The Pluralistic Community Spiritual Center began the year with a community “Iftar” Ramadan Break-fast holding two evening ‘pot-luck’ dinners. One was with music and a singer, and the second, Imad Jabareen who performed a one man show with the poems of Mahmoud Darwish. The event was attending by members of the village and others who came from throughout Israel.
In October the PCSC hosted the first of three meetings between new and old residents of NSWAS with an open discussion of the shared past, present and future together at NSWAS. As the village begins building 34 new units coming together, learning from the past and looking towards the future becomes an important step in building community. .
Massa –Masar (The Journey) youth leadership program of the PCSC will take on a new focus this year developing leadership among Jewish and Arab young adults, 18 years and over. It will include up to 20 young adults from Neve Shalom-Wahat al Salam and others from outside the NSWAS community. The youth will meetings will participate in seminars on subjects such as: techniques of group facilitation; how to tell a story and how to listen to someone else’s story; history of the Israeli-Arab conflict; interpersonal communication skills; etc., and with the help of PCSC staff will work on projects with children and youth, promoting peace and human rights. (complete article at http://wasns.org/spip.php?article1105)
Women’s Dialogue through Religious Text will begin its second year at the PCSC with Jewish and Palestinian women from Ramla, Lod, Gezer, area meeting to explore different spiritual roots of the three religions and engaging in discussion and dialogue. The project, which includes study of texts from the Koran, New Testament and Old Testament, was very successful last year and received a lot of positive feedback from the participants.
The Pluralistic Spiritual Community Center is planning additional interfaith and intercultural dialogue projects that will run throughout the year and hosts weekly programs including dancing organized by Ety Adlend, Yoga to calm and balance the body and mind with Dorit Shippin,
Seminar for Peace
The Pluralistic Spiritual Center at NeveShalom/Wahat al-Salam has extended the work of Massa/ Massar program to gobeyond the connections of religion, geography and history for two peoples. On April11-14, the Pluralistic Spiritual Center hosted their creative collaborationthat included Sulha and EcoME (an environmental Center near Jericho): a four-day seminar for 32 young leaders from all the religious groups in the region. Ages 18-22, these young adults came together out of their deep concern about the complex reality of living in this region, in which so many people fear the other.
First day – getting to know each other in the desert..
One month later, these young people are working in groups that have initiatedprojects. One project is developing anIsraeli-Palestinian program for school children.
This Massa–Masar program focuses on developing leadership among Jewish and Arab young adults aged 18 and older. It will include up to 20 young adults from Neve Shalom-Wahat al Salam and more from outside the NSWAS community.
The goal of the program is help these young people become conscientious and creative leaders who will be able to develop and implement new programs that will promote equality, freedom and human rights for all citizens of Israel.Massa–Masar The Journey New Direction 2013-4 will give participants the tools and confidence to work with others and will focus on building transformational leadership, helping a new generation build a different future.
Once they have a knowledge base on the Arab-Jewish conflict, participants will then be empowered to gain practical experience — first by facilitating a group that encourages personal growth and development.
Massa-Masar will be a six-month program structured around six intensive seminars featuring experts from different disciplines. Each month, there will be a day-long seminar on the following subjects: techniques of group facilitation; how to tell a story and how to listen to someone else’s story; the history of the Israeli-Arab conflict; interpersonal communication skills; the study of different ethnic groups; skills for changing personal perspectives for leaders of the future.
Between these day-long seminars, the participants will meet with a group leader who will invite them to share their thoughts, questions, stories of personal growth, and reflections on the group process they are experiencing. They will develop ideas for projects promoting peace and human rights, and when they return to their homes, they will be able to create and implement these projects with the children and young adults of their communities.
We look forward to witnessing the emergence of new initiatives by and involving young people throughout the county. The communication skills and creative techniques fostered by Massa–Masar will, we believe, form the foundation of such initiatives.
This school year, partly thanks to a donation from the Global Network of Religions for Children, the Massa Massar (Journey) program continues. The three day leadership workshop was a collaboration between The Pluralistic Spiritual Centre of WAS-NS, The Sulha Peace Project and the Open House in Ramle. Its intention was to provide a platform for open dialogue, leadership training skills and the development of genuine heartfelt connection between 20 Israeli Arab and 20 Israeli Jewish youth, ages 14-17. The youth came from cities as diverse as Haifa, Ramla, Lod, Modi'in, Jerusalem and WAS-NS itself. The workshop was run in both Hebrew and Arabic.
The first 2 days of the workshop took place in WAS-NS and on the final day there was a tour of key cultural and religious sites in Jerusalem.
The uniqueness of this leadership workshop was felt from the beginning by the introduction of the devoted group of people who worked tirelessly to ensure that the experience would reach the participants in a way that would have a deep and lasting effect. The facilitators were made up of people involved in peace work such as Elad Vazana who has spent the last ten years working on meetings between both sides. It was also facilitated by participants from previous leadership workshops who continued their work when their workshop finished and returned to facilitate the growth of others. One of these participants, Bissan Salman, age 20 from Ramla described how important it is for her to continuously learn more about those different from her in order to understand 'the other'. 'It is a huge puzzle, you need to know all the pieces to fit it together.'
This combination of the older and younger generations ensured the authenticity of the experience for the participating youth. In intimate group sessions which split the participants into four, it was clear that the facilitators were there not to give the answers, but to ask their questions and to open a space where the youth felt comfortable to bring their own questions and experiences. Together, they explored what it means to be part of a side, to experience discrimination, to overcome their own personal prejudices. The smaller groups provided a safe space for the youth to share their experiences with their peers. Angie Wahab, age 16 from Ramla shared how she was here to show that not all Arabs are on the bad side whilst Ofir Haimovich, a young Jewish girl from Zikhron Ya’aqov explained how she wanted to open her heart in all directions.
The young people brought with them a wide range of experiences in terms of their connection with ‘the other side’, Jewish or Arab. Zoe Kahana, age 14 from Pardes Chana was educated in an Arab and Jewish school and felt blessed to grow up with parents who believed it was right to give her the opportunity to meet others and overcome any stereotypes. She came to the weekend to make friends and to interact with her Arab counterparts in a natural way. 'I want my friendships to be natural,' she said, 'We shouldn't have to think if someone is Arab or Jewish, just if we get along and want to know each other'.
Andrawes Alkalah, a 15 year old Christian Arab from Ramla has been going to WAS-NS every Summer for the last 9 years. He also attends the Open House in Ramla once a week and feels that the leadership workshop is very important in order to celebrate being human together. He said, 'It isn't an option for life to continue the way it is now for Jews and Arabs here. We have to come together to strengthen our connections and understand that everyone is a person, everyone is worthy.'
A few months after the passing of Abdessalam Najjar who headed the Pluralistic Spiritual Center of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, we are happy to announce that Dafna Karta-Schwartz will now be leading the Center. Dafna is a teacher, therapist and facilitator for groups in conflict. She has a long experience in spiritual development and drama therapy. She has lived in the Jewish-Palestinian community of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam from the 1980s. Dafna will be assisted by a small team of volunteers who will help her with the budget and with organizational issues at the Spiritual Pluralistic Center.
Unfortunately, the past months have left the Center in a dire financial situation and we will have to actively fundraise to make sure projects, especially the Massa-Massar program for young Jews, Muslims and Christians in Israel, can be relaunched. Our goal is to implement a new journey for about 20 young Palestinians and Jews from all over Israel next year.
We appreciate your support and want you to know that it continues to be critical to the success of the program.
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