Monday, March 16, 2009
My leather journal is packed with thoughts and observations, yet this is the first journal entry I’ve made public. The lack of regular computer access made it difficult to contribute. Somehow though, it has been enriching to spend a week disconnected from the world at large. Looking back, I can say that immersion in this country’s history, geography and politics was in fact strengthened by my cutting off everything else.
Today was one of my favorite days. After two days wearing our feet weary on the streets of Jerusalem, we piled back on the bus to travel south into the Judean desert. Verdant rolling hills dotted with Jewish settlements gave way to barren sand hills, speckled with Bedouin camps. Sheep rambled upon ancient herding paths and medjool palms reached to the sky in neat square groves.
We spent the first part of the day at Masada, a ruined fortress perched 1,300 feet high on a flat rock plateau. This UNESCO World Heritage site presented us with hours of history and legend. Masada was set up as a refuge by King Herod between 31 and 37 BCE, and later taken over by Jewish rebels in 66. When the Romans attacked years later, Masada became a place of mass organized suicide—its people preferred death to slavery.
With history pulsing through us and the sun beating down, we continued on to the Dead Sea. One by one we stepped into the water, and despite being full of pita and hummus, allowed our bodies to become like living buoys. Shouts of childlike glee could be heard across the sea in Jordan as played, trying to avoid getting burning drops of water in our mouths and eyes.
We finished the day sitting in a semi-circle just a few meters from the cave where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found years ago. The sun’s light rode slowly away on the faint songs of birds, and we debriefed as a group for the last time in Israel. We were still for a while in God’s presence, and then our voices spoke once more of faith and friendship, past and future, fear and hope, striving and waiting--all of it settling like dust at our feet.
-- Jennifer Ward
Saturday, March 14, 2009
As we were sitting in St. Anne’s Church in Jerusalem, silence was required—except for church hymnals. Our group started to walk downstairs, when I heard singing from another group sitting in the church: “We’ve come this far by faith; leaning on the Lord. Trust in his Holy Word; he’s never failed me yet.”
Chaplain Jennifer happened to be standing next to me and we both began to sing the African American spiritual. It was at that moment that I truly realized how important and essential music was to my faith. As I heard the melody, I couldn’t help but smile and thank the Lord.
Later in the day we visited more sites and reached the first century steps in Gallicantu. Unlike many things in Jerusalem, these steps weren’t built upon and are original. They were also on the path Jesus walked. Several members of the group took off our shoes to walk where Jesus walked and truly feel what it may have been like.
As I walked up and down the steps, with my shoes in my hands, I broke out in song: “We’ve come this far by faith; leaning on the Lord…” I couldn’t get the hymnal out of my head. Walking up the steps at Gallicantu, with that song in my head and heart, I could feel the spirit of Jesus. It was the most spiritual moment of the trip so far…I’m looking forward to more.
--Clarence Cross III
I thought I had this trip already mapped out in my mind but my experiences here have been very different from what I expected them to be. I thought I would be engaging on a completely spiritual journey but I can't help but feel very distracted by everything going on around me. I am hearing and seeing Arabic and Hebrew. I am eating falafel and swarma. I am seeing monks and rabbis. It is a complete sensory overload.
I expected this trip to bring the Bible stories I have read to life. I have visited the location of the Last Supper, the tomb of King David, the place of Jesus' birth and so much more. In addition to meeting those expectations, this trip has been teaching me even more about humanity and hope.
Visiting a Palestinian refugee camp really put a different spin on this trip for me. I think the best way to see God at work and feel his power is to understand the hope that people have in them while they continue to make something out of nothing, which is the slogan for the dance and drama program at the center in the refugee camp. The director of this program was an inspiration to me because he was empowering kids who he said had very little opportunities under the circumstances they were in.
-- Racquel Clarke
Friday March 13, 2009
After spending all day in the West Bank receiving a lecture from a Palestinian pastor about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and then a visit to a Palestinian refugee camp my heart literally broke.
As an Interfaith Youth Core Fellow, I believed story telling was the answer to the problem. But after hearing yet another story, I cracked. I broke. Today these stories that used to inspire me to advocate and fight for each side began to suffocate me. My heart broke because I finally saw this conflict for what it really is; a messy, bloody, painful, disgusting, heart-breaking, faithful battle. Yesterday I lost my innocence and as a result, lost my belief in a chance for peace. The love I have for my friends who have become my family on both side of the conflict still exists, but my faith is a solution was destroyed. And as an eternal optimist, this lack of faith is a profound and excruciating identity crisis.
-- Nikole Saulsberry
As we’ve traveled to different sites around Israel and now the West Bank, I’ve carried my Bible with me everywhere, looking up the sites before we reach them and reading verses to myself while there.
Today we crossed the boundary into the West Bank to visit Bethlehem, and the Church of the Nativity. Our guide left us at the border and we met another guide across the wall. We entered the Church of the Nativity, which is shared by three church denominations, the Greek Orthodox Church seeming to take up much of the space. As we waited in line to descend a stone staircase to visit the site that marks the place where Mary gave birth to Jesus, a Polish group in front of us started singing Silent Night in their language. AMAZING. It blew my mind and for the first time on this trip I had tears in my eyes. The capstone to this experience, though, was the opportunity to read the story of Christ’s birth from Luke’s gospel.
This was honestly the first time that I have felt powerfully moved by a site we visited, and I think it is the human element—the heartfelt offering of a common hymn—that moved me. What has surprised me most about the trip and what should not surprise me, is that the important part of this trip has not been visiting sites, but instead it has been the dialogue between honest and open people in this group sharing their perspectives and experiences on this trip. Which is great news, because while I cannot bring the Mount of Olives home, my relationships with God and with people do travel.
-- Elizabeth Crosby
Finally! For the first time in my life the Dome of the Rock stood
right in front of me. It was a magnificent structure to behold. In
the midst of the dark night it glowed and I couldn't divert my eyes
from it. I was speechless. To think that after 60 years I, the
grandson of a Palestinian refugee, would be standing in front of this
sacred structure was unbelievable. My mother was never able to see her
land's most important site, neither were her brothers and sisters. My
grandfather died in 2002, 34 years after he was expelled, never seeing
Jerusalem again. His sons and daughters only knowing Jerusalem through
his stories. My mother, who was born in 1972, and her siblings have
never touched the sacred soil of this land and neither have any of their
sons or grandchildren. Until now.
I was the first of my grandfather's descendants to come back, to return and to see. The image that I grew
up with: the golden dome, was always a distant dream. So far away,
pictures would be the closest that I would get to seeing it. The image
of this mosque was everywhere I grew up. Accompanied by differing
verses of the Quran or Hadith promising justice or redemption. My
whole life was surrounded by this picture.
There's a prayer that is said during Friday sermons and in taraweeh extensively: "God, grant us
a prayer in (your holy mosque at Jerusalem) before death takes us. "I
never thought God would make me one of those who he granted the right
to pray in His sacred mosque. But here I was, in the sacred
sanctuary, atop all of Jerusalem, facing the Dome of the Rock. No
words can describe the emotion. To my right was the Al-Aqsa mosque,
even more sacred than the dome.
This is our claim to Jerusalem, I thought, this is why we fight for this land. So many have been
martyred to keep this in the hands of the Muslims. Images of Caliph
Omar, Abdul-Malik and Saladin came to my mind. Men who strived to
keep this land sacred. I was ever thankful to the Lord that He brought
such men to Jerusalem. Not only as a savior to the Muslims but also to
the Jews and Christians. They ruled with justice and kindness which
resulted in benefits for all. Inside the Al-Aqsa, I prayed to be like
these men and bring peace to Jerusalem. Reminded by the verse, "Pray
for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee," Psalm
122:6, I came out feeling that peace was on it's way from the heavens.
-- Ahmed Al-Salem
At times, I can’t help but think, “Why didn’t I know that before?”
After going through two check points and switching buses (which is mandatory when traveling from Jerusalem to the West Bank), we arrived in Bethlehem, which is part of the infamous West Bank. I’d heard and read so much about this area before—typically in news reports that cited the latest death toll or yet another suicide bomb that was detonated. Never before did I think I would be in this region, seeing it for myself.
What struck me most about this was the disparity between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, two worlds I could never compare until now. We walked through a Palestinian refugee camp, filled with many children of all ages scurrying around, playing in the gravel-laden pathways. This area, where people are forced to live without privacy (stacked on top of one another in tiny cement houses) and with the omnipresent smell of grime and rotten food, should never be tolerated or allowed for human life.
Driving back into Jerusalem felt like a world away from the images and people I’d seen some 20 miles way. It was suddenly white and clean.
Now that I’ve seen all of this with my very own eyes, I’m able to make my own conclusions and formulate my own responses. I feel blessed that I can make these decisions now for myself without any certain perspective telling me what I SHOULD believe. A piece of my innocence may be gone but I might be fine with that if it means that I’m a step closer to understanding more about the world around me.
-- Elizabeth Ferree
Though I was born and raised a Catholic, I rarely think of myself as a Christian. I consider myself as deeply religious, but find the structure of institution to be restricting. In Galilee we visited numerous holy sites, but the ones that most touched me were those most far removed from civilization; I cannot experience the mystery that is the universe when I am surrounded by the crush of modernity. In Nazareth we ascended a mountain to a monument called the Three Faiths Look Out. It was a moment of serendipity; a place reserved for our group, built for our group, though those who made it never heard or thought of us. The clarity one can receive on a high place of the world is staggering. A compelling lecture of the ministry of Jesus was being delivered while the Holy Land lay at my feet, but all I could do was stare out at the world and appreciate and attempt to understand its magnitude, beauty and perfection. I was reminded of how critical it is to be removed, removed from the bustle of modernity, from community, and even from oneself. It is when we move from living with and understanding the small parts of the world, and strive to look as it as a whole, that we can truly find how it is meant to work, and what our place is in it.
-- James Tiedemann
Thursday, March 12, 2009
If I thought hearing the Call to Prayer atop a mountain was moving, words cannot begin to describe the feeling of hearing the Call to Prayer blended with the ring of church bells. While we left the Church of the Annunciation, where Mary received the message that she would give birth to Jesus, I experienced this musical interfaith phenomenon. It was at that moment that I became incredibly thankful for my two years as a music major. The Call to Prayer being a vocal line and the bells being an instrumental line created beautiful harmony and simultaneously beautiful dissonance.
These sounds articulated what I couldn’t put into words. The vocal line of the Call to Prayer is passionate, filled with vibrato and genuine emotion. The church bells, while warm, inviting and beautiful, are majestic and institutional. I expected to be moved by the Church of the Annunciation, but my lack thereof left me jaded. Perhaps this is why I felt more of a connection to the Call to Prayer than I did the churches bells. The harmony I spoke of was a truly melodic harmony. The dissonance I spoke of was a personal dissonance of faith.
-- Nikole Saulsberry
While acknowledging that interfaith dialogue is is an important and
critical component in having an understanding of the situation that
presents itself in Israel, I have approached this trip through a
different discipline and lense. As a student of political science and
international relations, I have come to know the history and politics
behind the region we now find ourself in. On Wednesday we traveled to
Mt. Arbel and I was in complete awe with the scenery that was before
me. Looking in one direction I could see the mountains of Jordan.
Looking in another I could see the snow covered mountains of Syria and
Lebanon. To be in one country while looking at four others is a rare
occasion that one hardly experiences. To add to the moment, Israel
was staring in the face of a friend, in the case of Jordan, and to
those that do not have the most cordial of relations with the Israeli
state, in the case of Lebanon and Syria. This was a moment for me
when all the things that I have learned about this region came into
place, like a puzzle of some sort. It was the realization that this
small state lives in a volatile section of the world that continues to
be a source of not only political disputes but of religious tension.
This trip has provided me with not only an opportunity to expand upon
my knowledge of the political and historical complexities that exist
but to learn about the importance that interfaith dialogue plays. An
understanding of one another's religion allows the building of trust
to occur. Such an appreciation of this may prove to be one possible
solution in trying to find a lasting and viable resolution to the
hostilities that continue to exist today.
-- Garret Pustay
I have had an extreme growing experience on this trip so far. Having
been to Israel before and never been to many of the sites we have
seen, I feel as though I have been missing out on some of the history
that Israel provides us with. I really appreciated the Ancient
Synagogue Arbel because it seemed as if it was recently discovered and
we just stumbled upon an ancient ruin. Our group particularly enjoyed
it because we had just come from sites that could be deemed as tourist sites
because of all the groups we were passing from different countries,
all sporting backpacks and hats. We posed on top of columns, made our
own discoveries (found the arc where the Torah was placed) and took
pictures that we will remember for a lifetime. The lookout was
beautiful and it felt to be all ours, something we could claim as our
own, Three Faiths, One Humanity 2009.
--Emily St. Lifer
I'm writing this from a hotel in the center of bustling Old Jerusalem.
Here in the lobby there are two men at the front desk speaking Arabic
and listening to Sean Kingston, and to my left "Sex and the City" is
playing on TV with Hebrew subtitles. From up on the balcony of my room
I heard the Adhan, the Muslim call to prayer, reverberating over city
buildings and city noises that didn't match its majestic sound. A
member of our group was detained at the airport because of his Arabic
name, yet that same student met three good friends in town - a Jew, a
Muslim and a Druse - who thought nothing of their differences. This
is a place where a church, a mosque and a temple are located on the
same block, yet it is home to some of the fiercest political conflicts
in the world. It's a place rich in its paradoxes. It's a place
where your expectations are turned upside down. I have been surprised
by the mixture of faiths and cultures here. Of course there are Arab
sections and Jewish sections, churches, mosques and temples, but every
street sign is written in Arabic, Hebrew and English. Most can speak
each other's language. They all use the same highways. They all love
their God, their land and their families.
I've seen something happen to our group in the past few days. Either
Israel is transforming us into a similar paradoxical yet cohesive
body, or we are simply seeing a reflection of ourselves through our
experiences in Israel. Jerusalem is proving to be a place where the
culmination of our interfaith dialogue is possible. It's hard to
explain in words because it's not really a process that can be
replicated like a recipe. It happens naturally, through shared living
space and thoughts, and being a little vulnerable.
-- Anna Koulouris
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Imagine being in the place where miracles happen. That’s what today was for me.
Today, we traveled to Galilee and stayed on the Mount of Beatitudes. I couldn’t believe we would be staying in the place, let alone walking around on the grounds where Jesus gave his famous Sermon on the Mount speech. We then had lunch by the Sea of Galilee, the place where Jesus walked on water, which happens to be my favorite biblical story. We also saw the place where Jesus fed thousands with two fish and five loads of bread. I still can’t believe I was in the place of miracles today.
After dinner we traveled to the town of Tiberius. While walking the streets of Tiberius with Ahmed and Asim, we met three young men: an Israeli Jew, Syrian Druse and Palestinian Muslim. Again, despite the Israeli conflict, I managed to see another piece of hope. We asked the three of them “How were things? How was life in Israel?” They each said “It was fine. Life was great.”
Ahmed, Asim and I were all taken aback. We continued to discuss our encounter back at the hotel, where we thought maybe things were skewed outside of Jerusalem? Or maybe Jerusalem was skewed? Was the media exaggerating the conflict?
So while I couldn’t answer these questions, I decided to wait to make a formal conclusion about the conflict until I visit Jerusalem…tomorrow.
-- Clarence Cross III
“By and by, when the morning comes. When all the saints of God are gathered at home. We will tell a story of how we overcome, and we’ll understand it better by and by.”
What I understand about today is that Israel is more beautiful, more holy, and more sacred than I can even begin to comprehend. Many times overlooking the Sea of Galilee I had to close my eyes to shield it from the immense beauty they beheld. I felt as if I was looking directly into the face of God. I was captivated, enamored, mesmerized and unbelievably humbled. Today I understood why there is so much animosity and debate, wars and bloodshed over this land. It is Holy beyond Holy. But as the day turned into night and my breathtaking view of the land turned into a mystical nighttime dream I remembered the words of my Savior, “my kingdom is not of this world!”
There is a new promised land and Jesus is the way to that land. After standing atop Mount Arbel and simultaneously looking at the lands of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Israel, what I cannot understand, but have faith that I will, is not how the fighting will be overcome, but how there can be any place more beautiful and as glorious.
-- Nikole Saulsberry
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Today we visited a small community outside of Tel Aviv that was created around the idea of peaceful coexistence between Jews and Palestinians. Wahat-al-Salem Neve Shalom means “Oasis of Peace” in both Hebrew and Arabic. It was fascinating to walk through a community committed. In a country with so much conflict, this community searches for solutions through understanding and conflict resolution.
Within the community is “The School of Peace.” The school has Jewish and Palestinian students. This is unique and powerful due to the dual educational system in Israel. Our guest lecturer spoke of how the school was committed to bettering Jerusalem through developing a mutual understanding and identity of and for each culture. He spoke of how the school uses Black feminist writings to develop identity models. I would have never thought the far reach of such academic literature. As he continued to speak about the conflict and possible solutions, I couldn’t help but think about the parallel to the American Civil Rights movement: the separate but equal education systems, the lack of care/ understanding for the other race of people and the failure to see the many possibilities. This school and the conflict in Israel paralleled so much to the Civil Rights Movement for me.
The school also made me really think about the role Christians have in this conflict. The speaker mentioned, Christians were accepted but it was obvious, their commitment was to community development surrounding the Jewish-Muslim friction. I continued to reflect on the large country conflict and asked myself, ‘Do Christians have a dog in this fight?’ As a Christian, Israel and Jerusalem are just as important to me as to Jews and Muslims. But when I hear about Israel, I only hear about their conflict- Christianity rarely being mentioned. As I kept unpacking my thoughts I concluded that each religion shares the same passion over Israel. Yet, it’s the Muslims and Jews who have a pride for the country I fail to possess. I fail to be nationalist over Israel and just view it as The Holy Land.
Upon our return to the hotel later that evening we discussed the day, mainly the coexistence community. I was surprised at the number of people who viewed the community as ‘unrealistic’ or ‘not possible.’ For me it seemed like a viable solution. It was a possibility. The school was a hole in a wall of racism, war and prejudice that exists in Israel. Similar to the integration of American schools in the 1960s and the election of President Obama, which placed holes in the wall of racism for America. This school seemed to put a hole in the wall of the Jewish-Palestine conflict. Despite the fact these walls remain, it’s these holes through which hope and possibility can be seen.
-- Clarence Cross III
Monday, March 9, 2009
“I know I’m going to get retained.” As we arrived to a warm Tel Aviv airport and walked towards Israeli customs, I recalled Ahmed telling me this in JFK as we discussed our arrival to Israel. With my optimism I responded “Think positively and it won’t happen.” Sometimes optimism isn’t enough.
As I walked toward customs, I lagged behind everyone. I was finishing the last third of my granola bar. I always enjoy the customs lines. It’s fun to watch the array of people wanting and waiting to enter a country. Israel was no different. There were long lines filled with people of varying nationalities, ethnicities and religions. We met our guide who suggested we quickly move through customs to board the bus.
Reflecting what Ahmed told me, I watched Ahmed, the chaplain, at the customs booth. I watched with angst to see what would happen. Then Ahmed, the student, was called and I continued to watch like a kid waiting for a firework to explode in the sky. As I watched, I heard faintly in the background, “next.” The sound became louder and more aggressive which is when I realized the customs agent was speaking to me. I stepped forward, handed my passport over, answered two questions, smiled and watched as the agent looked at her computer, then the passport, then me, then the passport again. She stamped it, handed it back and I moved on. Moving past customs, I assumed Ahmed and Ahmed would be waiting with the other members of our group- I was wrong.
Ahmed, the chaplain, joined the group a few moments later, but still no Ahmed, the student. I thought, maybe due to the conflict, that they asked him a few extra questions because of his name. I convinced myself that was reasonable thought and action.
Everything was through customs, when we received the news that Ahmed was in fact being detained. Our bus driver encouraged us to get on the bus and said it could take a few minutes, maybe 30 minutes, possibly an hour. The group decided to wait in the airport for our final group member. So, the group sat down in long line of chairs against a back wall.
Thirty minutes passed, no Ahmed. One hour passed, no Ahmed. Another thirty minutes, and still no Ahmed. I went to the bathroom, exchanged some money and made conversation with fellow group members. A few moments later, Ahmed appeared, head held high with his signature smile. This was my first introduction to the country of Israel. A one hour, 39 minute wait for my Muslim friend with a Muslim name. All I could think about was how much I was glad to have my friend rejoin the group and how I wished I saved that granola bar.
-- Clarence Cross III
We carried suitcases, briefcases, backpacks and purses. We carried pillows and books and newspapers and laptops and magazines. Some loads were weighted down by experiences of oppression, judgment and condemnation. But many loads were effortless and light, the product of idealism in a young democracy, the United States of America.
Our first full day in Israel was spent in an intentional community that housed Jews and Arabs, celebrating holidays together and educating students in a school that taught all in both Hebrew and Arabic. This city on a hill sits as a testament in stark contrast to much of the conflict in the area. It was a wonderful day spent learning about the community and eating amazing food.
We ended our day with a three hour drive to Galilee, passing Mount Carmel where Elijah proved God’s might, and passing the sea of Galilee incredibly lit by the full moon. Dinner was followed by discussion where, for the first time, our raw emotions and perspectives were exposed.
The evening was a blessing, as we really connected as a group and our baggage was exposed. Two observations relative to that point struck me.
One of our group members, after discussing the intentional living community, asked why these communities were not springing up everywhere in the country. A range of answers popped up having to do with the complexities of history and politics. I held on to the innocence and idealism of this question.
Shortly afterwards, two of our Jewish group members passionately expressed the importance of Israel to them, describing some of the difficult but ultimately triumphant story of Israel. A Muslim student responded that it made this conflict so much more complex to him because some of his relatives had been displaced in the conflict, but hearing this impassioned argument changed the story.
I have often wondered at the intractability of some conflicts with the same idealism—why can’t we all just get along? Then I see the depth of the issues – such as in the second story – that seems to answer the question. As a privileged member of U.S. society, a very young country light on baggage – it is hard for me to fathom the influence thousands of years of baggage can have on one’s perspective.
This was a memorable evening and an amazing start to what I know will be an incredible journey.
Our delegation arrived safely in Tel Aviv. On this first evening in the Holy Land, we were welcomed to Neve Shalom /Wahat Al-Salam, an intentional Jewish and Arab community. We savored our delightful evening meal of baba ganoush, hummus, olives, salads, squash soup, lentils and rice. The group is now retiring after many hours of travel from Syracuse.
Tomorrow is our first full day in Israel. We will learn more about Neve Shalom /Whahot Al-Salam and their work toward peace between Jews and Arab Palestinians. During the afternoon our Jewish students will lead us in the retelling of the story of Esther for the festival of Purim. Purim began this evening at sundown and concludes tomorrow evening. Purim is one of the most joyous holidays on the Jewish calendar. It commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination.
At the end of the day tomorrow we travel to Galilee for the next two days on our interfaith journey.
- Kelly Sprinkle
My first observation of Israel was the white buildings I observed from the window of the airplane. This reminded me of the presentation we had last Monday, when we were shown pictures of Jewish settlements and the comparisons between them and Palestinian settlements. I was surprised to see Arabic written on the signs in the airport and underneath the traffic signs and direction boards on the highways. I wasn’t expecting to see this.
- Asim Mohammed
I was surprised by how much the Middle Eastern culture has affected Israel and its people. I thought it would have more of a European identity but I was wrong. When we were driving down one of Israel’s main highways to our first destination, I couldn’t help but feel like I was home. Everything, from the desert sand to the palm trees to the Arabic written on the signs, reminded me of home. I was pleasantly surprised.
- Ahmed Al-Salem
Traveling by bus and on a plane with 19 others tends to make for interesting situations. Take this casual conversation I had with Lowell, the executive director of SU Hillel, as we were sitting around the Frankfurt airport discussing varying perspectives on the housing situation for the trip. I exclaimed in pure gladness, “Oh my, the guest house we’ll be staying in tonight sounds fantastic!” Lowell replied, “Guest house? I didn’t know we were staying at a guest house! I thought it was called Neve Shalom.” To the average on-looker this may seem like a petty point of interest, but to me our conversation represents much more. Even though Lowell and I disagreed on the exact name of our residence for the night, we did agree on much more. Both avid New York Yankee fans, we discussed the years prior to when I was born and the years to come for the baseball franchise. The mere disagreement over a simple proper pronoun wasn’t going to send our friendship down the tube. Instead, I’ve come to see that this conversation represents this trip as a whole. Here we stand, all of different faiths, with various views on exactly what occurred in this utterly sacred area, yet we can still come together in friendship, kindness and respect to see the true person behind something such as a title, a religion.
Tomorrow, we’ll spend the day here at the guest house (or Neve Shalom /Wahat Al-Salam, if you will), learning more about disagreements still taking place in this holy land. Neve Shalom /Wahat Al-Salam represents a community where Arabs and Palestinians have learned to live peacefully together, putting aside minimal differences (like the conversation between Lowell and I) and ushering in feelings of respect and gratitude for one another. This is the idea of the trip, understanding we all have our own way of living/looking at things, and appreciating those differences in others.
Throughout the next seven days, we’ll post updates about our encounters with people just like us -- searching for love, a sense of community and most of all, understanding.
- Elizabeth Ferree