Next week, I am sponsoring a group of Israelis and Palestinians to spend a few weeks in a small village in southern France with a Buddhist monk named Thich Nhat Hanh. These two disparate groups of people do not know each other, but often feel hatred toward each other. Some of them have been hurt in the war.
But by the end of the two weeks, under the guidance of the monks, the Israelis and the Palestinians will learn to listen to, understand, forgive and maybe even like each other. They will be at peace.
Could this work on a larger scale for their respective countries? I think so.
I was in a compound in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, sitting with 500 men, women and children, all praying in Hebrew during Shabbat. I was there as part of a small group of lay and professional leaders from the United States to try to understand a complex and confusing series of issues surrounding the Falash Mura, a group of more than 20,000 Ethiopians who claim Judaism as their faith and are eagerly awaiting aliyah.
The differences between the two services could not have been more striking. In Jerusalem, we were all well-dressed and appeared healthy. In Addis Ababa, the group was dressed in threadbare, hand-me-down clothes. Not surprisingly, many looked unhealthy.
Does your mother ever tell you to do something like clean up your room or put your socks in the laundry?