UMass Dartmouth Center for Religious and Spiritual Life: Roots



Wednesday, March 22 | 7 pm

Library Grand Reading Room

The story of Roots: In January 2014, a meeting took place between Israelis and Palestinians in the Gush Etzion area. This meeting led to a series of events connecting Palestinians and Israelis: meetings between families, a women’s group, workshops, and joint responses to violence. Please join us as we welcome Ali Abu Awwad and Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger and take this opportunity to learn about their work and to ask questions. The Palestinians and Israelis involved in this initiative do not hide the many deep disagreements between them. They are deeply aware of the complexities of the conflict. What unites them is their honest search for human understanding and non-violent resolution of the conflict. Having just finished his book, Painful Hope, Al Abu Awwad is today a leading Palestinian activist teaching his countrymen non-violent resistance and reaching out to Jewish Israelis at the heart of the conflict. Jailed by Israel during the First Intifada for stone throwing and membership in a terrorist cell, he demanded to see his mother who was also imprisoned. During a 17-day hunger strike, he learned the tremendous power of non-violence. Through voracious reading while still in jail, he came under the influence of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Mandela.

Hanan Schlesinger is an Orthodox rabbi and teacher, and a passionate Zionist settler who has been profoundly transformed by his friendship with Ali. His understanding of the reality of the Middle East conflict and of Zionism has been utterly complicated by the parallel universe that Ali has introduced him to. Originally hailing from New York, Rav Hanan made Aliya on his own at the age of 20 and has lived over the green line, in Alon Shvut, Gush Etzion, for over 30 years. Although always drawn to pluralism and deeply empathic for the other, Rav Hanan never ever met a Palestinian as an equal. The meetings that began have become far more meaningful than he could ever have imagined.