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

After more than two years of the group not meeting, and after repeated postponements for various reasons, we finally gathered thirteen men and women at the Palm Center in Jerusalem. Since many of the participants were new, we conducted a detailed introductory round and afterward, we introduced the topic chosen for the encounter: Trees (inspired by Tu Bishvat, when the encounter was originally planned to take place ...)

 

The Torah describes the Land of Israel as blessed with seven species - grains and fruits that are important and fundamental to a healthy life and can satisfy human needs: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates.

 

The Qur'an also has a special status for some of these trees: Allah said that the olive tree is a sacred tree because the olive tree prays, it is important for eating and it also symbolizes peace. Figs are also mentioned in the Koran, though not as much as olives. The date palm is used to break the Ramadan fast every evening, as taught by the Prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. There is also a limit that you should not eat even numbers from the date tree. As for grapes, if it is alcohol-free it is permitted, but if the grapes are made into wine, they should not be drunk, moved, or touched.

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23.11

We discussed a text on the different views of Muslim intellectuals on tanakhic figures such as Ezra, and the mutual influences of Islam, Judaism and Chirstianity.

 

10.12

Hussam gave us an amazing Graffiti tour of the Silwan neighborhood in Jerusalem.

 

28.12

We met at the Community Garden of the Natural History Museum. Hussam explained that the building was in the past an Armenian Villa that still called "Dacian”. Our special guest, Malkon, spoke about his Armenian heritage, his plural identity as Armenian, Palestinian, Christian, and about Armenians in Jerusalem. We had a very meaningful conversation with Armenian Sfiha to go with it.

 

31.1

Continuing the topic of our last encounter about Armenians in Jerusalem, the group met for a special workshop at the Armenian Ceramics workshop in Jerusalem’s Old City. We painted our own ceramics and received explanations about different aspects of its culture.

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On July 9 we had a very exciting event--our first in person encounter in 18 months, since February 2020!! The US Embassy’s Public Diplomacy office hosted us at their new Tel Aviv office. The outdoor patio overlooking the beach was perfect for a Covid-19 regulations friendly encounter. We received a warm welcome from the embassy, and a short discussion about the challenges of conducting diplomacy virtually. Participants were Muslim, Jewish, Druze and Agnostic, spanning a wide range of ages and origins, and it was great to see friendly faces old and new.

 

August 27--Following the shocking headlines of the Taliban overrunning Kabul and taking over Afghanistan, we held a Zoom with American diplomat Jessica Tesoriero. Jessica shared photos and stories from her experiences serving at the US Embassy in Kabul prior to coming to Tel Aviv, and students got the chance to ask questions.

 

September 2, Zoom about Afghanistan part II -- after the successful Zoom last week on the topic of Afghanistan, we held a follow up session with retired US diplomat Terry Davidson. Terry, who had also gone from Kabul to Tel Aviv in his last two positions, talked about his time serving in Afghanistan, the friendships he made, and his hopes and concerns for the future of the country.

 

Friday September 17 -we got back to in person encounters, with a briefing by Ambassador O’Sullivan at the Irish embassy in Ramat Gan. The ambassador and his deputy chief of mission talked about their careers and Irish-Israel relations, as well as answering questions from students, ranging from environmental policy to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 

Wednesday, September 22 --after our encounter was delayed twice due to the ambassador going abroad, we finally met with the Ambassador of Sweden at the Swedish embassy in Tel Aviv. The ambassador talked about what makes Sweden unique and what each country can learn from one another, before asking students about their own ideas on diplomacy. He emphasized the importance of intercultural encounters for bringing peace.

 

Friday September 24--10 students came to our “Sukkah of Peace” in south Tel Aviv, to meet the Ambassadors of Croatia and Ecuador. The ambassadors spoke about the approaches to multiculturalism in their countries, and the students explained about the holiday of sukkot, and the 4 species, including reading sources and looking at pictures. The Sukkah was decorated with flags from different countries.

 

Monday September 27: we had our last encounter in the sukkah with the Ambassador of Kazakhstan. The sukkah was completely full as 30 students, teachers and other guests came. Students had the chance to ask questions to the ambassador, and we read Jewish and Muslim sources that mention the 4 species and emphasize unity among people.

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10/03/2021- In the first encounter, Dr. Yehuda Stolov (IEA’s Executive Director) presented the work of the IEA, and students got to know each other.

 

17/03/2021- The second encounter included a presentation on interfaith storytelling by IEA’s Community Director Carolina Frimer. In addition, Eric, one of the students, gave a presentation on the upcoming Pesach Holiday emphasizing narrative, significance and the ritual of the Seder.

 

7/4/21- Began with informal sharing by Jewish students of their Seder experiences in particular and Pesach experiences in general.  Zahra, one of the students, gave an overview of the Moslem holidays in general and the upcoming Month of Ramadan in particular; Nikola  gave a short overview of the Christian holidays; and Jacob  gave an overview of the holidays of the Jewish calendar. Finally, given that Yom Hashoa Vehagvura was beginning that very evening, one of the students, Avigail, gave a detailed and moving presentation on the experiences of her grandfather who survived by great tenacity the concentration camps in Poland. Course lecturer Dr. Ben Mollov pointed to the Jewish and universal aspects of the Holocaust and emphasized the dehumanization which the Nazis carried out making the Holocaust possible and the strength of the human spirit which made heroic resistance of all kinds possible.  It was also interesting to note that the Arab students mentioned that they studied about the Holocaust in their Arab schools including meetings with Holocaust survivors.

 

21/4/2021- Student Aaron gave an overview and presentation on Halacha and the Kosher Dietary laws. Much of the session was devoted to the themes of "can religion be combined with enlightenment " and "Do we carry out our religious commitments out of obligation or voluntary joy". The discussion was triggered by a short video by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and a very thoughtful exchange between the students ensued.

 

28/4/21-  The session was devoted to an Arab-Jewish Ramadan Dinner. The Jewish students came early to set up the classroom and table, with great enthusiasm. Mr. Rifat Sweidan, of the Office of the Dean Students made a Shwarma dinner possible. The atmosphere, fellowship and content was excellent. Ms. Fatma Amer presented a personal joyous view of Ramadan and the Iftar experience including the pre-Iftar dinner prayers which are recited. Sada and Fatma offered an overview of the Sharia and the Hallal Dietary laws. A further discussion of comparisons between Sharia and Halacha ensued. The Jewish students said the Birchat Hamazon Grace at the end of the Meal.

 

 

5/5/21-   The first part of the session was devoted to a Zoom appearance by two grassroots women religious leaders: Rabanit Surale Rosen a Jewish Educator and Advocate Reem Masarwa who is a political and human rights activist in Israeli Arab society.  Both speakers spoke about their personal journeys in finding better understanding and common ground in their encounters with each other.  (The encounter was arranged and sponsored by the Search for Common Ground Organization).

The second portion was devoted to presentations and a discussion on great religious personalities in the three religious traditions. Among the personalities presented and discussed were Miriam the sister of Moses (by student Nechama) and the successors of the Prophet Muhammad following his passing. The discussion was most thoughtful and was an example of how the course goals of "mutual respect, self-respect, and mutual enrichment” could be achieved.

 

*As a general comment I would also add that each session begins with a short Arabic and Hebrew lesson and student Omonia, a linguistics student has made a strong contribution to it.

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We met on Zoom for another IEA Coordinators’ Community meeting. This time we gathered to share tips and best practices of meeting on Zoom- after almost a year of practice.

 We spoke about problems that come up on Zoom encounters: theunequal access to good and stable internet and smartphones, people with cameras off, things going on in the background, loss of the personal touch and insufficient ability to communicate. Then, we learned simple resources, and learn from one another’s experiences of what works and what doesn’t work. One coordinator spoke about how his groups turned to sharing very personal stories, addressing participants’ current situations  and having emotional exchanges as well as intellectual ones (praying together for an ill son, sharing a story about a grandparent, etc.)

Another shared that having a certain goal to accomplish helps: for example, a group learns together a specific book, in each encounter they advance together, there is a feeling of moving forward and of collective tasks. A group had one encounter about food in which each participant brought a dish and talked about it (we added that we can also do coffee breaks, for example, engaging more senses in the experience). We concluded with votes that we go back to meeting in person soon, but we believe a lot of the learning of this past year will remain useful.

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Organization Information

Interfaith Encounter Association (IEA)

Location: Jerusalem, Israel - Israel
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @interfaithea@
Project Leader:
Dr. Yehuda Stolov
Executive Director
Jerusalem, Israel
$10,391 raised of $12,750 goal
 
184 donations
$2,359 to go
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