We acknowledge that this is a very difficult time for many of us, as violence continues to unfold in Israel and Palestine. One of the most important values of the Sisterhood is standing with our sisters. We have an opportunity amidst the pain, to shine a light on a different path and live out this value. We walk this path together by sharing our hopes and dreams with an open heart and listening to viewpoints different from our own. Our goal isn’t to agree, but rather to deepen our relationships by understanding the joys and sorrows of our sisters who may hold a very different perspective on the conflict. From that place of deep listening, it is often possible to discover shared values and actions that are respectful of all points of view.
We encourage you to take part in two ongoing opportunities from The Parents Circle – Families Forum (PCFF), a grassroots organization of more than 600 Palestinian and Israeli families. Their common bond is that they have all lost a close family member in the conflict. But instead of choosing revenge, they have chosen a path of reconciliation. Each of these programs will inspire us to stay in community and work towards peace.
- Vigil. Register now for a vigil on Sunday May 23th at 11:00 a.m. ET. The American Friends of the PCFF will hold virtual vigil every Sunday until the violence ceases: for all the lives that have been lost; for the newly bereaved on both sides; and, to demand an end to the violence. You will hear from a Palestinian and Israeli bereaved parent who have paid the ultimate price as a result of the violence. From their pain and unspeakable loss, they will inspire us with their commitment to nonviolent reconciliation. Register here.
- Dialogue meetings. Host a virtual dialogue meeting for between 20-50 Sisterhood members. At the one-hour gathering, two bereaved members – one Palestinian and one Israeli – will share their stories of loss and their unique choice of reconciliation, followed by discussion and Q&A. Contact email@example.com for more information.
We understand there are sisters who are tempted to either walk away from the Sisterhood or take a time-out because they disagree with our recent statement about the conflict or perhaps feel uncomfortable sharing their perspectives. This is tough work, but we encourage them to stick with it and invite them to continue to engage in conversation, either through PCFF or Sisterhood programs.
We will create opportunities for more in-depth dialogue in the near future. In preparation, please read the Sisterhood’s dialogue resource on our website. We also encourage you to reach out to your sisters and hold space for healing and prayer circles.
The Sisterhood reaffirms our commitment to standing with and supporting each other during these difficult times. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to your Regional Coordinator, if you have one, or to Janet Penn, Director of Programs, Resource Development, and Training at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Suggested Model for Holding Space
Anne Kjemtrup and Melanie Mages-Canale, Regional Coordinators in Sacramento, have created a model for holding space with their chapter, particularly at this time. Prior to the chapter meeting, Anne and Melanie sent the following letter to their chapter members. It is another way you can engage with your chapter members.
Introductory Letter from Sacramento Regional Coordinators
“Dear Chapter Sisters,
As Muslim and Jewish women, when flashpoints like what is happening in Sheikh Jarrah in Jerusalem occur, many of us are shaken. This geographic area is dear to both our identities. The violence affects people who could be or are our friends and family, and what is happening may violate our core values. As it may become a topic of discussion in our respective communities, these discussions can be like an echo chamber: we hear over and over again the same perspectives. Our Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom chapter offers a relief to that echo chamber- we have the ability to think and discuss with diverse and equally valid perspectives.
We want to share the Sisterhood Board Statement developed in 2019 about Jerusalem. This statement provides background:
‘The Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom holds a wide spectrum of views on Palestine and Israel. We recognize the complexity of these issues and the passion they invoke.
Our mission is to foster relationships between Muslim and Jewish women and teenage girls, to build bridges, and to fight hate. Inspired by our faith traditions, we believe any response to the conflict must be based on human rights, security, and self-determinations for Palestinians and Israelis alike.
We commit to working with individuals and organizations, especially those in the region, devoted to non-violent means of achieving peace and justice. We are compelled to engage with those working to transform the conflict, empower those most affected by the occupation, and foster the relationships necessary to build a just and peaceful future.’”
After considering the letter above, below is a suggested structure for your Sisterhood gathering.