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Bead by bead, crafters support a Mideast peace
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Bead by bead, crafters support a Mideast peace

Maplewood project raises awareness and cash for coexistence

Staff Writer, New Jersey Jewish News

Maya Bloom leads a beading for peace workshop on Monday nights at the Maplewood 1978 Center through June 28. Photo courtesy Maya Bloom
Maya Bloom leads a beading for peace workshop on Monday nights at the Maplewood 1978 Center through June 28. Photo courtesy Maya Bloom

If you “bead it,” will peace come? Maya Bloom knows her weekly crafts project, Bead for Peace, at the 1978 Maplewood Arts Center may not solve the Mideast crisis, but it could contribute to a spirit of coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians.

On Monday nights, participants, mostly women, both Jews and non-Jews, gather at the Springfield Avenue center to make beaded necklaces that feature as their main ornament tiny doves. The number of beaders changes from week to week.

Proceeds from the sales of the necklaces and part of a fee for participating go to two organizations — one in Ramle and one in Hebron —that are dedicated to fostering peace and countering extremism.

“Basically, the concept is to unite peace builders, Bloom, 66, told NJJN. “It’s a reminder that we work for peace and encourage people to have peace. The word ‘to bead’ is the same in Hebrew and Arabic: ‘haroz.’ It means ‘to bead,’ ‘to connect,’ ‘to make poetry.’”

Bloom, who was raised in Israel and attended the Hebrew University, is a scientist and educator by training. She came to the United States in 1978 and is a member of Chavurat Lamdeinu, an independent havura in Madison. She’s been leading bead-for-peace workshops, and selling the products, for two years.

Current sessions, which cost $15 each, benefit two organizations working on behalf of peace between Palestinians and Israelis. Friends of Open House is the American organization supporting Open House in Ramle, Israel. Founded in 1991, Open House was established in what was originally a Palestinian Arab family’s home, later inhabited and owned by an Israeli Jewish family. A member of the Jewish family made a connection with the Arab family, and they established a meeting place for Arab and Jewish youth.

The Friendship and Peace Society was founded in 1996 in Hebron. Bloom, who met the founder and developed close ties with her, said the organization benefits homebound Palestinian women by selling their embroidered handiwork.

“My initial goal is to reach women and get them educated, empowered and to let them know that women around the world and in America care for them,” she said.

Part of Bloom’s interest in the Friendship and Peace Society stems from her outrage that Palestinians are supported financially by Hamas and other terrorist organizations after their husbands or sons serve as suicide bombers, or that women are convinced to become bombers themselves.

“I do not believe that any Muslim religion would call for women to become terror attackers or sacrifice their children. It made me want to connect with women,” said Bloom.

In addition to Bead for Peace, she also founded SOUP, Sisters of United Peace, for women of all faiths to meet together and get to know one another. They gather once a month in someone’s home or in a gallery or other public space.

Her Bead for Peace project has been adopted by a student group at Drew University known as Peacebuilders, and may be one of the projects at local Hashomer Hatzair camps this summer.

The project runs at the 1978 Center Mondays through June 28, 7-9 p.m. For more information, contact Bloom at 973-379-5488 or mayabloom@yahoo.com.

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