Forgiveness Education Thrives at Mar Elias High School in Israel

When teachers at the Mar Elias Educational Institutions (MEEI) recently focused lessons on the benefits of forgiveness, some students couldn’t see the point. They vehemently opposed the idea of forgiving anyone, even in their own families, but especially after the 7-week war of 2014.

Mar Elias Students
Mar Elias High School Students

Although Building Peace on Desktops is MEEI’s highest goal, teaching skills for peace-building can be a challenge – especially when students encounter discrimination and hear news of violence on almost a daily basis. 

This year, thanks to a Pilgrims of Ibillin partnership, MEEI teachers have a new resource: a Forgiveness Education curriculum created for Northern Ireland, tested and refined there over the last 14 years. The creator of this curriculum is Dr. Robert Enright of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, founder  of the International Forgiveness Institute. 

An internationally recognized leader in the field of forgiveness education, Dr. Enright has visited Ibillin twice in the last 8 months to meet with teachers and introduce his forgiveness curriculum. With his guidance, eight high school teachers at MEEI began teaching forgiveness this school year, involving about 600 students in the lessons.

Dr. Enright plans to increase his involvement in training MEEI’s teachers, and MEEI will become a regional training center to offer Forgiveness Training to other schools in Israel/ Palestine as well:
     • On a return visit in June he will meet with MEEI’s elementary and high school teachers for a day of exploring more deeply what forgiveness is and is not.
     • Four other directors of regional schools will be invited to this in-service training, with invited leaders coming from both Arab and Jewish schools.
     • Mar Elias will begin planting forgiveness education deeply in the 9th grade curriculum next year and then continue over the coming years until it is instilled for grades 9, 10, 11, and 12.
Abuna Elias Chacour and the Rev. Joan Deming
             Abuna Elias Chacour, Rev. Joan Deming

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is from the Feb. 2015 newsletter of Pilgrims of Ibillin–an organization whose vision is to foster peace and justice in Israel-Palestine through education. Dr. Enright was introduced to the organization and Mar Elias Schools by the Rev. Joan Deming, Executive Director of Pilgrims of Ibillin.

Pilgrims of Ibillin was founded by Abuna Elias Chacour (“Abuna” means “Our Father” in Arabic), a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, who recently retired from serving as the Archbishop of the Melkite Catholic Church for Akko, Haifa, Nazareth, and all Galilee. He is also the author of the best-selling Blood Brothers which has been translated into more than 20 languages.

Father Chacour founded the Mar Elias Schools more than 30 years ago in Ibillin–a small Arab village in the Galilee region, near Nazareth, where Christians and Muslims have lived together peacefully for hundreds of years. The cluster of MEEI schools now serves more than 3,000 students from preschool through high school.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s