Again. . .from Jerusalem to Berkeley, it is young people -- not waiting for "adults" -- inventing their preferred world, and getting to the core and human heart of important matters.
not related directly to the Middle East, The Mosaic Project in Berkeley,
California is an extraordinary model of diverse, united 4th and 5th graders
working toward a peaceful future in their formative years.
With essential skills to thrive in an increasingly diverse society, they intend to seed the future population of middle schools, high schools, and beyond with new kinds of individuals who help diverse people live and thrive together.
There is more on the Web, at http://www.mosaicproject.org/ , where you can order their wonderful music CD with songs like "Empathy Song," "Fighting is not the Solution," "Paz," and "Salaam."
The Mosaic Project's creator is Lara Mendel ( Lara@mosaicproject.org ).
about three (3) examples of Middle East-related youth initiatives.
Then help young people in your neighborhood come together, find their voices, hold tenaciously to their (and our) idealism.
Fulfill their (and our) destiny -- Palestinians and Jews, neighbors forever -- becoming the best Jews, Muslims, and Christians we can.
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In Spring 2004, Northern California Muslim and Jewish teens of STEAMM dedicated two months to weekly exploring one another through personal story, arts, music, and dancing.
Then STEAMM -- Soulful Teens Exploring the Arts, Music, and Movement -- invited family, friends, and community to an inspiring FINAL CELEBRATION evening of personal sharing, dancing, and bountiful, home-prepared Middle Eastern food at a Berkeley beautiful yoga studio.
Co-directors of STEAMM were Jewish Aliza Rothman ( AlizaJoy@yahoo.com ) and Palestinian Dina Ramaha ( DinaRamaha@hotmail.com ).
Photos are at http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=8AbtmbJq0aMmuZ .
Here are excerpts from j., the Jewish news weekly of Northern California -- Friday June 11, 2004.
The full story is on the Web at:
Dancing toward harmony
Berkeley class brings Jewish, Muslim teens closer
by Alexandra J. Wall
Ahmed Hashem, 19, who came to the United States from Iraq when he was 10, had mixed feelings when he started the 10-week program. Sunday is your weekend, and you dont want any responsibility, he said.
But as time passed, we really got to know each other on a deep level. It became something I want to do, not that I have to do.
With the help of a grant, STEAMM was born, and Rothman found a co-facilitator in Dina Ramaha, a 28-year-old Palestinian American educator and counselor who jumped at the chance to get involved.
I didnt even know I got paid until after I signed up, said Ramaha, who lives in Concord.
Her activism so far has been related to fund-raising and spending time in the Al Aksar refugee camp on the West Bank. She hopes to work in the mental health field in Ramallah after she gets her masters degree.
I wanted the teens to learn more about their religion, practices and culture, and individually, who each person is, said Rothman.
They always wanted more time, said Rothman. They were so curious about each other and always wanted to know more and get more from each other.
The Muslims were a mix of Palestinian, Lebanese, Iraqi and Iranian descent, and most were immigrants. The Jews were a mix, too: The one who was not born Jewish was probably the most observant of them all, another calls herself extremely Reform, two attend Jewish day school and one has a Chinese father.
One highlight was when Ramahas mother cooked a Middle Eastern feast for everyone.
For Ramaha, however, the most rewarding part was to see how supportive the teens were of each other, socializing outside of the program and making plans to stay in touch.
Lara Fowler, an 18-year-old from Piedmont, said she appreciated how safe the atmosphere was. You can say just about anything and not get shot down.
The more you get to know people, the more you get to like them, said Borhan Oskoorouchi, 20, who came from Iran at age 12 and joined Hashem in the weekly drive to and from their San Jose homes. Though he had Jewish friends before, and joked with them about being non-pork eating, this was the first time Oskoorouchi learned about a bat mitzvah.
Mayan Stanton, a 13-year-old from El Cerrito, said she never knew that observant Muslims can pray in a synagogue or church if a mosque is not nearby. I think thats really cool, she said.
A student at Brandeis Hillel Day School, Hannah Syr, 14, faulted her Jewish education for teaching her only about Jewish suffering.
While she understood the enormity and uniqueness of the Holocaust, she said, Jews are not the only victims in the world. Other people are suffering too, including the Palestinians.
Hashem who quickly became known for his hugs was convinced by his experience with STEAMM that communication is of paramount importance. People must understand that this has to be the next step, he said. Communication is the first step in creating any type of peace or understanding.
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This is about Peace Child Israel, on the Web at http://www.mideastweb.org/peacechild/ .
Through the medium of theatre and the arts, Jewish and Arab youth in the Middle East practice compassionate listening, dialogue, critical thinking and non-violent communication.
They address issues of identity, stereotypes, mutual respect, equality in a democratic society, as well as cultural similarities and differences.
Role playing, reverse role-playing, collage, movement and improvisation are among the numerous tools used to facilitate learning by doing at Peace Child Israel, facilitated by dedicated Melisse Lewine-Boskovich ( MLBAKB@bezeqint.net ).
Below are excerpts from the Catholic New Service -- June 10, 2004
The full story is on the Web at http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/20040610a.htm
Jewish, Arab teens use acting skills as way to
promote Mideast peace
By Judith Sudilovsky
Catholic News Service
JERUSALEM (CNS)---Yousef Hamdan burst into the dressing room where a group of Jewish and Arab girls were finishing their makeup.
"They are here. The whole school, all my friends are here," he said. "My heart is thumping so hard."
The girls squeal and there is a rush of excitement in the room as more boys -- Arabs and Jews -- rush to report on the arrival of their classmates at the Jerusalem International YMCA's auditorium.
After a year of meetings and rehearsals, Hamdan, 18, along with 14 Jewish and Arab amateur actors, will perform live for the first time an original play they created based on their meetings and discussions. The theme of the play is coexistence.
"At first I thought all Jews hate Arabs but now I see ... we can get along with them," Hamdan said.
"I am representing all today -- all Arabs -- to build a relationship between Arabs and Jews. At first I didn't dare say anything but now I am able to say things. It's like there was something inside of me and I was able to let it all come out," he said.
The drama groups, organized by Peace Child Israel, seek to bring Arab and Jewish teenagers together as a way to build a better future.
The use of drama and theater allows the teens to explore coexistence issues more deeply than by sitting in a circle talking, said Abeer Hadad, an Israeli Arab actress.
Each group is facilitated by two people -- an Arab and a Jew, one of whom has a background in drama and the other in social work and group facilitation.
"No one wants to give up on their language and they want to express themselves in their own language. For the others to understand them, they learn that the spoken language is not everything; body language is also important," she said.
"It's true that we are all different but we also have a lot in common," said Dafna Awadish, 15, a Jewish girl.
"I want to think that Jews and Arabs can connect, that we can respect one another as we are," she said.
The outcome of many dramatizations is incorporated into an original play that is performed for the teen's peers, friends and families.
The group intends to stay together for another year and perform their play for school groups, said Lewine-Boskovich, a Jewish facilitator for the group.
Jewish Ariel Oseran said the year of rehearsals the group did before their first public performance was necessary in order to build cohesiveness.
"We needed to build up our (relationships) and tolerance toward one another before we reached the stage we are now. We wouldn't have been able to do the play otherwise. We are more mature now," he said.
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A few young woman high school seniors created for their community a one-day "Israeli-Palestinian Relations Workshop," because they weren't satisfied with what their traditional education and popular media were telling them about Palestinians and Jews -- the people, conflict, and possibilities.
So they personally invented a format, and found a venue and a Sunday, to bring together their peers and interested adults in a new, helpful way.
Two of these creative organizers are Mollie Wolf ( Mollie.W@comcast.net ) and Sascha Atkins-Loria ( Sascha700@aol.com ).
Photos are on the Web at http://share.shutterfly.com/osi.jsp?i=EeAN2zNk1aNGTMNg
Excerpts follow from j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California -- Friday June 18, 2004
The full article is on the Web at:
Israeli-Palestinian dialogue elicits cheers and tears
by dan pine
Though there was no Jerry Springer-like throwing of chairs, feelings ran hot just below the surface at an Israeli-Palestinian workshop held over the weekend in Berkeley.
About 50 participants of all ages crowded into a sunny upstairs social hall at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists to engage in the dialogue on Sunday, June 13. Organizers Mollie Wolf, Sascha Atkins-Loria, Talia Kostick and Hannah Perrin welcomed everyone and then set the ground rules.
We have no political agenda, said Atkins-Loria. We must listen and learn to form opinions.
From the panel presentation, attendees broke up into small-group discussions. The young organizers made sure mutual respect remained paramount. An extensive discussion about why and how people find it difficult to acknowledge views with which they disagree preceded all talk about the Middle East.
Once things got going, facilitators had group members write questions on note cards. The questions were then transcribed onto poster paper and hung up. A survey of the group posters showed that issues of concern included such topics as Israeli persecution, Israeli brutality, cycle of violence, harming children and powerful vs. powerless.
Afterwards, attendees gave the event mostly positive reviews.
Gordon Gladstone of Berkeley Hillel, and one of the panelists, said, Here, people from diverse viewpoints talked civilly to each other. It was unique to what Ive encountered.
Said Laiah Idelson, 16, of Walnut Creek: It was great how people of differing opinions can share their beliefs. There were no hard feelings.
That wasnt exactly the case for Maayan Ravid, however. The people I would most expect to be working for peace were pushed to extremes. I heard so much sympathy for Palestinians and a lack thereof for Israelis.
Libby Traubman, co-founder of the Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group, enjoyed the experience, but added, Theres a difference between a single event and a sustained dialogue. This type of event brings up feelings that take time to be plumbed. But for a beginning, it was a beautiful thing.