A Women’s Cultural Exchange in Nazareth

On Saturday, November 7, 32 of our women in the north braved the heavy rains and strong winds to come to a meeting to learn about one another’s culture.  While some called to see if the meeting would be canceled due to the weather and the external circumstances, we insisted the meeting would still take place.  These ladies believe it is important to meet, fellowship, learn and pray together, and they did so.

The women warmly greeted us and one another and enjoyed talking over Arabic coffee and sweets. It was evident from our meeting that we choose to meet davka (a Hebrew word meaning in spite of, in direct opposition to, because) in this time. When there is tension, we davka choose to meet.  This is the answer many of the women give.  We are dedicated to each other davka.

We met in a ceramics factory to hear from three generations of clay pot artisans. Pottery is discussed in the Bible, and it has an important message behind it.  We learned why the pot has a spout (so those outside the family can drink from it), why it’s made in a particular shape (to keep the water cool before there was refrigeration), and how a young unmarried woman would dress nicely when leaving the home to get water in case a young man saw her and followed her home to ask for her hand in marriage. We saw the German-made machines the family would use to produce large quantities of pottery before there was electricity in Nazareth, and we also saw the machines they use today to continue this special art-form.

In Isaiah 64:8 we read that we are the clay, and God is the potter.  It is God who creates, forgives, and makes things new.  Even when we sin, God can change us and we can be renewed for His glory. When women change, their families can change, and they can be a good influence among their friends and neighbors.

Following the pottery session, we learned about Jewish culture from an Israeli Messianic Jewish speaker. We have heard this speaker share with us in other forums in the past, but for me as an intern, I have listened to his testimony on the Musalaha website, but it moved me to tears to hear it in person. All of us present were encouraged to hear of his Zionist upbringing, the transition to Orthodox Judaism as a young adult, and then his coming to faith as a Messianic Jew.  The speaker shared that after he was saved, he realized the importance of reconciliation among Israelis and Palestinians, and he began to work for unity in the Body of Messiah.  Afterward, all of us took some time to pray for him in his work and ministry.

 This meeting was beautiful because we learned many things about one another and our different cultures. Many languages could be heard in this meeting – Russian in one corner, Arabic in the middle, Hebrew in front.  Yet our cultures, our languages, the weather, and the violence of our current situation cannot keep us apart.  We meet, davka. We pray, davka. And davka we will be the change we wish to see in society.

Hedva Haymov, Musalaha Women’s Department and Midori O., Musalaha Intern