Flexibility at Healing from War Workshops

In October 2018 I attended a Healing from War Workshop in Poland. It was led by Julian Weissglass (the International Commonality Reference Person for Wide World Change) and organized by Yvonne Odrowaz-Pieniazek. Some seventy Co-Counselors attended, from Oceania (Australia, New Zealand); Asia (Japan, Israel); Africa (Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, Swaziland, South Sudan); Europe (Poland, Hungary, the Basque country, Greece, Germany, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom); Russia; and the Americas (El Salvador, the United States).

Healing from War Workshops are not dominated by USers and UKers [people from the United Kingdom], with people from other countries being exotic decorations. Deliberate action is taken to contradict U.S. centrism, in particular the pattern that makes USers think that whatever works for them must work for all humans.

The need to include people who do not speak English has evolved into a system of interpreting and transcribing that actively contradicts English-language domination. It also contradicts the pull to abandon some people in order “to get more work done,” a pattern installed on us by the oppressive class society. I think these active contradictions are much more effective than verbal directions offered in sessions.

Classes cover a wide range of topics that relate to war—including classism, eliminating nuclear arms, ending the oppression of young people, nationalism, being allies, ending anti-Semitism, religious upbringing, ending modern slavery, and leadership.

This was the tenth time in the past eleven years that I have attended this workshop. I love how it keeps improving. New things are tried, and the ones that work become regular routines. We don’t keep doing the things that don’t work, even if we’ve been doing them for many years.

A recent change is the way we set up discharge groups. Instead of the workshop leader setting them up in advance, the leader simply chooses the group leaders. Then the participants are assigned to groups by number (that is, arbitrarily). After that, adjustments are made for language reasons. This method saves the workshop leader time and brings in everyone’s thinking. I got to share discharge time with more participants than usual, especially with those not from my constituency.

I also liked the “secular Shabbat,” which was welcoming to non-Jews and Jews who are not believers. It consisted of a class on being an ally, a class about ending anti-Semitism, and discharge groups on our religious heritages. The secular Shabbat took place after Friday’s dinner. (There was also a traditional RC Shabbat during that dinner, at a meal table set up for that purpose.)

The sharing on creativity night was by cultural groups, which felt like a natural continuation of a class on religious influences on our cultures. The whole evening was interesting and thought provoking.

I am looking forward to next year’s workshop!

Yohai Ben Ami

Raanana, Israel

Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00