GLEN RIDGE, NJ — In the spirit of Thanksgiving, the monthly luncheon and program at the Women’s Club of Glen Ridge on Tuesday, Nov. 3, featured the theme of the role of women in forming spirituality and a sense of gratitude, beginning in the newly settled America of 1621. About 40 attended the event.
The presentation, by Jane Eliasof, executive director of the Montclair Historical Society, focused on many different groups of women, including Wampanoag Native Americans; Dutch women who settled in New York and New Jersey; Jamestown-area women; and women near modern-day Florida. The presentation also outlined the spirituality of different religions, including Protestant, Anglican, Catholic, and Native American religion, which emphasizes the spirituality of nature.
According to Jan Spoerl, chairwoman of the Religions and Spirituality Department of the Women’s Club, who assisted in the presentation, women were not mentioned in historical documents as much as were men. However, women still had an impact on fostering gratitude and the spirituality of their communities.
“They were strong workers and survivors who passed beliefs to children. They had their own spirituality,” she said.
Spoerl said November was a perfect opportunity to recognize gratitude, spirituality and women because of Thanksgiving and the connection Pilgrims had to spirituality.
“Gratitude and being thankful go hand in hand. The earliest people were grateful to find food and shelter and survive. They relied on peaceful cooperation.”
As for spirituality, Spoerl said, “Each individual within each group undoubtedly developed personal spirituality. They were guided by beliefs within their religious groups.”
Spoerl, a docent for the Montclair Historical Society who specializes in open-hearth cooking, developed the menu for the luncheon, which included foods from the first Thanksgiving, in 1621. A team of members from the Religions and Spirituality Committee of the Women’s Club handled the food preparation, serving, decorating and cleanup.
“The women loved hearing Jane’s thoughtful insights, seeing the artifacts, and found the food delicious,” Spoerl said.
A discussion about how women develop and express spirituality and gratitude today was also held.
Spoerl said the Women’s Club of Glen Ridge is a modern example of spirituality and gratitude in action.
“The Women’s Club of Glen Ridge epitomizes what was learned about the early women. Today, we participate in food drives, service practices for the community, and opportunities to extend friendships.