Encounter on November 5th: Religious and Secular
We met at 6pm at the Austrian Hospice in the Old City of Jerusalem.
We set in a circle of 14 people and started by introducing ourselves to each other. We spoke about the mutual attitudes between religious and secular people in both contexts. At 6:30pm Moatasem started by presenting the issue from the perspective of Islam and then Moshe presented it from the Jewish side. Following the presentations we had a lively conversation about the theme, including many questions about each other's society and answers to them.
Finally we received coffee and cake. We concluded and fare-welled at 8pm.
Encounter on January 21st: Leadership in Religion
The encounter took place at the Austrian Hospice in the Old City of Jerusalem. It started at 5pm – with the Muslim group, the Jewish group and several IEA guests.
The theme of the encounter was leadership in religion. First we held a round of acquaintance and then Moshe started by presenting the theme from a Jewish perspective, until 6pm. The discussion began, questions were asked and then we broke for coffee. Returning from the coffee break Moatasem presented the theme from an Islamic perspective from 6:30pm to 7pm. Again a conversation started and questions were asked and answered. At 8pm we finished the encounter.
This amazingly unique group of Yeshiva students from Siach Yeshiva and Palestinian students from Hebron met again on September 24th.
It was planned to take place in the Austrian Hospice in East Jerusalem but as some of the Palestinian friends did not receive permits we moved it to English Cake Café on Gush Etzion junction. We met at 6pm and were 5 Palestinian friends and 4 Jewish friends.
The theme of the encounter was prayer in both religions. First we introduced ourselves and the Moatasem presented the theme of prayer in Islam. Then people asked some questions and made some comments and then we broke for coffee and cake.
After that Moshe presented the theme from the Jewish perspective. We asked him some questions and after a while we concluded and went home.
On Wednesday, August 29th 2012, we had a great encounter at Ein Walaje, known also as Ein Hinia.
We met at 5pm, seven Palestinians and six Israelis. Everyone was asked to bring with them refreshments and we had a wonderful dinner, which included pizza, majadara, salads, cookies, fruit and more.
We talked about Ramadan and Eid el-Fitr and about the social significance of these Holidays. We also talked about the coming Jewish Holidays – Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkoth. The conversation was free and flew also to other directions.
Salma, a member of the group who is a tour guide, guided us through a short tour in the area where we saw the spring itself as well as abandoned houses from before 48/67 that used to belong to the Walaje village. The conversation went a bit to politics and history and it was very interesting. The next encounter will probably take place in Jerusalem.
On July 29th, we gathered to have together an Iftar dinner that ended one of the days of Ramadan, for the Muslims, and Tish'a be-Av fast of the Jews.
We met at the Barbara restaurant in Bet-Jala, 49 people from 6 different youth groups of IEA!
The dinner was a great opportunity for us to get to know other groups in IEA, to meet new people and to celebrate together, after a hard day of mourning and fasting. In every table there was a talk about Ramadan and the aims of fast in Islam, and about Tish'a be-Av fast and the reasons for it. The beginnings of discussions were led by Ofek Birnholz, a devoted member of IEA youth groups.
It was a great evening for us all, and a great opportunity to exchange knowledge and experiences, to meet new people and to enjoy with our old friends.
This is not the first time that we are having a joint Iftar meal, and we are hoping to continue this tradition in the next years.
The Interfaith Encounter Visits group met on Friday April 27th. We were some nine Israelis and six Palestinians who met in Almog junction with the intention to go and visit Jericho.
When we arrived at the checkpoint of the Palestinian police in the entrance to the city, we realized that the Israeli army did not coordinate with them our entry. For about an hour we tried to convince them to let us into the city but nothing helped and they did not let us in. We will need to reschedule the visit to Jericho and this time check how to do the coordination with the Palestinian Authority ourselves.
So we went to "The Last Chance" restaurant and set there and talked on many, many issues. We started with the significance of Jericho in Islam and in Judaism – the people of Lot, Sodom and Gomorra etc. and the conversation streamed to a thousand other themes.
It was a wonderful encounter, even though we were disappointed that we could not enter the city. We do hope we will have better success next time.
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