A Shalom Meal, as taught by Letty Russell

By Brin Bon ’13 M.Div.

Shalom MealA celebratory mood prevailed at the Shalom meal that was a centerpiece of the Women’s Reunion festivities at Convocation and Reunions 2010.

The Shalom meal tradition emerged from a practice begun by the late Professor Letty Russell during her years at Yale Divinity School, where members of each of her classes broke bread together at the end of the semester.  Women from graduating classes as far back as the 1940s and 50s shared the Shalom meal on the second night of Convocation and participated in a program of celebration led by Serene Jones '85 M.Div., '91 PhD, president of Union Theological Seminary in New York and a close friend of Russell.

Russell’s legacy was a central theme at this year’s events, as many women were mentored by her at a time when the ordained ministry was just beginning to open up to women.

JonesThe theme of this year’s reunion, “Honoring the Past, Challenging the Future” took on special meaning as women from graduating classes as far back as the 1940s and 1950s and into the present shared a meal and participated in a brief program of celebration.

The program began with a welcome, followed by a reflections by Jones.  Many women alumna participated, sharing poetry and song, culminating with special toast.  One member from each table stood and gave a toast, after which everyone raised glasses and jubilantly responded, “We honor the past and challenge the future!”

Several toasts recalled Letty Russell’s legacy of empowerment and friendship.  Others, while paying tribute to the past, spoke of continued stumblingblocks. But all seemed to share in the hope of continued progress for women in ministry.