Given that many of my workshops with NGO groups in Israel and Palestine were cancelled due of the conflict, it was suggested to me to setup my own song making experience before I leave Israel and Palestine and invite anyone that was interested in coming to create a little harmony together. I never could have guessed what happened when the wheels for this idea were set in motion.
Around the same time, I was put in contact with one Elad Vezala, a well known Israeli, speaker, mediator, and peace facilitator. He further encouraged me to setup the workshop and offered his hand as a partner to help produce and facilitate the workshop. He also brought on board his friend and Arabic partner, Shahd Abu Hamad to work together with us.
The venue was quickly confirmed: It was to be held at the epic Pluralistic Spiritual Community centre of “Neve Shalom: Oasis of Peace – Wahat al-Salam” – a cooperative village jointly founded by Israeli Jews and Palestinian-Israeli Arabs. This was thanks to the kind offer of Dafna Schwartz who heads up the spiritual centre, to host us.
Much discussion about the theme of the workshop took place. Finally we decided that we wanted the final song would be a sort of “Message” – the email invitation read as follows: “Join us this Thursday 29th of November, for special night at Neve Shalom, where we, of different cultures and religions, will raise our voices together to send a message for a new, better Israel and Palestine. The message will be in the form of a song, that we as a group will create”.
We were unclear exactly what the message will turn out to be, but my sense was that it was a chance to offer a group, myself included, the opportunity to use their voice to send a message.
During my time in the region, I noticed through speaking to people and reading the headlines, that the idea of ‘peace’ and the Left wing in general had become somewhat passé. Given the endless failed peace attempts between the two sides and the near constant flare ups of violence and war, people who were traditionally the in peace camp, seemed to have lost hope; People on the Left seemed jaded and bitter, almost as if they had gone horse trying to use their voice shouting for peace and dialogue. This event, as I saw it was simply a platform to give people back the microphone, perhaps just for one night, for their voices to be heard.
The workshop started with a nice turnout – some 30 people gathered, young and old, Arabic and Jewish, mostly from around Jerusalem to come together and send their message.
We started the workshop with a mini-Biodanza dance session run by Maya Inbar. Biodanza is a form of communal dance which encourages connection and transformation through movement. More about Biodanza here.
After a great warmup we proceeded to share stories with each other. The sharing was inspired by times where ‘the other’ became a human to us; Stories of unexpected connection. The words from the stories were transcribed and put together by the group to form the lyrics for the song.
We then came together in a circle to use our voices and sing. It was a truly inspirational circle song. Some great singers and voices came out of the woodwork – you can really hear the harmony that was present in the room that night in the song posted.
We were led in body percussion by an excellent percussion instructor named Oded Prior and we then split into groups to work on separate verses. Coming back together each group sang their group devised verses and as a single group we sang the chorus of the song “Overcome your fear”.
The last activity was an invitation for each participant to let go of some personal fear they have been carrying by voicing it, sending it out through the microphone and out into the universe. Finally each participant expressed personal a message to both sides of the conflict.
All of this was captured and will be put together to form the final song / group message.