Overview of the study program

In the following you will find selected examples which reflect the character of the study program for volunteers. Altogether it includes about 180 events per year.

I. Learning from Jews: In responsibility for the past

  • Kristallnacht Commemoration (preparation and realization)
  • Holocaust study days in Museum Lochamei HaGetaot and its Center for Humanistic Education
  • Participation in a Yom HaShoah Commemoration
  • Encounter with Shoah Survivors of the first and second generation
  • Study day in Yad VaShem

The Holocaust study day

The creation of a fresh start in the relations between Jews and Christians – as well as between Israelis and Europeans – was one of the first aims of the founders of Nes Ammim. Only 2 km from Nes Ammim is kibbutz Lochamei HaGetaot. The survivors who had fought against German soldiers in the Warsaw ghetto founded it and established the world’s first Holocaust museum. There the volunteers get new access to history. The educational concept avoids too much theoretical reviewing of historical material, but prefers to tell personal stories. Face-to-face meetings with Holocaust survivors and other contemporary witnesses are one important element. In the Center for Humanistic Education participants have the unique opportunity to learn about the contemporary reception of the Holocaust and its importance for the local dialogue of Jewish and Arab Israelis.

II. Learning from Jews: Jewish religion and culture

  • Introduction to a synagogue service including visit of a reform synagogue at Kabbalat Shabbat
  • Erev Shabbat Ceremony
  • Beit Midrash Weekends (study of the Torah and Talmud)
  • Encounter with members of different Jewish groups
  • Kibbutz life
  • Folk dance class and visiting public dance events
  • Hebrew Language Course
  • Learning by experiencing Jewish feasts

Lectures on Israeli Culture

Avner Shai, a son of Holocaust survivors and a reserve officer in the Israeli army, is an authentic and competent lecturer. When he speaks about the Israeli army, he brings with him a soldier and a mother who lost her son on the battlefield. He speaks also about the connection between the Hebrew language and Hebrew culture, about Jewish immigration, the modern Reform Judaism, about the period between the Second World War and the establishment of Israel. Once a year Avner takes the volunteers to Tel Aviv and shows them his birth city in his own inimitable way.

III. Israel – experience in the country

  • Excursions to places of interest in the Galilee (Jewish, Arabic, Muslim, Christian, Druze, general)
  • Negev seminar
  • Day trips to Tel Aviv, Nazareth, Lake Kinneret, Golan Heights, Haifa
  • Lectures, for example about young Palestinian Arabs with Israeli citizenship, the experience of Aliya (immigration to Israel), the connection between language, culture and conflict
  • Hiking tours in the Galilee
  • Visiting Archeological Sites (such as Meggido, Beit Shean or Caesarea)
  • Picking apples in the Golan heights with a Syrian Arab Druze family and learn about their daily life

The Negev seminar

For three days, the volunteers go to the Negev desert. They sleep under the open sky, walk in dry riverbeds and through weird rock formations, they cook and eat together outdoor under the stars. The Negev is for most of the volunteers their first contact with the ancient wild culture of the Nabataeans and also with the contemporary Bedouins’ culture. During these three days, the Nes Ammim volunteers get to know both themselves and the desert better. Besides all these new, adventurous impressions, those three days benefit the social cooperation.
Impressions of the Negev seminar, taken by Ralf Braun, Melanie Müller and Matthias Holtmann of the German TV channel SWR:

IV. Engagement: Palestinian and European Christian Dialogue

  • Encounter with Christians of different churches (Baptists, Greek-Orthodox, Greek-Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran)
  • Visiting Nazareth Bible College and Israeli Arab Bible Society
  • Lectures (e.g. about Palestinian Christians, Theology of Land, the “Kairos” document)
  • Attending local church services (especially at Christmas and Easter)
  • Day trip to Palm Sunday Procession in Jerusalem
  • Palestinian-European Conferences

Ecumenical or Christian-Jewish Conferences

We join ecumenical or Christian-Jewish conferences in Jerusalem or Bethlehem and we host these conferences in Nes Ammim. The ecumenical dialogue between Palestinian and European Christians shows their different context. The connotations of the word “Israel” in the bible for example are different in Palestine and in Europe. Learning from Jews as victims is easier than as perpetrators. A special challenge is the “trialogue” between Jews, Palestinian and European Christians. Sometimes the participants are surprised by the unexpected agreements (even regarding the political situation).

V. Engagement: Interfaith Dialogue

  • Visiting a mosque with explanations
  • Lectures about amongst others Jesus in the Islam, religion and politics in Islam, Ramadan
  • Druze religion and tradition
  • Excursion to the Bahai Gardens, Introduction in Bahai religion
  • Jerusalem Seminar

The Jerusalem seminar

Under the motto “Town of Three Religions and Two People” this seminar discloses the Jewish, Muslim and Christian world in a city which has been sought after and hotly contested for hundreds of years. The participants face a Jerusalem that presents itself as an alluring and confusing city, crowded by people, religions, cultures and with a long, long history. The volunteers get the opportunity to look into the religions’ “backyards”. These three seminar days in Jerusalem open the eyes to the beauties – and complexity of – the Palestinian Eastern and the Israeli Western side of this town.

VI. Engagement: Political Dialogue

  • Introduction into the middle east conflict, specially the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (lectures)
  • Visiting destroyed Palestinian villages
  • Visiting memorials for Jewish victims
  • commemoration for Israeli soldiers (including two former Nes Ammim volunteers)
  • Participation in a Palestinian-Israeli Nakba/Yom HaAtzmaut Commemoration
  • The role of the army in the Israeli society (lecture and discussion with young soldiers)
  • West Bank seminar
  • Day trips to the West Bank with several Israeli groups (Rabbis for Human Rights, MachsomWatch, Combatants for Peace, Breaking the Silence)
  • Tour along the Separation/Security Fence with Givat Haviva

The West Bank seminar

During the West Bank seminar the volunteers get the opportunity to stay overnight in Palestinian (Muslim and Christian) families. While traveling they see how the local population experiences the separation fence and the checkpoints. Talks with students and volunteers, with Palestinian refugees, with Jewish settlers, with a mayor, a farmer and a diplomat of one of the Representative Offices in Ramallah give various impressions of life and of the political situation in the West Bank.

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