American Friends of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam

The American Friends of Neve Shalom/Wahat Al-Salam encourages, supports and publicizes the projects of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, the "Oasis of Peace." For more than thirty years, Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam has been dedicated to dialogue, cooperation and a genuine and durable peace between Arabs and Jews, Palestinians and Israelis. Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel have chosen to live and work together as equals in this community to promote trust, understanding and mutual respect.
Jul 11, 2014

Pluralistic Spiritual Center Update 7/10/14

JITLI Meeting
JITLI Meeting

Special Projects at The Pluralistic Spiritual Community Center

Masa – Massar

This program for Palestinian and Israeli youth changed direction this year towards seeking to build an ongoing cadre of young people that would meet throughout the year. The project is conducted jointly with the Open House, Ramle. We have begun organizing a group of youth from two high schools: Ramle and Kibbutz Givat Brener, who will meet and work together throughout the coming school year. It will include an intensive two-day seminar and one educational trip. In addition the PSCC will carry out a three day workshop with Arab and Jewish youth in cooperation with the Sulha Peace Project.

Empowering Students in Reidman College of Alternative Medicine

In the coming school year the PSCC will run a project of student empowerment including two courses in the Arab town of Sachnin and in Jerusalem, for improving communication between students. The tools we will work with will include mindfulness, compassionate listening and practicing skills that develop integrity, awareness of language, empathy and listening to the other.

One of the PSCC’s goals this year was to become more focused on activities for the local and international spiritual activist community that seeks peace, awareness and healing. This year our doors were opened to many groups and drew hundreds of people from around the country and the world. Joint activities included the Sulha Peace Project, JITLI, an encounter workshop for single mothers, a seminar on Bible and Qur'an.

Sulha Peace Project

The Sulha Peace Project brings together Jews and Palestinian youth in a personal encounter with themselves and others. Participants come from both Israel and the Palestinian territories. Five meetings took place in the PSCC during the past years. The meetings took place in the spirit of the three religions, with music, art and workshops and in ‘listening circles’. Each meeting ran for five hour and had 100 to 200 participants. The Sulha meetings have been taking place with great success over the last 14 year. These activities cross all borders and allow close communication between people from different worlds.

JITLI

JITLI is a youth leadership program that brings together Jewish and Arab youth, Druze, Bedouins and Ethiopians. In April, the program counselors came for three days of Bustan workshops. The group consisted of Jewish youth from San Diego, USA, Jewish Israeli youth from Sha’ar Hanegev, with Druzes, Muslims and Bedouins from Segev Shalom, Lakiya and northern Israel. The PSCC is working with JITLI in developing an additional 3-day Bustan program in August, for approximately 100 youth from Israel and America

May 27, 2014

Celebrating Two Holidays and Dual Cultures

Making Matzoh to Mark Passover
Making Matzoh to Mark Passover

In keeping with the Primary School’s unique commitment to learning in two languages and several narratives, the students marked Passover and Easter together with an activity-centered afternoon outdoors.

Teachers and children were engaged in several activities ranging from crafts to quizzes to the highlight for many children: the chance to make their own matzoh.

This unleavened bread recalls the speedy escape of the Jews from Egypt, as they didn’t have time to wait for the bread to rise. The students formed the balls of dough into a round shape, and the teachers put the bread on a hot surface for them. After a few minutes, the bread was finished and tasty.

As they learned the exodus story, students asked about Moses: “Whose prophet is he?” “Which religion does he belong to?” This degree of curiosity, and freedom from assumption, is one small example of the impact of the School’s groundbreaking educational approach.

May 27, 2014

Laying the Groundwork ... and Changing Lives

Bridging Gaps at the School for Peace
Bridging Gaps at the School for Peace

Not just anybody can bring Jewish and Palestinian youth together to engage in dialogue, role play, and the forming of a shared commitment to peaceful action. The Youth Encounter Workshops at require properly trained and committed facilitators.

Which is why the School for Peace runs intensive, four-month-long facilitator training programs. The most recent one came to a close in February: 15 participants (6 Arab and 9 Jewish participants) completed the course, which was led by Dr. Nava Sonnenschein, director of the School for Peace, and psychologist Wasim Birumi.

The participants attended lectures, received academic reading material, and had intense group discussions on aspects of the Jewish-Arab conflict and the role their own identities plays within it.

They also learned the skills needed for reaching out to groups in conflict through peer facilitation — the very work that is done in the Youth Encounter Workshops. During the training course, participants kept a diary on their experiences and analyzed the process they went through.

These newly trained facilitators began the course with different levels of experience in the field of conflict resolution, yet they all left with an enlarged awareness of the issues of the conflict, their own identities, and a greater skill set to drawn on when working with groups in conflict.

One Arab participant said, “The workshop clarified my own identity and belonging to my people. I am happy and proud that I made this important step in my life. Through this course, I became more knowledgeable and feel a responsibility to my people. Today I am more committed to help them strengthen their identity.”

And a Jewish participant said, “I feel the course is the beginning of a long journey. The first part has exposed me to many voices, feelings, information. I want to re-examine what I have learned and how I previous perceived the situation.  I have new eye glasses for seeing our reality in Israel. My view on the conflict between the two people has widened.”

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