EUJS’ dedication to interfaith dialogue was reaffirmed and reinforced in this year’s first Connecting Muslim-Jewish Action seminar. The event was held in the picturesque location of Gollwitz, Germany, and brought together over 30 Muslim, Jewish and non-Muslim/non-Jewish activists from across Europe. The week-long learning process was doubled by a hands-on, practical approach to change-making, with participants committing to the development of a Muslim-Jewish Dialogue Toolkit – work that was facilitated by expert guests and our very own Benny Fischer.
Openness to debate, awareness raising and policy-oriented thinking were the default mindsets as we split into specialized working groups, tackling three main topics: Combating Xenophobia and Discrimination (led by Benny Fischer, President of EUJS), Talking about the Conflict in the Middle-East (led by guest speaker Raphael Tyszblat, mediation, intercultural dialogue expert) and Intra-community Views on LGBTQI Issues (led by Nassr Errami, lecturer and trainer).
The produced toolkit can be viewed in the end of this post.
The proverbial seminar cake was crowned by many cherries. A touching Havdalah ceremony, in the cold winter air managed to warm up the atmosphere on our first evening together. Special guest Member of the European Parliament Miltos Kyrkos got the work going by practically reminding us of the benefits that games can play (pun intended!) in education and beyond – we tried out a game designed by the MEP himself and we can assure you it was not easy, but it sure was fun! We take this chance to thank Mr Kyrkos for his presence and his continuous commitment to youth! We joined our Muslim colleagues in a moving evening prayer and spoke via Skype to Rabbi Yehuda Sarna from NYU Bronfman Global, one of the protagonists of the movie “Of Many”. We travelled to Berlin where we met with two local interfaith initiatives and, lets not forget, we roamed the streets in search of the city’s best falafel!
Beyond the fruitful efforts of the working-teams, the skill-building activities and the knowledge gained throughout the week, the quality time spent together – singing, dancing, composing beats or watching childhood videos of each other – were invaluable steps in what, at the end of the day, is the most palpable measure that we are moving forward in the necessary, mutually-enriching and most natural commitment to interfaith dialogue.
We thank all of the participants, guests and team members who made this seminar the unique experience that it was, the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe and the Muslim Jewish Conference for their partnership, support and their continuous commitment to youth, dialogue and a more inclusive society.