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Training 80 Youth Encounter Leaders

by Interfaith Encounter Association (IEA)
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Training 80 Youth Encounter Leaders
Training 80 Youth Encounter Leaders
Training 80 Youth Encounter Leaders
Training 80 Youth Encounter Leaders
Training 80 Youth Encounter Leaders
Training 80 Youth Encounter Leaders
Training 80 Youth Encounter Leaders
Training 80 Youth Encounter Leaders
Training 80 Youth Encounter Leaders
Training 80 Youth Encounter Leaders
Training 80 Youth Encounter Leaders
Training 80 Youth Encounter Leaders
Training 80 Youth Encounter Leaders
Training 80 Youth Encounter Leaders
Training 80 Youth Encounter Leaders
Training 80 Youth Encounter Leaders
Training 80 Youth Encounter Leaders
Training 80 Youth Encounter Leaders
Training 80 Youth Encounter Leaders
Training 80 Youth Encounter Leaders
Training 80 Youth Encounter Leaders
Training 80 Youth Encounter Leaders
Training 80 Youth Encounter Leaders

May 6, 2020


The Circle of Light and Hope Interfaith Encounter Group met once more online (due to coronavirus restrictions). This time, it was decided to discuss a topic that relates to our current reality:  Can there be spiritual value to sickness and suffering?

Our Muslim speaker presented his perspective on how spirituality can help and be enhanced through suffering. He mentioned the biblical account of Job, and stated that God created  suffering and the emotional power to conquer it.

The Jewish speaker also mentioned Job, but affirmed her personal point of view is closer to a saying in Masechet Avot: “we don’t know why righteous people suffer”, but can decide what to do about it. She also related a personal experience and left us with a poignant question: Is God suffering with us?


The group discussed that suffering may sometimes make us better, but we would prefer to live without it. Participants also discussed that when someone is aware of his own mortality, it makes him do things in a different way. Suffering also often makes us realize who we truly are, and who our real friends are.


It was suggested that the topic for the next encounter should be the spiritual value of happiness and health.



April 6, 2020


The Circle of Light and Hope met online through Zoom with 12 participants.

In light of the current coronavirus crisis, instead of sticking to a specific topic, we checked in with everyone and talked about how each of us is dealing with this difficult period. Still, there were some very interesting topics surrounding the corona crisis. We spoke about how to deal with people who refuse to comply with the instructions regarding social distancing in the name of religious practices, such as public prayers. We also discussed how we are all receiving contradictory information, and deliberate misinformation, and how to select our sources.

Unfortunately, many of our Muslim friends could not join, as they do not have access to Zoom. It showed again the imperfections of this means of communication and the inequalities it highlights. Still, we felt it was meaningful to continue to be in touch throughout this troubled period.




February 16 2020


The Circle of Light and Hope interfaith encounter group met again with 12 participants, including some new ones. The topic chosen for this encounters was “Miracles”. 

The Jewish coordinator gave a brief presentation of two Jewish approaches to miracles. The first draws on the saying “the world conducts according to its usual habit”. Maimonides teaches that one should believe that God creates nature and its laws, and miracles were “preprogrammed” or “built-in” the laws of nature. A second approach, which actually drinks from Islamic sources, is that there is no such thing as fixed natural law, but rather creation is renewed by God every single second- meaning, if something falls, it is because at that very moment God is creating gravity laws. According to this view, there is no essential difference between the natural and the miraculous, since God “He renews, in Hiskindness, His creation every day anew”. Some of the miracles mentioned in the Torah are Abraham and Sara having a child in their old age, the splitting of the red sea and the resurrection of a child by Elisha. 

The Muslim coordinator gave a presentation explaining that the Koran brings the same miracles as the Bible, in addition to Muhammad's miracles, which include: flying to Al Aksa and the splitting of the moon.

After the presentations, some interesting topics were raised and discussed: Are there miracles today? To which a Jewish participant answer: If you believe every story you hear, you’re a fool, and if you believe none of them, you are heretic (a quote by Rabbi Lichtenstein). Another Jew answered she doesn’t believe in miracles at all, and asked if one could be a Muslim without being a believer. The Muslim participants diverged in their answer, and one of them mentioned that a “strong Muslim” had to believe. 

The group then debated the topic for the next encounter, which we look forward to. 




January 14 2020


The Circle of Light and Hope group met at Gush Etzion with 13 participants: 7 Jews, 1 Christian and 5 Muslims. We decide to have an open session in which people could ask whatever they wanted about the others’ religions, and of course some very interesting topics were raised. A Jewish participant asked if there was a Muslim concept to End of Days or Messiah. Muslim participants answered there is such concept- the Ahmehdi, someone who will make people repent and go through the right path. Muslim participants asked about Jewish customs such as rocking back and forth when praying, and more interestingly, why Jews do not consider Mohammed as one of their prophets. This question led to an extended conversation about particularism vs. universalism and how historical contexts influence the development of religions. Muslim participants also asked the Christian participant regarding different Jesus’ images across the world. Last, we all compared what participants considered the main prayer in their religion and its contents- the Shema Israel for Jews, the Surat Al Fatiha for Muslims, and the Holy Father or Priestly Blessing for Christians.


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10 encounters in January and February 2020

January 8: We had a delegation to HeyMUN at Ironi Hey in Haifa. Although there was a giant storm, many students came despite the weather, and had a great time at the conference. It was the first conference for many students, and several won awards.


January 16: We had 5 students compete at the HAIMUN conference at University of Haifa. They were the only high school students competing against 240 university students, so this was a great achievement, and even more impressive, Gaia and Maayan won awards!


January 17: We had a meeting in Holon with all of the students traveling to YMUN, and their families. It was nice to have all of the families get to meet before the trip, and we went over the schedule and what to expect.


January 19: There was a conference in Taibe, QSchool MUN. A number of students won awards, and Luna impressed everyone by winning Best Delegate in the Model Knesset despite only getting her assignment that morning.


January 20-27: There was a delegation to Yale MUN, 8 students from 8 cities/towns around Israel, plus Steven and Hassan as the chaperones. The group spoke at a synagogue in Hoboken, met with an imam in NYC, the Jewish community and  the Middle East studies association at Yale, and even got to speak on a panel at the UN in NYC. 


January 29: There was a meeting in Iksal with the students going to Johns Hopkins MUN. Muhammad's family prepared a feast, and it was a lovely evening for the families to meet and hear about the upcoming delegation.


February 2-10: 8 students from 7 cities joined the JHUMUN delegation, which visited NYC, as well as DC and Baltimore. We visited the UN, state department, US institute of Peace, and many other important institutions, and met with local Jewish and Muslim communities and leaders. In Baltimore Imam Ismaeel led jumma prayers, and that night we had shabbat prayers and dinner at a local synagogue. On the way back there was a layover in the Netherlands, with a visit to the Anne Frank House, and the Dutch foreign ministry in the Hague.


February 14:Students from Nablus, then negev, Sakhnin, Petah Tiqva, Netanya, and other towns met for a meeting at the Embassy of the Netherlands. We appreciated their hospitality, the interesting discussion, and the tour of the embassy.


February 23: TiqvaMUN had about 140 students from over 25 different towns and cities participating, in 5 committees, held in Petah Tiqva. For the overwhelming majority it was their first conference. It was very impressive to have students come from Bedouin communities in the Negev, Sakhnin and the north, Sde Eliyahu, Baqa, Lod, and many other towns around Israel.


February 28: We had a volunteering day, taking refugee kids out to the playground. Luckily the weather was nice, so we were able to play with them outside for an hour, since they were very energetic!


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The group met in Hebron with fifteen participants.

The theme for the encounter was repentance.


Several members said that the mere activity of our group is by itself a form of repentance – restoring the good relations between neighbors.


Gideon explained the concept of Teshuva in Judaism and said that Rabbi Kook told us that repentance is not only about regret for sins but also about bringing light to reality.

Ashraf responded that in Islam it is very similar: anyone who did wrong has to return to Allah. He quoted Sheikh Shahrawi who said that the Muslims are in difficult situation because they are not true believers and should return to Allah. We all should have good hearts of love to others.

Issa added that we wish to build a good future for us and for our children, a future of peace between neighbors.


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Subject: Pain and Suffering in the 3 Abrahamic faiths.


The group met in Tantur with 11 people and started by introducing the attendees to each other.


Then Fransis presented the subject from the Jewish perspective. He said that the pain and the suffering that man bears will be compensated in the day after by a reward from God.

Sari followed and spoke about the Christian point of view and said there are nature-induced pains and human-induced pains. Jesus Christ had suffered in spite of he had not done any harm to others.

Taleb spoke about the subject saying that God is always fair, compassionate and loves his creatures all the same, and if something painful happens to the human being God wants us to be patient and always praise God in all cases; he will never leave his believers suffering.


All attendees participated in the talk and all were happy to hear others opinions.


Our encounter took place in Tantur Ecumenical Center in South Jerusalem.

The topic this time was one that I don’t think we have ever looked into: Work. What rights do workers have? How do employers have to treat workers, and what obligations do workers have towards their employers? Is there a right to work? Is there a minimum amount that workers should be paid, and what defines that amount? How much rest/vacation time is due to workers? A participant from each faith shortly presented the subject from their religions’ perspective and then attendees participated in a friendly exchange.


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September 9th, 2019

In our last encounter in Gush Etzion Junction, 6 Palestinians and 8 Jews met together in to talk about peace and future.We have known each other for more than a year now, and we meet twice a month, building a great bridge between us. Today we talk about the Yeshiva student Dvir, who was killed around a month ago next to Efrat southern entrance. As young men, we agreed that we are against violence and we want both of us to live as any other people in this world . We raised a lot of questions that we will continue to discuss in the next encounters.



 In this encounter for the Jewish and Palestinian youth, we had an interesting discussion.

The predefined topic of Judaism and Zionism found an interesting twist after Mousa asked a question about the use of "Judea and Samaria" vs "West Bank". And so a discussion about identity and the names we give to places in the Holy Land started... How names define our connection but may seem to deny the others. How does one solve this? Are there ways of "being sensitive" without giving up on the language and names which are our stories. Thanks to Mousa and Andye who both raised important questions and challenges and showed that, as Andye noted when he introduced himself, we have a good basis of personal relationship that will allow us to deal with the issues of identity.


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Organization Information

Interfaith Encounter Association (IEA)

Location: Jerusalem, Israel - Israel
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @interfaithea@
Project Leader:
Dr. Yehuda Stolov
Executive Director
Jerusalem, Israel
$9,304 raised of $12,750 goal
145 donations
$3,446 to go
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