Forgiveness Education Thrives at Mar Elias High School in Israel
When teachers at the Mar Elias Educational Institutions (MEEI) recently focused lessons on the benefits of forgiveness, some students couldn’t see the point. They vehemently opposed the idea of forgiving anyone, even in their own families, but especially after the 7-week war of 2014.
Although Building Peace on Desktops is MEEI’s highest goal, teaching skills for peace-building can be a challenge – especially when students encounter discrimination and hear news of violence on almost a daily basis.
This year, thanks to a Pilgrims of Ibillin partnership, MEEI teachers have a new resource: a Forgiveness Education curriculum created for Northern Ireland, tested and refined there over the last 14 years. The creator of this curriculum is Dr. Robert Enright of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute.
• Mar Elias will begin planting forgiveness education deeply in the 9th grade curriculum next year and then continue over the coming years until it is instilled for grades 9, 10, 11, and 12.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is from the Feb. 2015 newsletter of Pilgrims of Ibillin–an organization whose vision is to foster peace and justice in Israel-Palestine through education. Dr. Enright was introduced to the organization and Mar Elias Schools by the Rev. Joan Deming, Executive Director of Pilgrims of Ibillin.
Pilgrims of Ibillin was founded by Abuna Elias Chacour (“Abuna” means “Our Father” in Arabic), a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, who recently retired from serving as the Archbishop of the Melkite Catholic Church for Akko, Haifa, Nazareth, and all Galilee. He is also the author of the best-selling Blood Brothers which has been translated into more than 20 languages.
Father Chacour founded the Mar Elias Schools more than 30 years ago in Ibillin–a small Arab village in the Galilee region, near Nazareth, where Christians and Muslims have lived together peacefully for hundreds of years. The cluster of MEEI schools now serves more than 3,000 students from preschool through high school.