Spotlighting the IEA, our Member Group in the Holy Land

  • To learn more about the IEA and its projects, please visit the IEA’s website or write to its office.
  • You can read their 2022 activity report here.
  • If you are a member of the IARF (a Member Group or Chapter), you can also find Dr. Yehuda Stolov on our community platform.
The IARF is thrilled to introduce and spotlight one of its longstanding member organisations, the Interfaith Encounter Association (IEA). Based in Israel, the IEA has been dedicating itself tirelessly to the cause of interfaith dialogue and grassroots peacebuilding for over two decades. Thee IARF has offered several grants to the IEA over the years as we believe it is precisely this kind of grassroots, volunteer-based, transparent movements that is especially needed in areas afflicted by conflict and prejudice. IARF has helped fund its Leaders’ Forum operating in the Jerusalem & Hebron areas, and encounters between Jewish religious students and Muslim young adults. For historical information see Jerusalem-Hebron Religious Leaders’ Forum 2011 report  and  Religious Leaders – 12.12 – 7.13 report. Dr. Yehuda Stolov, the Executive Director of the IEA, has served as a member of the International Council (IARF’s Board) from 2014 to 2018.

A Truly Diverse Engagement

IEA’s mission to create a foundation for sustainable peace is apparent in the diverse religious and political backgrounds of its coordinators and participants. They represent different areas from Negev to Galilee, Hebron to Otniel, and East to West Jerusalem, striving continuously to overcome challenges and establish peace. By engaging a wide spectrum of people, the IEA aims to build the infrastructure for peace, one encounter at a time.

The Resurgence of IEA Activities in 2022: A Record Number of Encounters

In the wake of Covid-19, the year 2022 marked a resurgence of pre-pandemic levels of activity for the IEA. A record total of 412 encounters were held, with eight groups renewing their activities or starting anew. The resulting participation was unprecedented, as thousands of individuals across various ages, viewpoints, social statuses, religions, and cultures came together in these bridge-building encounters, forging mutual understanding and friendship.

The Presidential Award: A Testament to Tireless Work

One highlight of the year was the IEA receiving the Presidential Award for Volunteerism from the President’s own hands, a moment that was celebrated with all coordinators at the President’s residence. This honor represents the tireless work behind the scenes that includes strategic planning, administrative paperwork, and continuous communication, all carried out with the support of caring individuals, families, and communities.

The Principle of Constructive Dialogue and Mutual Respect

Within the IEA, the principle of constructive dialogue and mutual respect is fostered among different traditional and cultural backgrounds and faiths. In 2022, the 39 active groups successfully organized 412 encounters throughout the year, focusing on various religious themes and promoting joint study and dialogue.

A Glimpse into Diverse Scenarios

The IEA’s remarkable work was visible in diverse scenarios, such as the Jaffa interfaith group discussing active listening and peace concepts; the Reut-Sadaqa group in Jerusalem discussing dream interpretations and renewal rituals; the Debate of Peace group involving Jewish and Arab high school students in Model UN simulations, and many more.

Online Engagement: Interfaith Dialogue in the Comfort of Your Home

In the online realm, the IEA continued to make interfaith dialogue accessible right from the living rooms via groups like 929 and the New Testament Study, while two of their groups, Teaneck, NJ, and D.C. and beyond, brought the IEA’s essence to the U.S., meeting both online and offline.

Beyond Encounters: IEA’s Special Events

The IEA’s extensive work is not limited to these encounters, but also includes events that bring together people from different groups across the Holy Land. In 2022, the IEA held an annual Iftar dinner, an Interfaith Encounter Day, and an Interfaith Singing Evening, demonstrating their continued commitment to promoting peace and unity through shared experiences.

Joining the IEA: An Open Invitation

The Interfaith Encounter Association invites you to join in this important work. Whether through participating in a local group, spreading the word on social media, partnering with your institution, or providing financial support, your contribution can help further the cause of peace.

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