GNRC Israel Massa-Masar (“Journey”) Program of the Pluralistic Spiritual Community Center of Wahat al-Salam – Neve Shalom and the Open House, Ramle
Members from GNRC Israel together with a group of thirty Jewish, Muslim and Christian teenagers went on a four-day Journey to visit and learn together about Israel’s diverse communities.
The Pluralistic Community Spiritual Center (PSCC) at Wahat al Salam – Neve Shalom, and the “Open House” in Ramle, have been focusing their efforts on developing youth leadership through the Massa – Masar (“Journey”) program. This program works with high school age Jewish and Arab youth in different forums, with the goal of building leadership by giving participants the tools, knowledge and confidence to meet and work with the ‘other’.
The aim of the program is to deepen learning through experience and strengthen values such as self-respect, respect for the other, equality between people and groups, social justice, respect for nature and the environment. This way, it is assumed that students will begin to take up responsibilities within the society they live in. The program also takes place in the inter-group context of relations between Jews and Palestinians of Israeli citizenship. The self-knowledge acquired through the Journey contributes to dialogue, fostering mutual respect and peace between Jewish and Palestinian youth, and towards building a more integrated society.
The journey (narrated by one of the youth participants)
“In our Journey we visited the Orthodox School in Ramle and Ramle’s old town. We were hosted in a local artist’s home, listening to the story of Dalia from the Open House and heard the history of the Karaite communityat their synagogue. From there, we traveled to Jerusalem for an overnight stay. This gave us the opportunity for group reflection.
The next day, we had a walking tour of Jerusalem. We met with an ultra orthodox Jewish woman in Mea Shearim who discussed what it is like growing up within the ultra-orthodox community. We visited the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarakh and listened to young activists who spoke of their struggle to protect the community against colonization. We also listened to a member of the Ethiopian Church community.
Thereafter we traveled to Wahat al Salam Neve Shalom, the Oasis of Peace, for a two-day program. Here, we learnt about the shared Arab-Jewish community and reflect on all we had seen. We also met nuns from the Beatitudes Christian community near Latroun, and traveled to the Arab town of Abu Ghosh, where we met with the imam of the large mosque. In nearby Nataf, we met representatives of this mixed Jewish religious and non-religious community.
Finally, among other experiences, we visited a synagogue, where we heard hazanic singing.”
Testimonials from some youth participants
“There is hope. This proves that we can live together, that it’s not that hard.”
– 16-year-old participant
“I will start to tell people that Jews are not all bad – some want peace!”
– 17-year-old Arab participant
“I would like to meet with more Arabs. I would like to live in a mixed city, step by step. I don’t think this would totally solve the conflict, but hatred does not have to be a part of it.”
– 16-year-old Jewish participant