Jerusalem Conference on Forgiveness for the Renewal of Individuals, Families, and Communities
Rising Above the Storm Clouds
July 12-13, 2017
What is the focus of the conference?
This was a 2-day conference. Day 1 included speakers from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam discussing what it means to forgive, the importance of forgiveness, and how to better interact with others through forgiveness. Day 2 helped us to learn how to bring forgiveness to our children and adolescents in school and at home. The program included presentations by educators who are implementing forgiveness education, personal testimonies, and opportunities for everyone to contribute their ideas.
View the videotaped conference:
(Click on the speaker’s name to access his/her presentation.)
Program (Day 1):
Fr. Eamon Kelly of the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center introduces the conference on Day 1: “Today you will have heart surgery….the good type. We all need heart surgery and this conference is a huge blessing and the idea came from heaven……..This is a great day for the world.”
Peta Pellach of the Elijah Interfaith Institute is our Master of Ceremonies who introduces all speakers.
Dr. Robert Enright of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the International Forgiveness Institute discusses the science of forgiveness. What does it mean to forgive? How do people go about forgiving others? What is the scientific evidence that forgiveness is beneficial?
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks of the United Kingdom: To forgive, you need a concept of free will. With a shame morality, there is no way back. With a guilt morality, there is a distinction between the sin and the sinner. You connect with the person. This video was produced by the Christian Media Center. Please click here for a brief introduction of Rabbi Sacks.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of the Philippines: “It is only because God is a God who is willing to forgive that forgiveness between people is possible.” The Cardinal made an analogy between the forgiving love of God and a mother forgiving her child. Mothers fully understand this: “I may disagree with what you have done, but you came from my womb……You ARE my child.”
Dr. Adamou Njoya of Cameroon. This talk is in French. We are working on including subtitles in English and we ask your forgiveness until this is accomplished. Fr. Njoya talks of the importance of forgiving for peace. Please click here for a brief introduction of Dr. Njoya.
Rabbi Yuval Cherlow of Jerusalem. To forgive is a great ethical question. When you ask the injured person to forgive, you may be injuring him a second time if he is not willing at this point to forgive. Yet, forgiveness is part of our existence. It can solve problems when a person is challenged. Mercy to know the other, to collaborate, is a good option that can be chosen. Justice alone is not the only option for humanity.
Bishop William Shomali of the Latin Patriarchate of Jordan. How can we educate people, maybe ourselves first, and especially young people to forgiveness? How can we save them from resentment after they undergo injustice? He offers eight steps on these questions.
Dr. Mahmoud Al-Habbash of the Palestinian Authority. This talk is in Arabic and we are working on including subtitles in English. Dr. Al-Habbash challenged the previous speakers by saying that forgiveness is only a theory when there is no justice. There can be no forgiveness without justice. His focus is on the political level in particular, and on the situation with people in the Jerusalem and West Bank areas in particular.
Question and Answer session. Dr. Enright was asked to respond to Dr. Al-Habbash’s statement that there can be no forgiveness without justice. Dr. Enright questioned this conclusion and said that “there is no reconciliation without justice” may be the more accurate idea. If forgiveness is not allowed before justice is realized, and if justice never is realized in a person’s lifetime, then that person may be trapped with an unhealthy resentment which can harm individuals, families, and communities.
Small Group sessions followed. A representative from each group then shared ideas with the entire audience. On Day 1, following the individual presentations, conference attendees formed small groups to discuss the day’s ideas. Highlights from these small groups include the following ideas: Forgiveness is a prerequisite for reducing conflict; one must separate the person from the unjust action; we must change misconceptions about what forgiveness is and is not; forgiveness is needed for our future generations; to lead the forgiving life we must be reflective; try to see the divine in the other; justice is not necessary before one chooses to forgive; forgiving communities need to start with children as they learn to forgive and then as adults to show respect for persons, not because of what they have done, but because they are persons.
Program (Day 2):
Introduction to Day 2. Peta Pellach of the Elijah Interfaith Institute tells us about the agenda for forgiveness education on Day 2.
Naftali Moses gives a heart-wrenching testimony of forgiving those who killed his son.
Abuna Chacour, three-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, and founder of the Mar Elias Educational Institutions, describes his childhood ordeal of having his home bombed. His family never was allowed to return. Yet, Abuna Chacour does not see those who did this “as the other, but as my brother.”
Dr. Robert Enright discusses the science of forgiveness education. What is forgiveness education? What is the scientific evidence for the effectiveness of forgiveness education? Why should we have forgiveness education?
Kathryn Haugh and Andrew Frizzell discuss forgiveness education at Springfield Primary School in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Yasmin Bakri, Izar Taha, and Veronica Tabarani discuss forgiveness eduction in the high school at the Mar Elias Educational Institutions in Ibillin, Galilee, Israel.
Dr. Theodore Kryder, Superintendent of Schools in the Crandon School District of Wisconsin in the United States, discusses the issues of implementing forgiveness education in his schools.
Francisco and Faridah Enrile of Manila, the Philippines, discuss forgiveness education with adults. They describe their forgiveness workshop that they have given to over 2,000 people.
Small Group Discussions. On Day 2, the attendees again formed small groups. Highlights from these small groups include the following ideas: Forgiving can be liberating and can be seen as a way of life; a major barrier to Forgiveness Education is the misunderstanding of the word “justice.” Justice is not only getting one’s due. Justice may never be realized in a person’s lifetime when we are discussing political events; there are at least three obstacles to Forgiveness Education: hatred, superficial understanding of what forgiveness is, and misunderstandings by political leaders. Prayer will help to clear the way for Forgiveness Education and this must start within oneself; we must not force people to forgive; we can model forgiving at home, in schools, and at work; think globally and act locally. As you save one life, you may help to save the whole world.
Women Wage Peace representatives discuss how their movement can bring more peace to Israel and surrounding communities. Participants include Juliet Kaohagi, Amal Abou Ramadan, Liora Hadar, and Vardit Kaplan.
Peta Pellach, our Master of Ceremonies presents her final comments.