rosemary Starace, JoAnne Spies                                                                                          
The Lichtenstein Center, 28 Renne Avenue, Pittsfield, 7 p.m.
Suggested donation: $5

February 20th

        Celtic Spirituality with Jeanne Crane 

Thanks to Jeanne Crane for a wonderful interactive presentation on the 'thin places'!                Here's a link to her website and the place to share your experience of the thin places.

Women’s Interfaith Institute Celebrates Celtic Spirituality

The February program of Women’s Interfaith Institute will honor Celtic spirituality.  Jeanne Crane,  author of Celtic Spirit- A Wee Journey to the Heart of It All, will share her experiences on the power of some of the places in Ireland called ‘thin places’ that led her to a deeper level of spiritual practice.  These places, long home to Irish mystics and poets, are holy and sacred, a place of transcendence, where one can sense the Divine and feel lifted up. The term can also refer to a place where the veil is thin, where there is a gateway to the Other World or portal to the Fairy Kingdom. Still others use it to  refer to the notion of vortexes or sites where they experience a vibrational, mystical energy. Some thin sites are natural, some built by the Church, and still others made by ancient peoples who somehow knew how to channel the light of sun and moon and stars. All provide the visitor with an awesome sense of the mystery and wonder of the Universe.
Jeanne’s message will also integrate discussion about the energy of the Divine Feminine and its central role in the wisdom of the ancient mysteries, the worship of the Goddess, and Celtic Christianity.

Jeanne Crane ( is a life coach, organizational consultant, and change facilitator.  She has been traveling to Ireland since her teen years, but experienced Celtic spirituality as the heart of her spiritual transformation decades later when she was introduced to the ancient sites, the dolmens, standing stones and beehive structures.  The inspiration for her book came in meditation at Glendalough, when she sensed the need to tell a story of the universality of Spirit.  Besides her Celtic practice, Jeanne’s spiritual home is Unitarian Universalism.

Guests are asked to arrive at 5:45 pm and bring a dish to share for a pot luck dinner which begins at 6 p.m.; Jeanne’s program begins at 7 pm. WII’s monthly gatherings meet at the First Congregational Church of Stockbridge, 4 Main Street, Stockbridge, MA. All are welcome; suggested donation for non-members is $5-10.

Share a Prayer

Mokichi Okada

Board member AnnE O'Neil closed our January gathering with a powerful prayer about Paradise on Earth written by Mokichi Okada.
Great God of Light,
We behold your plan unfolding
Whereby all spiritual clouds are dispelled,
Impurity and error cleansed from the realms of spirit and matter.

The age of Light and joy is being born. 
Through your infinite compassion,
misguided forces waken unto truth and negative practices cease
while forces of Light unhindered restore the world to peace.

All of nature receives your loving influence and finds its rightful place.
Peaceful clouds move across brilliant skies and the fragrance of countless flowers floats upon the air.
Abundant harvests glorify the Earth, every corner filled with happy voices.
Boundaries between countries vanish and ancient conflicts disappear as if dreams.

All people are united,
encircled by your Light and guided by your wisdom.
Through service to humanity,
all are blessed with health, peace, and prosperity.

Great God of Light,
Strengthen us with courage and wisdom to follow your will
And realize Paradise on Earth. 

-          Prayer from the Johrei tradition

Okada was a Japanese man who lived from 1882-1955 and was the founder of the Johrei tradition. Okada was a poet, artist, mystic, visionary, businessman, husband, father, and spiritual teacher.

His vision was to create a world of peace, health, and prosperity for us all — a paradise on earth. 

What are some of your favorite prayers? 

Wendy A. Rabinowitz sent in...
i thank you god
for most this
amazing day for the
leaping greenly spirits
of trees and the
blue true dream of
sky and for everything
that is natural that is
infinite that
is yes

I who have died am
alive again today and
this is the sun's birthday
this is the birthday of
light and of love and
of the gay, great happening
illimitable earth

how should tasting touching breathing merely human being
doubt unimaginable you

now the ears of my ears
awake and the eyes of
my eyes are open

poem by ee cummings

Here's a resource for Sufi prayers written by Hazrat Inayat Khan.
One of my favorite prayers is Saum.

Praise be to Thee, Most Supreme God,
Omnipotent, Omnipresent, All-pervading, the Only Being. Take us in Thy Parental Arms,
Raise us from the denseness of the earth. Thy Beauty do we worship,
To Thee do we give willing surrender, Most Merciful and Compassionate God,
The Idealized Lord of the whole humanity.
Thee only do we worship; and towards Thee alone we aspire.
Open our hearts towards Thy Beauty, Illuminate our souls with Divine Light,
O Thou, the Perfection of Love, Harmony and Beauty!
All-powerful Creator, Sustainer, Judge and Forgiver of our shortcomings,
Lord God of the East and of the West, of the worlds above and below,
And of the seen and unseen beings,
Pour upon us Thy Love and Thy Light, Give sustenance to our bodies, hearts and souls.
Use us for the purpose that Thy Wisdom chooseth,
And guide us on the path of Thine Own Goodness.
Draw us closer to Thee every moment of our life,
Until in us be reflected Thy Grace, Thy Glory, Thy Wisdom, Thy Joy and Thy Peace.

Please join us in supporting these two upcoming community events. Women's Interfaith Institute in the Berkshires is proud to be a co-sponsor of these events that celebrate our interconnectedness.
14thAnnual Interfaith Celebration of the
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday

Interfaith Prayers, Readings, Music, Singing

Featuring Youth from Local Community Groups:
Greenagers, Multicultural BRIDGE Youth Corps, Railroad Street Youth Project

Monday, January 21, 2013
Interfaith Service and Reception
12:00 Noon - 1:00PM

First Congregational Church (Parish Hall)
251 Main Street, Great Barrington

 Spiritual Views on Death and the Afterlife
An Interfaith Forum

This interfaith forum will present the spiritual beliefs and rituals related to the process of dying, death and the after-life as understood by many of our world religions. Presenters will include a panel of local clergy from the Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Christian Community, Muslim and Buddhist faith traditions. Topics to be explored will include: customs surrounding care for the deceased; the journey of the soul after death; the relationship between the living and the dead; and what these traditions teach regarding preparation for this ultimate transition.

Sunday Feb. 3, 2013
1:30 - 4:00PM
 Fee: $10/person

Berkshire South Regional Community Center,
Great Barrington, MA

The Rev. Mr. Charles Van Ausdall, Congregational Church UCC
Ann-Elizabeth Barnes, Sacred Undertaking
Sharon Coleman, PhD,  Zen/Vietnamese Buddhism
Imam Salim Chishti,  Islam
Sister Colette Hanlon,  Catholicism
The Rev. Liza Marcato, Christian Community, Movement for Religious Renewal
Rabbi Kaya Stern-Kaufman, Judaism

Moderator: Deborah Golden Alecson, MS
           Adjunct Faculty, School of Health Sciences,Excelsior College, Albany, NY

For more information please contact:
Deborah Golden Alecson  413 881-4065,
                 Rabbi Kaya Stern-Kaufman  413-274-1034,

Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
Life, Death and Transformation in the Americas Huastec “Life-Death Figure” (A.D. 900-1250, Mexico), and “Wild Man Mask” (1970, Canada), by John Livingston, at the Brooklyn Museum.

recent NYTimes article of interest: Life, Death and Transformation at the Brooklyn Museum

sent in by K. Furlong


Quoting from the book of Job, Wendy Rabinowitz said:
"Look to the earth, and it shall lead you."

Former WII board member Wendy Rabinowitz weaves and hand-letters tapestries with roots in Jewish traditions. (Courtesy photo by Susan Geller)
read article here:

Berkshire artist Wendy Rabinowitz weaves ‘Shalom' exhibit - Berkshire Eagle Online

  What: 'Shalom: Weaving the Threads of Peace'
Where: Farber/Miness Gallery at the Ludwig Schenectady Jewish Community Center, 2565 Ballstown Road, Niskayuna, N.Y.
When: Through Feb. 28.
Wendy Rabinowitz will speak about her work on Wednesday, Jan. 30, at 7 p.m.
Admission: Free
Information: living threads judaica1
Rabinowitz will also display weaving/mixed-media assemblage worrk, her work, ‘Lillith,' in ‘Growl,' the Women's Caucus for Art exhibit juried by Saisha M. Grayson from the Brooklyn Museum, at the Karl Drerup Art Gallery Plymouth, N.H., from Feb. 5 to March 15.