July 2020
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A. Ward: The Central Role of a Mother's Heart

I spent a great deal of time reflecting on the nature and purpose of the ongoing Middle East Peace Initiative pilgrimages to Israel, as well as on the unique contribution we could make to this part of the world as women. The focus of the ongoing pilgrimages has been the coming together of the three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as the basis for building peace. I reflected on what it took, or might take, for these three brothers of faith to unite.  

It gradually became clear to me that the mother's heart played a central role in bringing about this unity.  I realized that the mother's heart was above religion. How can the mother's heart bring about unity? Scold them into uniting? Tell them they have to unite? I can tell you from my experience as a mother that neither of these approaches will work. Somehow we have to contribute to creating an environment that allows for, or leads to, unity. In the case of the Middle East, the views held by any one side have become hardened so that there is little room to deeply receive or consider any other view.  It is the role of the mother's heart to soften the environment, to open the hearts, to move people, so that they can go beyond their hardened views.

In organizing the Women of Peace Program, it was the insight of our Founders that offered the opportunity to most deeply express the mother's heart. Go door to door throughout Jerusalem and comfort those who have lost loved ones.  So simple and so profound. We walked through the neighborhoods in teams and in pairs.  Women in the pairs often spoke different languages, with neither speaking Hebrew or Arabic. Yet pair after pair met families who had lost loved ones. These families were moved by the language of the heart. We did not take sides. We simply extended a loving heart.

I realized that we had to maintain and express the mother's heart throughout the planning and organizing period, as well as during the actual events; that the means and the end had to be treated the same way. I understood that this was an important condition to allow God to work, to move people beyond their current situation. This was a big challenge. Many things came up throughout the organizing period that were difficult to deal with. In Israel much time was spent in meetings. Each day decisions were made, revised, changed.  It was a careful and thoughtful process of considering suggestions from quite a few individuals, finding a way to include what was most important for all the stakeholders involved, and helping each person to feel that his or her contribution was valuable.  This project and the many that we work on each year is real life training to be leaders within our nations as well as on the world level.

As the week unfolded, with the Bridge of Peace Ceremony, home visits, visits to Hadassah Hospital as well as Yad be Yad Bilingual School, culminating in the march and rally, we felt that the mother's heart had stayed the course. It was a valuable lesson for me.  Ever since our founders introduced the concept of going "one step higher" in our planning process, I spend a lot of time reflecting on what the next step might be.  It is rewarding to come together each year and see the growth in so many areas.