I grew up in the United States in Wilmington, Delaware. For those unfamiliar with Delaware, it's a state on the East Coast, surrounded by New Jersey, Pennsylvania, & Maryland. After college, I worked at a ropes course, facilitating groups of kids and adults through team building activities, based on trust, communication, personal challenges, and more. I love working in such atmospheres and believe very much in the power of team building activities. Later, I worked as an informal Jewish environmental educator at Teva Learning Center. It was an amazing experience working there and I was so excited to meet fellow Jews who were interested in similar activities: environmental awareness & action, art, music, peace-building, learning, outdoor activities, storytelling, silliness, and more.
I've been living in Israel for the last couple of years, doing a variety of things. Most recently I've been working with a project called Jerusalem Stories, a storytelling and peace project, based in Jerusalem. It has been an enriching experience . It is the first time I have really had a personal connection with Palestinians and it feels great. I am happy to tell anyone more about it. I also had a very special experience participating in the Encounter programs (also based in J'lem) The Encounter tour takes rabbinical students and other future Jewish leaders and educators to the West Bank to visit and connect with Palestinians and learn their stories.
Why I want peace:
Like me, I suppose many of you on mepeace have been wanting peace in the Middle East for a long time. It feels frustrating at times that so much conflict remains and so many unnecessary deaths keep occuring. Frustrating (and sad) is clearly an understatement; It's hard too put my feelings into words. For the most part I try to remain hopeful, especially when I learn about new coexistence projects having success and seeing the great involvement on a site like mepeace.
I want peace because nothing else makes sense to me. I wish I better understood the history of each of the "sides". I sometimes feel stuck when people challenge with with certain facts or histories. For me it comes more from the heart. I've been considered naive when I've said that I just wish that we could all sit around the table and talk it out. I realize making peace is more complicated. But thank G!d, we have sites like these where we can "sit around the table" and talk. I want peace because more deaths and wars will not help. And because I believe we have the potential to make peace. I am very excited to connect with people on mepeace and learn from you and share with you.
When I was a young girl, I had a pet turtle named Speedy :-)
How I found mepeace.org:
From Eyal Raviv. We participated together on Israel Ride, biking from Jerusalem to Eilat & raising money for Hazon and The Arava Institute.
What I want to achieve here:
I want to make personal connections with a variety of people on the site.
I want the opportunity to learn more about the situation in the Middle East and the histories as well as things being done now to achieve peace in the region.
I want to stay informed on upcoming events & gatherings that will help me achieve the first two goals I mentioned.
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We [the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking] just received a modest grant to establish a peacemaking program linked to programs in Israel-Palestine
that are working for nonviolent coexistence for Israelis and Palestinians.
The grant calls for us to
a) prepare five or six students from Marquette to work in Israel-Palestine with groups or NGOs working for nonviolence;
b) bring speakers from I-P to be part of the preparation;
c) send students to work with a group or groups working for nonviolence. The students would be there from approximately May 15, 2009 to June 30, 2009;
d) conduct a follow-up program for the returning students, consisting of ongoing reflection, and presentations to the Marquette-Milwaukee communities about their experience
and understanding of the issues there. We would bring speakers in from I-P to help with this portion as well.
The grant, from the Frankel Family Foundation, leans toward Israel-based groups working for peaceful coexistence.
Dr. Terry Miller, who worked with Maryknoll, and particularly in the Middle East, is helping with his extensive experience and contacts in Israel-Palestine.
Limited as we are by language and liability, the best "match" we've found for our students so far is "Hand in Hand."
I am requesting your help in both areas, please:
1. Do you know of any other groups in Israel-Palestine that might fit our needs? I.e., groups that
a) are working for nonviolent coexistence;
b) can use English-speaking student volunteers/co-workers for those 6 weeks in early summer 2009;
c) will not expose our students to too much risk.
The sting of all problems between Israeli and Palestinians lays in the Old City of Jerusalem. Her status has to be solved in such a way, that all parties fighting for control over her can agree upon.
On June 24, the ‘Big Hug’ will be hold in Jerusalem. Light workers from Israel, Palestine and from all over the world, ‘Lovers of Jerusalem’, will come together to bring warmth and energy to this city, embracing holding hands the Old City. If we bundle all our positive energies and bring these to Jerusalem, we can create peace to this exceptional place.
We are organizing the Big Hug to make the people aware –especially the Israeli and Palestinian inhabitants of Jerusalem- that there is a very shaped perspective for the city of Jerusalem as a city of peace: a new, undivided Jerusalem, as the capital of Palestine, Israel and at large.
Let go of the conflict concerning her command and dedicate the city to the Omnipresent. The Old City as a whole is His Temple. To give the walled Old City free to God, as a "Status Apart”, as an independent city, will be the most feasible way to come out the current impasse.
The Old City of Jerusalem must become an open city; a House of Prayer for all the Peoples. This perspective is written down in the Holy Books, this is the perspective we, as ‘Lovers of Jerusalem’ embrace as well as solution. But how many people does already notice this hopeful point of view?
What I saw in Jerusalem and also everywhere else where I meet Islamic and Jewish people is, that not so many persons really think about a future for Jerusalem. Most of the time, they stick with old ideas that the Old City of Jerusalem will always remain a part of Israel, or in opposite, that it will be absolutely a part of a new Palestinian state, as stolen land that has to be given back. With these visions, a future Jerusalem will be a divided city with an East Palestinian and West Israeli part, with barbed wire and checkpoints in between, like the situation of the city from 1948-1967. Or, coming closer to an agreement, people suggest -like proposed in the “Geneva Accord” in 2003- to make a complicated dividing of the Old City in a Israeli and Palestinian part. That will mean that the small alleys will be split by walls and barriers too. The idea that a future Jerusalem will become a divided city, is something that we have to prevent.
There are living about 250.000 Palestinian and 500.000 Israeli rather close together in one city. Do they want to make a separation of Jerusalem in parts or do they choose, deep in their hearts, for unity? So my best friends, it is our task to inform the whole city that there is an alternative for the Jerusalem of today.
All lovers of a united Jerusalem will come together to encircle and embrace the Old City of Jerusalem with love and devotion. We have to encourage all inhabitants of Jerusalem to join the coming Big Hug, with the idea of a New Jerusalem that might be realized with their support.
Rob Schrama Phone:0031-646608660 www.loversofjerusalem.org