Bruno Hussar, 1911 - 1996
FR. BRUNO HUSSAR, who passed away on February 8, 1996, was the visionary who dreamed of and eventually established the community of NEVE SHALOM - an oasis of peace - a name he derived from the biblical quotation in the book of Isaiah (32:18) "My People shall dwell in an Oasis of Peace". The germ of the idea came to him in the '60s but its realization evolved slowly until 1970, when he settled upon a barren hilltop loaned to him under long term lease by the Latrun Monastery. Several years of harsh pioneering in the most inhospitable and uncomfortable conditions followed. Fr. Bruno believed that the dream had finally manifested itself when the first young married couples joined him and began to make their homes on the hill top. The following quotation from his autobiography, When the Cloud Lifted, tells about those early years.
"We had in mind a small village composed of inhabitants from different communities in the country. Jews, Christians and Muslims would live there in peace, each one faithful to his own faith and traditions, while respecting those of others. Each would find in this diversity a source of personal enrichment.
The aim of the village: to be the setting for a school for peace. For years there have been academies in the various countries where the art of war has been taught. Inspired by the prophetic words: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more," we wanted to found a school for peace, for peace too is an art. It doesn't appear spontaneously, it has to be learnt.
People would come here from all over the country to meet those from whom they were estranged, wanting to break down the barriers of fear, mistrust, ignorance, misunderstanding, preconceived ideas - all things that separate us - and to build bridges of trust, respect, mutual understanding, and, if possible, friendship. This aim would be achieved with the help of courses, seminars, group psychology techniques, shared physical work and recreational evenings."
From Fr. Bruno's autobiographical book When the Cloud Lifted..., Veritas Books, 1989.
From the "Will" of Bruno Hussar
To my friends in Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam I would like to say the following things:
I am happy to live permanently among you. I believe death is not the end of life, but a kind of metamorphosis. This means a complete change of life, passing from a known to an unknown phase. I believe that in some mysterious way I will continue to be connected to you.
If I have hurt any one of you, out of disregard or any other reason, I sincerely ask for your pardon.
Here in Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, we have one aim: peaceful reconciliation between our two peoples. In order to work fruitfully towards this aim, we need to have mutual understanding and consideration of each other here in the village. This means LOVE.
I would really like us to do things together as an act of love, reconciliation and peace between all the members of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam.
I ask that you will not forget that the foundation of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam started thanks to a group of very dedicated friends, among them Rina, Yosef Emanuel, Mike Levy and others. And I particularly ask that you do not forget that Anne was the person who worked with me during all these pioneering years. Without her Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam would not have existed today.
My thanks to all the wonderful members who came and are still coming to live and work here, for their sharing in building this village and community.
I would like very much that you will organize this funeral so that it will really be an act of reconciliation, love and peace among all the friends, in an atmosphere of joy. Yes, joy, because I am staying in your midst, though in another form.
My brothers, start your prayers in Jerusalem, in Isaiah's House.
Now I want my fellows and friends, over and above all partitions of religions, opinions and philosophies, to be united in love and faith. Faith in the ultimate victory of love over hate - this is the real and deepest aim of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam.
A righteous man once said: "In a place where there is no love, sow love and you shall reap love". It may happen that the one who had sown love will not reap the love himself, only the person coming after him. But, no doubt, every seed of true love will give - today, tomorrow or the day after tomorrow - the fruit of love. This is the real aim of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam - to keep the hope alive and to sow a lot of love seeds in this dry earth of our land. The fruit will come in its time, on the day of harvest.
(Bruno recorded this in Hebrew. Anne Le Meignen found the tape a week after Bruno's death.)
The following words were read to Rev. Nichiko Niwano and a delegation from the Rissho Kosei-Kai Organization who came to pay their respects at the grave of Fr. Bruno.
Reverend Niwano and distinguished guests,
There are communities and religious groups with spiritual leaders. Leaders who guide their followers with words of wisdom and who are turned to for advice in times of trouble. Often we meet people who believe that Father Bruno Hussar was such a leader for us. But the truth is, that for us in NS/WAS, he was never "Father" Bruno Hussar. He was always Bruno, a friend, and the founder of our village. His death was a personal loss for each and every one of us.
One evening, several weeks ago, many of us gathered to share our memories of Bruno. Nobody spoke of Bruno's teaching, and few of us actually quoted things that Bruno said. For we saw that it was not what he said, but who he was, that provided us with inspiration. During times that many of us lost our energy to deal with NS/WAS and the Jewish - Palestinian conflict, Bruno always maintained his optimism and his patience. There was no distance between Bruno's words and his actions. And it was the way in which he put his beliefs into practice that enabled him to find a common language with people from such different backgrounds and generations.
Once a journalist asked Bruno how he, a man of religion, can continue to invest so much energy in a community that is fundamentally secular. Bruno simply answered that, in his eyes, those of us who consider ourselves secular are also doing the work of God, even if we do not know it. As I think again about Bruno's response to this journalist I come to a different understanding of how he perceived NS/WAS. We often speak of Bruno's original intention to bring together people of different faiths who would find a common language by stressing the common spiritual values between them. Then we go on to say that the Jews and Palestinians who arrived were more interested in addressing their problems as two peoples, rather than as three religions. We present this as a turning point, or a change in direction.
But now it strikes me that for Bruno there never was a change of direction, but rather a realization of his original dream. The struggle for peace is in itself the spiritual value shared by people of all religions and by people without religion. His dream was to create a village in which we could learn how to put these values into practice. And I now think that perhaps we have not yet begun to recognize how much of a spiritual leader - or a "Father" - Bruno really was to us. May he rest in peace.
Poem by Dafna Karta-Schwartz
(translated by Daniella Kitain)
The time of parting has come,
The cocoon has turned into a butterfly
Flying to look for other regions.
But just a minute, Bruno,
I want to tell you just a few more words.
Words of love
For a man that for him love was the call of life,
Love was the gate
Through which many people passed -
Jews, Christians and Moslems.
You had a place for them all,
Because you were looking and finding the beautiful in each person.
You had the power to hold and accept,
You had the endless patience
To dream about Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam.
You wanted a center for three religions
And received a dialogue between two people.
Through all our disagreements, differences and contradictions
You stood fast by the idea of "The Doumiah"
That would bridge all gaps.
Sometimes we remember
We are all equal in front of God.
We were left behind.
Thanks to you, your power of faith and hope
We live on this hill
And raise our children.
We part today only from your body.
The power of your dream and vision stays with us
The belief in love between people
The belief in search and acceptance.
Your dream stays with us as a heritage
And continues to the generations of your children and grandchildren,
Sons of three religions and two people,
For us and all the friends and supporters.
I hope we will learn and know
How to keep this heritage.
Sometimes we forget, wonder,
Make mistakes, and close our hearts.
I hope we can know and learn to accept from you
The wisdom of love.
Your dream will still grow and spread roots
As more and more believing people
Will join us.
We would follow your path,
The path of a modest, wise and innocent man.
Fly in peace with the other butterflies.
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