Art of Living Foundation to honor groups



Four social action organizations with ties to the Jewish community will be recognized by the St. Louis branch of the Art of Living Foundation for their work to “foster human values and to create a stress-free, violence-free society.”

Cultural Leadership, the Central West End Holy Ground, the Children of Abraham and the National Conference for Community and Justice of Metropolitan St. Louis will receive awards during the event, “One World Family: Moving from Intolerance to Acceptance,” at the Missouri Historical Society’s Lee Auditorium on Feb. 10.

Sister Antona Ebo, a pioneer in the Civil Rights movement, will be the guest speaker. In 1965, Ebo, a Franciscan Sister of Mary, traveled with other nuns and clergy members to march with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, in Selma, Ala., three days after “Bloody Sunday,” when close to 600 peaceful civil rights demonstrators were brutally attacked by police.

Andrew Nunberg, a coordinator of “One World Family” and a teacher with The Art of Living (and a member of the Central Reform Congregation), said he wanted to highlight local organizations that connect different communities to work together for social action and for greater understanding.

“Some people might not have heard about some of these organizations, and the wonderful kinds of work that they are doing,” Nunberg said.

Cultural Leadership is a St. Louis organization founded by Karen Kalish in 2004, modeled after a program Kalish created over a decade earlier in Washington, D.C. Cultural Leadership selects more than 20 Jewish and African-American high school students to attend a year-long series of educational seminars and cultural activities together, in order to learn about each other’s community. The students learn about racism, discrimination and Anti-Semitism.

The Central West End Holy Ground is a collaboration of Christian and Jewish congregations (Central Reform Congregation, First Unitarian, St. John’s United Methodist, Cornerstone Baptist and Trinity Episcopal and Metropolitan Community Church) in the Central West End. The group works to promote social action and interfaith understanding in the neighborhood.

Children of Abraham started at the Central Reform Congregation when Mazen Badra, a Palestinian immigrant, called CRC Rabbi Susan Talve, to see if she would be interested in starting a Jewish-Palestinian dialogue group, according to member Eric Berla. Mazen spoke at a Rosh Hashannah service, and since then the group has met about once a month to plan programs that promote understanding and peace between Palestinians and Jews.

The National Conference for Community and Justice of Metropolitan St. Louis is an organization dedicated to fighting bias, bigotry and racism in America through education, advocacy and conflict resolution. Talve of Central Reform; Karen Aroesty, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, as well as prominent citizens Marilyn Fox and Morris Sterneck serve on the organization’s advisory board.

Nunberg said the event fits well with the mission of The Art of Living Foundation.

“Our mission is to foster global peace and promote human values, but we approach it through the individual, by teaching people tools for releasing stress,” he said. “Individuals with less stress are better able to connect with their community and contribute to a peaceful society.”

The Art of Living Foundation was created in 1982 by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and it has since spread to 140 countries across the globe. The Art of Living Foundation teaches techniques in breathing, meditation and yoga. The foundation also works on humanitarian projects around the globe, and works with the United Nations on conflict resolution and health care issues.

The event is free, although RSVPs are requested. Contact Raghu Vallore at 314-322-8455 or [email protected].