World Peace Pilgrimage

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The Bridge of Peace Ceremony

Report by Joy Pople

The Armon Hanatsiv Promenade overlooking the hills and valleys of Jerusalem offered a spectacular setting for the Bridge of Peace ceremony that paired people of different religions, races, and cultures in a commitment of mutual understanding and ongoing relationship.More than 1000 members of the World Peace Pilgrimage from 41 nations were joined by approximately 100 Israelis and 100 Arabs for an afternoon of music, dancing and friendship-building on Sunday, September 12.

"We have to achieve peace," the Jewish organizers proclaimed. "The New Year (Rosh Hashana) is coming." The Muslim organizers spoke of the need to reach out to women with the message of peace, for they will then raise their children to be children of peace.

The Women's Federation for World Peace (WFWP), a sister organization of the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP) for the last 12 years, has developed this unique ceremony that allows women and men of different cultures and nationalities to participate in the reconciliation and peace-making process by crossing a "Bridge of Peace."

A group of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim musicians demonstrated the kind of unity that songs can create."Pray for the peace of Israel. Pray for the peace of Ishmael," they urged the Ambassadors for Peace who had come to the Holy Land from three continents. "Thank you for coming to give us support."

Lined up on either side of a simple wooden raised platform, participants walked forward toward their partner, bowed, exchanged flowers, and hugged each other. Women were partnered with women, men with men, couples with couples. As they walked forward from the platform, partners exchanged addresses and joined hands in line dances to the music of the tireless musicians. Watching the process, children as young as primary school age wanted to join in. Thus, adults looked for children of a similar age to partner them with.

In previous Bridge of Peace ceremonies sponsored by WFWP, partners read pledges determining to face and control their historic hatreds and resentments towards the race, religion or culture of their Partner of Peace; respect the rights of others; mutually repent and seek forgiveness from each other for wrongdoings against the race, nation or culture of their partner; and commit to bonding with their partner for years to come.

The power to bring world peace rests in each person's heart. The Bridge of Peace ceremony has brought about a "miracle of heart and soul" in more than 200,000 participants from former enemy people such as Koreans and Japanese; Americans and Japanese; and Native, African and white Americans. Enemies. This is part of the worldwide efforts of WFWP and IIFWP to build a culture of heart.