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Oct 30, 2007

A day of joint learning on Coexistence

On Tuesday, June 19th 2007, we held the a day that marked the highlight of the joint activities of Jewish and Muslim students around the theme of "Coexistence". The activity took place in Kalanit School in Karmiel.

We had the pleasure of hosting representatives of the Embassy of the United States of America, who were nicely greeted by the 3rd graders and enjoyed the singing of the joint coir. The students presented to them the fruits of our efforts during the year – processes and products of joint work.

The school principle and several teachers went with them to visit a joint art workshop where they watched the joint activity and had a conversation with the students about the joint encounters and their meaning.

They got explanations about the project that includes three circles: encounters of the children, encounters with the parents and activities for the educators. The goal is to create openness and awareness among the children to the issue of living together and education for tolerance, peace and coexistence – through experiential encounters and internalization of basic concepts in the two cultures, while emphasizing joint and similar values in the religions and the cultures. A parallel goal is to integrate the parents of the students into a circle of acquaintance and experience in joint encounters. During all the years of the project we highlight joint learning and enriching of educators and all those who work on the theme, through educational and inter-religious programs.

In the second part of the day we all gathered for artistic program and performance of the joint coir of the two schools.

The distinguished guests summarized by expressing how much they appreciate the activity and the educational investment manifested in the school children and how much they enjoyed to see students who are partners for joint doing and are full of aspiration to study together.

Group's coordinators: Najeeba and Osnat

Oct 9, 2007

The Woman in Judaism, Christianity & Islam

The Woman in Judaism, Christianity & Islam

A joint retreat of Hope Flower School and Interfaith Encounter Association

August 23-24, 2007 Austrian Hospice Guest House, Old City Jerusalem

The retreat opened with welcome greetings by Mr. Ibrahim Issa, Director of the Hope Flowers School, and Dr. Yehuda Stolov, Executive Director of the Interfaith Encounter Association. They welcomed participants, shared some background about their respective organizations and portrayed the ground rules for the retreat.

Then participants briefly presented themselves in the plenary and then moved to a more detailed self-presentation in small groups, presentation that included sharing with the other members of the group a story about a woman that was significant in their lives.

After a lovely dinner we started the first session, which focused on the Jewish perspective. Rabbi Bob Carroll started his presentation by stating that the Halacha (Jewish law) encourages, but do not oblige, women to be children's bearers and caretakers and therefore exempts them from certain commandments. For the believer – this is part of the divine plan and therefore a blessing and not a curse. It is possible to absorb ideas of equality but only if filtered in a way that they correspond with the Torah. This is unlike the modern approach, which allows religion only when in correspondence with its values (including equality). The actual duty to bear children is laid upon the man and in principle a woman can design a life course that does not include children. However, women are encouraged to marry and have children. Usually there is no prohibition on women if they wish to fulfill commandments of which they are exempt. In the Talmud Rabbi Eliezer said that one who teaches his daughter Torah it is as if he teaches her insipid content. But in the 20th century it was acknowledged that a situation where a woman can hold Ph.D. in Mathematics and at the same time have primary school level education in Judaism – is dangerous as it can lead to the perception that religion is for children only. Now there is prosperity of Yeshiva institutions for women.

The following discussion dealt with the possibility of different occupations for women, restrictions put on women beyond the religious requirements, women's singing, head covering.

In the following morning Dr. Taleb Al-Harithi presented the Muslim perspective. Prior to Islam the attitude towards women in Arabia – and perhaps the whole world: it was some 1500 years ago – was very negative. For example: there was a custom to burry alive baby girls. Islam strictly prohibited it and this custom stopped completely. Prophet Muhammad said that the one that treats women good will go to heaven. There were some ten cases of women who were queens in the Muslim world – in Egypt, Morocco, Andalusia, Iraq and more. There are two Suras (chapters) in the Koran dedicated to women: the Sura of Women, which is the third longest in the Koran describes the rights of women, how they should behave and how they should be treated. The other one is the Sura of Marry, who is very much respected in Islam. This is one example of how a woman can be a model for special connection to God. Other examples are the four mothers, the wives of the Prophet etc.

In the following conversation participants talked about divorce, inheritance rights, differences between Islam and tribal customs (that sometimes contradict), masculine and feminine images of God and his being beyond image and beyond gender, and more.

The Christian presentation started with Ms. Kristine Schnarr who talked about the fact that Jesus loved and respected women. In her Lutheran Church women lead the peace activities and are called to share their spiritual gifts. In some churches women can be pastors and in some not. Ms. Maria Anastasi added from her experience in the Greek-Orthodox Church that there is equality in the functions of women in worship and as part of the community but they can not be priests or enter the sacred area of the church. Also: the three most elite monasteries are such due to the fact that women can not enter them.

The following conversation went back to many of the themes already discussed – inheritance, divorce, dressing, mixed prayer etc. – with comparisons between the three faiths.

Before we went to the closing lunch we concluded in warm words, sharing the deep experience we had and the wonderful new friendships, committing to continue the process and thanking each other for their contributions to the success of the retreat.

(*** We are most grateful to the Austrian Hospice for their extraordinary hospitality!!)

Oct 9, 2007

Together in Nature, Bringing the Hearts Closer

On Thursday, May 31st 2007, 4th and 5th graders of "Kalanit" School in Karmiel and "A-Sallam" School in Majd el-Krum went out to Ahiud Forest on the slopes of Shagor Stream.

We immediately commenced joint experiential activity in mixed groups. We discovered many words that exist in both languages – with similar sound and identical meaning, we got to better know each other through names' games and played in girls and boys competitions.

After the activities, we enjoyed delicious refreshments, prepared by the parents of "A-Sallam". In the concluding ceremony we enjoyed the singing of the children of the joint coir, the greetings of the organizers and from joint exciting dances of both teachers and students from both schools.

Reporter: Nira Marom Group's coordinators: Osnat Aram-Daphna and Najeeba Sirhan

(* We are grateful to the Embassy of the United States of America to the State of Israel for their support to this program)

 
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