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Pluralistic Spiritual Centre report for the 2007 - 2008 scholastic year

Thursday 18 September 2008

In the recent scholastic year, the Centre has continued to develop its ongoing, core programs - in interfaith study, in mediation , in youth work, and for the Village community and its neighbors in the area.

From Dirasat - 2nd Meeting

(1) Dirasat: Scripture and social transformation - Interfaith study on the path to political justice

In the framework of Dirasat we conducted three seminars:

- Feminism in Islam, with Muslim scholar-activist Arin Hawari, who is Associate Principal of the Community School for Women’s Leadership;
- The Image of Jesus in Hebrew Literature, with Jewish Israeli scholar Dr. Ketzia Alon, director of the Gender Studies program at Beit Berl College;
- A Christian Palestinian Reading of the Old Testament, with Father Dr Jamal Khader from Bethlehem University.

Please read about the first two seminars on: http://nswas.org/spip.php?article762

Program staff: Dr Barbara Meyer, Abdessalam Najjar, Dorit Shippin

From Course: Mediation in a Multicultural Context

(2) Mediation in a Multicultural Context

This three-year programme is developing a topology of mediation in a multicultural society, aiming to publish a curriculum based on pilot training of mediators and mediator-trainers, focusing on the role and process of mediation between the Jewish and Arab-Palestinian society in our context. Please read a full report on: http://nswas.org/spip.php?article824

The programme was planned and implemented together with the Wi’aam organization.

Programme staff: Abdessalam Najjar, Yonatan Naftali, Ilan Amitai, Dorit Shippin.

From massa-massar-2008-07

(3) Massar Masa ("Journey")

This is a six-day journey of discovery for Jewish and Arab-Palestinian youth who learn about themselves and their complex identities, and learn about those who belong to a different national group or faith group. Together they discover the stories of their shared homeland and rediscover hope in the possibility of living together in peace. A full report with photos and a short video will be ready later in the fall of 2008.

The staff this year: Ruti Shuster, Vivian Rabia, Dorit Shippin.

(4) Programs for the community of WAS-NS

During this past year, we continued to organize and invite members for social and cultural activities. We celebrated some of the Holidays together, participated in Sabbath prayer and ritual, hosted a weekly community Iftar (Ramadan break-the-fast meals), watched and discussed films, etc.

The House of Silence and the PSC Building

This last year, the House of Silence was renovated and painted, with the generous support of the Italian friends of Neve Shalom - Wahat al-Salam. The House is open to all, both village residents and those from outside. Many people and visiting groups enjoy spending time in this special space.

In addition to being an integral part of PSC programmes, the centre’s buildings are also used for various village gatherings throughout the year, including during the AGM. This year, use by outside organizations increased, and the rent was sufficient to offset all maintenance costs, and a bit beyond. The stark beauty of the domed spaces and their scenic surroundings never fails to inspire. In the coming year, we hope to enhance the facilities for the greater comfort of users without altering the aesthetic simplicity that makes the Centre so special.

Networking, learning, and sharing our work: PSC staff participate in international conferences and courses

From Hiroshima

Hiroshima, Japan - May 24-26

Dorit Shippin, as coordinator for the Global Network Of Religions For Children in Israel (GNRC), organized a delegation of 4 adults, 2 youth and a chaperone, to participate in the Third Forum. GNRC is an initiative of the Arigatou Foundation - Japan. In Israel, we are two peace NGOs who work with them: The PSC of WAS-NS and the Open House-Ramle. The members of the delegation were: Abdessalam Najjar and Dorit Shippin from WAS-NS, Dalia Landau and Khader Alkalak from Open House, Bissa Salman and Gal Berkowitz who were chosen to represent the youth group and Vivian Rabia who was the chaperone for the youth and one of the facilitators of the Journey.

Every four years, the Arigatou Foundation initiates an international conference. Members of the GNRC around the world and other guests are invited to participate. This conference took place in the conference center of the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan. For more on the conference, please see: http://www.gnrc.net/en/aboutus/thirdforumstory.html

Our delegation presented the youth programme “Journey of Discovery,” the planning and implementation of which was supported fully in 2007 by the Arigatou Foundation. The two youth, Bissan and Gal, who were chosen to participate to represent the youth in Israel, were encouraged to initiate a GNRC youth activity in Israel and Dorit, as the coordinator, was asked to help with that.

All of us were touched deeply by the story of Hiroshima and the lessons to be learned. We were very impressed by the high level of the organizing of the conference. We made full use of this opportunity to share experiences and exchange views with religious leaders from around the world, as well as members of UNESCO and UNICEF, and many others.

Abdessalam at the ICCJ conference, Jerusalem

Jerusalem - June 22-25

In June we gave an invited workshop on Dirasat at an international conference organized by the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ). Held in Jerusalem from June 22 to June 25, the conference focused on “The Contribution of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Dialogue to Peace-Building in the Middle East”. Dr Barbara Meyer, Abdessalam Najjar and Dorit Shippin demonstrated the work of Dirasat in a “mini-seminar” that was attended by about 15 people - Jews, Christians, and Muslims - mainly from Europe, the USA, and Australia. We presented Biblical passages that discussed a Christian Palestinian reading of the ’Old’ Testament. This was also the subject of our last Dirasat seminar in the PSC with Father Dr Jamal Khader from Bethlehem University.

A group of 40 participants from the conference came to visit WAS-NS in the framework of a post-conference study tour. Dorit received them in the PSC and presented an introduction to the village and the work of the PSC.

From "Making the Impossible Possible"

“Making the impossible possible”: an executive retreat at Cranfield University School of Management

Together with staff members from SHATIL, the New Israel Fund’s empowerment and training center, Rabbis for Human Rights, WAS-NS Pluralistic Spiritual Center staff members Abdessalam and Dorit participated in a four-day training programme in England (Cranfield University) early in 2008.

In June we met here in the PSC and decided on the initial steps for a two-year programme.

The first step will be a workshop for 30 to 40 participants, who will go through the same training as the leadership group. The workshop will take place in WAS-NS next February. For information about the initiative, please read more:

Making the impossible possible

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