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Another successful "Journey” program

Thursday 17 March 2016

All the versions of this article: [English] [italiano]

Massa - Massar - "The Journey" permits another group of young people to explore each other’s cultures

(Another illlustrated report in PDF format is here)

March 10 - 13, 2016: A group of 30 Jewish, Muslim and Christian teenagers explored Israel’s diverse religious and cultural communities through a 4-day activity of the ’Massa – Massar’ ("Journey") program. The annual program is conducted by the Pluralistic Spiritual Community Center (PSCC) at Wahat al Salam - Neve Shalom in cooperation with the “Open House” in Ramle.

By exposing young Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel to sites important to the history and religions of both peoples, the program seeks to develop a joint youth leadership that is both self-aware and aware of each other’s cultural identities.

This year’s Journey included various stations. Starting in Ramle, they visited the Open House – where they heard the touching story of its origins. They also visited the home studio of local artist Nihad Dabeet. The group traveled to Jerusalem, touring cultural and religious sites in the city. The young people heard the unique story of each site from their guides or on-site representatives, and engaged in lively discussions.

They celebrated Kabalat Shabat with a dinner on an ecological health farm close to Jerusalem. The following day, the group hiked to a nearby Christian convent and the Sanctuary of the Tomb of St. Elizabeth. On Monday they visited the mosque in Abu Ghosh and a synagogue in the Jewish town of Nataf.

The group spent two nights in Wahat al-Salam – Neve Shalom. The village itself was one of the most significant stations, as they could relate to and learn from the community’s experience of developing a joint community based on similar values to the Journey program. The participants learned about the activities in the Nadi Youth Club, the Spiritual Center, the House of Silence and the vision of Bruno Hussar. On the last evening, they got together for a powerful drum-circle and bonfire by the Spiritual Center.

All the participants reported that the four days had been a great experience. The joint activities let them discover commonalities, rather than just focusing on differences. The program enabled these young participants to take a step towards greater tolerance and understanding of each other’s separate and unique cultures, while allowing them to bridge the gaps between them in an open and friendly way.

After the Journey

The young people made a Whatsapp® group in which they are very active all through the week. They are very creative there: every day more than a hundred exchanges pass between them. They trade jokes, photos and other things that they like. The atmosphere is warm and friendly.

We are planning a continuation workshop session in which the young people will be able to process their experiences. The date hasn’t yet been set. Some of the participants have already said they would like to take part in next year’s program as peer-leaders.

Dafna Karta Schwartz:

“The focus throughout the journey was on finding places where we can meet, respect each other, discover ways that we can enrich each other and create a reality in which there is hope for everyone. For example, the Kabalat Shabat, which was attended by everyone, included the creation of a new ritual in which everyone is invited to light a candle – both boys and girls, Jews and non-Jews; and the blessing of the food was made according to the different traditions of the religions, in Hebrew and Arabic. The message is that we can dare to create structures that can bring people together in equality. As we moved between different locations, between different communities and met people, we again and again returned to the core question of what we learned from the encounter that we can bring into our lives.”
Web album for Journey activity

Visit photo album

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