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
Nov 30, 2009

Celebrate together Family Day

The students of A-Sallam and Kalanit, Arabs and Jews, celebrated Family Day by visiting the Home for Senior Citizens in Karmiel. In the beginning – the home's supervisor explained about the place, the people who live in it and their health situation. She asked the student to accept the old people and treat them nicely. The students attended various activities. They prepared frames from different materials and placed in them a photo of the group that took place in the event. They also prepared a device for stickers out of plastic bottles and decorated it. At the end of the day we summarized all the day's activities and all students, Arabs as Jews, expressed how happy and satisfied they are and how wonderful it was to cooperate in such a program. They said they will be happy to return and volunteer with the old people. We have to note that this was one of the activities of the on-going Jewish-Muslim interfaith encounter program, in which both schools continue despite the difficult political situation the country went through in the beginning of 2009. The most important goal of these activities is to manifest that a person can be dealt with as a person, regardless their religion, ethnicity or color. The students noticed an old lady that speaks and writes Arabic well so they asked her and she wrote a letter to the Majd el-Krum students. Finally, the students of the two schools fare welled happy and expressed their hope to meet again in the future.

Nov 30, 2009

"JOSEPH" - 27th Israeli-Palestinian Retreat

Group in conversation 1
Group in conversation 1

One participant wrote after the retreat: "Thank you so much for organizing the interfaith encounter at the Everest Hotel, November5th-7th. It was a stimulating and exciting experience for me, and all the participants clearly felt likewise. It was a unique opportunity to bond with Palestinians across the national and religious "divide", and to learn about one another's respective traditions and culture. Above all, it was a very significant reminder of the plain fact that we are all individuals, with similar hopes, dreams and concerns."

What actually happen at there retreat?

In the afternoon of November 5th we opened the 27th Israeli-Palestinian retreat of interfaith encounter. It was again a joint retreat of the Interfaith Encounter Association and the Hope Flowers School, sponsored by Canada's Networking for Peace program – to whom we are deeply grateful.

We began by briefly introducing the two organizations and their activities, followed by introduction of the agenda for the retreat and its guiding principles. Then participants went into small conversation groups for a session of self-introduction. They first shared their life story and then they each shared with each other elements of the story of Joseph that inspire or move them.

After dinner we enjoyed a social evening with Palestinian flavor of the Oud and singing, followed by relaxed conversations into the night.

The morning of the second day began with the Jewish perspective. Unfortunately, Nachum – who was planned to deliver the Jewish presentation – could not come in the last minute so Yehuda replaced him. He presented the Biblical story from Genesis about Joseph being the son of Jacob's beloved wife, being favored etc.

As usual, after each of the presentations the conversation continued in the small groups.

After the Muslims returned from the Jumaa prayer, Yasser presented the Koranic story, which is nearly identical to the Biblical one. There are, though, a few interesting differences between the stories. According to the Koran Jacob suspected that the brothers plan to harm Joseph and did not agree he will go with them to the field until they swore to him that they will bring him back safely. Later – Joseph refused to go out of prison until it was proven that he was innocent. Joseph revealed himself to Benjamin already when they were together for the first time, but asked hin to keep it secret. The brothers did return without Benjamin but after Jacob became blind out of sorrow – they went back to ask Joseph to release Benjamin. Then Joseph revealed to them, they apologized and he gave them his shirt to put on Jacob's face in order to cure him.

Before sunset we all gathered for a prayers session. The Jewish participants gave a short explanation about the special prayer for the receiving of Shabbat and performed it with a lot of singing, Karlebach style. Then the Muslim participants explained the Muslim prayers and their preparations and performed the evening prayer. The conversations around prayers continued for some time. Then Chana shared a story, coming from the Jews of Afghanistan, about the search for justice, followed by personal reflections of participants.

Dinner was followed by relaxed informal conversations through the evening, which continued on Saturday with some of the Palestinians who returned to visit the Jews who stayed in the Everest Hotel until the end of Shabbat.

Group in conversation 2
Group in conversation 2
Sep 25, 2009

Our Father Abraham

Conversation in a smalll group
Conversation in a smalll group

Our Father Abraham – Father of Monotheism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

A joint retreat of Palestinian Peace Society and Interfaith Encounter Association

The 25th Israeli-Palestinian retreat of interfaith encounter started on Thursday, July 16, 2009, in the charming and tranquil guesthouse of the Austrian Hospice, at the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem. We were a highly mixed group of Israeli Jews of different levels of practice, Palestinian Muslims and International Christians of different denominations – Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox. We began by introducing the two organizations – by their directors: Dr. Taleb Al-Harithy of the Palestinian Peace Society and Dr. Yehuda Stolov of the Interfaith Encounter Association. We also introduced the program and the guiding principles for the retreat. Then we briefly introduced ourselves in the plenary and split into small groups for more in depth personal introductions. Beyond the sharing biographical details we also shared with each other ways in which Abraham is meaningful and inspiring to us, as a way to deepen the way we get to know each other and at the same time start the conversations about the theme of the retreat.

The first session focused on the Jewish perspective. The short presentation was delivered by Dr. Yehuda Stolov, who used the nice summary of Rabbi Yehezkel Abramsky. Abraham was born in the year 1948… to the Hebrew calendar (on which now the year is 5760). He was born and raised in Mesopotamia, in a society that heavily worshiped idols. Abraham thought from an early age that this could not be the real worship and made a lot of intellectual and spiritual effort to discover the real God, until finally God revealed himself to him. His love to God derived love to all his creatures and his main way to bring people closer to God was through his amazing hospitality, open to all. After the person ate, drank and rested and wanted to thank him – he would direct them to the real source of the good things they got, God. For Abraham – belief in God was the ultimate key for peace, as no nation would attack another if they really understood that God is the real source of what they will have. Abraham became a famous leader in his generation and it is interesting to note that according to Philo of Alexandria, Abraham invented writing. After he discovered God he started to combat idols and promote the worship of God. His father Terah had an idol shop and when he left it under Abraham's care – he smashed all of them but the biggest, and put the stick in his hand. When his father returned he said the big idol smashed the others. This was told to Nimrod the king and he through him to a burning oven – but God saved him. God ordered him to go to the land that at that time started being invaded buy the Canaanite tribes. Hi relations also with them were very good and when needed he protected them – both his sward, for example when the four Mesopotamian kings captured his nephew Lot; and by his prayer, when God decided to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. His 100th year was eventful: at 99 he was ordered to circumcise himself and Ishmael, argued with God trying to save Sodom and Gomorrah and had his second son Yitzhak, who was the main continuation, according to the Jewish tradition, of Abraham.

Following the short presentation, participants went to their small groups for a more personal and in-depth conversations around the theme and derived issues, as they did in the following sessions. These group conversations are the heart of the retreat's experience and process.

In the morning Dr. Karam Nasreddeen presented the Muslim perspective. Most of the stories were exactly the same as the Jewish stories. He added the description of Abraham's way to Monotheism. He saw a star and said this is the God to worship but then the star disappeared so he knew it was not. This repeated with the son, the moon etc. until he realized the God who created all of them. Abraham was born in Iraq and then lived in Arabia with his wife Hagar and their son Ishmael. He left both of them in the desert without explanation and in the fourth day Angel Gabriel knocked with his foot on the ground – and Ein Zamzam started to give water, and still does so today. The tribes around came to Hagar for the water and she allowed them to use the spring in return to their protection. Abraham and Ishmael built the Qaaba in Mecca. Abraham wandered to southern Syria (=the Holy Land) and lived between Beer Sheba and Hebron. Lut's people lived not far in 7 towns and the three angels came as men dressed in white to inform Abraham about God's decision to destroy the area. Abraham is most important in Islam. One of the biggest Suras of the Quran is dedicated to him and he is called the father of all prophets.

Ms. AnnMarie Micikas presented the Christian perspective. Abraham is mentioned 234 times in the Old Testament and 72 times in the New Testament. Abraham is in the middle of the faith chain. In Protestantism especially salvation is by faith rather than by action and Abraham is significant as he is the first person who was saved by faith. By having faith everyone can become the son of Abraham. He is also special for forming the covenant with God that does not depend on human deeds. For Christians the most important story is the sacrifice of Isaac as this is parallel to the sacrifice of Jesus. And the understanding of the great difficulty for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac makes us understand how difficult it was for God to sacrifice Jesus. Abraham did not finally sacrifice Isaac, but he did sacrifice his final decision of what's the right deed. Even though Abraham was not perfect and did make mistakes – still he is called the friend of God and the whole world is blessed through him.

In the moving concluding session many of the participants pointed out their surprise from how harmonious the conversation went. Many expected confrontation but the interfaith encounter approaches directed the conversation to be of dialogical nature.

In a presentation
In a presentation
Group photo
Group photo
An anonymous donor will match all new monthly recurring donations, but only if 75% of donors upgrade to a recurring donation today.
Terms and conditions apply.
Make a monthly recurring donation on your credit card. You can cancel at any time.
Make a donation in honor or memory of:
What kind of card would you like to send?
How much would you like to donate?
gift Make this donation a gift, in honor of, or in memory of someone?