Breaking Down Borders: Youth Self Discovery

by American Friends of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam

In the ongoing conflict-transformation work that is led by members of NSWAS, the Pluralistic Spiritual Center sup-ports the connections between spirituality —whether introspective or expressive— and the work we can do as part of healing the conflict. The Spiritual Center has de-veloped a Museum, Gallery and Archive so that the inte-gration of the arts and the spirit will have a permanent home.
On March 10, 2015, the Wahat al-Salam/ Neve Shalom Museum, Gallery and Archive extended an open invita-tion to its inaugural event: “Remembering the Righteous: For the sake of humanity and in memory of the righteous who acted to save lives in different places of genocide.” At-tended by many of all faiths and from many cities and towns in Israel, the program offered presentations and discus-sions honoring the memory of Palestinians and other Arabs who saved the lives of Jews, honoring the memory of Jews who saved lives of Palestinians and other Arabs and an introduction to the movement "Gariwo: Gardens of the Righteous Worldwide." A variety of works designed for this focus will be on long-term display.
The Museum and Gallery is the home for a new program, "Artists Creating Peace,” where 20 Palestinian and 20 Jewish artists will spend several days and a long weekend together at the Museum and Spiritual Center, building networks for ongoing connections among Jewish and Palestinian artists, and jointly creating a piece of public art which will then be on exhibit. Museum Director Dyana Shaloufi-Rizek is currently cre-ating opportunities for engaging younger and older participants in the Museum and archive work.

Continuing the work from last year in developing a network for young Arabs and Jews dedicated to working toward a peaceful society, the Pluralistic Spiritual Center is raising funds and planning a series of 12 weekly encounters and a one 2 day encounter for 10th graders from the Givat Brener Highschool (Jewish) and the Tera Santa (Arab) in Ramla.

The Open House in Ramla and the PSCC will be collaborating to bring together youth from both sides to meet, address stereotypes, and recognize the human aspect within the conflict so commonly ignored in today’s society.

The PSCC will also be investing its efforts in working with youth between the ages of 16-25 focusing on ongoing workshops, experiential tools, creative activities and spiritual work. The developing program will be based on tools from the Mastery School for Leadership which will be run by 4 graduates from that program.

Thank you for your continued support in sharing our vision of bringing youth together to develop understanding, peace, and a viable future for the future leaders of this world.

Most young Jews and Arabs in Israel live in separate communities and attend different schools; they dont know about each other but believe in stereotypes and ignore commonalitites that exist between them.  This program provides young people with an opportunity to meet and develop trusting relationships.  It promotes values of of respect for differences and builds a sense of justice.  Whith thses new skills, young people are more employable and less likely to want war in their country/communities.

The participants travel together for 6 days to different symbolic places.  Activites address identity, diversity, recognizing each other's humanity and empowering the young participants both in formal and informal ways.  They become more tolerant and understanding of one another. as they build a peaceful society.

The program creates a network of young people who will know the other side of the story and be aware of the shared heritage of the different cultures that exist in the region.  Participants will take from the program a will to advance dialogue and peace in their communities and in their shared society/country.

JITLI Meeting
JITLI Meeting

Special Projects at The Pluralistic Spiritual Community Center

Masa – Massar

This program for Palestinian and Israeli youth changed direction this year towards seeking to build an ongoing cadre of young people that would meet throughout the year. The project is conducted jointly with the Open House, Ramle. We have begun organizing a group of youth from two high schools: Ramle and Kibbutz Givat Brener, who will meet and work together throughout the coming school year. It will include an intensive two-day seminar and one educational trip. In addition the PSCC will carry out a three day workshop with Arab and Jewish youth in cooperation with the Sulha Peace Project.

Empowering Students in Reidman College of Alternative Medicine

In the coming school year the PSCC will run a project of student empowerment including two courses in the Arab town of Sachnin and in Jerusalem, for improving communication between students. The tools we will work with will include mindfulness, compassionate listening and practicing skills that develop integrity, awareness of language, empathy and listening to the other.

One of the PSCC’s goals this year was to become more focused on activities for the local and international spiritual activist community that seeks peace, awareness and healing. This year our doors were opened to many groups and drew hundreds of people from around the country and the world. Joint activities included the Sulha Peace Project, JITLI, an encounter workshop for single mothers, a seminar on Bible and Qur'an.

Sulha Peace Project

The Sulha Peace Project brings together Jews and Palestinian youth in a personal encounter with themselves and others. Participants come from both Israel and the Palestinian territories. Five meetings took place in the PSCC during the past years. The meetings took place in the spirit of the three religions, with music, art and workshops and in ‘listening circles’. Each meeting ran for five hour and had 100 to 200 participants. The Sulha meetings have been taking place with great success over the last 14 year. These activities cross all borders and allow close communication between people from different worlds.


JITLI is a youth leadership program that brings together Jewish and Arab youth, Druze, Bedouins and Ethiopians. In April, the program counselors came for three days of Bustan workshops. The group consisted of Jewish youth from San Diego, USA, Jewish Israeli youth from Sha’ar Hanegev, with Druzes, Muslims and Bedouins from Segev Shalom, Lakiya and northern Israel. The PSCC is working with JITLI in developing an additional 3-day Bustan program in August, for approximately 100 youth from Israel and America

Touring the holiest sites of Jersusalem
Touring the holiest sites of Jersusalem

Since 2009, Massa-Massar: A Journey of Discovery has affected the lives — and enlarged the perspectives — of many Israeli and Palestinian teens.

With its focus on leadership, the Massa-Massar program equips its young participants with tools, and provides them with experiences, that enable them to move beyond conflict and toward mutual understanding.

Over the past five years, there have been many workshops, field trips, facilitated dialogues, and role-playing activities. The results are best described by the participants themselves:

Wahiba, a 16-year-old from Ramla, plans to study to become a diplomat when she finishes school. “When I think about everything that has happened,” she said, “I just want to cry. But there’s no point. We need to put it behind us and move forward.”

Perri, a 16-year-old from Jerusalem, felt that the weekend gave him a genuine experience of hanging out with “the other side,” having fun and being young together. He, like many of the other participants, expressed how he never receives the opportunity to meet with young people who are from “the other side.”

Yam, age 16 from Beit Hashmonai: “I’ve always celebrated Israel Independence Day without considering how Arabs feel.” An exercise in which all the participants shared their personal stories “really opened my eyes to another perspective.”

During one of the Massa-Massar tours around Jerusalem, Nicole, a 14 year old Arab teenager from Lod, described her excitement at visiting the Western Wall for the first time. She felt how special it was for the Jewish people. Nicole admitted she didn’t want to come to the workshop when she first heard about it. “I’ve had bad experiences” with people who “made me feel bad because I was Arab. I decided to come [to Massa-Massar] and it has given me a new perspective that not all Jewish people are like that. I feel much better about being Arab.”

Supporters from around the globe have made these outcomes possible. Massa-Massar will continue to change lives, to move us all closer to peace — but only with the support of friends like you.


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Organization Information

American Friends of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam

Location: Glendale, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Abir Elzowidi
Operations Manager
Glendale, CA Israel

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