Interfaith women fast for equality

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A wreath decorated with colorful ribbons bearing the names of supporters may someday tour the world, including a stop at the Kotel, thanks to the efforts of the group Equal in Faith.

Women representing many religions joined together not necessarily to fight each other’s causes but rather to stand strong in support of each other. As more women come together, there will be more ribbons placed on this wreath, which already was displayed at a women’s ordination conference in London and is planned to also be visible in a similar convention in October in Salt Lake City.


Rabbi Tamara Miller holds the symbolic wreath as she joins with women of other faiths during the day of Equal in Faith: Fasting for Gender Justice.
Rabbi Tamara Miller holds the symbolic wreath as she joins with women of other faiths during the day of Equal in Faith: Fasting for Gender Justice.

Rabbi Tamara Miller is the Jewish representative and brings to the group the hope that Jewish women may pray and read from the Torah at the Western Wall. Others in the group are pushing for female ordination for Mormons, Roman Catholics and Lutherans. A Muslim representative is calling for gender equality.

“I felt very connected to the women of the other faiths. I learned a lot about their struggles, their desires, which aren’t very different than ours. There was definitely a camaraderie, a sisterhood, so to speak,” Miller said. “They knew about Women of the Wall. They were very supportive,” she noted, adding that the equality day “was a countrywide effort with an actual service in D.C. that was live-streamed for others to see.”

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The group’s National Women’s Equality Day on Aug. 26 was highlighted by a day-long fast and an interfaith prayer service at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.

Rabia Chaudry, a Muslim woman and an attorney, participated to work for “a revival of the original principles of our faith. We are not heretics. We are asking what is our due right.” She called it “painful” to her that women are being oppressed and sometimes beaten in Muslim countries.


“Honestly, my support is not going to help” women of other religions achieve their goals, she said. However, her support “lets women know they are not alone in this,” explained Chaudry, who lives in D.C. but whose family is from Pakistan.

Lorie Winder represented Ordain Women, which advocates for the ordination of women within the Mormon church.

“We don’t accept discrimination in our secular life, but we do in our religious life,” she said. “It’s really past time that we draw attention, that we ask ourselves why we don’t accept discrimination, in fact we decry it, in our day-to-day life.”

She said she found it very interesting to learn that women from so many different faiths have such similar issues confronting them. “The arguments are strikingly similar. They are akin to keeping women from voting.”

“Equality shouldn’t stop at the doors of our churches, synagogues or mosques,” Winder stressed.

As a Mormon, she said she is told that men have the priesthood and women have motherhood. “That’s obviously flawed,” she said of the analogy.

Erin Saiz Hanna, executive director of the Women’s Ordination Conference which works for women’s equality in the Roman Catholic tradition, explained that “far too many women are still being denied equal participation and leadership in their faith traditions. As sisters in the struggle, we understand one another’s pain and longing for justice.”

To read an essay by Rabbi Tamara Miller on this movement, go to washingtonjewishweek.com.

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