Last week, there was a gathering of women—Jewish women, Muslim women, and Christian women. This gathering took place in the north of Israel in an Arab village. The gathering was an opportunity to hear an Arab member of the Israeli Knesset (parliament) speak about her work for women’s rights.
I attended this gathering, together with friends from my community. There were women from cities and villages, some in traditional dress and some in tight jeans. The atmosphere was warm and inviting, and I felt welcomed.
The first speaker, a woman from the village, told us about her meaningful life advocating for women. She described her struggles in a patriarchal community—within her family and within the society—to reject a traditional role, and instead, build a place in society that gives her challenge and satisfaction. Her determination felt contagious and her words were inspirational.
Sharing a sense of sisterhood, we received her words. Some in the room face the same struggles, giving up or pushing forward. Some, like me, have freedom to choose our paths, held back only by self-imposed barriers. Connection was built that night through the shared space and receiving of emotions and inspiration.
Each opportunity to connect with unfamiliar is an opportunity to experience sameness and surprise. I received warmth from women who seem different from me and I returned it in kind. We experienced connection for a short time, and that connection can lead to familiarity, understanding, and acceptance.
Opening to others can open ourselves: opening through shared experiences and determination to connect.
“Connection, 1 of 3” is the first look at connection possibilities.