neve shalom/wahat al-salam…
…/Oasis of Peace is a village southeast of Tel Aviv that is an intentional community made up of Jews and Palestinian Arabs, all with Israeli citizenship. Since the 1970’s 50 families have come to live in this small area, families who are devoted to peace and living in respectful relationship as both the healthiest way to bring about peace between people, and as a model for the rest of Israel/Palestine. I spent some time with them last week… walking the streets, meeting the residents, visiting the schools, and seeking out their spiritual center. These are folks who are committed to finding solutions to the problems that arise between those who are fundamentally different yet who have so much in common. And it is working.
Children come to the Peace School from the village and all around this agricultural area. The schools teach both Hebrew and Arabic and they do it well because the teachers are native speakers! The students learn the histories, traditions, and cultures of both people and they share their thoughts and feelings about one another with mutual respect. Their families are neighbors and their parents speak well of one another. Could it be so easy to live as friends??
The pluralistic spiritual center is located on the edge of town, on a beautiful hillside. The entrance is a courtyard of a Meeting, Prayer and Study House with space for Muslim prayer on one side and Jewish synagogue teaching on the other, with a small kitchen they share so they can offer hospitality to everyone who finds a way to their door. Plus there is a separate House of Silence a bit further down the path. Around these structures are lovely nature paths for hiking or strolling that I enjoyed as I prayed and listened for God’s presence. Could it be so easy to find peace??
There are plans to expand the community to include up to 140 families here. But they are trying to determine how to add families who will fit well into the life of peace that can sometimes get difficult when something happens in the larger countries of Israel and Palestine. It is really not as easy at it appears at first glance. But these folks are committed, with every part of their daily lives, to making peace become the reality now and for their children.
At a time when Israeli-Palestinian relations seem to be at a new low, here is a village whose people still believe their engagement together in peace programs and intentional living can offer the hope needed so badly in the Mid-East. Jesus says, “Blessed be the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9) May these children always know the blessings of their God as they work for peace!
salaam/shalom/peace – Pastor Pat
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