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Children of Jerusalem, Families of Faith

An interfaith program to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict including a lecture, painting exhibition and a series of community dialogues.

Community Contact Information:
Temple Beth El
Charlotte, NC
www.beth-el.com

Goals: 

  • introduce the community to the issues underlying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 
  • bring the interfaith community together in positive dialogue about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 
  • lay the foundation for future interfaith conversation.

Overview:
A series of interfaith events to promote greater awareness, understanding and dialogue related to Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The program featured a lecture and discussion by a war-affected Israeli and Palestinian, an exhibition of Israeli and Palestinian children’s paintings about war and peace and a series of community dialogues between the three Abrahamic faiths.

Preparation:
Members of the social action committee and congregants of the local Masjid (Mosque) planned the event. Responsibilities of the organizers included: 

  • development of a marketing and promotion plan, 
  • frequent committee meetings, 
  • conference calls and email distribution list to coordinate the development, review and implementation of the many aspects of the program.

Marketing was targeted to a database of print media, TV and radio media, area colleges, houses of worship and religious organizations, the area political, leadership and social action community, the non-faith community and public, religious and independent schools.

Project Implementation:
The Children of Jerusalem Families of Faith program consisted of three core programs with numerous elements:

1. Children of Jerusalem Painting Pain, Dreaming Peace Exhibition
• Exhibition Gallery Guide for participants.
• Facilitated Dialogues – Group Tours of Discovery. Using selections of the artwork, poems and quotations from these children of Jerusalem, the Charlotte Coalition for Social Justice (“CCJS”) provided trained facilitators to help groups of children and adults learn some of the many lessons found in the exhibit.

2. Lecture: Reaching Out: "Bereaved Families Supporting Peace, Reconciliation and Tolerance"
• “What We Can Learn From the Children?”
“Encounter Point”. Trailer from the Award Winning Documentary.
• “What We Can Learn From the Families?”
• What Can We Learn From Tonight? Questions and Answers
• What We Can Learn From One Another?
• Prayers for Peace.

3. Community Conversations - Learning to Have Difficult Conversations Where There is Conflict While Building Bridges of Understanding
• “Unity or Disunity: Is Faith Bringing Us Together or Driving Us Apart in Charlotte?” – A Panel Discussion.
• “The Abrahamic Family - Abraham, Ishmail and Isaac” - A Community Conversation at a Masjid.
• “Understanding the Difficult Texts of Our Faiths” - A Community Conversation at a Synagogue.
• “Healing our World - Tzedakah, Zakat and Charity – What’s Next?”- A Community Conversation at a Church.

Following the success of the program, the synagogue hosted a “Sabbath of Dialogue” Service, joining communities from over 50 synagogues and 50 mosques, representing over 100,000 Muslims and Jews throughout the United States and Canada, to strengthen the relationship between the Jewish and Muslim communities. The service’s theme was "Confronting Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism Together as Three Abrahamic Faiths." The rabbi delivered a sermon with the Imam of the Masjid. The pastor of a local Baptist Church shared words of reflection as part of the service. The synagogue was filled to capacity with worshipers of all three faiths.

Results:
The dialogue and openness from the program led to the development of a number of new relationships and opportunities for dialogue. A partnership between the synagogue and masjid was established involving the development of common services and other activities.

This program received a Fain Award in 2009.