Home > Oasis of Peace > Projects & Outreach > Doumia-Sakinah: The Pluralistic Spiritual Center > Annual Report - September 2012 – October 2013

Annual Report - September 2012 – October 2013

Friday 1 November 2013

The activities of the Pluralistic Spiritual Community Center this year have focused on three main areas: Projects of the center, Community activities, and rental of the Facility

All activities at the Center are open to people from inside and outside the village and are run by with a balance of Jews, Arabs, village members, and activists from outside the village.

Projects of the Center

Rooms & Ways of Peace

In its present format, this project is in its early stages and aims at furthering the education of the general public by utilizing the expertise of members of the village and the unique geographical setting of NSWAS. The project offers to the public experiential educational encounters lasting from one hour to several days. It is built to incorporate various ‘views’ (physical, political and spiritual) which the Village has to offer. The project will include exhibits in the area of the library and walking paths through the Village and surrounding area providing different informative and interactive programs. Activities have already begun at the Center and we have carried out a number of successful programs/tours.

The Center has met with the hotel staff and visitors’ center and we have developed a list of interactive experiential activities which groups can chose from. These will be packaged and marketed to groups who wish to visit the Village. It is possible for any one from the Village who would like to develop a special program to add additional activities to the project.

The Rooms and Ways of Peace project became part of the Center under the leadership and inspiration of the late Abdessalam Najjar. Dyana has been voluntarily coordinating the project for the past year and Ety volunteered from September to December 2012.

Massa –Massar (The Journey)

This year, this program was carried out in partnership with “Sulha” and includes 40 Israeli and Palestinian youth who participated with group facilitators, (including 4 young facilitators from the Village), in a number of programs throughout the year.

In December, there were two seminars; one for Palestinians from Ramle and one for Palestinian and Jewish citizens’ of Israel. Two days were at the Spiritual Center, two nights at the hotel, and a day touring Christians, Jewish, and Muslims holy sites in Jerusalem. Three youth from the Village participated in the program and the rest were form Ramle, Lydda, and the surrounding area.

In April, Massa-Massar had a three day seminar outside of Jericho, at the Eco-Me Center for an Ecological Middle East. It included 32 Israeli and Palestinian youth from Israel and Palestine. In May, they held a two day follow-up seminar at the Center which continued to build relationships between the group members who worked together on communication skills, listening skills, and learning about the others life stories and culture.

In June, the Center organized a group of youth and counselors from “Sulha” to travel to Switzerland for an intense 10 day seminar. The trip was funded by the participants who were hosted by local families. The visit included group building and creating a shared vision of coexistence and Sulha activities. The group visited the Red Cross in Geneva and attended “tribal fire” in Lucerne with youth from the region.

Women’s Dialogue through Religious Text

This project consisted of 15 meetings with Jewish and Palestinian women from Ramle, Lydda, Gezer, and the area. The meetings addressed different spiritual roots of the three religions, engaging in discussion and dialogue. Meetings took place at the Pluralistic Spiritual Community Center; the “Open House in Ramle (a Jewish-Arab community center); and Birkat Shalom (the reform congregation at Kibbutz Gezer). The project was very successful, received a lot of positive feedback from the participants and the program will continue with a second group of women this fall.

Mediation Project in Acre

Under the leadership of the late Abdessalam Najjar, a mediation project was developed in Acre. This project was very successful and this year we held a memorial in Acre for Abdessalam where members of the project spoke of his special contribution to the community.

Training Kindergarten Teachers in Acre

In the fall 2013 Aysheh, who started the NSWAS kindergarten and Ety who established the NSWAS primary school began working with a local community group in Acre in the process of establishing a new Jewish – Arab kindergarten. They will work with the educational staff, kindergarten teachers and parents.


The Center conducted an open seminar on the subject of Holocaust, Nakba, and Independence Day. Sixty Jews and Palestinians attended the seminar focusing on the challenge of sharing common and different national memories. The participants expressed a desire to meet again next year before these national remembrance days.

Creating Community & Social Change

An open seminar, on creating community and social change was held at the Center with internationally acclaimed spiritual teacher and community leader from Sri Lanka, Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne. It was attended by 80 people. Ariyaratne is best known for succeeding to engage 50,000 villages in his country in social change. His central message was, “learn to work together, cooperating and supporting one another.”

Activities Being Established

Martin Buber Study Group

Anne Le Meignen, Prof. Yair Auron, and Prof. Paul Mendes-Flohr held a planning meeting to develop a study group on the philosophy and works of Martin Buber. The program will be run in conjunction with a Palestinian partner from Ramallah and will begin when the political atmosphere allows greater cooperation.

Youth Leadership Program

Currently being planned is a youth leadership program for the youth of NSWAS and the surrounding area which will prepare young adults to lead groups of Jewish and Arab youth.

Conference for Teachers of Spirituality from Israel and Abroad

Spiritual leaders from all over the world are scheduling conferences and seminars which will be held at the Center including: a Sufi Shecha, Achva Livana, Damanhur, Mastery Foundation School for Leadership, Psycho-Dharma and more .

Community Activities

The community activities at the Pluralistic Spiritual Community Center are open to the general public and members of the NSWAS community. Our goal is to build a larger group from the surrounding spiritual community that will be involved with the Center, its activities and will initiate new endeavors. We see the Center as a meeting place and center of pluralistic spiritual activity that will reach out to all in the region.

This year the Center organized several community activities.

Holiday Celebrations were carried out at the Center for the Jewish New Year, Ramadan 2012, Hanukah and Christmas. The Center provided the space for the community to come together, share meals, and celebrate together.

The Jewish New Year was celebrated with an evening of study and music. The community gathered studying in group lead by individuals from different religions, religious sources on movement from the old to the new. The evening ended with the performance of two talented singers. Michal Moses designed a special program for the children.

Building Community this year continues to bring together the founding members and new members of the NSWAS family. The last meeting focused on community planning and how we think as a community. Norit Agmon, architect and member of NSWAS, presented aspects of community planning and participants discussed in small groups their personal ideas and issues for the next stages of the NSWAS community. We are planning the next sessions that will be spread throughout the year.

Eigthy-Fifth Birthday Celebration of Reuven Moskovitz took place where we honored Reuven for his 40 years of commitment to NSWAS. Accompanying him was a group of German supporters and the evening included a festive concert at the home of Tami and Yuval, two recent residents of the community who are both professional pianists.

Memorial Meetings were held with the children of the Village during the year to discuss and mourn the tragic death of Adam.

“Two Sided Story” In conjunction with the Forum of Bereaved Families, the Center presented the film, “Two Sided Story”, which was followed by a discussion. The group shared their experiences and feelings as well as their pain and the healing involved with living in conflict, which at different levels, has deeply touched all of us. (a special thanks to Daniela Kitain, with the Forum of Bereaved Families.)

End of the Year Celebration for the year long young leadership course of the Youth Club (Nadi) took place at the Center this year.

“Iftar” Ramadan "Break-fast" 2013: during the month of Ramadan, the Center held two evening break-fast ‘pot-luck’ dinners with music and a singer, and Imad Jabbariem who performed a one man show with the poems of Mahmoud Darwish.

“An Opportunity to Meet”, was initiated by Nadine Nashef and Tali Sonnenschein, who invited young members of the Village to come and discuss their experiences and life work in perpetuating the message and values of NSWAS.

“Weekly Dancing”
was organized by Ety Edlund and this is an ongoing activity at the Center.

“Weekly Yoga”
to calm and balance the body and mind was offered by Dorit Shippin and will be an ongoing activity.

Rental of the Facility

The Center has continued to develop its relationships with others involved in the work of healing, inner-peace, and social peace; making the Center available for their activities. We see this as important for two reasons:

First, the Center would like to increase the number of people being exposed to the Village’s vision and potential. By making the Center available to other groups we are creating a broader network of individuals and groups involved in the values the Center and Village aim to promote. Second, by making the facility available to other groups for a small fee, we will be able to develop income to cover some of the maintenance costs of the Center.

The Center required some renovation and renewal at the beginning of this year. Funds from the ongoing budget were used to:

- Cover the outdoor patio area;
- install gas for cooking;
- purchase pillows and rugs;
- put up shading;
- fix the air conditioners;
- paint; and put up shelves and curtains.

The investment has made the Center an attractive home for the activities it promotes and we see that it has made a significant increase in the requests to use the Center.

Groups that have utilized the Center include:

- “Mindfulness Practice” as developed by Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. The group meets once a month at the Center.
- Meditation and Psycho-dharma group from “Campus Broshim” of Tel Aviv University.
- “Reidman College of Alternative Medicine, student groups.
- “Friends of the Dharma”, study groups
- “Focusing Course”
- “Sulha Peace Project”, for their monthly “Tribal Fire” gathering.
- “Life Stories” course

Many other groups are in the process of building a relationship with the Center to utilize the facilities for additional activities.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone that contributed of themselves and helped make all of these activities possible during the past year. The success of the Center this year is a result of each and everyone’s contribution of time, energy and commitment.

The Pluralistic Spiritual Center is run by Dafna Karta Schwartz, who can be reached at: dafna@nswas.info or 972-52-234-0850

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