The importance of women in leadership positions in the Messianic Jewish and Christian faith communities is often undervalued However, when the voices of women are uplifted and heard, incredible strides are made towards peace and reconciliation. This is the reality these two inspiring women, Hedva Haymov and Shireen Awwad have been working diligently toward. Despite come from diverse backgrounds – Hedva, an American-born Israeli Messianic Jew, and Shireen, a Palestinian Christian living in Bethlehem – they both have found shared faith and passion for advancing peace in the Holy Land.
As a peace builder and faith leader within the Messianic Jewish community, Lisa Loden works to promote reconciliation between the Israeli Messianic Jewish and Palestinian Christian communities, and a negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As an expression of her faith and passion, Lisa immigrated to Israel in 1974 and co-founded a Messianic congregation Beit Asaph in Netanya, Israel. Since then, Lisa has been involved with several ecumenical organizations and initiatives.
Sahar Vardi, an Israeli peace activist from Jerusalem, has been working to promote peace and justice in Israel/Palestine since the early age of thirteen. Influenced by her father, who refused military service during the first intifada, Sahar was exposed to the realities on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In 2003 Sahar would accompanied her father to a small village located near Jerusalem. There, they planted olive trees and painted murals on the school of the neighboring village. She continued to visit the village throughout the second intifada as Israel’s separation wall was being built. In this village, Sahar was deeply impacted by the interactions she had within the community by connecting with those around her on a personal level. Seeing the construction of the wall and the effects it had on the village, Sahar notes that this was the beginning of the politicization process, as despite being merely fifteen minutes away, her and the people she knew in the village were living almost entirely different realities.