This month’s Circle of Women feature, written by Leah Grace, celebrates Ruth Gasten and her work at Tri-Valley Interfaith Interconnect. Leah Grace is a member of the Interfaith Peace Project’s Advisory Board. To read Leah’s story, check out the “About Us” section of our website or click here.
If you have a story about a woman in your life that you admire or has been a role model and you would like to share her story in the coming months, please send it to us at [email protected].
The woman that I would like to celebrate this month is Ruth Gasten. I first met Ruth when I joined Tri-Valley Interfaith Interconnect in 2014, a group she co-founded in 2011 “to enrich, inform and educate ourselves and others about the great diversity of faiths and cultures in our valley,” according to its mission statement. Ruth is a Holocaust refugee, author and retired parent educator. She exudes a wonderful optimistic energy and a joi de vivre which belies several significant hardships and tragedies she has endured in her lifetime. She has a passion for sharing information in a way that is most useful to others and teaches the importance of taking a stand against injustice. For example, a few years ago, Ruth created a panel of speakers who share their first hand accounts of historic events to young students. One speaker describes surviving the Pol Pot regime and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Another describes his experience in a Japanese internment camp at the onset of World War II. Ruth has said “I think hearing stories of historic events and how they affected the lives of real people is helpful to young people in many ways. It helps them to realize how people have suffered great deprivation and survived, and it helps them to understand how necessary it is to take an early and decisive stance against injustice when you see it. “
Taking a stand is something that Ruth models with confidence, calmness and openness. Ruth encourages people to enter into discussions with others that may have a different view than yours with respect, open-mindedness and curiosity. By her own demonstration, she helps to cultivate an atmosphere for learning that promotes “understanding, acceptance, inclusion, tolerance and peaceful coexistence.” To learn more about Ruth and her work, please follow the attached link to an article about her: Experiences Inspired Interfaith Interconnect – The Independent News.