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
Jun 9, 2010

"Happiness and Joy" - 29th retreat

On the weekend of February 19-20 2010, the Gush Etzion Interfaith Encounter group held a retreat in Nes Amim, with 15 Palestinians and 17 Jews who came with their children to talk together about "Happiness and Joy" in the religions. Before reaching Nes Amim we stopped at the beach north of Acre and then we began to get to know each other better and learn more about the Interfaith Encounter Association that organized this encounter. Then we went to Nes Amim and talked about happiness in the Jewish religion. Rabbi Elhanan said that the Jewish religion encourages us to bring happiness into the souls of people, especially in the Holidays. On the second day, Ribhi – one of the group's coordinators – talked about happiness in Islam and said that the Muslim religion also encourages making people happy, especially in the Muslim Holidays and special occasions like birth and marriage. Also in everyday life and especially to make the children happy. The group divided into two groups that discussed the theme of happiness according to every one's view and interpretation. Participants also talked about bringing to religions together on the theme of happiness. The Muslims watched the Shabbat prayer from its beginning to its end. The Jews saw the Muslim prayer and learned how many "Raqas" are there in each prayer, how each Raqa is performed in the five daily prayers, the time of each prayer and what is usually read from the Koran. The retreat also included different types of encounters, according to its program, with interactions that bring the people of the two sides closer together. The hospitality and food were very pleasant and both sides were happy with the retreat and thanked Nes Amim for the hospitality. We all hope to be able to have more such retreats and deepen the interfaith encounter of the two sides.

Links:

Jun 9, 2010

Nabi Yussuf/Joseph - 28th retreat

A group conversation
A group conversation

The 28th Israeli-Palestinian retreat of interfaith encounter was dedicated to IEA's 30th on-going group – the Circle of Light and Hope, an Israeli-Palestinian group that resulted from the 25th retreat, which was also kindly hosted by the Austrian Hospice. I hope you will all enjoy the update below, written by Rabbi Bob Carroll, who together with Dr. Taleb Alharithy of the Palestinian Peace Society coordinates this group.

The retreat was held at the Austrian Hospice in the Old City of Jerusalem. While unfortunately some of us had to leave early because of a family member being hospitalized (we hope and pray for her full recovery!!), we nevertheless had some fruitful and engaging discussions on the theme, which was Nabi Yussuf/Joseph.

The Jewish presentation, which was given by Bob with many very good questions/comments from Taleb, consisted of a very short summary of the story of Joseph as it is presented in the Torah, together with some thoughts and questions. Bob mentioned that in the Jewish tradition, Joseph is primarily referred to not as “Joseph the Prophet” as he is in Islam, but rather as “Yoseph haTzaddik” – “Joseph the Righteous.” This is somewhat difficult to understand, as at many points in his life’s story, Joseph seems to be somewhat egotistical, perhaps even cruel. In rabbinic teachings, his description as a “Tzaddik” is often linked to his not succumbing to sexual temptation… but even in this regard the record is equivocal. While some did in fact feel that the title of “righteous” is greatly exaggerated in Joseph’s case, others felt that if one looks at the story closely, one sees that there is much going on “under the surface”. Specifically, God, in the Torah’s version, is not mentioned very often throughout most of the story, outside of Joseph’s assertion that his interpretations of dreams came from God. But at the end of the tale, when Joseph finally reveals himself to his brothers, he realizes that everything that had happened, even including the things he himself had done as a young boy to arouse their jealousy and enmity, had come from God. It is this realization, that God had been acting behind the scenes all along, which causes Joseph to forgive his brothers for selling him into slavery. Perhaps it was this ability to see God’s hand in history, and to perceive that all that had happened was for good and was planned by God so that the Israelites might live, which indeed makes Joseph into a true Prophet and Tzaddik.

On Friday morning we had to cut our discussions short, but nevertheless had a wonderful informal conversation about interfaith work and the role of IEA, which included one participant sharing some liturgical texts that her synagogue (in the Jewish Reform tradition) had written, and which emphasize the Jewish commitment to the welfare of all people and peace between all people. We also briefly discussed some aspects of Sufi and Christian and Jewish mystical/Chassidic teachings and how they are often so strikingly similar, even in different religions. It was suggested that it might be a wonderful idea for IEA to host an event or retreat focusing on mystical poetry in the three religions, from people like (but not limited to) Rabbi Kuk, Rumi, San Juan de La Cruz, etc.

Two in exchange
Two in exchange
Eating dinner together
Eating dinner together

Links:

Jun 1, 2010

Activity meets challenges - and overcome them

Due to various reasons, the long years cooperation of the A-Sallam School of Majd el-Krum and Kalanit School of Karmiel stopped in the beginning of the school year.

After intensive efforts we managed to renew this school-based interfaith encounter cooperation with another Jewish school – Gilon – that joined A-Sallam School. Below you can find the description of the first encounters of forming this joint partnership. The joint work is already on its way and further reports will follow soon.

February 4th 2010

1) The two school principles, Najeeba and Yael, meet to open the doors of cooperation for interfaith coexistence between the two schools – teams and students. The meeting took place in A-Sallam School.

February 11th 2010

2) Meeting in Gilon School with the two principles and the coordinators of social education and the coordinators of geographical knowledge of the two schools. We coordinated the cooperation and build the program for the students. While doing so we build another level of the cooperation between the two schools.

February 18th 2010

3) Meeting of management teams and deputies of the two schools in order to propose activities for the consolidation of the teachers' team and building a detailed program. The meeting took place in A-Sallam School in Majd el-Krum.

February 25th 2010

4) Meeting of the educators of the age levels participating – 4th to 6th grades. We studied the proposed program in depth and suggested feedback for improvement, which was implemented into the program.

Links:

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