Dear TalkMatters Supporters

As we enter the second week of 2024, I dread what lies ahead.  The landscape has changed with a global war threatening.   More and more polarisation within our UK communities.  More and more fear and uncertainty for the Israelis and Palestinians who face the escalation of death and destruction.  

We are crying out for a new way to counteract the growing schisms in society.  How can our hearts and minds accommodate the horrific October 7th massacre and hostage-taking of Israeli men, women and children and the subsequent war and killing of Palestinian men, women and children that is going on as we speak?

Rachel Goldberg-Polin is my role-model.  Her son Hersch has been held hostage since he was captured at the Nova music festival on that fateful day.  Despite Rachel’s unbearable trauma, she insists on acknowledging the pain and suffering of those on the other side.   In a speech at the United Nations, she read out a poem she had written, imagining a mother in Gaza:

And I know that way over there
there’s another woman who looks just like me
because we are all so very similar
and she has also been crying,
All those tears, a sea of tears
they all taste the same

It takes an amazing person to suffer so and not take revenge.  And this on a much smaller scale is the philosophy of the initiatives that TalkMatters supports.  The initiatives, be they music, ecology, high-tech, religion, etc. enable Israelis and Palestinians to connect with each other’s pain and suffering.   Thedarkness of the current situation requires us to recognise the shared humanity that unites all Israelis and Palestinians.

I am thankful for our community of cooperative Israeli Palestinian initiatives for cultivating empathy and open communication.  This is the only way forward: building bridges of compassion and understanding together with, of course, a massively needed new political direction.

Today we bring you news of the Seeds of Hope Programme at the Leo Baeck Education Centre in Haifa, the annual report from the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and an update from the Primary School at Wahat al Salam/Neve Shalom

I hope you, like me, are heartened by reading about these inspirational people, and what they are doing.  If so, please pass this email on to friends and colleagues and invite them to join the TalkMatters mailing list.

All good wishes,
Jenny and the TalkMatters Team.

Leo Baeck Education Centre Haifa (LBEC)

The LBEC is a vibrant, pluralistic education centre serving more than 35,000 Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Druze and Baha’i community members, working in the most dynamic and mixed neighbourhoods. Specific programmes support Ethiopians and other immigrant populations, vulnerable children and families in crisis. The LBEC is involved in numerous local and international peace-building programmes focussing on Arab-Jewish shared existence.

Rabbi Aaron Goldstein reports on his recent visits to the the Seeds of Hope Programme.

I have been fortunate to visit Leo Baeck Education Centre twice in the last month. There is so much to be inspired by but I want to highlight our Shared Society programmes and particularly the Community Gardens in Ein Hayam – Wadi Al-Jamal.

Based in this mixed, mainly low-income neighbourhood, the municipality has provided the land and LBEC the funding to enable over forty households to grow together. They grow food and community.

The gardeners are a mix of Christian and Muslim Arabs, Druze, and Jews of all descriptions. 

The gardeners celebrate each other’s festivals and holidays including having a Bar Mitzvah ceremony for the garden.
They literally plant seeds of hope

The Leo Baeck Education Centre is featured in our directory and has their own website.  There are details of how you can donate to help support their work on this page of their website.  

The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies

The Arava is a leading environmental studies and research institute located at Kibbutz Ketura in Southern Israel. With a student body comprised of Jordanians, Palestinians, Israelis, and participants from around the world, the Arava offers students the opportunity to learn from leading professionals while forming friendships and developing skills that enable them to lead the region and the world in solving today’s most pressing environmental challenges.

The Arava Institute is featured in our directory, has their own website and joined us for a webinar in March 2023.  There are details on this page of their website which show how you can donate to help support their work. 

The Primary School at Wahat al Salam-Neve Shalom 

Wahat al-Salam~ Neve Shalom (WaSNS)  is a unique intentional community of Jewish and Arab-Palestinian Israeli citizens, located midway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The primary school is bi-lingual and bi-cultural MORE  Its educational system paved the way for the growing number of Israeli Jewish/Arab-Palestinian primary schools. At present there are six schools in Israel that follow the WaSNS model. 

The Primary School at Wahat al Salam-Neve Shalom is supported by the Oasis of Peace UK, which is featured  in our directory, and have their own website .  There are details on this page of their website  which show how you can donate to help support their work.

Please pass on this information

Please pass on this information to your friends and colleagues.  Please talk about the human stories that we share with you. In the horrendous circumstances we all find ourselves, TalkMatters continues to introduce the UK public to the people who refuse to see one another as enemies.  We believe in supporting the grass-roots work in Israel and Palestine and we know that it is only by working together with you – our UK supporters – and with our Israeli-Palestinian Associates that we can ever walk another path.  A path that leads to a future of peace, justice and equality for everyone. 

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We send out regular newsletters like this, and run our own in-person and online live events – we’d love to be able to keep you up to date!  Please subscribe to our free mailing list using the form on this page.

Thank you for your support.

Jenny and the TalkMatters Team.