WHERE I'VE SHARED MY MESSAGE:
American-Israeli writer/activist shares how an unexpected close friendship with a Palestinian emerged out of breast cancer. Galvanized to help others, Ruth started lobbying in the Israeli Knesset to promote women's health. Ruth's story has been covered by the BBC, The Atlantic, & Alhurra TV. Her uplifting message: you can turn something bad into something good.
Ruth Ebenstein delivers a very powerful and inspiring message that describes her passage from breast cancer survivor to being a passionate leader promoting intercultural understanding between Israeli and Palestinian women. When I was the American Ambassador in Bosnia, Ruth was awesome during her visit to Sarajevo with Israeli and Palestinian breast cancer survivors. Her at times sobering and often light-hearted style touched many hearts and connected positively across cultural divides. Ruth’s core message was inspirational for a country that still suffers from inter-ethnic tensions. Ruth is a brave and committed leader who is building intercultural bridges that will, step-by-step, be a force for a positive, peaceful future. Thank you, Ruth!
Ruth Ebenstein knocked the ball out of the park when she spoke to our audience, mostly professional people with very high expectations. I've had only positive remarks: “Very moving.” “Great speaker.” “What a wonderful peace initiative.” I highly recommend Ruth to any group interested in hearing about/seeing a demonstration of how one person can make a positive difference in our conflicted world.
Ruth's story brings a unique perspective to a global challenge: surviving breast cancer. Just as the disease knows no boundaries of race, ethnicity, politics or geography, her story transcends all of these barriers, bringing two people together to empower & gather strength from each other. She brought our audience back to a human focus, reminding us why we do what we do to support breast health.
Someone once said about Beethoven's music, "from the heart it has sprung and to the heart it shall penetrate". I felt the same during Ruth's talk. Disease does not discriminate - we do! Ruth & Ibtisam were able to connect because they knew that they were not enemies; the true enemy lies within. Hope we learn soon enough this lesson of love & friendship before it's too late for humanity to heal!
Ruth Ebenstein demonstrates how storytelling is a means for bringing together people from disparate backgrounds and bridging cultural divides. Her work with YaLa Young Leaders for Change – a program sponsored by the American Consulate General in Jerusalem and the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv – has introduced dozens of Palestinian and Israeli young leaders to the techniques of using their personal stories to promote dialogue and bring a message of peace to a wider audience.
For 30 years, the men of Bayou City Breakfast Club have been meeting to hear scions of business & politics discuss their area of expertise. It was a wonderful respite to hear how Ruth's story of personal tragedy formed a sisterhood that bridged religious/political tumult. Men listened with rapt admiration...some moved to tears...many proclaiming it the best speaker/story they had heard in years.
Ruth was one of the best guest speakers our congregation has ever had. Her story of personal friendship across the divide with Ibtisam Erekat, a Palestinian woman, had us laughing, crying, and on the edge of our seats the entire time. Ruth is an amazing storyteller, and her story is inspiring for breast cancer survivors, those who care about peace, and anyone who has the privilege of hearing her.
Ruth Ebenstein, together with Ibtisam Erekat, opened the eyes and hearts of our politically and religiously diverse Orthodox synagogue with their deeply inspiring and emotional presentation. We were reminded of the humanity of even those with whom we profoundly differ, and of the ties that truly bind us. While far from a panacea for the Middle East conflict, their story is a spark of hope that there are countless deep connections that can span nearly any divide. We left the weekend touched, re-energized, and honored to have met and learned from both an American Israeli and a Palestinian who are now a part of our lives. We would encourage all, but especially other Orthodox synagogues and schools, to welcome them into your communities.
Ruth was sensational. She took at topic that effects every woman, cancer, and brought it to the forefront. Ruth was a huge success in helping to educate the women at the annual Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom conference about the importance of dialogue and interfaith relationship-buildling. The entire discussion was brought to life through Ruth's and Ibtisam's narratives. Ruth was captivating and in between everyone's tears, there was much laughter. Most importantly, there was hope!
At Ramaz it’s common for us to hear from leaders from around the world, and sometimes we forget that it’s regular people who really make a difference. What struck me most about Ruth’s powerful words was that she didn’t come to push any political agenda. She was a real person with real experiences, encouraging us to try to understand all sides of the conversation before forming an opinion. It’s unfortunate that sometimes we feel like people living just one mile away are from a totally different world. Ruth’s message is a reminder that there is probably someone on the other side that’s exactly like you. We have plenty of politicians, but the world could really use more people like Ruth reminding us to have a heart.
Ruth Ebenstein’s presentation and presence at our Hope and Healing Center was a tremendous gift to our Church, and to the Houston Community! She brings a lighthearted and yet courageous message of hope and compassion that transcends the things that seem to divide members of the human family. She brings not just words of joy…she IS a joy!
I had the privilege of hearing Ruth Ebenstein speak twice—the first time, during a summer journalism program at Northwestern University, and the second, on a two-month trip to Israel with my senior class. These two audiences, consisting of people with vastly different religious and political beliefs, both emerged from Ruth’s presentation with a reminder of how similar we all are to each other and with the confidence that no challenge is too great to overcome. Ruth’s story of finding a sister in Ibtisam, a Palestinian woman, who, at the time, was also battling breast cancer, challenges even the most stubborn skeptics to look beyond artificial divides and seek out the truth for themselves.
Ruth shared an uplifting perspective on one of the great conflicts of our time. Her tallk was part of a week in which American teens explored different sides & shades of Jerusalem; many cited her presentation as the most meaningful experience of them all. She makes her audience feel like part of something greater. A wonderful storyteller & great lecturer! I'd recommend Ruth to any crowd, any age.
Ruth Ebenstein's story of facing a serious challenge with courage was a great blessing to our congregation. It touched not only cancer survivors and their families, but those dealing with inner prejudices that keep them from reaching out to others. Ruth is an inspiration - bright, humorous and engaging. I highly recommend her to any audience seeking a word of ecumenical inspiration!
Ruth spoke to a group of Muslims, Christians and Jews, imparting a message we all embraced: how shared human experiences can overcome the barriers to becoming friends & partners. We needed this hopeful message during the sorrowful time of the Gaza War. Ruth's personal story captivates. We all cried & felt connected to her, and to her Palestinian “sister,” Ibtisam. Don't hesitate. Book her!
Ruth was so well received at the conference that we're bringing her back. Her story compels - it's breast cancer survivorship & sisterhood she forged with Ibtisam, whom she met at a Komen-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian breast cancer support group. They're a fabulous, heart-warming example of deep friendship and mutual respect, despite the odds. Ruth's magnetism, humor and warmth shine throughout.
Ruth’s friendship with Ibtisam underscores that no matter our differences & the seeming barriers on the surface, friendship & love are possible. In a world focused on extremes, this message is oft forgotten. Ruth's riveting talk reminds us, medicine transcends! Every medical professional or anyone interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should listen to and reflect upon her story.
Ruth's story is about much more than breast-cancer survivorship. It's about peace, love & boundary-less friendship. Ruth & Ibtisam are today's “Romeo and Juliet” . An Israeli and a Palestinian, sharing pain, joy & survival. Ruth kept our women enthralled. The world should use Ruth and Ibtisam as an example of what love looks like; perhaps the rockets, kidnappings & terror would finally stop.”
Ruth's story is both unique and universal. She brought tears to the eyes of all the YaLa members present during our meeting in Jerusalem. Palestinian, Israelis, Jewish, Muslims, Men, Women, all touched and changed by Ruth's story. She reminded us that we have more in common that we think and that real friendship has no color or no religion. Stories like Ruth and Ibtisam's must be heard. These stories about normal people are the real stories of the Middle East, bringing hope and a certain sense of community to every listener. I will always keep her story with me.
As I listened to Ruth's story, I found myself seeing life in a totally different way. She made me stop and think. I started reconsidering my priorities, healing my wounds and letting my worries wash away. Ruth's story simply proposes life in a way different than what I had gotten used to in Israel/Palestine. Just as the frightening breast cancer leaves the patient with one ambition,namely, survival, I realized that striving for peace has to be a survival ambition as well.
Ruth successfully convinced our group of students that Palestinians are people, just as we are - which many tend to forget. She spoke expertly to a group of teenagers, many of whom had never been exposed to such stories of Jews and Palestinians befriending one another. By sharing her story, Ruth provides a precedent for further Jewish-Palestinian friendships, which I believe fully is the only way towards peace. Her story must be heard, and her example must be followed.
Given the daily news, it is easy to believe that conflict can never be resolved and that no one person can make a difference. Listening to Ruth Ebenstein tell her story is the antidote to despair and hopelessness. Because she proves that one person can.
Ruth Ebenstein is an amazing storyteller. Hers is a gripping true-life story that takes the listener into the heart of the matter. Her real-life experience as a breast cancer survivor and her deep and abiding friendship with Ibtisam Erekat, a Muslim Palestinian, will transform you. I encourage you to hear for yourself how two women who once assumed they were enemies came to love each other through their shared experience. You will be glad you did.
Ruth Ebenstein clearly connected with students in the Medill School of Journalism's summer high school program. They were engaged in her message and kept her after her lecture, talking and asking questions until we practically had to throw them out. Ruth patiently stayed with them as long as we let her.
Ruth Ebenstein is a riveting speaker capable of connecting with people of all ages. Ebenstein’s story is as much about the survival of the human sprit and the salve of true friendship as it is about breast cancer and the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. Ruth and Ibtisam's unlikely friendship is the heart of this story and a real glimmer of hope at dismal moment in the history of this war-torn region.
I had the privilege of hosting Ruti and Ibtasam in our house and listening to their powerful message. Even on short notice, the timeliness of their discussion had over 40 people attend with less than one week’s notice. The feedback i have received from hosting this program has been amazing. Nearly every person that attended took the time to thank me for having this discussion in my house. Hearing a message of peace and hope in these times, by two dynamic and theoretically conflicted women, was truly a gift. I’d highly recommend them to any group hoping to stimulate conversation and inspiration.
Ruth's talk was an amazing and engaging experience for our students and teachers alike. Many were truly inspired by Ruth's passion and commitment to spreading her experience of peace and love across the political divide. The talk was well received our diverse student body, but most notably by members of the Jewish Cultural Club and Muslim Students Association. Ruth and Ibtisam were generous with their time afterwards, speaking with students individually about their experience amidst the political tension our students only read about. This was truly a valuable experience our students will not forget!
Ruth is a natural communicator and a master story teller. She creates blessing from conflict and healing from pain. I highly recommend Ruth as a teacher of Jewish wisdom and an advocate for interfaith dialogue.
The fact that two people take such big risks for their friendship really touches me and hits me hard.
The first thing I thought was interesting was her everlasting bond with Ibtisam. It's amazing what both of them go through to remain friends. I also admire her drive to go to Israel in the first place. But the real admiration I have for her forms when you put together everything she is and everything she has done:
Ruth's story was not only heard by the students, but felt as she told of her experiences and journey. Her reflection, candidness, and warmth made the presentation not only informative, but engaging as well, and an opportunity that will not be easily forgotten.
Ruth mesmerized her audience for well over an hour, without speaking notes. She was engaging, energetic and heartfelt in a way that left us all touched. As we grapple with a most difficult topic from long distance, Ruth brings it close to home with her one-on-one personal tale of struggle, relationship and light in difficult times. This is not a presentation to be missed.