About the program
Israel’s segregated school system creates few opportunities for interaction between Jewish and Arab children and youth, and thus, as young adults they embark on their studies at university or college with little if any knowledge and understanding of each other’s faiths, cultures and traditions. In recent years, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has become aware of the need to promote a more inclusive campus for students from all backgrounds, and the university’s Diversity Unit has partnered with the Rossing Center to create the Meeting Place program.
Interreligious Bet Midrash - Text Study Groups
Trained facilitators guide Muslim, Christian and Jewish university students in theme-based text study and discussion. The Rossing Center’s Healing Hatred methodology creates honest and open interfaith and intercultural dialogue through which the Jewish and Arab students (many of them Palestinians from East Jerusalem) can listen to one another empathetically and address all aspects shaping their personal and national identities – including faith, beliefs, tradition, culture and politics. Meeting Place students are also encouraged to move from dialogue to action, developing and implementing initiatives, often with the support of the Student Union, to further strengthen an inclusive climate across the university campuses.
In an additional Meeting Place component – ‘Dialogue Circles‘ – students are trained in facilitation skills and tools to facilitate on-campus discussions between Israeli and Palestinian students around identity issues – however conflictual – and thereby encourage a norm of interaction and open conversation rather than hostility and suspicion. The university’s Diversity Unit and Student Union have invited the Rossing Center’s Meeting Place staff and the students they have trained to facilitate Dialogue Circles in between classes, on orientation days and at other student cultural events.
Activities for the Public
Meeting Place also provides interreligious dialogue encounters for the general public outside of university campuses. These encounters are not limited to university students but may include them as well. The program seeks to use the methods, approaches, skills and experience with all religious and ethnic communities in Jerusalem and beyond.