Women’s Interfaith Conference set for Mar. 28

BY VICTORIA SIEGEL, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

Over 300 women of all faiths will converge on Shaare Emeth on Wednesday, Mar. 28 for a day of dialogue and discussion. This 27th Annual Women’s Interfaith Conference, will feature keynote speaker Linda Biehl as well as a panel of distinguished women of different faiths.

“I think we’re actually going to register 400 women,” Jerri Livingston, conference chair and member of Shaare Emeth, said. “The topic and speaker are both big draws.”

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The topic, “Women of Faith: Practice Compassion and Forgiveness,” focuses on Biehl’s personal struggle to forgive the men who murdered her daughter and on what various faiths teach about compassion and forgiveness. Five representatives of faith groups will respond to Biehl’s presentation. Attendees will be able to ask questions of Biehl and the panelists.

“I want people to come away from the conference with an understanding of each other’s religion and faith,” Millie Honigberg, steering committee member, said. “We have learned over the years of doing this conference that ethically we all believe the same thing.” Livingston echoes Honigberg’s sentiments: “The more we learn about each other’s paths, the more we begin to realize all of us are more alike than different.”

Livingston also believes the community of women makes this conference special. “There’s something very powerful about just women’s voices,” she explained. “Women are much more open when it’s just women they’re sharing with. We don’t have to explain ourselves if we get emotional or cry. Other women just get it.” This conference started as an outgrowth of the late Gloria Hirsh’s efforts. Originally bringing together Catholics and Jews, the conference has grown through the years to include other world religions. However, the impact of the conference extends far beyond the day-long event. Both Honigberg, B’nai El Congregation Sisterhood representative and CRC member, and Livingston report enjoying new friends in their lives as a result of the conference. “We have a little group of friends, all from diverse religions, that meets the first Thursday of the month,” Honigberg said. “We were getting together once a year to do this conference and didn’t want to let go of it.” For Livingston, the women she’s met through her work on the conference have become her friends, celebrating with her at her adult bat mitzvah and supporting her during her breast cancer journey.

Livingston hopes other women will take advantage of this opportunity to learn about other religions.

“We need to promote understanding if we want to live in a more peaceful and just world,” she said.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with welcoming remarks and the featured speaker at 9 a.m. The conference concludes at 2:30 p.m. For more information or to register for the conference, visit www.womeninterfaithstl.org, or contact Jerri Livingston at 314-469-3553. Cost for the conference, which includes a box lunch that is compatible with Jewish and Muslim dietary traditions (kosher and vegetarian options are available), is $10.