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Seeking Peace, Pursuing Justice

Seek peace...and pursue it : Psalm 34:15

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Program Bank & Ideas

I. Programs & Suggestions

II. Educational Resources

III. Tzedakah Projects

I. Programs & Suggestions Ideas

In Search of Peace and Security: A National Teach-In on Israel

In Search of Peace and Security: A NationalTeach-in on Israel is a Reform Movement program designed to engage Reform Jews with the critical issues facing Israel today. Over 300 congregations have participated in the teach-in to date.

The goals of this teach-in are twofold. One is to strengthen our knowledge and understanding of Israel's history and choices she faces in seeking a peaceful and secure future. The other is to address what role we Reform Jews can play toward her peaceful future. This teach-in is the beginning of what we hope will be a program of dialogue and action that will take place in many of our synagogues.

Program Ideas

Following is a list of program ideas for your congregation. Eventually, this list will become the basis for a program bank in which you, the user, will be able to search for a particular program as well as submit program ideas based upon events in your community.

Film Series
Host an evening dedicated to Israeli films that address peace and other societal issues in Israel. Invite a speaker or rabbi of the congregation to respond to the film afterwards. Then, break up into small discussion groups to talk about some of the issues the movie raised.

Guest Lecture/Panel
Invite a guest speaker to address the congregation: a rabbi, a reputable journalist, a visiting Israeli, a well-known professor in the community, etc. Alternatively, invite a panel of experts to address a specific topic. Write up an article about the event for distribution in the synagogue newsletter.

Shabbat for Peace
Dedicate a Friday night Shabbat evening to the theme of peace. Plan a special evening program. Either invite a special speaker to give a sermon, or ask the rabbi to give a special sermon dedicated to peace. If your congregation has a choir, or if your religious school has a choir, ask them to be involved and sing prayers/songs related to the theme of peace.

Jewish Holidays Component
Plan programs around holidays that have particular resonance for this issue, i.e.: Yom Ha'atzmaut, Passover, etc. At Passover, plan an interfaith seder or prepare special material to give out to families that specifically deal with freedom for all peoples.

Dialogue Group
If a dialogue group between Jews/Arabs or Jews/Muslims exists in your region, invite representatives from this group to address the congregation one Friday evening. The speaker could discuss how he/she became involved in the group, the obstacles the group confronted, the positive experiences of the group, etc.

Additionally, if there are a core group of individuals in your congregation interested in forming a dialogue group, ask a dialogue participant to address the group with advice on how to get started.

Text Study
Do a text study of Jewish sources that deal with shared symbols with the Islamic faith, i.e. Abraham, the covenant, the sacrifice of Isaac. Alternatively, do an evening of text study with a local mosque or Muslim group that includes Judaic and Islamic sources.

Partner with Organizations
Partner with a local group to sponsor an event together. They may have a speaker coming to your region or have a resource that you can use. Examples include local Federations, the New Israel Fund or local Israeli Consulates. Please check "Important Links" for listings of such groups.

Tzedakah Project
Pick an organization in Israel that works on behalf of peace and social justice. Run a fundraiser for this project, i.e. a special dinner or evening performance. Use the fundraiser as an opportunity to learn about the organization and about the issue they address: ie. Poverty, women's rights, status of minorities in Israel, etc.

A Sign of Peace
Pick a symbol that represents the hope of peace. Invite the congregation to a dedication ceremony of this symbol. It should be in a place where everyone who enters the synagogue will see it. Place a journal next to the display. Explain that the journal is there for congregants to share their thoughts on the recent violence in the Middle East. Anyone is welcome to write something in the journal. Use the excerpts later for the synagogue newsletter.

Israel Week
Dedicate a week of activities at your synagogue to the issue of Israel. One evening or Sunday afternoon, host an Israel fair and invite the entire community to come and join you. Have Israel program providers set up booths to talk about their programs. Pick an overall theme: i.e. a commitment to peace. Highlight groups in Israel that develop coexistence projects and other activities. You might consider honoring a particular community member who has been a leader/activist on behalf of Israel.

Israel Mission
Plan a trip to Israel for your congregation. Think about doing it in conjunction with another local synagogue. Focus on organizations that are involved in peace work and other social change projects. Please check the "Programming in Israel" section for more information.

Course on Israel/Middle East
In the long-term planning of the synagogue year, consider having the synagogue offer a course on Israel and Middle East. Do a special component on the future of peace in Israel.

Scholar-in-Residence Program
When planning your scholar-in-residence program for the year, consider brining in an expert who can address the issue of Israel and the future prospects of peace.

Photo Montage/Art Exhibit
Host an art or photo exhibit at the synagogue that deals with Israel. It could be a series that the committee creates using photos available off the internet. Additionally, a number of Israeli Consulates have art/photo exhibits that can be brought to the synagogues. This will give congregants a visual reminder of Israel. You may consider placing a journal outside the exhibit for individuals to record their thoughts.

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II. Educational Resources

Recommended Books

Click here for a list of recommended books on the Middle East

Resource Guide (MS Word)

Becoming Better Educated About Israel, Peace, and Social Justice:
A Collection of Web Sites, E-Mail Bulletins, News Sites, Books, Films, & Ideas

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III. Tzedakah Projects

Coming soon! A listing of valuable tzedakah projects in Israel for your school or congregation to consider.

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