AN EVENING OF JOYOUS CELEBRATION
Celebrating Joy, our spring event was held via Zoom on Wednesday, May 11, 2022.
The evening provided poetry and music from Muslim, Christian and Jewish traditions in celebrating the joy of being people of faith together.
A message of joy, Feride Saribas presented the Islamic poem, “I haven`’t come here (world) to settle down” by Turkish poet and Sufi mystic, Yunus Emre, in original language with English subtitles opened our program.
A musical offering from the Christian tradition was shared by Adam Peithmann, Director of Music Ministry at First Congregational Church of Manchester together with the adult choir’s presentation of a Gospel choral sung as a virtual anthem.
The Jewish presentation completed our program with a Simcha (Joy) circle led by Cantor Sarra Spierer of Congregation Beth Elohim, Acton, MA.
Many of the evening’s attendees took part small group discussions facilitated by the IWNH Leadership Team to share the joys they have experienced over the last two years as the pandemic changed our normal routines.
The IWNH Leadership Team is grateful to all the presenters and to Ali Athar who provided Tech Support.
FAITH INSPIRED STORIES: teaching tolerance, overcoming prejudice, acting from faith
Our fall 2021 Zoom event was held on Nov 15th and drew an audience of over 40 participants. Our program, FAITH INSPIRED STORIES: teaching tolerance, overcoming prejudice, acting from faith, offered a continuation from IWNH’s March program, ‘Let’s Talk: Faith and Race’, sharing our thoughts, concerns and response to each other as people of faith.
The event presented by video with life stories from the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths showing respect for the humanity of all peoples, making choices related to tolerance issues, taking action to better people’s lives regardless of race, religion or nationality.
Our presenters were:
Zaheeda Hamza: Respecting human equality and anti racism: The story of Hazart Bilal
Rachel Spierer: Sharing life together ; with respect for “the other”
Veronica Molloy: Racial Justice : Living faith in a Secular Society
Following the presentations the audience were invited to join “break out room” discussions facilitated by the IWNH Leadership Team to share their related thoughts, and lived experience regarding the matter of faith and race.
The IWNH Leadership Team would like to thank all those who participated in this event, and a special thank you to Ali Athar whose technical expertise brought all our presentations together.
Let’s Talk Faith and Race
Our spring 2021 Zoom event was held on March 22nd and drew an audience of over 50 participants.
Much has happened in our world to raise questions and concerns about how we interact and respond to each other as people of faith. Our program, ‘Let’s Talk Faith and Race’, brought guidance to us from leaders of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths.
Featured speakers were:
Rabbi Beth Davidson: Temple Adath Yeshurun, Manchester
Robert Dunn Esq: Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester
James McKim: Episcopal Church of Manchester
Beyza Sariaydin: Turkish Cultural Center of Connecticut
IWNH Leadership Committee is grateful to the NH Council of Churches and to the Turkish Cultural Center of Connecticut who have provided access to these prerecorded videos.
Participants in the event were invited to discuss 3 questions (see below) in virtual breakout rooms, each lead by a member of the IWNH’s Leadership Team. We thank all who took part in these thoughtful discussions.
You may wish to share these questions and create conversations surrounding the topic of faith and race
1. Share a short explanation of a personal childhood first memory of encountering or interacting with a person of another race. Was this a good, or bad experience and why?
2. Recall an interaction you observed, or conversation you overheard that illustrates racial bias or injustice?
As a bystander, what did you think or do and how did that make you feel?
3. As an individual, or as a member of a faith-based organization, have you heard anything recently inspire you to find ways to dialog and/or increase your interactions with people of the various races within our community in order to create understanding and friendship for the common good?
The IWNH Leadership Team would like to thank all those who participated in this event.
Resources for Antiracism Understanding and Action
Thus Far on the Way: 50 Years on the Color Line, by Kathy Grannell Kihanya Recommended by Elise Hood
Carol Burris and the Women’s Lobby, by Kathryn M.Braeman and Gladys E. Henrikson Shoestring lobbying strategies on women’s issues in the ’70’s including equal credit, Title IX, child care
I Am Not Your Negro, by James Baldwin [also a documentary film]
Me and White Supremacy, by Layla F. Saad Recommended by Ruth Kleinfeld, including five pages of additional references: books, podcasts, and films and documentaries.
Recommended by a Breakout Group:
The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson
Caste — the origins of our discontents, by Isabel Wilkerson
Growing Up White, by Julie Landsman
Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, by Emmanuel Acho
How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi
How Race is Lived in America by Correspondents of the New York Times [collection of essays in a ground-breaking series, 2001]
Palace Walk, by Nobel Prize winning author Naguib Mahfouz
Beloved, by Toni Morrison [Also a film, and several other Morrison films]
Racial Issues and Identities: A Guide to Resources on the Web, by the New York Times
A comprehensive listing with active links, including Starting Points, Civil Rights, Business and Commerce, Government and Politics, Media, Statistics, Health, Organizations and Institutions, and Educational Resources
Anti-Racism Resources Booklet. and Other Resources by Sisters of Mercy
Recommended by Veronica Molloy A four-page booklet with practical ideas for addressing racism “within us, our institute, our ministries and society. The Sisters’ webpage also includes a listing of many other resources, including Books on Racism, Websites on Racism, etc.
Home for the Holidays
A special Zoom event held on December 14, 2020. Members of IWNH Leadership and friends presented familiar and new holiday-related music, traditions, and perspectives as experienced while we have been, are and will be ‘Home for the Holidays’. We shared in some faith-based celebrations and worshipful observances from Muslim, Jewish and Christian women who together provided an evening of joy and light through a virtual gathering.
Special thanks go to:
Director: Masooma Athar
Video Editor: Merziya Hussain
Tech Support: Ali Athar
– Abby Curtis
– Liz Verity
– Olga Haveles
– Sadaf Athar & Zaheeda Hamza
– The choir of Congregation Beth Elohim of Acton, Mass, with Cantor Sarra Spierer.
As many of you who have attended past live events know, we customarily have a free will offering usually chosen by the host House of Worship. For this event we asked Dr. Masooma Athar from our Leadership Committee to make a choice close to her heart. She proposed a choice of two charities that are more in need than ever before. If you wish to contribute to either of these worthy charities listed below, we thank you!
Meals on Wheels
Donate online to mealsonwheelsnh.org
or by check to:
St Joseph Community Services
395 Daniel Webster Highway
Merrimack NH 03054
Donate online to act.alz.org
or by check to:
166 S. River Road
Bedford NH 03110
Women, Faith and Art
On October 5, 2020 Interfaith Women of New Hampshire held their first Zoom event. A private art tour online of sacred works in the collection of the Currier Museum of Art
Our program was co-ordinated by Carolin Sanchez, adult tour co-ordinator for the Currier Museum of Art, and facilitated by docent, Nancy Baker. Nancy has been with the Currier for 10 years and has a passion for sacred art. Her presentation was wonderful, helping the Zoom audience take a special look at the long history of religious art through works in the collection, with an emphasis on the female perspective. Starting with works from the 11th century – contemporary works of today. The selection Nancy showed us also included a pictorial quilt by Harriet Powers currently at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Sacred art is powerful as it touches the deepest spiritual longings of the men and women who create and view it. We see possibility and promise in both the subject and the artist. Religious art traces the story of faith in every culture. Its motifs, symbols, and allusions help us uplift our minds to the spiritual.
At the completion of the tour we were able to have discussions about the works in various breakout groups.
Many Thanks go to Nancy Baker, Carolin Sanchez and the Currier Museum of Art for helping us present this wonderful program.
Holiday Joy – Voices of Young Women
MASOOMA ATHAR, MD a member of the leadership Committee of IWNH facilitated our winter event, “Holiday Joy”, on December 9, 2019 at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 650 Hanover Street, Manchester. The program was designed to give voice to how young women from diverse faith perspectives perceive and celebrate traditional faith holidays, and was attended by a diverse audience of women.
As program moderator, Doctor Athar, a Manchester geriatrician introduced four young women of diverse faiths aged 17-24 years old: a Muslim, two Christians, and a Jew.
ANNA HUTCHISON, 18, who presented about Christmas says : “I love the joy and kindness being spread throughout the whole season. I also love that friends and family can get together and celebrate.” Anna is a Londonderry High School graduate and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Anna who is a self taught musician also played “ O Holy Night “on the keyboard and is preparing for Missionary work overseas for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in early 2020.
HASNA KARA a 17 year old Muslim teen who lives in Boston, she spoke about the Muslim practice of Ramadan, 30 days of fasting, and the celebration of Eid al-Fitr which marks the end of Ramadan. Eid is “one of the biggest holidays that is celebrated in my religion” says Hasna. She spoke about involving school friends during the customary fast and Eid. She answered common questions people ask about Ramadan and Eid.
A third speaker, MACKENZIE MURPHY, 22, is a Roman Catholic who received the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry: Saint Timothy Award for her outstanding leadership and service to her church and community while in her teens. Mackenzie holds several certificates in Theology and Christian Doctrine from Notre Dame University. Mackenzie showed a slideshow to explain the 40 Days of Lent, a time of fasting and self-sacrifice for Catholic. Her talk explored how Lent relates to one of the most joyful times in the Catholic liturgical year, the resurrection of Jesus Christ celebrated on Easter.
The final speaker was Avia Sagrone an Israeli Jew who grew up in Israel though her family is originally from Morocco and Tunisia. At 23, Avia has served in the Israeli Military, traveled to Southeast Asia and North India, lived in the Golan Heights, and worked at more than one Kibbutz before becoming the Shlicha of NH’s Jewish Community in August of 2019. As New Hampshire Shlicha, Avia connects with synagogues, Hebrew schools and the public throughout the State to educate about Israel. She told us how Purim commemorates the saving of the Jewish people as recounted in the Book of Esther. Costumes and food associated with Purim holiday celebrations were shown in a slideshow presentation.
Purposeful Faith : Pivotal Moments
On Monday, Sept 23, 2019, Interfaith Women of NH presented Purposeful Faith: Pivotal Moments . This well attended event, by people from diverse faiths, was hosted by Brookside Congregational Church,Manchester.
Three women who have different faith leadership roles, were invited to speak about what brought them to those roles.
The speakers were the Rev. Cynthia Bagley, senior minister at United Church Christ in Keene. Rev. Bagley formerly of Manchester, shared how series of challenging events inspired her to pursue a career in ministry. Her “Pivotal Moments” came while balancing three children and a terminally ill husband she enrolled as a full-time student in Boston University’s School of Theology. This is her 16th year as an ordained minister.
Major Armida Harper of the Salvation Army in Manchester presented to the audience how her life had unfolded to bring her to present day. Major Harper credited her parents, also of the Salvation Army, for the examples they set during her early years, and the opportunities she had to work abroad with children in great need. She has a Bachelor’s degree in education, and a Masters in social work. Armida has served in ministry for more than 18 years and has served in Manchester with her husband since 2016.
Susan McKeown, A.P.R.N., author and cofounder of F.A.S.T.E.R. a family based response to substance abuse disorder was the third speaker. Susan, a member of St. Catherine Parish was a pediatric nurse practitioner for 41 years, guided by her faith throughout her career, she has worked with families dealing with substance abuse disorder since 2002. She and her husband, Patrick, have also helped prepare engaged couples for marriage in the Diocese Of Manchester for many years, Susan is a published author on this topic.
The presentations were followed by a question and answer session, followed by social time and refreshment, served by the ladies of Brookside Congregational Church. A free will offering was collected and donated to Emily’s Place
Human Trafficking : Hidden in Plain Sight
Interfaith Women of NH hosted the NH Human Trafficking Collaborative Task Force for an educational event featuring Jasmine Grace, a New England survivor of human trafficking, as keynote speaker on April 29, 2019. Members of the Task Force participated in a panel discussion taking questions from the audience numbering just over 200 women and men.
Members of the NH Human Trafficking Collaborative Task Force set up informational tables just prior to the Interfaith Women of NH Event. Shown L/R: Jasmine Grace, Keynote Speaker; Rebecca Ayling, NH Human Trafficking Collaborative Task Force, Project Director, and Manager of the Human Trafficking Response Program at Waypoint, Manchester; Bethany Cottrell, founder of Brigid’s House of Hope, the first long term care safe house for victims of human trafficking in NH; and Donna Plourde, Executive Director of Real Life Giving and “Revive”, a women’s care and support center in Manchester.
Jasmine Grace, a human trafficking survivor and keynote speaker, autographed her book, “The Diary of Jasmine Grace”, which chronicles her journey to recovery from human trafficking and addiction following the event. Book sales profits support “Bags of Hope”, a ministry with a goal to distribute necessities to homeless and needy women founded by the author.
Interested persons may contact Event Presenters for further information by emailing Rebecca Ayling, NH Human Trafficking Collaborative Task Force, Project Director: AylingR@waypointnh.org.
A Book Discussion surrounding “The Prophet”
On Thursday, March 28, 2019, Interfaith Women of NH presented a discussion surrounding the book “The Prophet” written by Kahlil Gibran. This well attended event, by people from diverse faiths, was hosted by First Congregational Church, Manchester, and facilitated by Selma Naccach-Hoff, English Department Head at Manchester High School Central.
This seminal work by a twentieth century Lebanese author showcases numerous world philosophies that have relevance in today’s world. Participants were encouraged to reflect on life’s journeys through Gibran’s rich poetry, as seen through this frame story of a teacher leaving the town where he lived, taught, and worked. When he is asked for parting words, the teacher discloses ideas poetically on all aspects of humanity, from love and marriage, to work, joy, sorrow, crime, and punishment, among numerous others.
The book discussion was followed by social time and refreshment, served by the ladies of First Congregational Church. A free will offering was collected and donated to the FCC Food Closet.
The mission of Interfaith Women of NH is to share religious beliefs, cultures and traditions among women of diverse faiths in order to develop understanding and friendship among us and within our community.Visit IWNH on line at: https://interfaithwomennh.org
“Rejoice ..a Celebration of Diversity”
This event hosted on Dec 3rd by St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Manchester was well attended by women of different faith and cultural origins. Performances were given by:
Karishma Manchanda, a junior at Manchester Central High School, who performed the Deewani Mastania, a classical dance in the Kathak tradition of Indian storytelling.
Brookside Congregational Church’s handbell choir, who performed selections from their Christmas concert.
Esmira Alperen, originally from Azerbaijian, who performed a traditional wedding dance of the Muslim women of Uzundere.
Three friends from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, harmonized in latin, singing Dona Nobis Pacem meaning ‘Grant us Peace, along with other musical selections.
The evening continued with French speaking committee members leading the audience in singing the traditional French Christmas song, “ IL Est Ne, Le Divin Enfant” and finally we all sang along to a Hanukkah favorite among Jewish children” The Dreidel Song”.
“Stand Up and Stand out!”
On Tuesday, October 4th 2018, Interfaith Women of New Hampshire presented “Stand Up and Stand Out: Women of Faith in Our Time” The event was hosted by Gethsemane Lutheran Church of Manchester, and had an attendance of over 120 women.
The event shed light on the changing roles of women of faith in modern times regardless of religion or religious denomination. Greater Manchester women presenters were Veronica Molloy, Roman Catholic; Jean Dickson, Protestant; Masoma Athar, Muslim; and Mary Singer with Rachel Spierer; Jewish. Highlighted female role models are as follows:
Mary Antona Ebo, FSM, African-American Catholic, a pioneer of civil rights, who identified as a voting “Negro Nun” during an interview at Selma.
The Protestant Women’s Missionary Movement, Christian denomination women who stepped up to open doors for more active female Church roles.
Tawakkol Karman, a Muslim female recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, 2011, for women’s civil rights accomplishments in Yemen.
Debbie Friedman, a Jewish woman who transformed the sound and spirit of Jewish liturgical music.
Networking took place over the refreshment time at the end of the evening and the refreshments were provided by the ladies of the Gethsemane Lutheran Church. A freewill offering was taken for New Horizons, Gethsemane’s chosen charity for the event.
“RAMADAN: BLESSED MONTH OF ISLAM”
Interfaith Women of New Hampshire were delighted to be invited to the Islamic Society of New Hampshire’s Manchester Mosque, on Thursday, May 3 for this event. Allowing all attendees an opportunity for us to learn more about Ramadan with local Muslims.
Ramadan begins and continues throughout the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar. In 2018 it will be observed beginning at sundown May 15 and ending at sundown on Thursday, June 14.
Our three presenter’s for the evening were:
Imam Sherif Shabaka: Sherif spoke about the significance of Ramadan, and provided a welcome to the Manchester Mosque. Sherif serves as Imam at the Islamic Society of New Hampshire Mosque and teaches Arabic.
Beginning as a child, he completely memorized the Qur’an by age nineteen. He earned a bachelors in Business Studies and a Masters in “Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language” from the American University of Cairo, and also holds an additional diploma in Classical Arabic.
Imane Naji Amrani: Imane received her doctorate in education from Northeastern University, is the owner of Manchester Advanced Dental, taught at Southern N. H. University and is interested in international student issues in education as well as learning about different cultures and traditions.
Imane presented to an attentive audience of over 90 women of different faiths, her perspective of the practice of Ramadan in the home.
Munise Ulker: a member of our Steering Committee explored with us the importance of charity (Sadaqa) in Islam and during Ramadan.
Munise, who first lived in Pittsburgh after arriving in the US. from Turkey, now lives in Bedford with her family.
She once owned and managed a day care business, but more recently enjoys success as a local real estate agent! Munise is a member of the Turkish Cultural Society,
Munise’s presentation was followed by a question and answer period where the audience was able to ask questions, and discovered more similarities than differences between us.
Conversation continued with refreshments provided by the ladies of the Turkish cultural center. The freewill offering went to the Mosque’s chosen charity for the event Na Day Syria.
“NURTURING YOUR SOUL”
How do we consistently renew our souls in faith?
On Tuesday, March 20, 2018, over 100 women attended an Interfaith Women of New Hampshire event hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at their Wind Song Ave. meeting house in Manchester.
The evening explored the topic of how we all renew our souls from the perspective of our three presenters, women of jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths.
Our presenters were:
Rabbi Beth Davidson: Ordained in 1987, Rabbi Davidson came to Temple Adath Yeshuran in 2005, having previously served Jewish congregations in Flushing, Queens, Nashville, Tenn. and Port Washington, Long Island. In addition to her commitments within the Jewish Community, Rabbi Davidson is a member of the Greater Manchester Clergy Association and a lecturer for OLLI, a local organization dedicated to ongoing adult learning.
Rabbi Beth presented her thoughts on Shabbat as a day of renewal and rest. It was her suggestion that helped the IWNH Steering Committee develop the theme for the event.
Sr. Pauline Maurier, CSC: A Sister of Holy Cross, former school principal and teacher for 20 years as well as a Pastoral Associate for 16 years. Sr. Pauline has been teaching English to refugees and immigrant adults for the past 8 years at Holy Cross Family Learning center which continues to be a very rewarding experience. She shared her thoughts on the observance of the Sabbath Day of worship and rest in the Catholic tradition and how it seems to have evolved over the last 70 years.
Reyhane Oztekin: a PhD candidate at Southern Methodist University Dallas. She is an active member of Peace Islands Institute Massachusetts located at Boston and Revere and also a member of Greater Lowell Interfaith Leadership Alliance (GLILA), which has been in place more than 20 years. Reyhane spoke of the Muslim prayers that take place 5 times a day, each prayer renewing the connection with God.
A question and answer session with our presenters followed. We thank members of our audience for asking interesting questions, furthering the opportunity to learn more about each other.
Our thanks also to the women and helpers of the LDS community who were such gracious hosts. During our social time we were treated to delicious desserts, including homemade hot chocolate made by Britton Albiston and her team.
“WELCOMING WINTER WITH JOY”
Interfaith Women of New Hampshire hosted their December event, “Welcoming Winter with Joy” at Temple Israel in Manchester. The event was attended by over 100 women.
The evening’s program offered a variety of performers including Karishma Manchanda. Karishma is a Manchester Central High School student who performed the Madhubanmein Radhika, an Indian dance designed to portray a connection with the divine. Manchanda represented Radhika in the dance.
Sarra Allegra Spierer Reisman is the Cantor and Pastoral Associate
serving Congregation Beth Elohim in Acton, Mass. She is a Manchester native, a longstanding and active participant in interfaith learning, and a practitioner/teacher of meditation, especially as a form of healing and prayer. Cantor Sarra shared songs of Hanukkah as well as other music in the Jewish tradition. She closed her performance by asking those present to join her in singing Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. A magical moment!
Riman “Rimi” Dwiadari, a graduate student from Syria, offered a beautiful reading about the birth of Jesus from the Qur’an in Arabic and the translation in English.
The evening was continued with Aksara, a four women a cappella
group of blended voices, who performed a mix of music from a global perspective with themes of living as one world.
The evening concluded with those attending joining in a holiday sing-along led by Rachel Spierer, which included Rock of Ages and Ma’oz Tzur, a hymn well known to both our Jewish and Christian congregations. Rachel is a member of the Interfaith Women of NH Steering Committee and Temple Israel.
“PERSPECTIVES ON PRAYER”
On Tuesday October 10th 2017, Interfaith Women of New Hampshire sponsored an event titled “ Perspectives on Prayer; How people reach out to God”. Temple Adath Yeshurun in Manchester. hosted the event which was attended by over 100 women from diverse faith backgrounds.
The evening explored the differences and similarities of the three Abrahamic faiths, each presenter giving a personal perspective on the prayer practices of their faiths.
Rabbi Beth D. Davidson, Temple Adath Yeshurun, a Jewish perspective.
Rev. Deborah Knowlton, First Congregational Church, Hampton, a Christian perspective.
Munise Ulker, Board, member of the Turkish Cultural Center, an Islamic perspective.
The presentations were followed by lively round table discussions, based on topics provided by the presenters. The discussions continued afterward during social time over refreshments provided by the TAY sisterhood.
“FAITH, DIVERSITY and PEACE”
On Monday, May 1, 2017, nearly 100 women gathered at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Manchester for this event sponsored by Interfaith Women of NH. Our 3 presenters spoke from personal experiences about ways in which their diverse faiths brought them to work toward peace and justice.
Nancy Frankel, a member of Temple Adath Yeshurun and a New Hampshire board member of Kids4Peace, spoke of her experience with this organization and it’s work in NH and Jerusalem with Muslim, Jewish, and Christian youth, with a goal to help young people of diverse faiths form friendships and build community through camp experiences and programs.
Barbara Miles is currently archivist for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester. She shared her past, sometimes frightening, experiences helping to develop leadership among Protestant and Catholic youth in Northern Ireland (1980 to 1990). Many of them were brought to the U.S. and Canada for a time of respite and freedom from the violent conditions under which they lived. Protestant youth were placed with Catholic families and vice versa, leading them to discover that we are really all the same.
Sarah Jane Knoy, director of the Granite State Organizing Project, told of how her lifetime faith experiences led to her long-time work in community organizing in Manchester and in the world. She assists faith communities and labor groups in organizing/engaging in the work toward justice and peace. “None of us are free unless all of us are,” she quoted.
All 3 presenters touched on the idea that shared stories lead to relationships and an appreciation for differences.
“I AM A MUSLIM WOMAN”
On Monday May 13, 2017, more than 200 women crowded into St. Catherine of Siena School auditorium in Manchester to hear three Muslim women talk about their faith, women’s and men’s roles, and common misunderstandings about Islam. All three of the presenters came to the US from three different predominantly different Muslim nation states.
Interfaith Women of New Hampshire, sponsored the program. Masooma Athar originally from Pakistan, spent her youth in the multicultural environment of the United Arab Emirates, gave an overview of Islam to open the program. She is a geriatric physician who now lives and works in Manchester, after moving to New Hampshire from Detroit.
Munice Ulker, a board member of the Turkish Cultural Center in Manchester, discussed the roles of women and men in Islam. Munise, a real estate agent who lives in Bedford with her family, first lived in Pittsburgh after arriving in the U.S. from Turkey.
Riman Dwiadari, a newly married graduate student at Southern New Hampshire University who came to Manchester from Syria, spoke about the concepts of jihad and shared personal stories about the curiosity of new acquaintances because she wears the hijab — the Arabic name for the head covering worn by some Muslim women.
The women stressed that religious practices across the world’s various Muslim countries vary greatly and that most of those differences are because of culture rather than the religious teachings of the Quran.
The women did not know each other before planning their program with Interfaith Women of New Hampshire.
“A GATHERING THROUGH THE ARTS”
On Thursday December 5, 2016 Interfaith Women of NH presented “A Gathering Through The Arts” their annual holiday event hosted by First Congregational Church of Manchester. The evening of music, dance and art celebrated the sights and sounds of the festive and faith filled winter season. Barbara Papagian, the Director of Parish Care, welcomed the audience, who braved a bad weather night, to enjoy the joyous and uplifting program.
Young Natyanjali dance students of Jeyanthi Ghatraju, a Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer affiliated with Alagappa University, India performed traditional Hindu dance. The youngest dancers began with an invocation to the “Lord Supreme”. The invocation message and story are highlighted using hand gestures. Traditional “pure” dances followed showing interesting patterns of rhythm and tempo.
The Brookside Congregational Hand Bell Choir, under the direction of Kim Whitehead lifted our spirits with seasonal, as well as traditional bell choir favorites.
Rachel Spierer led us all in singing a Hanukkah song, Rock of Ages — Ma’oz Tzur, a hymn well known to both our Jewish and Christian congregations.
During the evening Meyra Ozcan introduced us to, Ebru, the Turkish art of marbling. Our audience was delighted to watch as Meyra created her beautiful designs.
Marbling is the art of creating colorful patterns by sprinkling and brushing color pigments on a pan of oily water and then transforming this pattern to paper. The special tools of the trade are brushes of horsehair bound to straight rose twigs, a deep tray made of unknotted pinewood, natural earth pigments, cattle gall and tragacanth. It is believed to be invented in the thirteenth century Turkistan.
Our evening was completed by group of four friends known as “Happy Hour” who sing together for fun and entertainment. Their music is energetic, heartfelt, and filled with life. They were delighted to share with us their renditions of old and new holiday favorites. Women of the “Happy Hour” quartet are members of the Nashua-based chorus “New England Voices in Harmony”, a chapter of the international barbershop organization Harmony Inc.
The entertainment was followed by social time and refreshment, served by the ladies of First Congregational Church. A free will offering was collected and donated to Operation Drum drop, to aid Haitian relief.
The mission of Interfaith Women of NH is to share religious beliefs, cultures and traditions among women of diverse faiths in order to develop understanding and friendship among us and within our community.
On Monday, September 19, 2016, First Church of Christ Scientist hosted our fall event “Individual Choices” which featured the life of Mary Baker Eddy and gave us key information about the Christian Science Movement. Our audience was very engaged in this interesting topic. The church of Christ Scientist and the Christian Science Publishing company were founded by Mary Baker Eddy 1879 and 1898 respectively. One of the many Christ Scientist publications, the Christian Science Monitor (founded in 1908) continues to be published today.
Our presenters for the evening were Pollyanna Winslow, member of the board of Directors of the Derry Christian Science Church, Martha James, First Reader Manchester church, and Kerry Reed, Christian Science Nurse.
The evening concluded with social sharing and refreshments provided by the Interfaith Women’s Steering Committee.
“END OF LIFE RITUALS AND TRADITIONS”
On Thursday evening, May 16, 2016, InterfaIth Women of New Hampshire welcomed nearly 90 women of many faiths to our event, graciously hosted by Temple Adath Yeshurun in Manchester. Our panel included Rabbi Beth Davidson, representing the Jewish faith; Sr. Pauline Maurier, CSC, the Catholic faith; Nur Gunes Almaskili, Islamic faith; Anne Rodman and Susan Walker, the Protestant faith. Each explained in depth the ceremonies and faith perspectives surrounding death and burial in their respective faith traditions.
We learned the rituals surrounding the care of the body after death, the ways in which the family of the deceased is cared for, and the accepted ways in which they are able to eulogize their loved one and participate in the sacred ceremonies. The ritual and manner in which the burial takes place was also presented, as well as the ways in which the deceased is remembered In the days, weeks and months that follow.
The panel presentation was followed by a question and answer period. Those in attendance had many interesting questions which enhanced the discussion. The lively discussion continued afterward over refreshments.
“Who is Malala”
On Thursday March 17, 2016, Interfaith Women of New Hampshire presented “Who is Malala”, a discussion surrounding the book “I am Malala” written by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb. The event, attended by a large audience of women from diverse faiths, was hosted by St Catherine of Siena Parish in Manchester, and facilitated by Sarah Basbas, former manager, West Side branch, Carpenter Memorial Library.
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. She is known mainly for human rights advocacy, for education for women in her native Swat Valley in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. Malala was targeted by the Taliban and severely wounded by gunshot. Her advocacy has since grown into an international movement.
The event began with a summary of the story, and a brief history of Pakistan as a nation state beginning in 1947, and information about the Pashtun culture/people of the Swat valley and more. The presentation was followed by small group discussions involving all in attendance.
“Sharing the Joy”
At this Dec. 3, 2015 event, Interfaith Women of New Hampshire celebrated the richness of various holidays observed in our many faith communities. We were welcomed to the Unitarian Universalist Church in Manchester by the Rev. Julie Lombard, who served her internship for ministry at our host church for the evening.
The program included:
An explanation of the joyous Jewish Holiday of Simchat Torah, which was presented by Rachel Spierer of Temple Israel. Simchat Torah is celebrated in the fall with music and dance by both children and adults to mark the centrality of the teachings of the Torah to Judiasm.
Pam Pleas, First Congregational Church, shared with our audience of about 90 women from various faith backgrounds, the Christian tradition of focusing on gifts from God at Christmas time. Pam included a couple of examples of blessing that she and her family have experienced during this season.
Nur Gunes Almasikli, Turkish Cultural Center, outlined the significance of Noah’s Pudding (Ashure) as a traditional food served during Muslim celebrations associated with the story of Noah’s Ark on the 10th day of Murarram, the first month of the Islamic calendar.
JoAnn O’Connell a member of Holy Trinity Polish National Catholic Cathedral explained for our audience the traditional Polish Christmas Eve (Wigilia), including the Oplatek wafer which is broken and then shared with another. This tradition usually includes wishes for health, happiness, good fortune, and after this life, an eternal crown in heaven.
The evening concluded with those attending joining in a holiday sing-along lead by Mary Singer, Temple Adath Yeshurun, and ending with “Let There be Peace on Earth.” Refreshments were served following the program and everyone had the opportunity to sample “Noah’s Pudding” and share “Oplatek” with each other in the traditional way.
Please click here to see photos from this event.
“Women of Faith and Strength”
On September 29, 2015, St. Joseph Cathedral, Manchester, hosted our event “Women of Faith and Strength.” More than 100 women attended this Interfaith Women of NH program.
The evening started in St. Joseph’s beautiful and historic sanctuary with a warm welcome from Rev.Msgr. Anthony Frontiero, which was followed by presentations from Barbara Miles—Archivist for the Diocese of Manchester; and Diane Murphy Quinlan, Esq.— Chancellor for the Diocese. Both Barbara and Diane are the first lay women to hold their respective positions.
Barbara shared the stories of 3 historical Roman Catholic women, who founded orders in the areas of health, education and welfare: Rev. Mother Francis Xavier Ward, American Sisters of Mercy; Rev Mother Katherine Drexel, Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament; and Rev. Mother Anne Dengel, Medical Missionary Sisters who established and developed International Midwives.
Diane addressed the “Role of Women in the Contemporary Church,” explaining how women are increasingly filling administrative positions in legal and financial roles. Women continue to serve in education, medical and missionary fields in traditional roles including executive positions in private as well as religious institutions. She cited Pope Francis’ comments on women in his recent U.S. tour.
Together, the two presenters gave the audience, a deeper understanding of the roles that women have played in the last century and a half, including reflections on the changes since Vatican ll and their impact.
“Breaking Bread Together – Sharing the breads from our many traditions.”
First Congregational Church hosted this event which was organized by Interfaith Women of New Hampshire on Monday, May 5, 2015.
Different breads from a variety of faith traditions were presented by members of the Steering Committee and Sr. Pauline Maurier, CSC, one of our popular guest presenters.
There are numerous rituals and traditions attached to bread, and in some languages the word ‘bread’ literally means ‘food’. Even today at the start of the 21st century, we still have a sense of its supreme importance, something that was highlighted at this event. In Biblical times, leavened bread was common. Today Jews bake unleavened -matzos- for Passover in remembrance of the Hebrews’ escape from Egypt, and unleavened bread is frequently the bread for ritual or sacred occasions.
Bread also plays a central role in Christianity. Jesus fed the five thousand with bread, and at the last supper broke unleavened bread ( Passover) giving thanks to the Lord and literally identifying with it with the words “this is my body” recalled in every Christian Communion.
Event attendees were each given a recipe collection of all the breads presented, heard how these breads are used in the presenter’s own faith tradition, and other cultural and family traditions of a religious nature when people gather to Break Bread Together.
All attendees had the opportunity to taste the breads, baked by members of the Steering Committee, at the social gathering in the church parlor after the presentation.
“Alva de Mars Megan Chapel Art Center”
The Interfaith Women of New Hampshire met at the Alva de Mars Megan Chapel Art Center at Saint Anselm on Thursday, March 26, 2015, to hear Father Iain MacLellan, OSB, the Director of the gallery—along with his Assistant Curator Maggie Dimock—address topics of interest.
The mission of the Interfaith Women of NH is “To share religious beliefs, cultures, and traditions among women of diverse faiths in order to develop understanding and friendship among us and in our community.”
That interfaith mission overlaps with the 125th anniversary of Saint Anselm College, founded by the Benedictine brotherhood over a century ago. The art gallery at Saint Anselm is a space converted from the former chapel for the college, and its ceiling is decorated by former members of the Benedictine Community which has run the college for all of these years.
The Curator told the participants about how the Benedictines understand and use art in terms of spirituality, as evidenced by the beautiful ceiling paintings at the gallery. These works were the product of two painters of the Order of Saint Benedict (OSB) who have very much left their marks behind for all to see.
For many years, these two painters ran a Studio of Christian Art which flourished and left its mark not only on the Saint Anselm campus, but by painting commissioned pieces for many Catholic churches in the United States and in Europe.
Assistant Curator Margaret Dimock showed the audience the photographs of St. Anselm’s college students who posed, some time between 1915 and 1930, for the decorative panels above each stained glass window in the gallery—which was at that time the chapel for Saint Anselm’s College, as it was then called.
Together, the two presenters gave the full house audience an understanding of how “holiness” and “wholeness” can come together in a “contemplative aspect of appreciation,” as Father Iain said.
“Rejoice and Be Glad”
This event organized by Interfaith Women of New Hampshire drew 120 women to Temple Adath Yeshurun on Monday night, December 8, 2014, to hear and see four musical acts: the Sacred Dancers who performed two dances, Rahel Limos who lead the group in Israeli dance, featuring “Zemer Atik”. Mother and daughter Aprajita & Karishma Manchanda,the Indian Classical Dance “ Kathak” was performed by Karishma and Aprajita delighted us by singing a song usually sung at the Hindu festival of Diwali. Our event was concluded by Aksara who blessed us with holiday favorites in a cappella style.