Project #1521

Community Building for 1000 Jews & Muslims 2012-14

by Interfaith Encounter Association (IEA)


In our morning session this week, we read the third chapter of the laws of Shema in the Mishneh Torah. We discussed the requirements of washing and cleanliness for prayer in Judaism and Islam. We compared how in both Judaism and Islam one can use dirt or other materials to clean their hands in the absence of water. We also talked about what speech is considered "holy" and thus not fit for being said in a bathroom or other environments. We read several ahadith from Bukhari discussing the importance of washing before praying and the spiritual benefits that is said to bring.

In the afternoon session we reviewed Chapter 3 of the laws of idolatry in Mishneh Torah as one of our regular members missed the previous session. We talked about the different ways and forms of worship used, and the Jewish and Muslim perspectives on monotheism and worship. We concluded with reading a few ahadith and discussing the attitude towards heresy and non-mainstream views in early Jewish and Muslim societies.



 Our group is in the process of becoming an official student group, and we've received a lot of support from the Cymbalista Jewish Center and the Arabic and Islamic Studies department to continue our project. This week we discussed the laws of Hanukkah. We read the description in the Mishneh Torah of the reason for the holiday and then the laws of lighting the Hanukkah lights and reciting the Hallel prayer. We discussed the differences between biblical and rabbinic holidays.


The group began as the initiative of a couple of yeshiva alumni and Muslim girls, all students at the Tel Aviv University, after we realized that both groups were interested in learning more about the other religion. From March-May 2015 (spring semester) we met weekly, for some ten times, for 60-90 minutes in a group of 3-4 students. Everyone involved really enjoyed the experience, and this year we decided to expand it to accommodate the interest of friends. This semester (October-January) we have two different groups that meet on Mondays, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, each for 60-90 minutes, with 4 students in each group. Since the beginning of the semester we met for three times.

The encounters are text-based, and primarily involve studying Maimonides's Mishneh Torah and ahadith from the Sahih Bukhari collection, on similar subjects. Last year we studied principles of faith. This year the two groups are studying laws of prayer and laws of idolatry. The group is geared towards religious students who are comfortable with religious texts and concepts. We are happy to expand, but are only actively seeking students who would fit the group dynamic (usually having a religious background or familiarity--we are mostly yeshiva students or Muslim students from religious families). In addition to the regular curriculum, the meetings offer the opportunity for us to share and compare religious traditions and stories (for example about the creation of the world, or how prayer is carried out).



We met on Monday 8/06/2015 at 18:00 in the Hebrew University

At the beginning of the encounter, we repeated the words we learned at the last encounter. Each participant said one word he had learned, and then we sat down as a group for about an hour and a half, speaking half of the time in Arabic and the other half we spoke in Hebrew. We dedicated the last fifteen minutes to summarize the topic and new words learned during this encounter.

The subject of this encounter was: the "White Lie" - for or against

Each participant shared his/her own opinion. There were disagreement and differences between views, however all participants generally agreed that lying is forbidden and the prohibition of the lie shall increase when the lie would lead to more harm to others. Then we discussed and reviewed the opinions of the participants on the following points made in advance in order to enrich the debate:

  • trust is the base on which relationships are built on but, there are those who see that trusting in your mate doesn’t necessarily mean to be devoted to honesty, a little bit of white lie about daily situations can be better for the sake of the relationship  

• in some situations it is better to keep quiet and not tell the truth

• full honesty is not possible and sometimes it is not wanted

  • an American research results had revealed in the Fox news magazine that white lies are healthy for the relationship and strengthens it, and it focuses on; that ling out of considering other people's feelings is not a sin but, on the other hand researchers worn people not to lie about things like: addiction, previous marriages or criminal background     .

• even though the results agree with the white lie, researchers specify that white lie is somethings that people should not make a habit of, because otherwise they could reach a level they could not tell the truth.

And like the last encounter, time moved quickly and ended at 20:00.


The encounter took place at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem - French Hill. 

At first we went over some vocabulary that we learned in the previous encounter, each participant shared a word that he learned during the last encounter. We met for an hour in one group, the first part of the time we spoke in Arabic and then Hebrew during the other part, and then we divided ourselves into two groups.

The last fifteen minutes before the end of the encounter we went back to sit in one group, and summarized the encounter.


During this encounter we discussed to two main topics:

The first topic: we talked about expressions used for blessings and congratulating according to the customs and traditions of the two societies – Jewish and Arab – giving examples such as:

congratulations, best of luck, to 120, May you have your baby soon, and many others.

And Condolences expressions, such as:  God bless his soul, may he rest in peace, we wish it would be the last pain.

 Each participant chose one of the expressions in Hebrew or Arabic, explained it, and gave an example of how it is used.

The second topic: we presented hobbies pre-printed on paper, translated into Arabic and Hebrew languages, each participant then presented some of his hobbies and explained about his favorite hobby.


We got refreshments during the encounter, the encounter was very successful, and we learned a lot during the encounter.


March 20th 2015

Attended in the encounter: Fawda, Manal, Iftekhar, Shani, Ayala, Raz, Adi, Shani and Yael (total of 9 young women).

This second encounter of the group was planned for acquaintance and coordination of expectations. We had indeed language gaps (the women of East Jerusalem were not fluent in Hebrew and the women from West Jerusalem were not fluent in Arabic) and we found original ways to overcome them.

Through photos, pantomime and songs we downloaded from our cellphones – we managed to get to know each other. We spoke about engagement, marriage, children and also a bit about death and sickness (which are also part of life).

The atmosphere was very good and humor and laughter we integral part of the encounter. 


April 15th 2015

The third encounter took place in the Swedish Theological Institute on the early afternoon of Wednesday, April 15th. Attended – Yael, Ayala, Meital, Fadwa, Salam and Amal (6 women).

Since we had new participants – each one shared about herself, her family and her activities, and answered follow-up questions.

The encounter was held in a very good atmosphere and was accompanied by light lunch.

One of the Jewish participants (Meital) who is fluent in Arabic helped with translations.

But when we wanted to turn to the literary text, we discovered that our time has passed and scheduled the next encounter.


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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
$20,495 raised of $28,800 goal
405 donations
$8,305 to go
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