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Women of Faith Dinner & Awards 2007


Women of Faith Dinner & Awards 2007

wofdinner2007_1eAlmost 200 women from a variety of different faiths celebrated motherhood and discussed the effects of materialism on family values at the Affinity Intercultural Foundation’s annual Women of Faith Dinner 2007. The significance and value of women in the community and the home was once again demonstrated by the strongattendance and recognised by the presentation of the Affinity Women’s Awards to highlight the achievements of influential and motivational women from the three Abrahamic faiths.

The evening began with readings from the three holy scriptures; The Quran, Torah and the Bible. New friendships developed over fabulous food and great entertainment as guests listened to Donna Jacob Sife of the Jewish faith, Christian speaker Reverend Glenda Blakefield and Muslim speaker Silma Ihram discuss the meaning of motherhood and materialism in today’s society and the impact this has on women of faith. Donna, a traditional storyteller took the audience on a journey and used her unique talent to open the windows to her life so we could travel back in time and share her experiences. Through the story of Moses and the faith of his mother, Donna explained that “mothers have an intuitive capacity to reach out to all children in need”. She further explained that “heart to heart can surpass anything beyond measure” and a small display of kindness and gentility can soften the hardest hearts and open the channels for love and understanding. This level of emotion does not require material processions to translate love, rather the strength of emotion as a language can transgress the need for physical assets. For Donna “the spirit of Affinity is the embodiment of the great work that is being done by women of faith in the community. Their work is tireless and marvelous”. Reverend Glenda Blakefield emphasised the search of the youth for community and a sense of belonging due to the breakdown of family and the core relationships which act as building blocks for society. “People are buying things to cover something up” and this is a direct representation of the need to fill the emptiness through consumerism to replace family and community relationships. Reverend Blakefield continued to illustrate that “we have lost our moral compass and don’t know where to turn because materialism is an addiction.

wofdinner2007_2eThe rituals and worship of the Christian community help to ward off consumerism and highlight not only community but also the need for dialogue”. She used a series of images to depict motherhood including Michaelangelo’s famous image of the Virgin Mary carrying Jesus (peace be upon them both) to illustrate the unlimited boundaries of motherhood that extend beyond the materialistic world to reach the furthest dimensions of strength, emotion and unparalleled energy. Silma Ihram presented from a Muslim perspective and stated that “we live in a society that leaves God out of the picture and focuses on the drive for economic gain. The things we eat, drink and wear do not bring happiness because it is void of God and spirituality and focuses on the immediate benefit to self”. Silma explained that Muslims reflect on the purpose of life in prayer in an attempt to understand and get closer to God. Prayer is therefore an experience that heightens the spiritual self and elevates the soul. Mary Scholl from the American Consulate attends Affinity events “because of the interesting women I meet. I am very inspired by the goals and the leadership of Affinity and their focus in meeting their objectives. So much planning, energy and skill goes into focusing and implementing your initiatives through your activities. The work that Affinity does provides a great service to the community”. Jenny Cargill, one of the attendees to the dinner, fought the flu to attend the event which she described as “inspirational when women of different faiths can come together and step beyond the boundaries for the sake of peace and focus on community and motherhood, two core principles of a solid and healthy society”.

The evening also included presentation of the annual Affinity Awards for women. Rebecca Greengarten was awarded for her efforts in encouraging dialogue between Jewish and Muslim youth, Tonia Dohmen for encouraging kids to meet and understand Muslims and Ibtisam Hammoud for her positive interfaith work in the Sutherland Shire. Rebecca described her experience with Affinity as “motivational”. For Tonia her relationship with Affinity enabled her to extend the experiences of her kids and broaden their minds through positive experiences. Ibtisam was moved by her award and expressed gratitude for an organisation that works to foster interfaith dialogue through positive community engagement. Mother and daughter singing sensations Karen and Bronte performed “Gentle Woman”, Dahlia Dior sang “Women of Valour” and then “Mercy of God” in three religions and Seyhan Yazar sang “Mother” which was most appropriate for the night’s theme. Through the night, Zulhumar Turdi enchanted the audience with an Eastern Turkistani cultural dance. Zuleyha Keskin, the vice president of Affinity Intercultural Foundation, reflected on the night saying “I felt that there was a buzz tonight; a spiritual buzz, a social buzz, a sisterly buzz. Based on the feedback that I got, the ladies really enjoyed the event. I also think that there were many friendships formed tonight.”