Today was a day for visiting each other’s holy sites in Jerusalem. A day for casual conversations about one another’s faiths and connections to Israel, and some quiet but intense dialogue about theology and “process.” There was talk late in a very long and very hot day that the participants were avoiding the “tough stuff,” but then it has only been three days.
A frequent contributor to our web site, whose use of aliases is undermined by his consistent racism and oddly anti-Semitic Orthodox chauvinism, dismissed my first account of the trip with a snide “Kumbaya?” But what’s wrong with Kumbaya exactly? Sure, group hugs and platitudes are no substitute for real peace or cooperation, but has peace or cooperation ever come about without some dramatic or symbolic gesture of outreach or understanding?
In truth, the Kumbaya critique was concerning folks on the trip, and in a debriefing session some asked what kind of tachlis — that is, concrete — followup and constructive engagement there will be at trip’s end. This is already a group that has addressed gang violence in Newark — members were confident that they could find a meaningful way to carry the lessons of the mission back to NJ.
And an encounter late in the day — between the group and representatives of Family Circle, a forum of 600 Israeli and Palestinian families who have lost loved ones in the conflict, hinted at the possibilities of both reconciliation here and future steps back in the States.
More on that in a future post.