I still wake up some mornings confused to be in my bed in Colorado and not in Jerusalem.
Snow and winter and cold is something I'm still readjusting to. I would have thought that this transition to Denver would have been easy--I'm returning to the city I was born and raised in! And yet, culture shock still reverberates in my life, even six months later.
My heart cringes when I stare at the vegetables in the grocery store, thinking of fresh olives and tomatoes all year round. My phone dings and there's yet another message in the group chats about an event or a protest or a solidarity demonstration or even just a potluck that is being organized in Jerusalem or Bethlehem or Susiya. I read the news about moving the embassy to Jerusalem or activists who have been arrested or mass demonstrations against refugee deportations. It is such a surreal feeling to be reading the news and not living the news.
But I wake up each morning, I make myself a cup of coffee [American style, no more instant Nescafé or gas-boiled Arabic coffee for me]. I go to school.
And I soon remember why I am here and not "over there." I am enthralled by the lectures on nonviolent civil resistance; I am transformed by books written by early feminist thinkers. I am challenged by other students to think and dream of ways to break cycles of violence and oppression.
I remember the reasons I came to Denver: to read, to learn, to work, and to grow into the thinker and change-maker I can be. All the time, Jerusalem is in the back of my mind and I know that the work I'm doing now is for my friends living in tents after their homes were demolished (yet again); it is for my friends who dedicate their lives to radical education and creating new narratives of coexistence and peace; and for my friends who are constantly striving to create a different reality in Israel and in Palestine.
Lucky for me, Jerusalem will soon be coming to Denver!
Combatants for Peace (CfP), an organization that I was deeply involved with when I lived in Jerusalem, are embarking on a speaking tour in Colorado. I've been dedicating my free hours between school, work, friends, and family to bringing two activists here to share their personal stories with different communities here.
Over the three years while I lived in Jerusalem, Combatants for Peace became my second family. I met Palestinians and Israelis who are committed to sharing their personal stories and inspiring others to transform and find new patterns to break free from the cycle of violence in their world. With Combatants for Peace, I found my place, I discovered the power that I have within me to connect with people different than myself, and the strength within all of us to change and create.
I can't wait to introduce them to you! Next week is full of events, including an open-house hosted by me and my family on February 23rd!
February 20th, 12-1:30PM: University of Denver, hosted by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Conflict Resolution Institute
February 21st, 7-9PM: Colorado College, hosted by JStreet U
February 22nd, 7-9PM: Boulder, hosted by Nevei Kodesh Congregation
February 23rd, 5-8PM: Denver, Open house! Hosted by yours truly. For more details, email me! sophie [dot] schor [at] gmail [dot] com
February 24th, 9:30-1:00: Denver, hosted by Bnai Havurah Denver Jewish Deconstructionist Congregation (Please register online for this event)
February 24th, evening: Fort Collins, private event
February 25th, 1:30-3:00: Fort Collins, Peace Café, hosted by the First United Methodist Church
For more information regarding any of the events, click on the calendar below.
Can't make it to the events but still want to support CfP? You can donate via Venmo (I'll make sure the money makes it to the right place): Sophie-Schor.
Combatants for Peace, is an organization of both Israelis and Palestinians who have put aside violence in the name of community building and activism to end the occupation and bring justice and dignity to all peoples living in Israel and Palestine. You can read more about them online here, watch the amazing documentary Disturbing the Peace on Netflix, or in many of my previous blog posts (see below).