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REPROT for Jerusalem Women's Interfaith Encounter on Wednesday, March 24

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  • Yehuda Stolov
    Dear Interfaith Friends, Our WIE Jerusalm meeting Wednesday, March 24, was difficult but deep. The coordinators had sent three questions to the group in
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 4, 2004
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      Dear Interfaith Friends,

      Our WIE Jerusalm meeting Wednesday, March 24, was difficult but deep. The
      coordinators had sent three questions to the group in advance to evaluate
      our group dynamic and evaluate how strong we are and how well established.
      But by the night of the meeting every thing had changed -- with the
      assassination of Sheik Ahmed Yassin two days before, the tension in the air
      of Jerusalem - Al Quds was so heavy that many members could not come because
      they felt so depressed and others were afraid. Others felt it was very
      needed to come especially at this time. We had a small but deep group -- we
      suddenly felt there is no need to mention our religious identity -- because
      as a group we are a family! We took care of each other's feeling so much at
      that meeting, that it was easy and comfortable to cry and open our deep
      wounds, to share how terrible we feel with the crazy sitution but yet how
      much we feel the need for our meetings, the commitment to continue, and the
      need to protect "our candle" from the evil around us.

      The majority of the women were Arabic speakers so the meeting was conducted
      by Aida Shibli in Arabic with translation to English. We began with the our
      candles being lit by Nadia's mother, Fahmia Imhamis, whose own son, Hamis
      Totangi, was murdered over 15 years ago by Jews and she had made a special
      effort to be with us this evening. She gave a beautiful prayer for us to
      overcome feelings of vengeance and be united in peace. Carmen offered a
      prayer praising God for bringing us together, and that our light will shine
      brightly and overcome the conflicting forces. Elana offered the Jewish
      prayer for peace -- that God should bring peace to everyone. We had a very
      deep circle of personal sharing, telling about the hard times we are
      experiencing here.

      Aida said that she is very sure that what we are doing is the right thing
      but after what has happened she feels that it is not enough and she feels a
      need to act in other arenas like the political level -- things have to go
      parallel, dialogue is good but not enough! Aida said that in difficult times
      we need prayer, and just coming to the meeting is an effort -- not easy --
      but it is a form of prayer -- we are opening our hearts to each other, just
      walking in here is a demonstration of our desire for peace.

      Shulamit told how horrible she felt hearing the expressions of hatred and
      racism in her haredi community -- and how she had told people making such
      remarks in the market that they couldn't say such things because we're all
      God's creations, and if we speak and teach hatred, we are lowering ourselves
      to the worst level. She said she felt strengthened knowing that she has our
      group to back up her feelings -- and that takes her from despair to
      empowerment.

      Nizreen said she did not want to come to the meeting because she was so
      upset and had to face very tense meetings of the staff at her work at
      Hadassah Hospital -- but in the end she came because she knew she had to see
      good people and then she could relax here and find the strength to face the
      tensions outside.

      Carmen spoke about how she feels like a tree with branches opening to both
      sides, how her heart is filled when she thinks about the group and how this
      strengthen her.

      Nadia pleaded passionately for us to say the truth and be honest and follow
      the true path of our religions in our relations together -- with love and
      not hatred in our hearts. She offered a prayer begging God and saying that
      we all love You and ask You to send us real peace and end the killing of
      innocent people.

      Joyce blessed us to continue to develop so that we can discuss all the
      issues that divide us.

      Rose spoke about how important the meetings are to her -- that we can share
      and understand each other. She said she came from a meeting in East
      Jerusalem and the woman who offered her a ride then refused to bring her to
      West Jerusalem, so she had to take a taxi.

      Wendy said she was glad to be back -- and wished her children could be
      there. Recently her daughter was told by the teacher in her music club that
      she doesn't have a strong enough Jewish identity because she doesn't hate
      Arabs!

      Hanan said she felt at peace and that we should find peace within ourselves
      and keep that peace within us and between us in this way so that this
      situation does not destroy us. And even if we don't take big actions, our
      meeting together is already a big action.

      We ended the meeting with a group embrace and everyone felt strengthened and
      relieved by our open expression of feelings and the bonds we have created
      together.

      INVITATION: "Mashala", the documentary film about the murder of Nadia's
      brother, Hamis Totangi, will be screened this Sunday, April 4, 9 p.m., at
      the Jerusalem Cinemateque. It will also be shown Wednesday, April 7 on
      Israeli Cable TV Channel 8 at approximately 7:00 p.m. (it could be later).
      A group of us attended the premiere screening of "Mashala" about the murder
      of Hamis Totangi in 1987, by three young Jews who were caught, tried, and
      imprisoned for ten years, and then received a presidential pardon and were
      released. Last Saturday at the Tel Aviv Cinemateque we joined her family
      and the packed auditorium to see this moving and powerful film. The film
      dealt with her family, the released murderer, and a haredi Jewish poet who
      wrote strong poems against violence using her brother's name. We urge
      everyone to see it -- it shows so many facets of the violence, insanity, and
      human love that exist simultaneouly in our struggle together.

      We wish all our Jewish friends a Pesach Sameach, and our Christian
      friends -- a Happy Easter. We hope that all of our combined prayers over
      this holiday season will strengthen the energies of peace in our world.


      This report was prepared by Aida Shibli, Elana Rozenman, Hanan Totary

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      The Interfaith Encounter Association
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      Sheikh Muhammad Kiwan, Vice-Chair
      Mr. Shlomo Alon, Vice-chair
      Sheikh Ali Birani
      Rabbi Dov Maimon
      Ms. Ibtisam Mahamid
      Deacon Eng. Jirias Mansour
      Sheikh Tawfiq Salama

      Yehuda Stolov, Director
      E-mail: msyuda@...

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