28 June 2021

Kindle and Connect: An Interfaith Gathering of Women Leaders

Kindle and Connect: An Interfaith Gathering of Women Leaders took place online on June 16 and brought together women leaders from many different faith and secular/non-religious traditions from across North America for a virtual day of learning and . This event is being sponsored through Alumni Grants Program for JPII Leaders and was coordinated by JPII Leader Allyson Zacharoff (Cohort VI, USA) Rabbinical Student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Members of the planning committee also included North American JPII Leaders Elyse Brazel (Cohort VIII, Canada) and Rebecca Cohen (Cohort VI, USA).

Some major highlights include an amazing number of people registered (150+), from many backgrounds (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Non-Religious, Hindu, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Interfaith, Pagan…) and places (5 Canadian provinces and more than 30 U.S. states). Participants enjoyed a great program (20+ very varied sessions), including two workshops hosted by JPII Leaders: Allyson hosted an interfaith text-study and Elyse co-hosted a workshop on Smashing the Historical Patriarchy: Celebrating the Stories of Women Leaders in Interfaith.

There was a meaningful keynote on being in the midst of the revolutions from Dr. Diana L. Eck of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University, and a closing interfaith panel with national leaders Rev. Jennifer Bailey of the Faith Matters Network, Dr. Ann Dapice of T.K. Wolf, Inc., and Rabbi Deborah Waxman of Reconstructing Judaism who all shared different perspectives on the gifts women bring to community and interfaith spaces.

One challenge in working on the project was getting people to register for the event, as well as making sure that a great number of different organizations and groups were invited to the event, and the organizers would hope to continue expanding that in any future events. Some major successes were the amazing work of the Planning Committee, who dedicated so much of their time to making this a success; the financial support received from a number of different Sponsoring Organizations; and the already growing network of women leaders in North America that exists on Facebook and includes both conference attendees as well as others.

Congratulations to Allyson, Elyse and Rebecca for all the impressive work you did. Here’s to the next conference, whenever it might be—and may it be in person!