Visitors in May - June 99
Walter Bohris, a pastor from the town of Dreieich, near Frankfurt in Germany. Involved in multicultural work himself back home, Walter took a lively part in everything here during his time here, and says he learned some things from the educational system that he could apply back home. We hope that he will keep contact with the German Friends Association.
Jane and Larry Sherman
Following advice from the office of the United Israel Appeal in Jerusalem, Jane and Larry Sherman, of Michigan, visited us unexpectedly on June 15. The first thing they told us as we welcomed them was that we may expect a donation of $3,000! They told us that they had proposed to their children that they should conduct an inquiry and decide on a cause to which to donate a sum of $3,000. Their daughter and son-in-law, Randy and Sylvia Wolf, accepted the offer and, in the course of their investigations, discovered NS/WAS on the Internet. They decided that this was where they wanted to send this generous donation, and asked Jane and Larry to come and "inspect" us during their upcoming visit to Israel. Despite coming straight from the airport, however, they arrived too late to see the school in session, but Abdessalam showed them around the village and it was a mutually pleasant visit. We hope to see more of them and other members of the family.
Visit of President of Rotary International, Mr. Glen Kinross
On Tuesday June 1, The village was honored to receive Mr. Glen Kinross, the President of Rotary International. Mr. Kinross included NSWAS in his tour of the Rotary Clubs of Israel. He was accompanied by past Rotary Governor Gideon Peiper and Mrs. Peiper (who are no strangers to NSWAS). Rayek Rizek escorted the three on a complete tour of the village and its educational institutions. Various projects in NSWAS have been supported by Rotary over many years. These have included both urgent infrastructure projects such as a new sewer system, and educational projects (most recently the SFP project mentioned in NSWAS WBW of April 11-17 1999, and a related project, which will be mentioned in the next issue). The motivation for this generosity on the part of Rotary was made clear during the visit. Mr. Kinross found it possible to draw many comparisons between the village and the ideals and values that Rotary itself tries to inculcate and uphold. In his entry to the visitors' book, Mr. Kinross wrote: "It has been a very special pleasure to visit Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam and to see the integration of the Arab/Jewish children. The teaching of language, the understanding of other cultures and the search for common ground along the road to peace are all important to the peace process among the human family everywhere. The ultimate goal of Rotary International and the Foundation is world understanding and Peace. I admire and commend the work you are doing. Your goal and the goal of Rotary International are parallel. Best wishes for the future expansion of your work."
Visit by Swedish Ambassador
The Swedish ambassador to Israel, Mr. Hohn H. M. Hagard, visited NSWAS on May 20. He, his wife, and some of the embassy staff, toured the village, spoke with members of the various departments, and stayed for lunch. Before leaving, the ambassador graciously wrote in our visitors' book: "Fred, Salam, Shalom! This endeavor shows that peace is a growing currency worthy of our best investments."
Visit of Reuma Weizman, wife of the President of Israel
On Wednesday, May 12 Reuma Weizman, Israel's First Lady, spent more than two hours touring Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam on her first visit to the Community. She was accompanied by her sister, and long-term friend of the village, Mrs. Rut Dayan. In a relaxed atmosphere, so unlike the climate of tension that characterized the tumultuous week that preceded the elections, Mrs. Weizman listened attentively as village members explained their work, their intentions, and their dreams.
The visit began in the hall of the White Dove Restaurant (which is currently out of service). There, members of every branch of the Community, with others who were able to join, met with Mrs. Weizman. Our mayor, Rayek Rizek spoke some words of welcome, followed by other NSWAS members who related the history of the village and explained their present work. Following this meeting, Mrs. Weizman, walked to the Primary School, where all the school children greeted her with songs and dance. She was welcomed to the school by Principal Anwar Daoud and Educational Director Boaz Kita'in. The children, who showed transparent happiness over the visit, presented her with a small gift and posed with her for photographs. Afterwards, Mrs. Weizman entered the kindergarten, where the young children obediently continued to work at various projects at their tables, while Mrs. Weizman came to sit and chat with them. She then visited the Golder-Goodwin Language Center where she received a detailed explanation and demonstration of the Center's working methods.
The final stop was the School for Peace, where Nava Sonnenschein and four other members of the staff explained the work of the School for Peace. The session continued for longer than expected due to Mrs. Weizman's expressive interest and many questions.
Before departing, Mrs. Weizman wrote in our visitors' book the following words: "Thank you for your endearing reception and your invitation to visit. I once heard a saying, "A friend is a gift a person gives to himself." With you, this is a way of life - to turn enemies into true friends. With much respect, and good wishes for success, Reuma Weizman."
A visit by an international group of mayors
Another important visit took place just two days later. On Friday, May 14 we received a group of some fifty mayors from around the world. Many came with their spouses or other municipal representatives. The Mayors visited in the framework of the 19th Jerusalem Conference of Mayors. They hailed from many well-known cities around the world. At the White Dove, they heard an overview of the village and its educational work from Rayek Rizek, who was assisted by Daoud Boulos of the NSWAS Public Relations Office and Bob Mark of the Primary School. They asked many questions and made interesting remarks. Following the meeting, the Mayors split up into smaller groups and were escorted around the village.
NSWAS is happy to witness, over recent months, awakened interest by Israel's Foreign Ministry and other departments of the government, who show greater willingness to bring important groups from overseas. This is to their credit, since NSWAS representatives candidly present our work as taking place in a national context of blatant inequality and profound problems in the relations between Israel's Jewish and Arab citizens.
Rosemarie zur Niede
We have just received a photograph from the visit of Ms. Rosemarie zur Nieden a recently retired Protestant Pastor from Germany who visited in May. Ms. Nieden visited in order to hand over a donation made up from the gifts she received from her friends and colleagues on the occasion of her retirement. Mrs. zur Nieden, on her visit, was able to participate in the tour of international mayors which took place coincidentally on the same day, and then had a personal tour of the village accompanied by Rayek Rizek. After this they rested for coffee at the home of Coral Aron. She has been a regular contributor to the German Friends for many years and we are happy to have this opportunity to thank her publicly for her consistent and generous support towards the work of this community.
Ms. zur Nieden (center)
L to R:
Aishe, G. Peiper, Pres. G. Kinross, Mrs. Peiper,
at the Primary School
In the kindergarten
With the SFP staff