By Miriam Seiden
They came, they saw, and they conquered the hearts of all they met. The 9 Lacemakers of Hurfeish arrived on March 15 in a flurry of great anticipation, excitement, and a little nervousness. They told me they were afraid the Greater MetroWestniks wouldn’t like their food. We LOVED everything: their personalities, their food, their customs. And we loved the men who accompanied them in support of their endeavors. Women are equal and valued in their community. Husbands and fathers took proud backseats to the women’s activities.
In the words of Caroline Rosen Goldstein, co-chair of the initiative, “The men of Hurfeish were the biggest surprise for me. The love and support they showed for their wives and daughters was really moving. The delegation’s visit was so much more meaningful and impactful than I could have imagined it would be. True friendships and bonds were made.”
There is no other Jewish community in the U.S. that has embarked upon such an initiative. The Greater MetroWest Women’s Philanthropy group is already looking forward to the next Lacemakers’ visit. We shared our homes, our families, our friends; we went shopping, cooked together, enjoyed cultural exchanges, bought their beautiful handicrafts, and learned how to make some of them. We laughed and cried tears of joy together. We even spent one evening at Glassworks Studio in Morristown where we all, women and men, created beautiful picture frames and nameplates together.
The cooking, knitting, and embroidery workshops were all well-attended and received rave reviews. The snow, which could have been a detriment, resulted in our spending more quality, one-on-one time together in our homes, sharing and learning about one another. Living Bridges were truly created amongst all of us.
I will forever hold the glowing, smiling faces of all involved close to my heart. When I stayed in Hurfeish in January to help the women with their English, I understood very quickly what an extraordinary experience I was having. I lived with the kindest people I have ever known, who could not do enough to make my stay comfortable and fulfilling. I couldn’t wait for them to receive all the good will and generosity I knew we would give them in New Jersey.
Mindunn Rose, another co-chair of the Lacemakers’ visit, said, “What a gift it has been to so intimately get to know these women and men from Hurfeish! I have made 18 new friends. We really did form friendships that will last a lifetime.”
What struck me the most during our week together is the shared core values of our two communities. We Jews and Druze are loyal to our heritages, our families, our communities, and the importance of education. We share a strong work ethic. Giving back and generosity are the star components of our cultures.
The love and hugs we gave each other were addicting. We could not have enough of one anothers’ warm company. We promised to visit Hurfeish during our next trips to Israel. We can’t wait to experience and deepen our newfound friendships with our extended mishpucha in the Galilee village of Hurfeish.