This isn’t just another post about the truly amazing work done by activists, initiatives or organizations in their dedicated efforts to bring together Arabs and Jews.
This time I’m posting about a moving occasion celebrating the appreciation for the people diligently toiling on the complex project of forming connections, creating dialogs and establishing a shared life.
Among the dozens of initiatives, organizations, projects and clergy promoting a shared life, I too received an invitation from the US Deputy Ambassador, Mr. Jonathan Shrier, and his wife Stephanie, to celebrate an evening of thankfulness (possibly my interpretation of the traditional Thanksgiving holiday). However, it will become apparent further through the post, that the evening was all about celebrating and appreciating the praiseworthy achievements of the people working towards a shared life.
It was ‘plus one’ affair, so a great opportunity for me to bring along my partner who has empowered and supported me from the beginning, creating the initiative, the blog and finally the website. And to this day, continues to encourage me to pursue the work.
Despite the cold night, we mingled in the yard, shaking hands and greeting each other happily, enjoying the amazing positive atmosphere that made it a pleasure for us all. I already knew many of the people present as most of their organizations and initiatives are listed on our website, and they use it to promote their work. Browsing through our database of organizations, the amount of work it takes to bring together Arabs and Jews in the common space is undeniable. It was heartening to see that some of our colleagues, who also have ties with the American Embassy, were invited to this special evening at the Deputy Ambassador’s residence.
The evening was officially opened by Deputy Ambassador Jonathan Shrier with a moving speech about how happy he was to host heads of the organizations promoting the multicultural ideology in Israel. I imagine that were it possible, we would have seen many others there. He explained the tenets of the Thanksgiving holiday. He invited clergy, a priest, an imam and a rabbi to speak as well. Afterwards, we were invited to dinner inside the residence.
The meal consisted of traditional Thanksgiving fare, but the variety allowed each of us to customize our culinary experience. Around the table there were several discourse circles facilitated by the US embassy personnel who knew the participants. We sat with alumni of embassy programs. The conversation was in Hebrew and Arabic and it was interesting to hear about high school students sent to the US to learn and to promote tolerance agendas, and it made us even happier to hear that they have been continuing this path upon their return. From there we branched to discussing life, since after all we all live in Israel, Arabs and Jews, suffering through the same traffic congestions and high cost of living and housing, having the same experiences raising children and dreaming about a normal civil society that emphasizes the differences between its components while as the same time striving for brotherhood and equality amongst them.
I haven’t enough words of thanks for this opportunity and experience and for the appreciation and gratitude. For a moving and enjoyable evening. For the great ‘thanksgiving’ that we felt throughout the evening in the atmosphere induced by Deputy Ambassador Jonathan Shrier, his wife Stephanie and the embassy personnel who were beyond gracious. It’s also important for me to note that I took some of the photos, some were taken by kind friends, and some should be credited to the US embassy’s gifted photographer, Matti Stern, thank you very much.