From left, Sister Maria Pascuzzi of Sisters of St. Joseph,...

From left, Sister Maria Pascuzzi of Sisters of St. Joseph, Rabbi Tracy Kaplowitz of Huntington, JWB Jewish Chaplains Council, and Anu Jain of Jain Center of America. Credit: University of San Diego; Lifetouch; Anu Jain

March is Women’s History Month, when women’s accomplishments throughout American history are recognized and celebrated, according to This week’s clergy discuss how their faiths inspire, empower and offer resources for women to excel now and in the future.

Anu Jain of Jericho

Member of Jain Center of America

Jainism inspires its followers to grow spiritually by practicing self-control and developing personal wisdom. Jain women do so while maintaining a balance that supports growth and nurtures life.

Because a good and fair society simply can’t be built without women, Jainism teaches us to be strong, loyal and honest in all conditions and situations. Jain female preachers, also known as sadhvis, give religious lectures with examples of the many strong women in Jain history. They teach about the struggles and other experiences of women who have led a very simple life and of women who are queens.

The Jain International Trade Organization, a global entity that supports ethical business practices and spiritual uplift, offers programs and activities for women. My own houses of worship, Jain Center of America in Flushing, Queens, and Jain Temple of New York in New Hyde Park, host meetings and seminars for women who want to explore Jain spirituality.

The Jain International Education organization has an online book collection,, where women and girls can read of the accomplishments of Jain women of the past. Such extraordinary journeys through adversity provide inspirational examples for us. They show how other Jain women stood strong, survived and thrived with honor and respect.

Rabbi Tracy Kaplowitz of Huntington

Director of Operations, JWB Jewish Chaplains Council

The Jewish tradition that I value and teach is a Judaism that sees all of humankind as equal in the eyes of God. Knowing that women are equal empowers us to mine Jewish tradition for inspiration and guidance to feel one with our spiritual selves in several ways.

First, we should embrace our full selves — body and mind. The Bible provides examples of women identified as gifted in particular ways. We can hold them up as models for us to recognize and cherish these strengths in ourselves. To celebrate the power of our brains, we can look to Deborah — gifted in wisdom, leadership and as a poet. Yael was a warrior with a strong body and a resourceful and creative mind. Esther was stunning in her beauty and single-minded in her devotion to her people.

Second, we should locate the centered-self. Judaism encourages practices that, for a limited time, remove us from the stresses of the world. By taking time for ourselves through daily prayer and mindful meditation, we are gifted with the power to re-center and return to our true selves.

Last, we should experience joy. Tradition teaches that there are 10 names for joy. We must actively pursue each aspect of joy every day of our lives.

Sister Maria Pascuzzi

Sisters of St. Joseph, Brentwood

The Catholic Church offers rich and varied resources to help women deepen their relationship with God. For example, at the diocesan and local parish level, traditional resources include retreat days, Bible study groups, prayer groups, theological reflection, opportunities to learn about and practice various forms of prayer and meditation, and one-on-one spiritual advising.

Various religious orders offer space for extended silent and guided retreats for women who feel the need to take a break from daily routine to deepen their relationship with God. Here on Long Island, the Sisters of Saint Joseph, along with the Dominican Sisters of Amityville and other religious congregations, offer both day and extended retreats, spiritual direction and other opportunities for prayer and reflection.

Today, the internet offers access to a number of resources designed for Christian women seeking spiritual growth and renewal. There are daily meditations, livestreamed programs and podcasts devoted to spiritual practices. There are opportunities to share faith with women across the globe, introductions to contemporary spiritualities — for example, ecological spirituality — as well as for online spiritual direction. Finally, there is no shortage of books, both classics and more contemporary reads, to help women deepen their relationship with God.

There is something out there for every woman who needs help for the journey!

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