Human communication

Two truths in one heart Two peoples in one country – URI News

KINGSTON, RI – October 28, 2021 – Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger and Shadi Abu Awwad, leaders of Roots / Shorashim, a grassroots movement for understanding, non-violence and transformation between Israelis and Palestinians, will speak about their interconnected personal and work histories revolutionary of Roots Monday, November 15 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Hardge Forum at the Multicultural Student Services Center, 74 Lower College Road.

Participants should register for the event on the URI events calendar,, under November 15 events.

Shadi Abu Awwad is the grandson, son and nephew of strong and proud Palestinian leaders who led the first Palestinian Intifada (Uprising). He grew up imbued with a deep hatred for Israelis. When he was still just a child, his family underwent a major transformation and were among the pioneers to bridge the divide between their Jewish neighbors and work together to create a shared vision for the future. As Palestinian architect and first coordinator of the Roots youth movement, Shadi facilitated encounters and shared experiences between Palestinian and Israeli teenagers, building a new generation of leaders who can tackle the real issues between their communities while recognizing the shared humanity of each.

Orthodox rabbi and passionate Zionist colonist, Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger has lived most of his life in the West Bank where Palestinians make up 90% of the population. Yet 33 years passed until he first had a real conversation with a Palestinian. Rabbi Schlesinger was profoundly transformed by his meeting and friendship with Shadi’s uncle Ali Abu Awwad and other Palestinians in early 2014. His understanding of the reality of the Middle East conflict and Zionism was completely complicated by the parallel universe they presented it. Shaken and transformed, Rabbi Hanan – along with Ali and other local Israelis and Palestinians – formed Roots, the grassroots Israeli-Palestinian initiative for understanding, non-violence and transformation to build bridges of reconciliation between the two parts.

Awwad and Schlesinger do not come with plans for peace in hand, but with the deep conviction that human understanding and trust are the prerequisites for lasting justice, freedom and peace in this little piece of land they call both at home.

For more information on Roots / Shorashim, visit For more information on the November 15 event, please contact Amy Olson, Executive Director of URI Hillel, at [email protected]

The event is sponsored by URI Hillel, the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies, the Multicultural Student Services Center, the Harrington School of Communication and Media, the Division of Student Affairs, and the Office of Community Equity and Diversity.

SOWING SEEDS OF PEACE: Shadi Abu Awwad, left, and Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger, leaders of Roots / Shorashim, a grassroots movement for understanding, non-violence and transformation between Israelis and Palestinians, will visit URI on November 15 .

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