Project #1520

Training 80 Youth Encounter Leaders

by Interfaith Encounter Association (IEA)
In conversation
In conversation

Tel Aviv University group, November 2nd


Today the first encounter of the semester was held and we have been joined by new members. We started out with introductions, and then moved on to the topic of this semester's encounters, holidays.


We started off with Shabbat, using Maimonides' Mishneh Torah as our main reference source. It started out with the halachot ta'asi vi lo ta'asi ("to do", and "to not do" commandments), it moved on to defining the types of sins/ mistakes and the punishments of each one according to its type. Some types of sins/ mistakes include, unintentional violations of the mitzvot or halachot (for example dragging a chair and accidentally digging a hole in the ground), being aware of the action as certainly resulting in a violation and still doing it, intentionally doing a direct violation, and others, and the punishments include sacrifices, leashes, and excommunication etc,..


Then we moved on to Al-Juma'a which has some parallels to Shabbat in Islamic belief (although fewer than we are used to), we read a verse from the Quran calling people to Al-Juma'a prayer, and then moved on to read Hadiths from Sahih Al-Bukhari, they included Hadeeths that talk about the importance of talking a bath (ightisal) before going to the prayer. There was also a Hadeeth that mentioned Juma'a as the holy day for Muslims as opposed to Shabbat for Jews and Sunday for Christians.



Nov. 9th, 2016


We read sections of al-Bukhari about the injunction of the Prophet (PBUH) to wash one’s entire body on Friday before prayer, even if one is late to prayers. Included in this is the preference that one pray very soon after washing, and that doing so is equivalent to bringing a material sacrifice (the closer to prayer, the better the sacrifice it is compared to---camels, cows, sheep, chickens, etc.). We discussed a bit about the role of men and women in public prayer, between the two religions and in different communities.


We also talked about the laws of Shabbat and the relationship between intent, ability, and result of prohibited actions on Shabbat. This topic included doing a forbidden action but for an unrelated reason (not allowed) and more than one person performing a prohibited activity together with another person (not allowed, but doesn't carry a court punishment). We learned the case of when two individuals perform an act together, one whose participation is required and one whose participation is optional (for example a weightlifter and his much weaker friend carry a heavy board together), how the first person is punished while the second is not. This led to a discussion on intent versus performance of an action in law and the two religions and how fair or just this system is for determining responsibility.


In encounter I
In encounter I

After a brief round of introductions, several participants stressed the necessity and importance of the meeting, and the shared obligation to build fraternity between the communities – that each one help will help his neighbor, and asked God to bless the meeting.

After that, we turned to the subject of the meeting: the answer. Sheikh Nasser opened his book on our father Abraham who helped the people and slowly taught them about God, until he brought them back to him. He stressed that it’s the duty of person to work hard – by praying and helping people.

The conversation turned to emphasize the similarities between Judaism and Islam and the positive relationship that should be between them.

Ma’zouz stressed that one of the foundations of Islam is also to believe in the Bible, and if we examine closely, we can see that the Qura’an talks about the people of Israel in a positive way, God chose them among all people. He claimed that if the Arabs learn the Qura’an properly and the Jews learn the Torah properly – it would be easy to make peace.

Abu Mahmoud said that, according to Qura’an – the role of the people of Israel is to teach the people to do good and avoid evil. The Muslim is who surrenders to God – it doesn’t matter from which religion he is. The meeting on a religious level allows us to connect more strongly than if it were on a political level. We all are against violence and pray to have real peace here.

Rabbi Dov: Jews and Muslims together should make the world better. There is a problem with the Jews that not all of them received good religious education.

 Rabbi Ben: the Qura’an talks positively about “sons of Israel” but negatively on “Jews”. But at that time, there were many Jewish groups and this one is not related to the Jews of today. The “Jews” are the honest and the Judaism of today is the continuation of the “rabbis”, who were chosen by the Caliph Omar as the main Jewish connecting group and he appointed Bostanai the son of Haninai as the head of the Diaspora. It is important that Muslims understand that the Jews of today are the continuation of the sons of Israel. On the other hand – the Jews need to know about the people of Kini who were influenced by the sons of Noah and kept their laws. Onclos translates the name Kini – “Shalmai” (500 years before the prophet Mohammad!)

In encounter II
In encounter II


During the visit
During the visit

On June 28th, the Reut-Sadaqa Interfaith Encounter group had a very moving field trip to Beit Hagath, in Ein Karem with Etienne Lepicard MD, PhD, who is its founder and inspiration.

Beit Hagath was originally the farm for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Sion which is now under jurisdiction of Monastery of Abu Ghosh. Beit Hagath’s natural setting full of flowers and gardens maintains a certain wildness in which the soul can flourish. It is a unique location which approaches interfaith in a unique and humane way. A Christian, Jew and Muslim live together on its grounds and have breakfast every morning together.

They have interfaith study groups, e.g. studying the weekly Torah portion with the Hebrew Midrash and Christian Fathers, such as 3rd century commentator Origen who lived in the Holy Land. Later study of Qu’ran was added. It hosts an interfaith music festival and many other projects. One of the most stimulating is its partnership with the Master Chef Ezra Kedem, who teaches culinary skills to hearing impaired high school students or students of cooking from Notre Dame centre, opposite New Gate who come to learn and cook and taste together in an atmosphere that is reflected in the architecture of the kitchen and nearby dining room, both of which are made of transparent glass. It seemed a powerful metaphor for their open hearted work. We came away smiling.



January 22-23, 2016


Languages weekend in Ecome.

Seventyparticipants met for a weekend of learning languages at the Ecome Center, including Israelis who came to learn Arabic, Palestinians who came to learn Hebrew, and international visitors who came to learn both languages. There were also English classes for those who wanted to improve their skills in that language. Six groups studied separately according to their language and skill levels.

This weekend was organized based on the belief that if we learn to speak each other's language we can get closer, know each other better, and create a deeper trust. We ate together, played together, sang and made music together and went for a walk in the desert. It was inspiring.



February 5-6, 2016


Kibbutz Yagur- Teen and parent delegation preparation

On February 5-6 we held a preparatory encounter a youth delegation. Eight Israeli and Palestinian students will be part of a youth delegation to snowy Switzerland, where they will meet with Irish and Swiss youth. Prior to the trip, the 8 participating students and 8 parents met, along with their two guides. The purpose of this preparatory encounter was to provide the youth and their parents with the logistical details of the program as well as the ideal behind it, and material to be covered. We met for a few hours in the afternoon, ate delicacies from Kafr Manda and answered the parents’ questions. At first some seemed worried but they became more open and relaxed. The initial introduction was positive and sowed seeds for this exciting trip.



February 22-30, 2016


Youth Delegation - Israelis and Palestinians, in Switzerland

The youth delegation of 8 Israeli and Palestinian left from Ben Gurion airport on the morning of Monday February 22. The Palestinian guide left the previous day, through Jordan. We arrived safely in the Governors Mountains of Switzerland, where we meet 14 Irish and Swiss teenagers and six guides. During the week we spent with the Irish and Swiss group we learned about their cultures and told them about ourselves. We learned non-violent communication, did yoga, and sang each morning in German, English, Hebrew and Arabic. We hosted a cultural evening, for which we prepared traditional foods from our cultures, showing the diversity and color of the countries in which we live.


March 4-5, 2016


Languages weekend at Ecome

Sixty Israeli, Palestinian and international participants met for another language weekend at Ecome. As at the first and second language weekends, Israelis came to learn Arabic, Palestinians came to learn Hebrew and internationals came to learn both languages. We also taught English for those who wanted to improve their skills in that language. Six language groups studied separately according to their language and level of proficiency.

These meetings are inspired by the belief that if we learn to speak each other’s language we can get closer and create a deeper trust. We ate together, played together, made music and sang together. We went for a walk in the desert. It was inspiring.

We left with a taste for more, and intend to continue to develop this program in the future.



March 10-24, 2016


2 weeks of non-violent communication at Ecome.

150 people participated during the two-week session at Ecome, including Israelis, Palestinians and international visitors. There were various workshops on non-violence communication, with several different tracks on deepening foundations, teacher training, transformation and social change, offered by a dedicated team of seven teachers from the USA, Slovenia, Germany, Brazil, Palestine and Israel. The encounter was deep and meaningful. Some people came to participate for a few days of the workshop and others remained for the whole workshop. This activity is expanding. We plan to create a similar but even more sophisticated study forum next year.



April 1-2, 2016


Sensory Writing Workshop at Ecome

30participants, Israelis, Palestinians and international visitors met at Ecome for a weekend writing workshop taught by Madeline Kent, who came from New York to lead the workshop. Over the weekend we wrote and shared our writing in groups. We had a Feldenkrais exercise which helped us develop and get in touch with the senses that lead us to write more accurately, authentically, and to connect to who we are and what we are experiencing.



This encounter of the Rabbis and Sheikhs group took place after a long wave of violence and the fact that we managed to maintain it raised great excitement.


Some 22 participants came to this encounter. Participants introduced themselves and the group coordinators – Rabbi Nagen and Sheikh Abu Khalil - welcomed everyone. One of the guests was Dr. Omer Salem, who finished not long ago a doctorate at Al-Azhar University in Cairo. Sheikh Abu Khalil honored Dr. Salem to present the Muslim view of the theme. Dr. Salem detailed the religious significance of the place, and emphasized that we are neighbors. Another participant described how he got up early in the morning and passed four checkpoints just to participate with us in building peace between the two peoples.


Rabbi Nagen stressed that from Jewish point of view, the temple should be sacred to all. Solomon built the First Temple in collaboration with Hiram, King of Tyre and prayed that God listens to the prayers of everyone through this place. Isaiah's prophecy also emphasized that the Temple will be an open house of prayer of all nations. Hence, the fact that the place is holy for both Jews and Muslims is not only a problem but also a challenge to all of us to connect together.


Hadassah Froman quoted from her late husband Rabbi Menahem that the place does not belong to either Jews or Muslims, it belongs to God. The solution is that the leaderships of the two religions Jews and Muslims will together care for it.


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Organization Information

Interfaith Encounter Association (IEA)

Location: Jerusalem, Israel - Israel
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Dr. Yehuda Stolov
Executive Director
Jerusalem, Israel

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