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Apr 11, 2007

"Food and Food Traditions" - 15th Israeli-Palestinian Retreat

After being postponed four times due to different reality constrains, the 15th Israeli-Palestinian retreat of interfaith encounter, jointly organized by the Interfaith Encounter Association and the Hope Flowers School, finally took place in the beautiful guest house of the Austrian Hospice, at the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem, on 22-23 March.

This time too faced challenges. Starting seemed promising when all Palestinians who applied for permits got them very quickly. But when they came to collect them, on the morning of the retreat, a computer failure caused that only a handful of them were able to actually get the permits. After dozens of phone calls it became clear that we will not be able to improve the situation and that most of the Palestinian participants – including the Muslim speaker – will not be able to make it to the retreat. Hesitation was short and we agreed that holding a small-scale retreat is better than not holding it at all. For the sake of perfect equality we cancelled the Jewish speaker.

And we never regretted our decision. The resulting retreat was a very intimate one, with one small conversation group of Jews, Muslims and Christians having one of the best conversations about food and food traditions – mainly in Judaism and Islam as the conversation was so vivid that we hardly managed to touch on Christianity.

Some points that were discussed: --In Islam all animals and birds are allowed to be eaten, except those who eat other animals. In Judaism the rules of eatable animals make the list narrower while eatable birds are only those who appear in the explicit list; --In Judaism (as well as in Shiite Islam) only fish that have fins and scales can be eaten. In Sunni Islam everything that comes out of the sea can be eaten. --In Islam alcohol is strictly forbidden, out of the fear that people will pray drunk. In Judaism a drunk also can not pray but alcohol is not forbidden and in some occasions (Purim, Pesach, sanctifying the Shabbat) drinking of wine is even recommended.

Each point led to many other associated issues such as faith, reasoning, interpretations traditions and more.

We concluded the retreat with a lot of satisfaction and hopes that in the next one we will be able to take enough prior steps so that we ensure participation of all who wish to do so.


Apr 11, 2007

Celebrating Jewish and Muslim Holidays together

1. Together Celebrating the Festival of Lights

In the encounter that took place on Wednesday, December 13th 2006, participated 35 educators from Kalanit School in Karmiel and A-Sallam School in Majd el-Krum.

The encounter began with greetings from the two School Principals, Ms. Osnat Aram and Ms. Najeeba Sirhan, who spoke about joint life and joint citizenship. If there is happiness it is for all of us and if there is pain it is also for all of us. There is no difference between an Arab and a Jew. We felt it during the last war when Majd el-Krum was hit by missiles and lost people and, in parallel, karmiel too was hit by missiles and people were killed in it. Therefore we will continue together, whether in pain and sorrow as well as in happiness and prosperity.

Then Rama, the Vice-Principal from Karmiel, displayed a presentation about the Festival of Chanukah – why it is celebrated, what customs exist in the festival etc… In the third part we lit the candles together and ate the traditional donuts.

Altogether the encounter had a very pleasant atmosphere that consolidated the team more and more. A-Sallam School presented a gift to the Kalanit team at the end of the enocounter and wished them a happy, quiet and peaceful Holiday. --------------------------------------

2. Foundations of the Hajj

As part of the different activities around better acquaintance with the other and learning about their customs and tradition, we held a "Hajj Day" at A-Sallam School in Majd el-Krum on December 21st 2006, together with students from Kalanit School in Karmiel.

During the first hour students heard presentations about the foundations of Islam, especially the last foundation of The Hajj and the pilgrimage to Mecca, and a conversation developed on the issue between the students and the educators. Then the students of the two schools gathered together at the school's yard, where a model of the Kaaba – the holy Muslim site – was placed. Some of the Muslim students wore the Al-Ahram costume and demonstrated the process of the Hajj to the other students, the educators and the parents. They were led by Imam Mahmud Bashuti of Al-Hajra Mosque.

At the end of the day the students shook hands and greeted each other. Then they ate a meal prepared by the parents' committee.


Dec 12, 2006

Ramadan encounter

On Tuesday, October 17th 2006, the Jewish students from Kalanit School in Karmiel visited the A-Sallam School in Majd al-Krum. During their visit they had a special joint dinner for the breaking of the fast of the Ramadan Month, dinner that was prepared by parents and teachers from Mjd el-Krum and served to the students.

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