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Inauguration of the Fred Segal Friendship Library

Wednesday 21 April 2010

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After many years of planning and building, the Fred Segal Friendship Library was inaugurated today in Wahat al-Salam - Neve Shalom. The 750 Sq. meter (8,000 sq. ft.) building will provide books and manuscripts on peace and conflict, education for peace, health and proper nutrition, and fine literature in Arabic and Hebrew serving the village and area residents.

In addition, it will be a venue for meetings of academics and field workers dealing with peace and human rights issues.

At the opening, words of introduction were made by Village functionaries Dorit Shippin, Umar Ighbariyeh and Eyas Shbeta. Speeches were delivered by guests, among them MK Avishay Braverman, Minister of Minorities, MK Chaim Oron, Head of Mateh Yehuda Regional Council Moshe Dadon, author Ruth Almog, poet Nida Houry, Prof. Ariela Friedman. Dr. Nava Sonnenschein, who originally approached Mr. Segal and established with him the conception for the library, described the history of the project and plans to activate it. Deanna Armbruster spoke on behalf of the American Friends of NSWAS. Daoud Boulos served as master of ceremonies.

Each speaker brought fresh thinking on the unique value of this important project in Wahat al-Salam - Neve Shalom, and the enhancement that it could bring to the important mission of education for peace. In almost every speech there was both an undercurrent of despair at the widening gap between Arabs and Jews, and a shy yearning that Wahat al-Salam - Neve Shalom, as a cogent manifestation of rapprochement, could help to reverse this process. Some of the speakers were not afraid to go beyond such general statements, and ventured their analysis of the causes and prognosis of the dangers, unless Israeli society takes concrete steps to become more integrative and democratic.

A video film was shown with a special message from Mr. Segal for the library opening. In simple words of universal appeal, Mr. Segal spoke of the tremendous need to promote love and friendship between peoples, and of the necessity for proper nutrition as a building block to healthy living. On prominent display in the hall - and on the library entrance sign - was the emblem of Mr. Segal’s heartfelt philosophy, symbolizing, as we were told, hugs, love and kisses.

The meeting was attended by a large number of guests, including representatives of the associations of friends of Wahat al-Salam - Neve Shalom around the world, for whom translation from Hebrew and Arabic was provided.

One part of the program that needed no translation was the language of music. The speeches were interspersed by heartwarming performances of live Palestinian and Jewish music played by the band MeKan ("from here"), featuring Efrat Feldman (vocals and percussion), George Samaan (vocals, oud and percussion) and Yair Boksbaum (viola).

The evening concluded with a healthy meal for the guests, composed of a rich variety of Middle Eastern salads and cooked dishes. Healthy, nutritional food is one of the major areas covered by the library. Its kitchen will prepare organic vegetables and herbs grown just outside in the library garden.

At the opening it was announced that one of the first donations towards the building, after its completion, has been made by the family of Dr. Abdullah Haj Yihya, a renowned physician and resident of the village, who died tragically a year ago.

As was noted by Dr. Nava Sonnenschein, the wonderful new empty building now beckons to be filled with books, materials, journals, and audio visual materials. The vision of the library as a lively resource to support efforts towards the attainment of peace is now tantalizingly close.

Slideshow from the Opening:


Opening of the Fred Segal Friendship Library

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