Monday, February 6, 2017

Sharing Stories With Strangers for Peace

When we read the recent unbridled separation of people based on faith, culture or race via social media posts, it is disheartening.  At the end of January, nearly 200 people participated in a free cross-cultrual event, Crossing Lines in San Mateo Sharing Stories, Creating Community — “a hands-on community workshop for respectful communication across all lines beginning with a new quality of listening to one another — to everyone.”

From the San Mateo Daily Journal:  “A lot of us are realizing that we are strangers even in our own nation,” said Len Traubman. “The entry point of this day and of creating our desired culture of connection really begins with the person who has the will and the skill to be the first one to listen.”

… Len’s work as a children’s dentist and Libby’s work as a social worker, combined with their roles as parents to their two children, brought them close to their community. But after a trip to the Soviet Union in 1984, the couple realized how profoundly having conversations with the people they had met on their trip changed their perspectives on the United States’ perceived enemy in the Cold War. “We realized how fearful we had been based on the information we had been given but not on any experience that we had,” said Libby Traubman. Fueled by their learning, they continued to seek opportunities to work with others outside their own circles and focused on those dealing with conflict. The couple is going into their 25th year of hosting monthly living room dialogues about the Jewish-Palestinian conflict in their San Mateo home and has advised countless other groups and communities across the globe on conversations regarding conflict resolution.

Post event responses included:

  • "This was a wonderful way to start an on-going community-based program. For me, it was particularly gratifying to see such a wide range of people gathered for the purpose of creating better understanding. It was inspiring in light of what's happening nationally. It gave me a glimmer of hope in the midst of despair."
  • "It was inspiring to be at the gathering Sunday. I especially appreciate seeing how possible it is to use guided storytelling to enable "strangers" to build real connections among us in such a short time. I'll have what we did in mind as I lead the evening of members of a church with many undocumented folks coming to join us at Sherith Israel on Shabbat in a few weeks."  Rabbi Julie Saxe-Taller San Francisco

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