“The hall was filled with love and hope”

k4p-article

“We all gathered there for the same reason, to make peace and still keep our own identity, while also sharing it with one another” – Alona, 9th grade K4P participant

On Sunday, Kids4Peace participated in an interfaith prayer and dialogue event called Praying Together in Jerusalem. Over 150 Jerusalem faith-based activists gathered at Tantur and spent three hours together, praying side by side, engaging in dialogue about constructive conflict in religion and sharing a meal at the end to the soft and poetic music of the Oud. The beautiful simplicity and also staggering rarity of seeing Muslims, Jews and Christians praying simultaneously, side by side, in their own groups, but in the same room, was striking, and set the stage for what was a moving, empowering, and engaging evening.

Seven Kids4Peace staff members helped facilitate a few of the dialogue groups and 30 youth, parents and community members from Kids4Peace participated in the evening. The dialogue was led by two facilitators of two different faiths with groups of 10-15 participants from all over the world. We examined sources from the three Abrahamic faiths as well as a modern conflict resolution studies text, which all discussed how to engage in conflict and how to do it in a constructive way. We mused on how to take these pieces of wisdom and bring them to our daily lives, how to be more compassionate and engaged in conflict, and how to continue working towards a more peaceful and inclusive Jerusalem.

For Adam, a Jewish 10th grader in K4P, it was an interesting evening: “It was great to have a dialogue with different people from different religions, and not only with the kids I know from K4P.”                                                                                                                                              Anton, a Christian 12th grader in K4P, was really happy to find out that “there are way more communities that support peace than I thought! I was glad to meet them, and it was nice to talk about my experience in k4p!”

The prayer part of the evening was almost indescribable in its simultaneous simplicity and courageously unique bravery. In one big room: Muslims set up their prayer mat and began praying facing Mecca. Next to them one Jewish group had a traditional prayer service, facing the Western Wall. Next to them was an egalitarian Jewish prayer circle, and next to them was the Christian prayer service, being led by the director of Tantur, Father Russ McDougall. Each group could be heard singing, chanting and praying silently, simultaneously, in a moment of awe-inspiring holiness and beauty.

“Watching the joint prayer from the side was an unforgettable experience. The hall was lit up by people filled with love and hope.” – Yael, Pathways to Peace coordinator

“It was a very special experience. There was one moment that was the most meaningful for me. The Muslim, Christian and Jewish prayers that were just right next to each other felt so strong and full of faith. We all gathered there for the same reasons, to make peace and still keep your own identity, while sharing it with each other.” – Alona

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Praying for One Another, Even When We Disagree

02 March 2017article

By Loyola Ranarison*

Around 170 people gathered and prayed together on 19 February in Jerusalem, observing the fifth annual “Jewish Week of Constructive Conflict”.

From 19-25 February, the special week was celebrated by the “Praying Together in Jerusalem” movement (PTIJ) comprised of faith-based organizations. On 19 February, around 170 people met at the Tantur Ecumenical Institute of Jerusalem for an evening called “Praying Together for Constructive Conflict in Jerusalem”. There were times of prayers, reflection and singing. Participants were Christians, Muslims and Jewish and everyone could pray or meditate. They also shared talks and meals at the end of the session. Blessings were given in Arabic, English and Hebrew.

Dr Yehuda Stolov, executive director of the Interfaith Encounter Association, says “In the current reality, where the situation is unstable in the Holy Land and the Middle East, it is essential to consistently build peaceful inter-communal relations that will ensure ethical and caring behaviour towards people of other communities, as the Interfaith Encounter Association does on a daily basis”.

Despite the difference, there is room for dialogue

The Jewish Week of Constructive Conflict is also known as the 9Adar Project. The aim is to address political divisions and to attempt to build bridges within and between Jewish communities.

What is “constructive conflict”? It recognizes that, despite the differences of opinions, engaging and dialoguing are still possible. This year, synagogues, schools and local institutions focused on “constructive communication”. Activities and workshops were organized around contentious conversations and hurtful words.

While this event is mainly held by and for the Jewish community, the PTIJ initiative joined the events to show that religions, often linked to conflicts, could also be part of a peace process. “The importance of this festive event is in its inclusion of larger audiences and their attraction to the ongoing work of interfaith encounter,” shares Stolov.

PTIJ is an initiative coordinated by the following organizations: Tantur Ecumenical Institute, Elijah Interfaith Institute, Abrahamic Reunion, Interfaith Encounter Association, Kids4Peace, Sisters of Sion, Microphones for Peace, Pardes Center for Judaism and Conflict Resolution, ADAShA, Jerusalem Center for Interreligious Encounter and Dibbur Hadash.

They meet every last Thursday of the month in the Old City of Jerusalem to pray for each community and to learn more about the beliefs, practices and sacred texts of the respective traditions.

Originally published at: http://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/praying-for-one-another-even-when-we-disagree