Galillee Religious Leaders Forum Meets Jewish Students and Faculty at Yeshivat Ma’aleh Gilboa

On Monday, March 28th, I participated with about 30 religious leaders from our GALILLEE RELIGIOUS LEADERS FORUM in a unique and important encounter at the yeshivah of the Kibbutz Hadati at Kibbutz Ma’aleh Gilboa, in the beautiful Gilboa mountain range overlooking the Bet Sha’an Valley and the mountains of Gilad in Jordan. This forum—which is co-sponsored by ICCI and the Division of Religious Affairs of the Ministry of Interior of the State of Israel—has been meeting for the past 3 years. It is one of most important initiatives with religious leaders in Israel because it is creating real regional relationships among religious leaders in the north of Israel.

Last spring—in April 2010—about thirty religious leaders from all over the Galilee who are affiliated with this forum–came to an Arab High School in the Israeli Arab town of Shfaram, for lectures, text-study discussions in classrooms and a school-wide assembly. This year, it was decided that it was time to do something similar in a Jewish school, and the leadership of Yeshivat Ma’aleh Gilboa volunteered to host us.

Yeshivat Ma’aleh Gilboa is led by three wonderful modern orthodox rabbis: Rabbi Yehuda Gilad, who is also the rabbi of Kibbutz Lavi, Rabbi Shmuel Reiner, who is also a rabbi in Mitzpeh Netufa, and Rabbi David Bigman. All three rabbis—and several other rabbis and educators from their professional staff—spent the day with us in a warm and intellectually stimulating series of encounters.

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Face to Face/Faith to Faith 2011 off to a good start

by Paula Bu, intern at ICCI

Each year, ICCI partners with the Auburn Theological Seminary to bring together Palestinian and Israeli teens from East and West Jerusalem through the Face to Face/Faith to Faith program. Throughout this yearlong dialogue and leadership program, these teens engage in various activities and discussions during the meetings and even travel to upstate New York in the United States for two weeks in the summer. There, they have the opportunity to meet other youth from regions of conflict such as Ireland, South Africa, and certain communities in the United States.

Thanks to the facilitation of Miki Joelson and Maisa Zoabi, this year’s Face to Face/Faith to Faith program is well underway with an opening seminar and two meetings already under their belt. I had the opportunity last week to speak to both facilitators. From my discussions with them, it clear that this program is not one that is only rewarding to the teens. Even as she is finishing up her Master’s in Jewish Art History, Joelson is intensely involved in Face to Face/Faith to Faith with the conviction that dialogue between different people who live in the same place is crucial and with the hope that she can provide opportunities for youth to meet others who offer unique personal narratives. Also a graduate student, Zoabi is pursuing a Master’s in Policy Administration and Education while using her role as a facilitator to learn how to lead dialogue groups that are based on honesty, respect, and the simple fact that all those involved are human and equal.
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Jerusalem, Jerusalem

ICCI intern Paula Bu attended author James Caroll’s ICCI-co-sponsored lecture on the myth and reality of Jerusalem

To the very day I flew out of my New England bubble in America, my over-anxious mother repeatedly asked me, “Why Israel? Why Jerusalem?” Perhaps it is because I am an Asian-American or a non-Jew, but throughout the past month and a half I’ve been studying at Hebrew University, I have been asked the same questions on numerous occasions by other students of my study abroad program as well as Israelis. Regardless of how quickly the discussion ended with understanding nods as soon as I said, “Well, I’m majoring in the comparative study of religion…” I grew frustrated for giving answers that were unsatisfying to myself. It was not that I knew very much about the Israeli-Arab conflict or all the religious sites located in Jerusalem, but despite my lack of knowledge, it was the idea of Jerusalem that had compelled me. The idea of a sacred city, the idea of a city that stops running on Shabbat, the idea of a city that people fought over for thousands of years drew me away from a college life that was starting to feel unfulfilling and into a city that mattered.

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