I know you must wonder, after reading so many reports from Musalaha, “Don’t people get tired of talking about reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians?” How many times can we bring up our different perspectives and discuss them? Well, maybe this report will help give you some insight. We don’t always have discussions at our meetings. Sometimes, you can learn an enormous amount about someone by just sitting beside them and watching them work. Reconciliation is not just between Israelis and Palestinians; it’s also between every individual and their neighbor and between them and God.
That’s what a team of 28 women did on April 15 when we visited a local ministry serving in the lowest economic and crime-ridden sector of Tel Aviv. We’ve taken groups here before in order to donate, serve a hot meal, and have a truthful conversation with those in the grips of drugs and prostitution. This time, several women from our newest Ahlan group joined us along with some of our veteran participants.
It’s always eye-opening for our ladies to see how people live and survive in these situations. When we spend most of our meetings building relationships and addressing issues about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it’s easy to think that this is the sole problem in our society. Yet there are many problems in Israeli and Palestinian societies, and the conflict is just one of them. It’s necessary to see other social ills to realize there are many issues we can learn about and contribute to.
After an introduction to the southern Tel Aviv ministry and a tour of the area rife with people using all types of drugs and pimps following us to make sure that we did not interrupt their business, we returned to the shelter to pray. I opened with a short description of the upcoming Passover seder and what some of the symbolism means as it points to Jesus.
The soup kitchen became increasingly busy as we were singing and praying for those we saw in the streets. People wandered upstairs where we were meeting to look through clothes we brought to donate, and as they looked through the items, they listened to our worship, prayer and testimonies in Hebrew, English and Arabic. A few obviously pregnant women from the area spent the morning with us and helped dish out the food we had cooked as we served those waiting for a meal.
After hearing us upstairs, those in charge asked if they could bring up four women to meet with us. One had been in the soup kitchen last week and asked for reconciliation and salvation in the name of Jesus. She brought three friends with her. Two spoke Russian, and two were sabras (born in Israel). We translated and asked what they’d like us to pray for them. Each one asked that God receive them and reconcile them to Him. Then, they asked prayer for their grown children, that they would be reconciled to their families, and of course, to God. We prayed for them in many languages.
Why would we bring our women’s group to south Tel Aviv? Because reconciliation (musalaha) is not just about how we meet from different ethnic and national groups. We all need reconciliation, and these Tel Aviv women reminded us that reconciliation comes in many forms, most importantly, between us and God.
Hedva Haymov, Musalaha Women’s Department