“When you have a community, like Kids4Peace, where you can observe others in their religious traditions, and see how they practice their faith, you learn about it from a place of non-judgement. And when people are interested in other cultures or religions, I think it brings people together — because I think people naturally like to learn and understand.”
- Ezra – Jewish-American participant, 14 years old
A peacemaker needs to be able to understand and then explain a conflict using only the facts. They also need to try to understand (this is vital to the first step) the thinking of both sides involved.
I come from a community where most people are in favor of a two-state solution—where Israel shouldn’t rule Palestine, and Palestine would have their free and independent government. But I feel that what gets lost all the time, with all the numbers or the political issues, is just how people are truly suffering in Palestine. And in Israel as a whole, with the Jews who want to see Palestine free. I’ve learned a lot about how the conflict affects both sides, and makes life hard.
I believe Kids4Peace has a real power for change—because I’ve seen the growth and change in myself. Kids4Peace gave me an opportunity not only to explore my own religion through meeting other Jewish kids who practice Judaism in a different way than I do, but to learn and listen to Christians and Muslims, and learn how their faith informs their life. Previously, I had met and knew many Christian-Americans, but I hadn’t had the opportunity to meet and become friends with Muslim-Americans. In many ways, I found we were similar—they play soccer like me, they go to school and they like it some days and don’t like it other days. But I also found differences—for instance, those who pray five times a day, was something new for me. Or Christians who pray on their rosary several times a day.
I found that many of the Muslim kids families’ stories were also different than mine—many of them had emigrated to the US much more recently than ours, and lived with or near their large extended families. My family came to the US in the 1920’s, and our extended family lives quite spread out, and I only get to see them during Hanukkah or Passover. But no matter what our family histories are, I discovered we all feel American. We all feel a deep sense of being in America and building a future here.
I see my religion, and the other religions in the world around us, as very beautiful. I think there is a lot of knowledge and truth and skills that can be learned from all different religions. When you have a community, like Kids4Peace, where you can observe others in their religious traditions, and see how they practice their faith, you learn about it from a place of non-judgement. And when people are interested in other cultures or religions, I think it brings people together — because I think people naturally like to learn and understand.
My generation can help create peace because it has never been more necessary, and we have the resources to do it. I think the problems we face are acute issues that many generations have struggled with, so we come to the problems with real understanding and clarity. We know what’s wrong and what needs to be done.