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 14, 2011

Visit of Muslim Members to Yedidya Synagogue

For the last several years, the Circle of Light and Hope, one of the IEA’s 37 ongoing dialog groups, has been discussing a very wide range of religious topics at our monthly meetings and retreats. Meetings take place in either the Gush Etzion or Har Gilo/ Beit Jalla area, with retreats being either at the Everest Hotel near Har Gilo or at the Austrian Hospice in the Old City of Jerusalem. Recently, subsequent to the attack on a Mosque in the town of Beit Fajar, it was decided to discuss the idea of “Sacred Space” in each religion. At the end of this meeting, several of the Muslim members of the group asked if it might be possible for them to visit a synagogue at some point. Several of the group’s Jewish members, including myself, are members of Kehilat Yedidya in Baka, a Modern Orthodox synagogue which is both geographically convenient (walking distance from the Bethlehem checkpoint) and which regularly welcomes groups of non-Jewish visitors. So with warm encouragement from the synagogue's leadership we decided to arrange a visit.

The group of 6 Muslim members of the Circle of Light and Hope arrived, on Friday Nov. 26th, at about 3:30 PM, about an hour before the Sabbath began, in order to meet with the Jewish members who were present and spend a little bit of time learning about the structure and content of the Kabbalat Shabbat (Receiving the Sabbath) prayers. They were also given copies of the entire Kabbalat Shabbat prayer and much of the Maariv (evening) prayer in both English and Arabic. While we were studying the text of the prayers and customs/actions related to the prayers together, Drs. Yehuda Stolov and Taleb al-Hariti, the Muslim co-chair of the group, were interviewed by reporters from an Italian TV station. We then joined the synagogue members for a lovely, melodical and very peaceful Kabbalat Shabbat service.  

The impact this visit had on all of us truly cannot be overstated; indeed it may have been the first time that Palestinian Muslims were welcomed into an Orthodox synagogue. We sincerely hope to be able to arrange more such visits to each other’s houses of worship in the very near future, in order to continue to break down walls of misunderstanding and build trust, friendship and respect.

Links:

Dec 23, 2010

Joint celebration: International Day of the Child

Some 300 students took part in this joint day of the two schools.

First they went through workshops in the classes about the rights of the child and his/her duties.

 

Then they took part in a special procession in the streets of Majd el-Krum, accompanies by Hebrew and Arabic music as well as by a clown who organized activities for them. 

Finally they came back to the A-Sallam School, had a light meal and continues with different activities: painting on their faces, folk dances and singing in the two languages.

Links:

Dec 23, 2010

Historical encounter in Hebron

Together in the streets of Hebron
Together in the streets of Hebron

Dear friends,

 Below you will find the story of a historical visit of a join Israeli-Palestinian interfaith encounter group to the Palestinian side of the City of Hebron, with permission from the army authorities. 

With us was a reporter of ISRAEL21C and here is his story:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXCBLn7YLJ0

On a personal note: I joined this so special visit and encounter and for me there were several extremely unique elements to it:

First thing that was striking, was the calm and relaxed atmosphere of the tour. Most tours include a lot of anger – either towards the Jewish side or towards the Palestinian side. This tour was different and it was for me an indication to the high level of friendship and trust that developed within the group.

Another striking element was the emptiness of the old market. I was last in it when I was briefly a settler I Hebron some 30 years ago and I remembered it as full of life – with Jews, Palestinians and tourists filling it to the degree one could hardly move in it. It was very sad to see it so quiet and empty.

Then, in the Cave of the Patriarchs I met the spokesman of the Hebron Settlers and was happy to see how happy he was to hear about our group and its special visit and how he longed with me to the return of the good old days.

I went back from this day with a lot of hope!

Yours, Yehud

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On November 4th we had our encounter in the city of Hebron. We were around ten of the group members from Hebron, five from Qalqilia, three from East Jerusalem and seven Israelis.

We began with a visit which included a tour of the old city, the old market and the Cave of the Patriarchs. The tour was led by the Palestinian members of the group from Hebron. They explained why the market is nearly empty and showed us the division between the Palestinian side of the city and the Jewish side of the city. The explained the complexity of living in the city and its consequences. When we arrived at the Cave of the Patriarchs we split and entered from different entries: the Muslims from the Muslim side and the Jews from the Jewish side.

We then all went to sit in a café in the city center, where we talked about the sanctity of the the City of Hebron in Islam and in Judaism. Finally we reached the conclusion that the city is holy to both religions for the same reason: the fact that the Patriarchs are buried in it. We ended with Falafel, Nargila and lemonade and everyone said they enjoyed a lot this visit!

It is important to note that despite the political differences between the two peoples, the tour went in a very calm and peaceful way, in which we were privileged to get to know the city and hear about it through the people who live in it. May many such encounters happen!

Entering the Cave of the Patriarchs
Entering the Cave of the Patriarchs
Conversation during supper
Conversation during supper

Links:

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