October 2015 Newsletter    
Dear Friends,
We are thrilled to report that you again invested wisely in peace. Thanks to you and to our Kids4Peace partners, the Leadership Camp at Acer Farm in Brattleboro celebrated its fifth anniversary this summer by achieving several new milestones. It was truly an extraordinary summer for the 17 American, Israeli and Palestinian teens, our staff team, guest educators and volunteers.
Incorporating key challenges identified through personal interviews with Israeli and Palestinian educators, we crafted a powerful experiential program that choreographed our leadership, interfaith and social justice workshops to the dynamic stages of Joseph Campbell's renowned Hero's Journey narrative.
A new partnership with Deacon Bill Cusano and the Elijah Project of New York empowered the teens to design, record and edit a video on their faiths and Sabbath celebrations (see link below).  Musicians Ami and Gavri Yares (aka the Brothers Yares) inspired the teens to write and give voice to their hopes in an original song (listen to video below).
Other highlights included: Mary Fetchet, the founder of the Voices of September 11th, who visited the camp with interns to lead discussions on resiliency; Ed Turner, chairman of the board of Lawyers Without Borders, who led dialogues on the rule of law, prejudice and bigotry; and Vermont Bishop Tom Ely, who facilitated workshops on Dignity.

To cap the two-week peacebuilding and leadership camp experience, we teamed up with I Wage Peace of Connecticut and the School for International Training in Brattleboro to bring together the leadership campers with 50 teens from Iraq for an afternoon of conversation, skits, music and the painting of a giant peace banner that will travel around the North East (see photo below).
Campers and educators alike responded to this new program formula with gusto, describing it repeatedly as "unforgettable", "life-changing" and a "once in a lifetime experience."   
Caring for the camp and making the learning and adventure possible were Dorothy and her amazing cadre of volunteers, along with camp assistant director Jack Karn and our diverse, interfaith team of counselors and educators.
Uniting with the teens and staff from Israel, Palestine and the United Sates to further peace both in the Holy Land and in America is a true blessing. At Jerusalem Peacebuilders, we experience this everyday, and we hope that through our work together you too experience that peace which passes all understanding and is only found in love.
With thanks and gratitude,
Nicholas Porter +  
Because the Future of Jerusalem is the Future of the World
Painting for peace in Vermont: 
Leadership campers and Iraqi youth hard at work on the banner
Youth hard at work painting the banner
On the final day of leadership camp the participants headed to St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Brattleboro to present social justice skits and have lunch with parishioners. Afterwards, the group walked to a nearby park for their final challenge: to paint a 40' peace banner. This year's banner featured a beautiful panorama of three Christian, Jewish and Muslim youth raising their hands in hope to the words "Don't Hold Us Back!" 
The finished peace banner
With a brush in one hand and paint in the other, the teens went straight to work adding vibrant color and life to the white banner. Steadily, the banner came alive with shades of pink, blue, green, yellow and more. The community learned of what was happening that afternoon through an article in The Common newspaper , and many families and individuals joined in the fun. It was not long before 50 new friends from the Iraq Youth Leaders Exchange Program through World Learning arrived to help out.
Adding to an already diverse crowd   the Iraqis brought an incredible curiosity and excitement  th at inspired everyone to keep working. After the first break, our campers were invited to learn more about the Iraq youth through some huge icebreaker activities ! In return our campers gave the attendees a special performance of their social justice skits on racism, sexism, homophobia and stereotypes.  The skits garnered a ton of laughs and great  questions.  All took place against the backdrop of a concert by the Brothers Yares. Their unique blend of Mideast Americana folk music and our youth debuting their  peace song  "Hope is the Light"  serenaded  the group into singing along and and dancing (one Iraqi participant even joined in and played a song on an electric oud!)  With the final brush strokes drying on the peace banner, the group said goodbye to their friends from Iraq, feelin g exhausted and exhilarated  by their accomplishments of the final day of leadership camp.

Jack Karn, Asst Camp Director

Click the photo to watch the campers sing "Hope is the Light" 
Because the Future of Jerusalem is the Future of the World
What does peace look like?
When we think of peace, we tend to imagine it in global terms - an end to all fighting, a settling of every conflict, a complete resolution of differences. When we dream this big, we may find ourselves doubting if peace is achievable or how it begins. But perhaps we are looking at too big a picture.

If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. - Paul 's letter to the Romans 12:18
In the letter to the Romans, Paul gives us a simple statement about peace. As much as it is up to us, we should live peaceably with all.  Rather than focus on the big peace, we should focus on each little peaceable act.
That is exactly what a small group of visionaries are doing at an interfaith youth peace and leadership camp in Brattleboro, Vermont.  This summer at the Jerusalem Peacebuilders-Kids4Peace Leadership Camp, a few of us from Saint James' Church, Fordham got the opportunity to see peaceable acts up close, working with the young leaders on a unique video project: Three Sabbaths

The idea to make a video was born a last November at an informal gathering in Rye, New York.  It was a reunion of Holy Land unexpectedly attended by a former Chaplain to the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, Nicholas Porter.  Hearing Canon Porter describe the camp where Christian, Jewish and Muslim teenagers from opposite sides of this knotty conflict confront their feelings, beliefs and differences made us hungry for their thoughts and dreams.  In short, we wanted to know what peace looks like through the eyes of a generation who are ready and courageous enough to give it a try.
Canon Porter, who founded Jerusalem Peacebuilders with his wife Dorothy and friends Stuart Kensinger, enthusiastically invited us as part of an unusual experiment.  Could members of St. James Fordham share our love of storytelling with the program's young voices and empower these Israeli, Palestinian and American teens to carry their stories to the world?
This we could do!  Storytelling became part of our ministry in early 2014 as The Elijah Project of Saint James Fordham in the Bronx, a volunteer effort to turn creativity into ministry, feeding mind, body and soul. A small group of dedicated parishioners meet regularly to take on projects from video production to web design - learning new skills, meeting new people, and sharing time, meals and love.
Campers receive their video cameras 
Four of us drove up from the Bronx, equipped with video cameras paid for by donations from friends, families and supporters who loved the idea. The sponsors offered words of encouragement that we shared upon arrival, and the project immediately took flight. 

Throughout our stay, we assisted in video production and editing.  We were further blessed to have a volunteer documentary film-maker, Gordon Fischer who agreed to spend the following week with the campers to help them turn their video clips into a finished product.
What we learned from these courageous teenagers who had traveled far and wide to work, eat, pray, study and play together is that peace is not an immediate end-state but a journey.  It is a series of small actions, each challenging the norms and standards we have come to accept, and plowing forward faithfully toward the unknown.
We departed with the hope that the bonds we made will grow stronger with time and not crumble under the weight of oppression, anger, fear and neglect. We pray to continue working with these young leaders and with those who follow in their footsteps and perhaps one day all of us will marvel at the sight of that New City, built without walls, on the hill.

Deacon Bill Cusano - St. James Fordham
Because the Future of Jerusalem is the Future of the World
Houston employs new approach to learning peace:
On August 4, over 60 participants from Jerusalem, Boston, Seattle, New York, Asheville, and Austin converged on Camp Allen just near Houston to take part in the JPB-K4P "Second Year Camp". Our goal was to become more aware of ourselves and one another, to develop friendships, and begin to understand how, together, we can implement positive change in our lives and in our world.

Because sometimes language becomes a barrier, we employed visual art and music as a means to develop our ideas and advance our understanding and friendship. This "peace through the arts" program featured the talents of multi-instrumentalist Billy Jonas and visual artist/musician Natalia Zukerman. Our clergy encouraged us to think about how we worship and why. We overcame our fears on the high ropes course. We learned new skills in archery and fishing. We rode horses and star gazed. We sought refuge from summer's heat in the pool and the lake.
Campers examining a Torah scroll
Painting the mural

After a week in the wilderness, we made our way to the Johnson Space Center and NASA. There, we saw first hand how together we can accomplish the seemingly impossible by going to the moon and building a research facility that orbits the earth. With Russians and Americans inhabiting the International Space Station, we observed adversaries cooperating and supporting each other. Astronaut Brian Duffy joined us for lunch and shared his improbable journey from humble beginnings to becoming a six time space shuttle pilot/commander. He challenged us to dream big.
Campers with NASA astronaut Brian Duffy
From NASA, we joined new friends at the Clear Lake Islamic Center (CLIC). The feast they provided met with the approval of our Middle Eastern connoisseurs. They also entertained us with a program that brought us closer together. We slept at the mosque and awoke to the call to prayer. After sharing gifts and our own music, our journey continued into the heart of Houston.

The highlight of our time in Houston came as we arrived as a single group with many voices and many truths united to share our journey with our different hosts. We accomplished this by performing concerts with the Masjid, Synagogue, Cathedral and the clients of the Beacon homeless shelter.
Our audiences smiled, clapped, laughed and ultimately sang along with us. Our music lowered barriers and empowered us to engage with each community both collectively and individually.

On our second Sunday, our time together concluded. We unveiled the murals first begun at Camp Allen and we performed our final concert for the members of Christ Church Cathedral, our hosts for the last three nights of our stay. We joined them in worship with some of our campers reading the lessons in Hebrew and Arabic. Then with hugs and long good-byes, we all headed home.

Stuart Kensinger, JPB Co-founder and Houston Camp Director

Because the Future of Jerusalem is the Future of the World
Jerusalem Program holds first camp in Golan:
Our 3-day summer camp in the Golan began in late-August. On our journey north we were joined by our faithful guide Ezra, who remained with us for the entire camp. Our first stop took us to Peace Vista for spectacular views overlooking the Sea of Galilee. It was a good place to discuss the geopolitics of the region before heading on to Ein Pik and Majrasa.
Group dialogue with Moshav Teens group 
On Friday we journeyed to Moshav Ramot to meet the Moshav Teens group. Together, we engaged in a dialogue about peacebuilding, baked hala bread for Shabbat, and enjoyed some soccer and music. Our dialogue generated good questions and sharing among the youth, such as what is it like to be an Arab in a Jewish school. In the evening, we stayed at a hostel in Nazareth and enjoyed delicious Kenafa before heading to bed.
The next day we headed off to hike to Eden Springs and Darboshia Fountain. During the hike beautiful eagles soared above us. The flowing waters and lush forests of the nature reserve were a sight to behold for everyone. We all felt a deeper connection to nature and to peace after the hike.
Our final day took us to the UN peacekeepers stationed at Mt. Bental overlooking Syria. After hearing from some of the UN soldiers, the group left for nearby forests and met with a local all-girls youth group. Our time together was so fun that we decided to invite them for a pizza lunch. Canoeing in Bloom Village was next. For some, it was their first time ever being in a canoe! We closed our camp working with Ezra to finish hand-made flutes.

The long weekend taught us about the underlying causes of conflict in the region, the sacred importance of protecting nature, and the importance of friendship among ourselves and other young leaders seeking to make a positive change and lasting peace in Israel/Palestine.

Ibrahim Abu Dalo, Jerusalem Program Director
Because the Future of Jerusalem is the Future of the World
Leadership camp through the eyes of a Junior Counselor:
"We laughed, we played, we swam, we hiked, we cried and we lived together like in a perfect, peaceful world without violent conflict. I left all the troubles in my homeland behind and got lost in the beauty and peace of the camp and place, that made everything more enriching. The activities were very well organized and planned in advance. They followed one after the other in a perfect way. Each activity prepared the campers to accomplish the next and so on. Forgiveness was one of the main themes of the camp, and as hard as it is to practice, everyone believed that it is a fundamental value for progress and peace. And this, in my opinion, is what made this camp so special."

Jiries Elias, Junior Counselor and leadership camp alumnus

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The greatest investment is Peace
Donation cheques should be payable to
"K4P Int. - Leadership Camp"
and sent to:
Kids4Peace International, 
3300 Chimney Rock, Suite 301, 
Houston, TX 77056 USA

JPB's fiscal sponsor, Kids4Peace Int., Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization (EIN 20-5419759) and all donations are tax-deductible

Because the Future of Jerusalem is the Future of the World