August 2017, Week-long workshop at the Zenith Institute in the Swiss-Italian Alps
In the weeks before our gathering at the Zenith Camp in Switzerland this past August of the summer of 2017 there was a deadly terror attack at the third holiest site in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in the old city of Jerusalem. The subsequent installation of metal detectors by Israel triggered weeks of rage, counter attacks, and violent clashes throughout the Holy Land, causing suffering and casualties on both sides.
Fear of provoking violence in the region has led Israel to a ban Jews from praying or making any religious expression on the Temple Mount, which is Judaism’s most sacred site.
The people in our international group at the Zenith Camp in Switzerland wondered why this had happened.
In a week-long interactive workshop led by a panel of Abrahamic Reunion peace builders that included Rabbi Mordechai Zeller of Cambridge University, Sheikh Ghassan Manasra from Nazareth Israel, Dr Anna Less, and David Less, our group learned the history, and through interactive group process explored models for peace in the Holy Land.
It was a profoundly healing week for participants, who came mostly from Germany, but also from Austria, Poland, Hungary, Switzerland, Chile, India, Australia, and America. Abrahamic Reunion peace builder Rabbi Zeller, who is currently the Rabbi at Cambridge University in England, but who grew up in Israel, and whose ancestors came from Berlin, was a major contributor both to the discussion and the healing process.
In addition, Sheikh Ghassan Manasra offered comfort and hope to the participants, whose home countries have been dealing with a massive influx of Muslim refugees from Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
It is an influx that activates psychic scars in European communities still dealing with the legacy of World War II, and who struggle with fears of terrorism, and unfamiliar diversity, combined with guilt about their past. There has been little opportunity for people living in these communities to explore what is being activated in a dialogue process involving Jews and Muslims. Our interactive work, which used story telling, music, dance, deep inquiry, writing, and personal sharing, offered profound opportunities to heal the past, understand the present, and explore reassuring possibilities for the future.