Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Encounter with the Other

In preparation to meet with an Inter-faith group
 from the USA I prepared the following
 which I would like to share with you. 

When did I first encounter the other?
At home, where I was born, in Glogau in Silesia.  In school I was the only Jewish girl in my class in a Catholic school.
In Germany we did not live in Ghettos. Lutherans Catholic and Jews lived in the same neighborhood, door to door, had their shops in the same vicinity.
All told the Jews were only 0.8 % of the total population within Germany.

All this changed when the Nazis came to power. Total segregation followed.

With one of the Kinder-transports I came, aged 15, to England. There we were considered not only as refugee children, but as foreigner, when war broke out as Enemy Alien.  There we were allowed to work as an agricultural worker or domestic help in restricted arias, all within a strange surrounding.

My father perished in 1943 in Theresienstadt and my mother 1944 in Auschwitz.

May 1945 as soon as the war in Europe was over, I came to Palestine.
From the beginning I encountered the other, be it Jews from other countries or the local Arab population, who lived in nearby villages. I participated in the war of independence. Later I lived in mixed Arab and Jewish towns like Akko, Haifa and Jerusalem.

1960 studied to become a Tourist guide, which included intensive Inter-religious Studies, with Prof. Flusser and others. That is when I joined the IIA Israel Interfaith Association, which was founded many years earlier, and was led at the time by Dr. Falk and Michael Krupp.

My children joined the Scouts and eventually I became a Scout master and founded and led a group in one of our developing cities. Summer camps were a joint Jewish and Arab adventure. 1971 we also invited German scouts to join us for an international and inter-faith Scout Jamboree.

 In the 70' and 80' I studied Sociology and Education at the Haifa University which was opened especially in the north of the country, to facilitate Arabs to study near home.

1988 was invited for a lecture tour in Germany and spoke in schools, Universities and communities in many different towns, and did this annually for 20 Years. My hosts were mainly Pastors or teachers of religion.
1989 presented a paper "Who will be the voice in the Future" at the Scholars conference in the USA.

1995 when I was widowed, moved to Jerusalem and carried on with Inter-faith work.

Lea Green from the States gave a workshop "Compassionate Listening" in Jerusalem for Israelis and Palestinians. The second one took place in Bethlehem. The third one had to be divided because of the Intifada, but we did meet in Tantur for a one day session, I participated at all of them and kept in touch with Lea. On my initiating, she also held similar workshops in Germany.

With the Israeli Interfaith Association we visited Chan- Junis and Nablus and met in Jerusalem. Michael Krupp still publishes the three- Faith- Calendar each year.

Soon after that the Interfaith Encounter was founded by Dr. Jehuda Stolov. Many different groups were started all over the country.

December 2001 we started a women's group, led by Elana Rozenman. We had regular monthly meetings, in spite of the Intifada and an occasional joined outing to meet other groups.
When my grandson in 2002 fell during the fighting in J`enin, women from all Faith visited me.

2003 Father Shoufani from Nazareth together with a Muslim Journalist Nasir Ma'dali and a Jewish woman decided to pay a joined Inter-faith visit to Auschwitz. We had several preparatory meeting beforehand including a visit to Yad Vashem.
The visit was an outstanding experience for all of the 250 participants. There is a DVD available about this trip.

 Elana founded "Trust" which I co-founded with her. It is run in a similar way, trying to help people to overcome prejudices and to trust each other.  A few months ago we had a 10 year anniversary.
I belong to several other groups, meeting of Jews, Christian's incl. Armenians and Muslim, where we introduce and study different aspects of each other's Faith.

To "Encounter with the Other", you have to get up and do so. You have to be willing to explain yourself, without trying to convince the "Other" that your way is the only right way.
By encountering the other face to face, on an equal level can you get to know each other.

         As an old saying goes,"Many Roads led to Rome". 

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