“As many of you know, our here, especially in Jerusalem, we live separately. The Arabs do not have an occasion to meet the Israelis, and vice versa. We don’t have any real interaction in our daily lives.” This was voiced by Laura, a young Christian who lives in Jerusalem and studies at a Jewish university. Her words give prominence to the event held at the Kehillat Yedidya synagogue on the 30th April. The symposium entitled “Discovering the other’s humanity” was attended by youth from the 3 monotheistic religions. A good part of them belonged to the Youth for a United World, who were participating in the concluding event, “Be the Bridge”, of the Genfest. The others were their fellow youth who live in the Holy Land. Lara continues her narration speaking of “an idea conceived by two young and ambitious women who wanted to better their lives and to give the youth a chance to meet up with each other, breaking away from stereotypes.” It was a challenge undertaken 6 years ago and still continues today. Every year the group is comprised of around twenty odd youth from the three religions: Jews, Christians, and Muslims, aged between 16-18 years.
As a youth, Lara participated in the first project as “an enthusiastic young girl who sees the bright side of the situation and dreams of an approaching united world”. The meetings are held twice a month: “We discover and explore the similarities and the differences among us”. The meetings deal with various topics in order to know one another: the family, values and upbringing in the different religions, etc …
It’s an important project, but the question that remains is: after these meetings, will we continue to see each other. The experience continues and the project has also helped in understanding the other’s point of view. Lara explains further: “In times of conflict and difficulties, we meet up, share our sufferings, and pray. It seems like a dream that’s distant from reality, but it’s a truth that we live together.” Lara is one among 4 youth who shared their testimonies, dreams and hopes: with her there’s also Hani, a Palestine Muslim, who’s studying law; Huda, a Jew born in New York but who moved to Jerusalem while he was little; Nalik, a Christian from Portugal.
The nuncio, Mons Lazzarotto, in his address to the youth, invited them to “be prophets” to “make this land once more the land of dreamers”. Prof. Alberto Lo Presti expressed this appeal as a ‘Social principle”, that of fraternity, which contains within itself “the power to transform our history”. In answer to this, rabbi Raymond Apple (ICCI) underlined the need to learn to trust in each other: “the road to fraternity is to be able to say: I trust you”. Rabbi Kronish, Director of the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel (ICCI), who moderated the event, concluded by encouraging the participating youth to continue to bring this message of hope to all.
We leave Jerusalem with the desire to look up and grow in mutual trust, in order to change history.