Rabbi Greg Wolfe's letter to the Dialogue Group following his synagogue's event

CONGREGATION BET HAVERIM
Jewish Fellowship of Davis

Daniel Abramson, Co-President                              Rabbi Greg Wolfe
Rob Jaffe, Co-President                                Malka Sansani, Principal

June 3, 1998

Dear Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group,
        Please extend my deepest gratitude to all the wonderful members of your beautiful Dialogue Group who came to share with us last Shabbat. It was an inspirational experience for me and, I am sure, for everyone who participated. The personal commitment of each one in the group came shining through. It really meant so much that so many of your group were willing to travel all that way to be with us, even Sandra and David, who were celebrating their anniversary.
        Your efforts are a bright light of hope at a time when it is easier to despair, criticize, or attack those on the other side. Thank you so much for providing us with a model that respects everyone and is committed to personalizing the conflict that has polarized Jews, Palestinians, and other Arabs.
        On a personal note, your warmth and commitment, your loving concern for all humanity, and your deep care for this project comes through in everything you do It has been a pleasure working with you to prepare for this event and I feel that the entire evening was a tremendous success. I know that many seeds are planted and that our harvest can be rich as we begin the follow-up work. I plan on sharing our success with my colleagues and hope that other congregations will want to host similar events. Did you tell me you had brochures or pamphlets on the work of the group?
        In reviewing our event, you asked me to share some thoughts that can improve the program. Here they are:
         A dinner or meal sharing is an excellent way to bond a group of participants. I liked how we did it at the beginning with a smaller, more intimate group, but it could work many other ways.
         I think "The Lemon Tree" was also a powerful way to initiate a conversation. I am happy to duplicate the video for you to use in further programs. It might be helpful, though, to generate specific questions for discussion following the video.
         I loved starting the program with the slides and singing peace songs in Hebrew, Arabic, and English. I think this would work well in many settings.
         While I enjoyed the opportunity to share Shabbat with everyone, I believe that we took too much time away from the program by having it in the context of a service. There is so much to discuss and learn and share that this kind of program really demands a format all on its own. The panel just barely had time to talk about how/why they got involved I would have liked to hear even more about the struggles and challenges that everyone faced. My major suggestion for next time would be at least an hour for the panel and an hour for Q & A.

Best regards to all,         Rabbi Greg Wolfe

Member of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations
1821 OAK AVENUE DAVIS, CALIFORNIA 95616 (916) 758-0842 FAX (916) 758-2310

Rabbi Wolfe can be reached by e-mail at RGAWOLFE@AOL.COM
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