MJC 2014 – Day 3

The third day of MJC 2014 began with participants having the freedom to explore Vienna, pray together, reflect on the previous days and their collective or individual ideas for the forthcoming project development. After lunch, they gathered again in one of seven committees: Islamophobia and Anti- Semitism in the Media; Historical Narratives and Identity; Gender and Religion; Arts and Culture; Conflict Transformation; Post-Conflict Truth and Reconciliation and Religion and Power. There, participants seized the opportunity to ask each other challenging and difficult questions afforded by the level of trust built in committee sessions which they previously would not have dared to ask.

Current and often controversial terms such as secularism, culture and globalization were raised throughout the committees. As they can often hold different meanings to different people, participants were encouraged to clearly and sensitively define terms and phrases that were discussed in order to avoid any misunderstanding and to help them create a common language. A variety of issues were raised and the discussions continued in the breaks and long after the committee sessions were over.

In our committee that explores conflict transformation, the participants deconstructed the term ‘conflict’ – phrasing it as a ‘disagreement with consequence’ that is emotionally charged and is perhaps in need of solving. Participants critically analyzed conflict by taking in to consideration issues of perceived threat and disagreements over time, situation, no-communication and miscommunication, as well as narrative. This fascinating aspect of the conflict transformation is the dynamic composition of participants, each bringing experience and perspectives of conflicts in Ethiopia, Israel, Tunisia, Egypt and Palestine.

Muslim Prayer Session

Our Muslim participants demonstrated and explained Islamic prayer rituals from a range of countries and cultures. An Imam who has joined this year’s delegation recited the Adhaan (call for prayer) which resonated across the room, with male and female participants describing the meaning, style and actions of Muslim prayer – also allowing for differences in interpretation.

Interfaith Havdalah

Havdalah is the ritual that separates Shabbat from the beginning of the Jewish week, and this year a Jewish participant of Yemeni origin led the prayer and an Ashkenazi Jew explained the role of senses and symbolism in this service. This was followed by beautiful performances by Muslim and Jewish participants and staff, including a recitation of Sufi poetry, MJC’s traditional singing of od yavo shalom aleinu (peace will come to us), as well as a call for peace by an Israeli participant.