An Outing with Israeli and Palestinian Women
I am once again convinced that seeing how people deal with small details in their lives gives us a clue as to their character and how they will deal with important issues.
Last Friday, 15 Palestinian women from Bethlehem were invited to an Israeli congregation in Netanya. The women from that Messianic Jewish congregation had not been part of Musalaha and had no experience with Palestinian Christians before. I was not worried, though. Not only do I know the Pastor, but I investigated that congregation a bit before saying yes (like a lioness protective of her cubs, I wouldn’t want to bring our ladies to a place that might be disrespectful).
Can I tell you what I found?
This congregation runs a website that explains what Messianic Jews believe, where they are located, the times of the services and even a Google map to find the location. This may seem practical and normal for most churches in the world. This is not the case in Israel. Messianic Jews do not normally publish the exact location of their services just in case trouble makers would come and picket outside the congregation to disturb worshipers and harass people as they enter. This website was in English, Hebrew and Russian. When I arrived there, the congregation’s name was on the elevator.
Small things. But from these small things, I could tell the character of this congregation was to be honest, courageous and open to people speaking many languages (tolerant). From these small signs, I knew these were the right women to introduce to Palestinian Christians. I was not wrong.
The plan for the day was to have worship, a study on relationships and how to solve our problems by seeking the best for the person opposite us. Then, lunch and a visit to the beach.
While the Israeli women were eager to ask questions about life in Bethlehem and how different our lives are to theirs, the Palestinian women were just as eager to explain. Later at the beach, the Palestinian women enjoyed their time jumping, splashing and swimming in the ocean. Not to say life is all grand, as the many jellyfish stung some of the women.
This day was encouraging to me for several reasons. First, we had a woman who left Musalaha some years ago come back and spend the day with us. Second, we had new women who were grateful for the opportunity to meet others in the faith who live just a few hours away, but live such different lives. Third, we had 10 women who are pillars of the Musalaha women’s department who came along to facilitate and guide those who had not been down this path before.
One small thing added to another small thing added to yet another piece together to make something beautiful, moving and memorable.
By Hedva Haimov
Musalaha Women’s Department