These women may be the ones who God loves most, because they will not stop as long as they have breath within them. Besides being women, they are lesbian, black, or Asian. They may be ordained from non-establishment seminaries or they may be physically unappealing. Yet the forty-year journey in the wilderness was the experience that purified and clarified the Jews’ relationship with God. In the simplicity of the desert, they became a people, creating an identity that has endured for 3300 years. “That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” wrote Nietzche. The women in this chapter test and prove his words. The lesson is for all of us and don’t give up!
Ma Jaya, living in a cold water flat in Brooklyn with her husband and children, had Jesus visit her one day in the bathtub. She had been learning how to meditate at Jack LaLanne’s gym, and in her meditation Jesus told her to give up sex, drugs, and rock and roll and to follow him. Her journey led her to become the founder and head of Kashi Ashram in Jupiter, Florida. Janice Mirikitani spent her infancy in an internment camp for Japanese Americans. Her experience of being an innocent citizen incarcerated because of race, coupled with childhood sexual abuse, has given her a personal mission as Director of Programs at Glide Memorial Methodist to help the poor in body and spirit. Author Blu Greenberg is an Orthodox Jewish feminist, for some an oxymoron. She is criticized with equal vehemence by the left and right within Judaism.
The Reverend Diane Winley , formerly an activist who managed to obtain health care for the poor of New York, turned from politics to become a Presbyterian minister with healing as her primary ministry. Her gender, color, and age has kept her from getting a pulpit worthy of her intelligence and commitment. Composer and singer Debbie Friedman has created a new sound in Jewish liturgy by writing songs and prayers attuned to this generation’s rhythms. Her success has not depended upon anointment by Jewish institutions but by her unprecedented popularity in the community.