Alumni Naama Ringel at "Jerusalem beyond the Headlines" in Berlin

Jerusalem beyond the Headlines

Naama Ringel, architect, planning-policy consultant and Alumni of the Jerusalem Office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, just returned from Berlin, where she participated in a panel discussion on “Jerusalem beyond the Headlines” dealing with the many realities of this unique city. The discussion was organized by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom in the frame of the 70 Years Israel Festival of the German-Israeli Association from May 25th-27th in Berlin.
We asked Naama what message was important for her to convey to a German audience about the city she loves, lives and works in and how was her encounter with the German

“Jerusalem is an endless journey of discoveries. I had lived in Jerusalem for most of my life, and still there is so much more for me to explore about this ancient-modern city. It is rich with history, absorbed with tradition, and home for enormously different groups of people.

For me, Jerusalem is a city of encounters: east and west, myth and reality, center and border (or edge, “Aqsa”)… all mix together and create a fantastic blend. I believe that what seems as an impossible difficulty of bridging such contrasts, is actually an opportunity of bringing harmony and enjoying all these fascinating worlds within the city.

At the conference I chose to open with the Bünting map, created in 1581 by the German priest Bünting. The map places Jerusalem at the center of the world, as the connecting point of 3 continents. This is both a geographical and a cultural expression.
The Bünting map is still very relevant, and eventually if there will prevail peace in Jerusalem, I believe it will spread around the world. That is why I see special significance in building relations of friendship and trust between the very diverse communities in Jerusalem.

My presentation focused on 3 different encounters:
1. Israeli-Palestinian encounters, with the facilitation of the FNF ME 2.0 Business Leaders forum, which builds a community of young people of both sides devoted to building a better future together.
2. Musical encounters bringing the centuries-long musical traditions of Jewish communities from the diaspora, revealing the cultural influences between Jews and the nations among which they lived.
3. Jewish-Armenian encounters, remembering together the victims of the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust, and standing together against denial of these terrible crimes.
Such diverse encounters can happen in only very few places around the world, or even in the Holy Land. Jerusalem brings ancient communities together in daily encounters, and this multi-cultural reality is in the heart and soul of Jerusalem.

The German audience was interested to know more about the depth of these social-cultural encounters, which communities will inter-marry, how will a mayor from minority groups be accepted, and which division lines are stronger – whether across nationality or across the spectrum between secularism to observing a religious way of life.
For me it was a special experience of speaking about the city in which I live, and getting a chance for a new “outside” look at it."