Back to listMar 26, 2009

Event Celebrating Women's History Month in Miami, Florida, USA, Includes Interfaith Workshop

On March 26, 2009, in honor of Women's History Month in the United States, some 700 women gathered at the Miami Beach Convention Center for the First Annual Miami Beach Women's Conference, titled "Empower Ourselves, Empower Others." The annual event was the brainchild of Matti H. Bower, the first female mayor of the City of Miami Beach, who spearheaded the event together with six other female mayors from Miami-Dade County municipalities in order to help empower women and young women through involvement in their community.

090326x_miami_wmn_faith.jpg Left to right: Lucy Golden, Alma Wallace and Deborah Cohen of SGI-USA, Rabbi Jody Cohen and the Reverend Priscilla Felisky Whitehead

Women from various sectors of society gathered to discuss women's roles and their influence on society and local communities in areas such as public safety, health and wellness, the arts, spirituality, parenting, youth, the modern family, leadership, politics, finance and business.

The day-long event included an interfaith session on spirituality moderated by Debbie Cohen, a local SGI-USA women's leader in Miami. The panelists included Rabbi Jody Cohen from the oldest Jewish synagogue in Miami, the Reverend Priscilla Felisky Whitehead, a minister from a well-known community church in Bal Harbour, Florida, and SGI-USA members Lucy Golden and Alma Wallace.

Dr. Whitehead addressed the role of women religious leaders and how a spiritual path can empower oneself and others, specifically citing the successes and failures of the Christian tradition. "Communities of faith working in partnership with one another across sectarian lines . . . can make a difference in moving our world toward the goal of a future where each and every person can live in peace, with dignity, liberty and justice for all enjoying the benefits of this Earth which is our shared world." Rabbi Cohen, who describes herself as a feminist and a liberal, explained the various stages of evolution undergone by Jewish women's spirituality, with a focus on the attainment of empowerment, sacredness and balance.

A presentation on Buddhism by Ms. Golden and Ms. Wallace was interwoven with commentary on Nichiren's 1277 letter to one of his disciples, "The Eight Winds," which references a Buddhist concept that advises people not to be swayed by attachment to prosperity, honor, praise or pleasure (the four favorable winds) or by their aversion to decline, disgrace, censure or suffering (the four adverse winds).

Following the event, the two SGI-USA presenters participated in an informal question and answer session.

"This conference was a model of what world peace is all about," Rabbi Cohen said, in reference to the many spontaneous dialogues that took place during breaks and following the symposium.

[Adapted from an article in the April 24, 2009 issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA; photo courtesy of World Tribune]