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.
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