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“Among Jews there are two major tendencies in regard to our relationship with Israel, and perhaps each of us reflects both to some degree. There is the ‘prophet’ tendency that focuses on resistance to any injustice, and the ‘guardian’ tendency which seeks to protect the interests of the Jewish people and to protect Israel from all harm.” --Rabbi David Jonathan Cooper, Kehilla Community Synagogue, Project Reconnections Advisory Council

    Project Reconnections: Intra-Communal Dialogue and Deliberation

Mission Statement: To convene, inspire, and empower Jewish social justice activists from outside and within the mainstream Jewish community to work collaboratively, develop mutual respect and the capacity to listen, learn and challenge each other's views in order to strengthen ourselves, our community and our world.

"Project Reconnections has served to restore my hope and belief that we really can heal some of the most deeply divisive rifts within our own community. The integrity and wisdom of each participant was brought forth revealing that, while we may hold a diversity of views and approaches, underneath it all, we truly are one people, capable of treating one another with the respect and care we all deserve.” Amy Gup, Former Advisory Council Member, Participant

“For me, the experience was truly awesome. When we started, I didn’t really believe people would participate as openly and honestly as they did. To watch people open their hearts to each other inspires such hope in me. I feel that I’ve learned a lot about the people and groups involved…and I feel better prepared to play an ongoing role in helping to heal our community.” Karen Schiller, Former Advisory Council Member, Participant

"What I learned has changed me, not just in discussions about Israel but in any discussions about any topic where rancor could result. I learned that these techniques take practice (mirroring what someone said to me, I found was particularly hard but with extra practice it could be accomplished). I would recommend this to everyone, Jewish or otherwise, as a way out of our current lack of civil discourse across our nation. May you continue in this profound, life-changing work," Lloyd Morgan, Project Reconnections Member, Congregation Beth El, Berkeley, CA

"Project Reconnections allowed congregants to learn skills of communication and how to address sensitive issues. This opportunity moved beyond Israel to subjects within our community and our personal lives. People felt heard and supported with Rachel Eryn’s skilled leadership. We valued the time and are ready to move forward with greater strength and willingness to risk speaking from our collective spirit of diversity." Rabbi Micah Hyman, Congregation Beth Sholom, San Francisco, CA 94118

Project Reconnections is the pioneering, integrative Intra-Jewish dialogue & deliberation project focused on Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian relationship.

Started by visionary Associate Director of the Greater Bay Area Jewish Community Relations Council, Abigail Porth, and faciliator Rachel Eryn Kalish, Project Reconnections brings key Jewish leaders from across the political and religious spectrum together in dialogue and deliberation with the goal.to build bridges of connection, deepen trust and the capacity to work together.

Our programs take various forms, depending on the needs of the community, synagogue or group. We offer short faciliated conversations and long-term engagements. Each Project Reconnections program creates a safe environment where the full political spectrum of views can be heard and respectfully questioned with an eye toward the health of the whole community.

Project Reconnections was the centerpiece of the Year of Civil Discourse Initiative that trained almost 1000 people how to engage in vibrant, nuanced, open conversations about Israel, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (or anything else).

For more about the Year of Civil Discourse Initiative, including resources, rabbinic sermons and teachings, go to http://jcrc.org/ycd_resources.htm

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Flower and nature photography courtesy Mark Hussein (C) 2009   www.markhusseinphotography.com