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GOOD NEWS & 2 REPORTS

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  • Yehuda Stolov
    Dear friends, I am very happy to inform you that thanks to the help of our dear friend Dr. Jodi Shams Prinzivalli it is now possible to donate to us securely
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 11, 2003
      Dear friends,

      I am very happy to inform you that thanks to the help of our dear friend
      Dr. Jodi Shams Prinzivalli it is now possible to donate to us securely
      online (using PayPal). Please have a look at:
      http://www.interfaith-encounter.org/donations.htm

      Please find below two exciting reports from Jerusalem:
      1. from our Youth Interfaith Encounter that had another stinulating
      study-session on May 26th
      and: 2. from our Women's Interfaith Encounter whose women went for a
      two-day retreat in the north. I hope you enjoy them as I did.

      Best wishes,

      Yehuda


      -----------------------------------------------------------------------

      Youth Interfaith Encounter - Study Session May 26th
      ***************************************************

      The group met again on May 26th at the Swedish Institute. The subject that
      the group agreed upon in the last meeting and that me ( Salah ) and
      Chananel were in charge of preparing and bringing the it to the panel was
      "Ibraheem Alkhaleel" 's story and his sons.
      I opened the discussion with the sentence that Abraham " Ibraheem
      Alkhaleel" was a rebellion. He rebelled against the believes of his people
      and further more according to the Quran against his father. We recited (
      if you can call that reciting) verses from the "Quran Alkareem" the parts
      that told the story of "Ibraheem Alkhaleel" with the idols and how he
      smashed them all and blamed the hugest of them in the deed, while asking
      his people a challenging question, after they had brought him and accused
      him with the "crime" his question was: "ask the idols how did it happen
      and they will tell you if they can speak or hear what you say?!" This
      brought his people to light a fire that the Islamic myth say it burned for
      forty days, and through "Ibraheem Alkhaleel" into it, but god the all
      mighty and most merciful ordered the fire to be cold and peaceful on
      Ibraheem.
      While that Mila asked a question that, as always, shifts the group to a
      new area, which the group always welcome. Mila's question was about the
      sources of the stories in the Quran Alkareem and the similarity to the
      stories in Judaism, and if at all who had a greater influence on the
      other's stories and who contributed to the other more in supplying
      materials for the mythologies.
      I answered that it is obvious that there will be a similarity between the
      stories since they all come from the same source which is "Allah". In
      Islam all the scripts came from this source in heaven. Secondly: the angel
      who was in charge of the annunciation and inspiration is the same one
      "Gibreel". The stories are the same stories, meaning that they happened to
      a people and were delivered to us describing the same occurrences and
      circumstances. The last point is that the fact the Islamic and the
      Midrashim, late Midrashim, are almost totally identical is due to the fact
      that religious Jews like the Rambam and others lived in Islamic states and
      were influencing and influenced by it. But to adjourn: we in Islam don't
      much mind where the story comes from (the sourc) as long it is mentioned
      in the Quran or in the Khadeeth of the prophet Mohamad Alayhi Salam so it
      is reliable and genuine.
      Just to say we mentioned the case of "Althabeeh": in the Quran it is not
      mentioned who was the son Isma'eel or Yitshak, even though some might say
      that it is understood that it is Isma'eel but many Moslem imams said that
      the opposite, in the bottom line it makes no difference in Islam, both of
      the sons arr messengers of god they both are considered holly in Islam and
      both of them are good people. In Islam this is not the main point, the
      point is that god asked Ibraheem to do something that is probably the
      hardest thing to do and he and his son both were ready to fulfill the
      commands of God "Allah".

      Salah Aladdien


      What is so exciting about the group is that whatever the subject we choose
      the group ends up discussing entirely different things. I think this is
      due to the group openness and comfortableness with each other.

      Mila was at first hesitant to ask her question concerning outer influences
      on holy texts be it the Quran the Bible or later explanations to either.
      It was wonderful that she did because we had the privilege to voice our
      opinions on the subject. As Salah mentioned the Quran comes from the
      source therefore questions of influence are not considered viable.
      From the Jewish point of view the picture is more complex. A lot of
      believers would be very uncomfortable to learn that there are similar,
      earlier texts describing events / myths like the flood. However, since the
      Bible is written the hand of G"d , He could have easily done this so that
      it would have been understood better by those who received it. A similar
      idea can be found in the Rambam who explains that certain commandments
      (sacrifices for example) where given specifically with the receivers at
      the time in mind. We also agreed that regarding events /miracles that
      happened to the Jewish people (for example: the exodus) it would be
      impossible to accept theories of exterior influence.

      warm regards

      Chananel



      ----------------------------------------------------------------------

      Women's Interfaith Encounter Retreat Thursday - Friday , May 22 - 23
      ********************************************************************

      A group of 18 women -- Jewish, Christian, and Muslim -- ranging in ages from
      1 - 63 -- left Jerusalem for a two day Retreat planned by Neima, Suhair,
      Tina, and Elana and sponsored by the generosity of a California foundation.
      Traveling on a large comfortable air-conditioned bus, we left behind the
      tensions and travails of our city. Jewish and Muslim prayers for travelers
      were recited for a safe and relaxing journey together. Nadia immediately
      created a game for everyone to play. We sang and laughed and enjoyed the
      camaraderie of our first outing beyond the walls of our meeting room that
      has served as an oasis of peace each month for us.

      Our first stop was Caesaria where Carolina who is an Archeology student
      gave us a tour of the recently excavated ruins there which stretch along
      the coast connecting the Roman ampitheatre with the Port and Crusader City.
      She explained to us the bloody history of the many changes and conquests
      of the area and one woman remarked "Nothing changes". The reality of our
      situation was thrust upon us when some Jewish boys insulted the Arab women
      among us -- and made us painfully aware of the hatred and mistrust that
      surrounds us.

      We proceeded on to Givat Haviva -- a lovely rural kibbutz-like setting
      which houses the Jewish Arab Center for Peace. The women had been paired
      off in double rooms by the coordinators -- putting women of different
      faiths together to get to know each other better. After dinner we did a
      lovely walking meditation in the cool moist evening air in the waning
      sunlight.

      Everyone felt renewed and refreshed as we entered our meeting room and sat
      in a circle. We hung our Peace Tapestry given to us by our SARAH sisters
      in California. We lit our URI candle that connects us with women all over
      the world and began with spontaneous prayers and blessings. We were all
      cheered by Neel, Aida's one year old daughter, who wandered around the
      center of the circle with her infectious smile and gentle energy. We
      acknowledged that she represented our future and was the symbol of all of
      our hopes for our children to live together in peace and have a brighter
      future.

      After Neima led us in an opening exercise choosing photographs that
      reflected our mood -- which ranged from despair to hope, we were led by
      Anastasia in a group art project on large paper. She had us begin by
      painting and pressing our hands on the paper as a symbol of reaching out to
      each other. Soon everyone was having a wonderful time smearing paint on
      their hands -- and creating a beautiful artistic expression of our group.
      Some exhausted members retired to sleep, but the rest remained for a
      spirited session of dancing to Arabic music and instruction in
      belly-dancing led by Nadia.

      At 7 a.m. the early risers did yoga led by Anastasia. When we returned to
      our meeting room Suhair led us in the circle expressing our morning
      feelings and everyone expressed positive and optimistic feelings and a
      recurring theme was how happy they felt to wake up and feel like they were
      with their family. One woman even commented that she felt better than with
      her family!

      We then did a series of paired interviews with questions modified from the
      URI Visions for Peace Among Religions project. We recalled and shared an
      experience of suffering from religious intolerance and then an experience
      of tolerance and acceptance. After our last question about deciding what
      we could do to build peace together as a group, Hanan led us in a
      brainstorming session that resulted in a long list of activities that we
      will pursue.

      Afterwards we gathered under the trees for our closing. We formed a circle
      and offered words that expressed our reactions and feelings -- and the most
      common was "love" and "more". We ended with a group hug, a wish to have a
      Retreat again soon, and many embraces. On the way home we had a brief stop
      at the beach in Jaffa and relaxed in the sun and sea air. Then all too
      soon we were back in Jerusalem, hurriedly rushing off to Shabbat or
      week-end preparations. Later comments included "I never thought that I
      would be spending two days with these women and losing track of who was
      Jewish, Christian or Muslim". "I feel hopeful knowing that we can feel
      like sisters together -- and the young women are my daughters." "I was
      inspired to watch my Muslim roommate bathing and preparing for her prayers
      and seeing her on her carpet -- I saw the beauty of Islam"

      We are very grateful to the California foundation that made this joyful
      respite possible. We are seeking individuals, foundations, and funds that
      are interested in supporting such activities and assisting us to continue
      and expand our work together building peace -- person-to-person.

      This report was prepared by Elana with assistance from Hanan, Aida, and
      Neima.


      -------------------------------------------------
      The Interfaith Encounter Association
      P.O.Box 3814, Jerusalem 91037, Israel
      Phone: +972-2-6510520
      Fax: +972-2-6510557
      Website: www.interfaith-encounter.org

      Board:
      Sheikh Muhammad Kiwan, Chair
      Sr. Karmela Farrugia, Vice-chair
      Mr. Shlomo Alon, Vice-chair
      Rabbi Dov Maimon
      Fr. Dr. George Khoury
      Ms. Ibtisam Mahamid
      Sheikh Tawfiq Salama

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

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