Rabbi Bruce Mark Cohen, of White Plains, N.Y. founder of Interns for Peace, a small but unique effort advancing peace and co-existence for Arabs and Jews, died last week at the age of 65. The son of a New York State Supreme Court Justice, his then congregation in New Haven in 1976, raised $10.000 to send him to Israel to promote peace. In Jerusalem he was approached by a young Israeli Arab, Farhat Agbaria, who also had a dream of peaceful Arab, Israeli life. Together they founded Interns for Peace. In the 34 years IFP has developed over 350 young people who cherish his ideal: that while political differences remain to be resolved, people from both sides can be brought together to work together and recognize the basic humanity they share. Cohen said, “If you can get people to come together in common activities, to set common goals, if helps them get beyond their present hatred.”
The young interns, spending two years in various Arab villages, share Jewish-Arab projects, such as gardening, road safety, neighborhood clean-ups, against domestic abuse, art lessons, and sports. Agbaria reported, “Wherever you go in the Arab sector, Rabbi Bruce and the Interns for Peace are there.” That includes the West Bank and, with difficulty, in Gaza.
Interns for Peace are reaching into Rwanda, Sudan and Bosnia, always striving to show the commonality of the human race. The budget, while modest in international efforts has already reached a million dollars. Anyone sympathetic to perpetuating Rabbi Cohen’s dream can contribute to Interns for Peace, c/o K. W. Cohen, 333 Mamaroneck Ave. #283, White Plains, NY 10605
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