Seeking common ground
Wahat al-Salam - Neve Shalom hopes to foster the individual and community identities of Jews and Palestinians. In order to do so, the Spiritual Center hosts religious, cultural, and spiritual programs for the village and broader community.
The Spiritual Center began with the House of Silence (Hebrew: Bet Doumia, from Psalm 65:2; Arabic: Bet as Sakinah, from Quran 48:4). This domed building was built to resemble the universe. Circular and all-encompassing, yet forever expanding. The structure houses meditation workshops, in the universal language of prayer—silence.
In 2006, the Bruno Hussar Pluralistic Spiritual Community Center was inaugurated. The building houses two beautiful rooms which are used for yoga, singing, dancing, text-study, lectures, film screenings, and other community events focused on the dynamic interaction between religious, cultural, and spiritual practices.
One of the center's most recent projects is the Rescuers' Garden, dedicated to people who saved members of different ethnic groups in times of genocide. The Garden recently honored Charles Aznavour for his family's protection of Jews during the Holocaust.
The Spiritual Center also manages the Gallery, an art space focused on collaboration and conversation between Jewish and Palestinian artists. The Gallery hosts workshops for mixed groups of artists, and displays multiple exhibitions each year.
Born into a secular Jewish family, raised in Cairo, Bruno Hussar converted to Roman Catholicism and entered the Dominican order while studying engineering in Paris. Sent by the Vatican to lead Jewish - Christian dialogues in Jerusalem, he would visit the nearby Trappist Monastery at Latrun. One day in his walking and praying, he was struck by his sense that God wanted him to bring Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs into community on that hill. Anne LeMeignen joined Father Bruno Hussar in the 1970s to be a helping hand in realizing his vision of this Oasis of Peace (Isaiah 32;18). Our community was founded on land given by the Latrun monastery.
Families began coming in the late 1970s. At Hussar's urging, homes were built and the village known as the Oasis of Peace arose along with the House of Silence where all could gather for wordless prayer or meditation. From the beginning, Father Bruno dreamed of having a Spiritual Center that would be the home for learning and discussions. At his passing in 1996, this was still a dream kept alive by Anne and brought into reality by the French Friends of Wahat al-Salam - Neve Shalom.