Community Building for 1000 Jews & Muslims 2016-21

by Interfaith Encounter Association (IEA)
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Community Building for 1000 Jews & Muslims 2016-21
Community Building for 1000 Jews & Muslims 2016-21
Community Building for 1000 Jews & Muslims 2016-21
Community Building for 1000 Jews & Muslims 2016-21
Community Building for 1000 Jews & Muslims 2016-21
Community Building for 1000 Jews & Muslims 2016-21
Community Building for 1000 Jews & Muslims 2016-21
Community Building for 1000 Jews & Muslims 2016-21
Community Building for 1000 Jews & Muslims 2016-21
Community Building for 1000 Jews & Muslims 2016-21
Community Building for 1000 Jews & Muslims 2016-21
Community Building for 1000 Jews & Muslims 2016-21
Community Building for 1000 Jews & Muslims 2016-21
Community Building for 1000 Jews & Muslims 2016-21
Community Building for 1000 Jews & Muslims 2016-21
Community Building for 1000 Jews & Muslims 2016-21
Community Building for 1000 Jews & Muslims 2016-21
Community Building for 1000 Jews & Muslims 2016-21
Community Building for 1000 Jews & Muslims 2016-21
Community Building for 1000 Jews & Muslims 2016-21
Community Building for 1000 Jews & Muslims 2016-21

October 24, 2021

 

We met to establish the group at the Beit Hakerem community center, with 23 participants, led by Omer. This is the first time we are establishing such a group in the Association and we allow ourselves to try different directions.

 

We started with Omar playing the Santoor and Muhammad, the Oud. We spent most of the evening of the first encounter getting to know the members of the group, using different methods in which the participants told about themselves.

 

During the process it became clear to us that due to the language gaps it would not be possible to have a classic storytelling process and we decided to try a slightly different model. Each session opens with some useful proverbs or sentences in Hebrew and Arabic. Afterwards we enjoy some music and most of the session will be dedicated to four personal stories - two in Hebrew and two in Arabic - of the participants, with their translation into both languages.

 

 

November 14, 2021

 

We met for a second encounter of a group of storytellers at the American Center. After hearing greetings from our hosts at the center, Omer and Muhammad did some warming up for a session with music.

 

Afterwards, participants shared personal stories. Rafat told about his work in picking olives, Jews and Muslims together. Meir made everyone laugh when he told a story from his childhood in Jerusalem in the 1950s. Muhammad and Ibrahim also told about their experiences from school, and Tzipi shared a story about her relationship with her grandmother, who would always say that "when luck knocks, you have to open the door." Omer concluded the meeting with another story of his own, and we agreed that we would be happy to continue to develop the art of storytelling together.

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March 7

The Interfaith Encounter has launched a new online group in collaboration with Project 929. The group has three coordinators: Adi, Majeed and Jose, and each of them will present and discuss sources of their respective religions about the encounter’s topic, with the group's participants.

The first encounter was dedicated to mutual introductions, with each participant bringing their favorite quote from their traditions and what it means for them.

 

March 21

IEA-929 online study group has dedicated this encounter to talk about Joseph in Judaism, Islam and Christianity. We wanted to understand how the same character is described in each of the Holy Books, and what lessons each religion takes from his story.

 

April 4

IEA-929 online study group met on Zoom to discuss the topic of “time” and the yearly calendar.

Jose explained a little about his traditions on Easter. He spoke of time not just as a cycle, but also as the cycle of the presence of God and His redemption.

Majeed described the Islamic months. Every year the calendar “moves” 11 days behind the solar calendar, which means the Ramadan month falls on different seasons - and no one in the world needs to fast in the summer every year.

Adi spoke about the Jewish calendar and the importance of time and rest for the Jewish tradition.

 

April 19

IEA-929 online study group met on Zoom to discuss the topic of Fasts.

Adi described the difficulty of fasting for 25 hours during Yom Kippur, and how she is touched by her grandfather’s experience of fasting even in the extermination camps in Europe. She also explained that in Judaism some fasts are related to mourning (of the destruction of the Temples), while Yom Kippur is biblically commanded as a way of connecting to God and suppressing the body so as to let the soul prevail.

William, who was Jose’s guest speaker, described the types of fasting in Christianity, such as the ones related to a specific time (Lent and 4 weeks before Christmas) and to a person’s voluntary promise.

Majeed explained about the Ramadan fast, and its motives: Mercy, Forgiveness and moving away from sin. He also explained how the fast itself is not enough, it should come with acts of kindness and charity, as the human aims to improve itself. He also explained about different Ramadan laws.

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January 17, 2021

 

The Interfaith Encounter Group Jerusalem and beyond met online. We chose the topic “names”, so we can get to know each other’s personal backgrounds and to memorize the names of the participants.

 

Some people who had one name in English and another in Hebrew had unique situations such as being recognized by different names in different circles. Participants mentioned that many Muslim names have beautiful meanings, and sometimes pay homage to other family members (as do many Jews from Muslim countries). Mohamad also said that almost every Muslim family will have a Mohamad, Ahmad or Mahmoud, in memory of the Prophet.  We spoke about how names are connected to identity, and tell our story.

 

February 15, 2021

 

The Interfaith Encounter Group Jerusalem and beyond met on Zoom. Each participant talked about his or her experiences and traditions related to wedding ceremonies.

 

Shelley said that the Jewish wedding is not only a happy ceremony, but a sacred moment for the couple. She described some of the general aspects of the Jewish wedding, such as the Chupa (canopy), the blessings, the wine and the breaking of the glass.

 

Mohamad said that there is a marriage contract signed by the groom that ensures also that the wife receives a proper sum in case of divorce. He described the traditional Palestinian weddings, and the different room arrangements of men and women.

 

Other participants shared specific traditions, such as the bride gifting an embroidered case to the groom, special ceremonies that happen one week after the wedding, gifting gold, flowers and money.

 

Participants also expressed their personal issues with wedding parties being so expensive, and that in many communities one spends a fortune trying to make the day special, which is another way to say, better than all the other weddings in town.

 

We concluded giving our warm blessings to our coordinator Mohamad who is getting married in two weeks.

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The last time we met face-to-face was in December of 2019, and since then Midwives of Peace has been meeting online on Zoom. We have held 4 encounters so far - in April, June, September, and at the end of October. The attendance has been surprisingly good, but the same members seem to be present each time. The format, the need for technology, and the need for good and consistent internet service prevent many of our members from attending, which is very sad.

 

Most of the members continue to work throughout these trying and difficult times and are exposed to the coronavirus on a daily basis. Some of them have been sick, and one of our participants lost a close family member. It is difficult to console them in this way, over the internet, and on the screen, and the level of frustration is high. But it is good to stay in touch and interesting to learn how the public health systems on "both sides" are dealing with the virus.

 

Because the coronavirus has sort of taken over all of our lives, most of the discussion was on this topic. We tried to go beyond it, but it was pulled back in that direction over and over. So, we talked, we listened, we laughed and we cried. This is similar to what we usually do, but doing it over the internet is a new experience. We are missing the hugs.

 

We had planned to host another seminar on the topic of sexual violence, as the first was very successful, and there was a request for a continuation, but it will have to wait. In the meantime, we maintain our friendship and our connection in these strange times of disconnection and hope to meet again soon.

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Interfaith Encounter Group  of Religious Leaders in Gush Etzion met to discuss the issue: the ability to change interpretation of religious texts and laws in light of today's reality.

Khaled explained the essence of interpretation in the Qur'an. He said there is a debate as to whether the words in the Qur'an are part of God. If the words are not part of it, it is still impossible to change but more likely to give different interpretations. According to him, a claim of traditionalism of "this is what our ancestors did" - this is exactly what previous polytheists said, the Koran is a reaction to this logic. He also claims that the younger generation supports renewing the interpretation, not sanctifying the previous interpretation. Hajj added that there are laws that there is nothing to think about changing, but in cases where reality have changed one has to take reality into account.

Regarding the question of the connection between God and the text in Judaism, Rabbi Yaakov gave some examples of approaches in Judaism that offer different opinions - "The Torah has 70 faces (interpretations)" or "(both) these and these are the words of the living God." Reuben added that according to tradition, Torah preceded the world, and its meaning goes beyond words and interpretations.

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Interfaith Encounter Association (IEA)

Location: Jerusalem, Israel - Israel
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Twitter: @interfaithea@
Project Leader:
Dr. Yehuda Stolov
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Jerusalem, Israel
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