Interfaith Encounter Association (IEA)

The IEA works to promote real coexistence and human peace in the Holy Land and the Middle East through interactive inter-religious dialogue. We believe that, rather than being the cause of the problem; religion can and should be a source of solution for conflicts in the region and beyond. We do not believe in blending all traditions into one undifferentiated group, but in providing a table where all can come and sit in safety and ease, while being fully who they are in their respective religions
Mar 5, 2012

Ramalla Visit of the Interfaith Visits group

The group in the streets of Ramalla
The group in the streets of Ramalla

On Thursday, December 29th, we held an encounter of the Interfaith Visits group in Ramallah. I must say that this was one of the most successful encounters the group had.

 

From the Israeli side we were four members (since Ahmed, who hosted us, preferred that we have a small group so that we can have a more intimate encounter). In this way we could fit into Ahmed's car and go all together.

On the Palestinian side we also had four members – two boys and two girls. The girls joined us for the visit but could not stay for the following conversation as it became late (one of them lives near Hebron and had to go back home). Being a small group of special people helped us hold a dialogue which was amazing in its sincerity and in the understanding of both sides of each other.

 

We reached the Qalandia check-point at 3:30pm and crossed easily, with no one asking. Ahmed picked us at the Palestinian side of the check-point and we rode to the city center. We walked in the area of Al-Manara Square, saw the chair that was put there after the declaration on the Palestinian state and took many pictures. After an hour of walking around the city we set down in an amazingly beautiful café – Akasha – for the conversation.

 

The Jews chose to speak about Hanukah and Eldad shared about the Holiday in the views of religious Jews and non-religious Jews and what each group prefers to stress in this Holiday. Eldad himself, as a non-religious guy, chose to emphasize the aspect of rebellion against a foreign conqueror who forced Jews to worship idols. The conversation then flowed to the issue of the Temple and its location. The Muslims in the meeting found it hard to accept the version that the Temple was on the Temple Mount and said that as they know it was in Silwan. This was very hard for the Jews to hear and after some discussion we reached the agreement that each side has its own understanding and narrative and that we agree to listen and respect but not necessarily to accept the narrative of the other side.

 

The Muslims chose to speak about the importance of the Dome of the Rock in Islam and from there the conversation went to the differences between Suna and Shia.

 

The dialogue was fruitful as well as challenging and I think this was the encounter with the deepest dialogue I ever had in the Interfaith Encounter Association.

 

At 7pm we left Ramallah for the Qalandia check-point, which we then crossed by foot. We expected to have difficulties with the soldiers and that they will be astonished (as usual) to see Israelis coming out of a Palestinian city with a strange permit. They were indeed shocked but did not hold us, just asked out of curiosity what we were doing there, on which we answered: visited…

We returned to Jerusalem happy and satisfied.

A conversation in the street
A conversation in the street
Fair well
Fair well
Passing the check-point
Passing the check-point

Links:

Dec 19, 2011

Sukkot encounter - October 16th

The Galilee Women's group met in Misgav, in the big Sukkah of the town. Noga invited us and we came 5 women from Eilaboun and 4 from Bueine.

We were received by a group of women from the community, some of which are not part of our group but gave us and the group a lot of respect and joined their friends.

They received us with greetings and warmth, prepared for us a buffet full with special foods and did not forget the apple and the honey in honor of the new year that recently began.

After eating, Sima explained to the group about the Holiday, its food and customs, and about the Sukkah, its importance in this Holiday and what is symbolizes.

Many of the women did not know these things before!

Later we all went for a tour around the community. We saw different kinds of Sukkot and very beautiful decorations. It was a very nice atmosphere of celebration.

Links:

Dec 19, 2011

Holidays, Jerusalem-Hebron YIE on Nov. 10th

The encounter began at 5:30pm on Thursday. We both, Jews from Jerusalem and the Muslims from Hebron, met at Al-Quds Hotel in Jerusalem.

We set together and dedicated some time to get to know everyone. First we introduced Moatasem the Muslim coordinator to the group and then he introduced to them Itamar, who is the new Jewish coordinator instead of Netta. Then each of the participants told the group a bit about him or her self.

Itamar told us about the Jewish Holiday of Sukkot, why it is celebrated, what the common customs are and what people's duties are in the Holiday of Sukkot – what do they have to do and where they should sit. After he finished Netta added a few points and then the group asked questions and for specific explanations.

Then Moatasem presented the Muslim Holiday of the Sacrifice (Eid el-Adha) – why we celebrate it, why is it called this way and what are the ceremonies performed during and around the Holiday, why do we slaughter sheep in the Holiday, how long does it last and what are its prayers. Then the members asked their questions and got answers.

We exchanged information, corrected mistakes we had about each other and learned each other's thoughts. Then we went together for a short tour and ended the encounter at 10pm.

Links:

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