American Friends of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam

The American Friends of Neve Shalom/Wahat Al-Salam encourages, supports and publicizes the projects of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, the "Oasis of Peace." For more than thirty years, Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam has been dedicated to dialogue, cooperation and a genuine and durable peace between Arabs and Jews, Palestinians and Israelis. Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel have chosen to live and work together as equals in this community to promote trust, understanding and mutual respect.
Apr 20, 2016

Common Threads, Different Colors:

At the Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam Primary School, there is something that happens that is unique in Israel. Look at the recent three months  - home to the holidays (and holydays) of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. What abundance these children have to share!

          Can you imagine the learning that comes out of weeks of preparations for three such holidays? Children write their updated versions of the stories or they recreate the historic narrative. They write, they perform, they prepare foods and works of art and they share it all with the whole school, families and friends.

Beginning at the end of December with Milad a-Nabi, Hannukah and Christmas, the school’s traditions continue through Purim, Easter and Passover.  Isra’ and Miraj will have their turn in May.  When the students create a modern interpretation of a traditional story, research and explanation are part of the shared process. In the Purim recreation, Facebook and Twitter were used for some sections. For all holidays there is music, art, story and food with all children are engaged in each part whether preparing a modest meal for Passover, involving grilling potatoes on a fire and baking matzot on a griddle or putting on a red hat and beard and carrying a sack of handmade gifts for sharing. Always, for every holiday, there is the singing of traditional music.

         

What is so great about students celebrating holidays together? How about having everything in both languages, flowing easily, by all the children and the teachers?

How about having all of the children learning about each other’s traditions with depth and empathy, sharing their own family traditions and narratives, and coming to understand very different ones?

         

How about finding the values and themes that are common among these traditions and finding those universal values where we all can join in?

…and finally, how about strengthening the children’s individual identities while strengthening their  shared identity for their shared future? That’s a pretty terrific outcome for just celebrating holidays together.

Mar 23, 2016

Building Circles of Trust in the next generation

Building Circles of Trust in the next generation.

In early March, a group of 30 Jewish, Muslim and Christian teenagers were led by the Pluralistic Spiritual Center (PSCC) at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, in cooperation with “Open House” in Ramle, in the program Masa/Massar,  focused on developing Israeli Palestinian and Jewish young adult leadership.

The journey of discovery this Spring included opportunities for connecting through the arts, faith traditions and cultural history. Whether at the house of the artist Nihad Dabeet, the Open House in Ramle, or a walk across and through in Jerusalem, there was dialogue about the impact of current issues on themselves, their country and the sites. Whether hiking to a Christian convent and the Sanctuary of the Tomb of Saint Elizabeth, the Mosque in Abu Gosh or the Synagogue in Nataf, at each stop, participants had significant conversations with representatives of that site.

 

Sabbath was celebrated with a dinner on a farm close to Jerusalem. The blessing of the food was made according to the different traditions of the religions, in Hebrew and Arabic.

            “The message is that we can dare to create structures that can bring people together in equality.”

 

The group spent two nights in group reflections at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam’s Pluralistic Community Center. As they moved between different sites, communities and people, again and again they returned to the core question of what was learned from the encounter that could be brought into their lives

“The focus throughout the journey was on finding places where we can meet, respect each other, discover ways that we can enrich each other and create a reality in which there is hope for everyone”

 

We look forward to training the many participants who hope to become peer-leaders for future journeys.  They will become builders of more trust, tolerance and mutual respect in our future generation.

Feb 2, 2016

Courage and Commitment

Sixty-one Jewish and Palestinian Israelis, all teenagers, took part in a four-day residential youth encounter at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam. Under the guidance of extensively-trained School for Peace facilitators, these sixty-one young adults experienced the power of dialogue at the School for Peace. These students, from Givat Brener and Nazareth High Schools, developed skills and worked on projects. They argued, they broke bread together and they listened to, and learned from, one another. Their seriousness and commitment was inspiring to their families and their peers as well, as others look forward to having this opportunity. During challenging times, the world needs those with courage to try something new and commitment to put the new skills to work.

“Here in Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, we have one aim: peaceful reconciliation between our two peoples. In order to work fruitfully towards this aim, we need to have mutual understanding and consideration of each other.”
From the (1996) last will of Father Bruno Hussar, founder (in 1976) of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam

 
   

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