On Saturday slept late, as the kibbutz was quiet around us due to the Jewish Sabbath. All of the kids, especially the boys (!) helped prepare our own breakfast outside. The entire group sat together at the table, we heard the Muslim blessing, and then we ate a breakfast of yogurt, tuna, cheeses, vegetables, and cornflakes. Before each meal this week, following the Kids4Peace tradition, we hear the blessing over the food from a different religion. It is always special to hear different blessings in different languages.
After the entire group helped clean up breakfast, we began our religious text study. We divided into smaller groups and read texts dealing with environmental justice from the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian faith traditions. We shared which texts we connected to most, and learned that all of the holy books include passages instructing us to take care of the world and the environment. We also discussed the concept of justice. Tarik Abu Hamed came to speak to the group about his experience. He is Palestinian and grew up in Zur Baher in Jerusalem, studied (3 degrees!) in Turkey, then returned and became Israel’s Deputy Chief Scientist. He works at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, located in Ketura. His story is incredibly inspiring, and we all learned from his story and the difficulties he overcame. He stressed the importance of cooperation over land and water, and between the different populations living here.
Then, we had lunch in the kibbutz dining hall, followed by a long rest time and time to pack for Jordan, where we traveled on Sunday. After resting and packing, we started an amazing session where we built our own Kids4Peace Neighborhood. The kids were divided into pairs and given different responsibilities in creating the neighborhood – we had mayors, religious leaders, a town song writer, and pairs who were responsible for designing the roads, shopping centers, education, community center, environmental sustainability, and more. The kids first shared their own experiences from the neighborhoods they lived in, and learned more about each other and each other’s realities. Then they got to work to design a neighborhood that would include all the religions and peoples and would be culturally sensitive to Muslims, Christians, and Jews – and Israelis and Palestinians – living together. You can see pictures of the neighborhood below and be sure to check out the Kids4Peace Jerusalem Facebook Page to watch videos of the kids explaining their vision for a shared neighborhood.
We were amazed and inspired by the kids’ vision for the future, and we hope that some day, we will lead the change to truly create a shared and tolerant neighborhood for everyone. In the meantime, we are off to Jordan to the EcoPark, to continue learning about “Our Land, Your Land, Whose Responsibility?”