Click here to listen to a selection of performances and poetry written by young people, recorded at Ammerdown in March 2013
Salaam Shalom and Ammerdown’s creative dialogue residential took a group of young people out of the city, into rural Somerset for four days in March 2013. Young people were provided with the opportunity to participate in a creative programme of activities, that encouraged and provided safe spaces for open and honest dialogue amongst young people from diverse faith and cultural backgrounds.
Salaam Shalom’s approach to intercultural and interfaith dialogue, particularly its work with young people, has always been holistic and creative. The emphasis is to explore individual identity and how faith, culture and community influences and challenges their understanding of others. Young people were encouraged to have dialogue around a range of topics that informed a broader understanding of identity.
Click here to read the responses of three young people to their experiences.
‘The feedback was extraordinary. The four days clearly touched everyone in a profound way. They agreed they were leaving as ‘better people’, who had benefited from feeling listened to, but also from learning themselves how to listen ‘truly’ to others and respect different opinions and perspectives… such experiences are rare in our world today: how often do we have the time and opportunity of genuinely, unhurriedly, engaging with people whom we do not usually mix with? Of listening ‘deeply’ to what they wish to tell us, and of being listened ‘deeply’ in return? Of being gifted the chance of seeing the world through different eyes? Of becoming better people through the gentle touch of others?’
Bénédicte Scholefield, Director of The Ammerdown Centre
‘When we were thinking about setting up what became Salaam Shalom in 2006, we said that one significant focus of activities had to be young people, amongst other intercultural aims learning media skills in order to express themselves in new and artistically creative ways. It’s great that much of our current work programme achieves precisely that.’
Martin Vegoda, Director & Trustee Salaam Shalom
During a residential week for young people at Ammerdown, an interfaith retreat centre in Somerset, Salaam Shalom hosted a Seder meal on the second night of Passover. The meal was a truly unique experience for a group of people from numerous faiths and those of none; eating, joking, singing and celebrating freedom together, while sharing in Jewish tradition and ritual.
Led by Ted and Becky Truitt and their son Caleb from the Bristol and West Progressive Jewish Congregation, members of the local Jewish community attended together with people from different faiths, backgrounds, cultures and ages (from 2 years old to 60!). Euan Tait, Training and Interfaith Officer at Ammerdown, reflected, ‘It so was moving to witness everyone engaged in acts of worship together, regardless of religious background, singing, laughing and experiencing the sacredness and inner meaning of food and communal eating from an ancient and holy spiritual tradition … truly inspirational’.
The Seder was a high point of the residential week for many of the young people staying at Ammerdown. For many, a new experience and one which provided the opportunity to engage with a different culture in a meaningful and memorable way:
‘The highlight was definitely the Jewish Passover meal. This was my first Passover meal and the food was delicious and I learnt a lot more about Jewish culture’
‘The Hebrew singing at Passover… Truly beautiful’
Celebrating together, everyone was able to share in the Passover message of freedom and hope for the future.
Podcast: Play in new window
| Download (Duration: 20:19 — 18.7MB)
A ‘Special Feature’ presented by volunteer presenters Lisa Saffron and Madge Dresser.
Today in Bristol, there’s a Muslim population of around 30 000, most of them relatively recent arrivals to the city, having arrived over the last 50 years. This compares to a considerably smaller Jewish community of something around 1 000 alongside them in a city which is home to two synagogues and around a dozen mosques . (Click on these links for online tours of some of these local buildings from the local BBC website).
Not many people know the history of these communities here and very few realise that there’s a millenium’s worth of Jewish presence on the banks of the Avon River.
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE: