Search

Friends group bid to build bridges between Israel and Palestine

10:22 12 December 2012

Chani Smith (left) and Judith Elkan of Friends of the Bereaved Families Forum. Picture: Polly Hancock

Chani Smith (left) and Judith Elkan of Friends of the Bereaved Families Forum. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

Once a month at her home in Hampstead Garden Suburb, Judith Elkan devises new ways of helping to bring together the people of Palestine and Israel.

She is chairman of Friends of the Bereaved Families Forum (FBFF), a UK-based group supporting the Parents Circle Families Forum (PCFF) which works with bereaved families in Israel and Palestinian territories to help heal the wounds of decades of conflict.

Every month, the FBFF’s steering group of Muslims, Jews and Christians, meet at Ms Elkan’s house to plot the group’s course and discuss future and ongoing projects.

After almost a decade of work, the FBFF has brought many bereaved Palestinian and Israeli parents to speak at synagogues, mosques and university campuses across the UK.

They have also taken their message of reconciliation and peace to the House of Commons and to the Lords.

“I’ve always been passionate about building bridges and creating reconciliation between our two peoples,” said Ms Elkan, an Israeli Jew who settled in this country more than 40 years ago.

“I feel very deeply for the Arabic culture and think it would create such a fruitful enrichment for both people if we had peace.”

Ms Elkan and friend Chani Smith, also an Israeli Jew, co-founded FBFF with others in 2003 after hearing a bereaved PCFF parent talk about the loss of a son during an address at the New North London Synagogue in East End Road, Finchley.

Ms Elkan said: “I was so moved that I invited people to come to my house to see whether we could do something to support the work of the bereaved families group.”

The PCFF was founded eight years earlier by an Orthodox Jewish father whose 19-year-old son, an Israeli soldier, was murdered by Hamas militia.

It now represents 600 Palestinian and Israeli families.

The project has personal resonance for Ms Smith, who explained: “A very close friend of mine was killed in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem.

“It shook me to do whatever I can, I couldn’t just go on thinking how terrible the situation is. When Judith suggested supporting the group it just made sense to me because I could see hope in this work.”

The FBFF is currently working on educational programmes to bring to UK schools and Ms Elkan wants to expand membership and raise money for the PCFF’s work abroad.

“The amazing and innovative work in Palestine and Israel costs a lot of money and we really need to support that,” she said.

To find out about Friends of the Bereaved Families or how to donate, visit www.familiesforum.co.uk or call 07966 145 098.

0 comments

Latest News Stories

Yesterday, 12:39
Bob Warnock outside the Royal Courts of Justice after the verdict was handed down

The superintendent of Hampstead Heath said he was pleased the outcome of the dams project judicial review has provided “clarity” – and he insisted it will “enhance” the landscape.

Yesterday, 12:11
Members of the Heath swimming associations outside the Royal Courts of Justice. Picture: Polly Hancock

Opponents of the Hampstead Heath dams project insist the fight is not over after losing their High Court challenge – and they are set to lobby the environment secretary and Camden Council.

Yesterday, 12:55
The YouGov webpage about the Ham&High

You are Mercedes-Benz drivers who are arrogant, introverted, curious and daydreamers!

Yesterday, 12:00
Lorraine Chase and Peter Egan with Ira Moss (left) from charity All Dogs Matter at Burgh House 23.11.14. with the cake donated by supporter Ricky Gervais.

It was a busy day for dog rescue charity All Dogs Matter on Sunday.

Most read news

The comedian returned to his home town for the prestigious award ceremony.

The helicopter crashed through the roof of the Clutha pub.

Twitter sat back and watched as the world went bargain-hunting crazy on Black Friday.

There was definitely something buzzing at JCB when he delivered his immigration speech.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition