IKETh CONFERENCE 30/7-2/8 2009
Tools for Renewal
Self-critical impulses for renewal of patriarchal traditions
in Judaism, Christianity and Islam
Protestant Academy Bad Boll

The conference gathered 25 women who listened to interesting lectures
and had animated discussions on the conference topics. 
Evangelical Academy Bad Boll, Germany

Tools for Renewal – Conference Report

IKETh Conference and Annual Meeting July 30 – August 2 2009
at the Evangelical Academy Bad Boll, Germany

24 women gathered at the Evangelical Academy Bad Boll outside Stuttgart for the 2009 IKETh conference with the theme “Tools for Renewal – self-critical impulses in Judaism, Christianity and Islam”. The three monotheistic faiths were represented, and the participants came from England, Germany, Ireland, Israel and Sweden.

The question the three speakers - Dr. Debbie Weissman from Israel, Dr Hanna Stenström, Sweden and Dr. Haifa Jawaad, England - discussed, was whether it is true as American philosopher Audre Lorde says, that “the master’s tools cannot dismantle the master’s house” or if there are indeed counter-traditions that can be used to change patriarchal religious traditions.

In the opening session the participants were asked to choose a tool from a big toolbox to symbolise the change they wanted to work for in their own tradition.
Assessments of traditions ranged from wanting to blow “the house” up, to more or less radical renovation work.

The speakers’ responses to the question varied as well.

Debbie (Deborah) Weissman spoke from an Jewish orthodox position, and wanted to renovate rather than dismantle her tradition. She gave many examples of how the Jewish tradition contains impulses for critique and plural interpretations, as well as female role models.

Hanna Stenström suggested that tools from within the tradition might not be enough, but that it is important to look to other sources as well. She suggested Biblical scholars Sandra Schneiders’ ideas about finding new meanings “in front of” the text and Mary Ann Tolbert’s thoughts on the authority of texts as common ground for discussion on a community, as useful tools for renewal.
The IKETh annual meeting was held on August 1.
Two new board members were elected: Rabbi Lee Wax from England and Ms Aysel Kurt from Germany.
Dr. Helene Egnell and Ms. Christel Hildebrand were re-elected and Ms. Susanne Wolf remains in the board, as she was elected for two years in 2008.
The board now has representatives from Judaism, Islam and Christianity, though only the Protestant variant of Christianity.

The theme for next year’s conference was decided: ”The Visibility of Women in our Religious Communities”, to be held in the Dominican House of Studies in Huissen, the Netherlands 8-11 July 2010.                      
Read more about the conference >>
Debbie Weissman and Rivka Hollander invited the participants to a beautiful Shabat celebration on the Friday evening.

Saturday evening, there was dancing at the lawn.

When the dancing ended, three stars could be seen in the sky, and it was time to break the Sabbath with a Havdalah ceremony.
Sunday morning was devoted to group discussions about the practical consequences for IKETh of what had been discussed the previous days.
In what ways can we work for the renewal of our religious traditions? An issue that cropped up, especially in the discussions after Haifaa Jawad’s lecture was that of
We need to explore together the advantages and disadvantages of modernity from a feminist and religious perspective.
There was also a strong wish to read and discuss texts from the different sacred scriptures together.

On the practical side, suggestions were made for the development of our homepage, such as a reading list, and the possibility of publishing articles there.

Haifa Jawaad made use of the concept
“Female itjihad”, that is women’s interpretation of the Muslim tradition. Much work has been done by women on the Qur’an, she said, but even more important is to deal with the Hadith.

After each lecture there were animated group discussions about questions given by the speakers.
In the closing ritual, a bowl of spices was handed around, so that each participant could pick one piece as a symbol of the “fragrance” she would take with her from the conference.

Many remarks about the choices mentioned the combination of “sweetness” and “sharpness” in the discussions.

The ritual was concluded with the following blessing, taken from the book “Women pray” edited by Monica Furlong:

The blessing of God,
The eternal goodwill of God,
The shalom of God,
the wildness and warmth of God,
be among us and between us
Now and always. Amen
As a conclusion of the conference experience, Aysel Kurt compared the relations between women of different faiths with that of her and her sister. On the one hand, they have the same background and are alike, but at the same time totally different, and argue a lot.
They experience things differently, sometimes they can understand each other, but sometimes they have to accept that they don’t.

But all the time they remain very close.
Report from the conference 2015 >> 
Photos from the conference 2014 >>
Photos from the conference 2012 >>
Photos from the conference 2011 >>   
The lecture of Rebecca Masterton 2010 >>