Healing with Roots: Peacemakers in a Time of War

How do we heal in the midst and aftermath of the conflict in Gaza, Israel, and the Middle East?
February 28, 2024

Event Details

Auburn has partnered with the organization Roots, a unique network of local Palestinians and Israelis who have come to see each other as partners. Based on a mutual recognition of each People's connection to the Land, Roots is developing understanding and solidarity despite ideological differences. Their work is aimed at challenging the assumptions their communities hold about each other, building trust, and creating a new discourse around the conflict in their respective societies. This is a grassroots and local model for making change—from the bottom up.

Attend in person in our gorgeous gathering space at the Auburn offices.
RSVP now, space is limited. ID is required for entry.

Or join us online via Zoom; the link will be provided upon purchase of tickets.


Noor A'wad 

Born to Palestinian parents, Noor and his family moved from Amman, Jordan to Beit Sahour following the signing of the Oslo Accords. There, he began engaging with his identity as a Palestinian refugee, both in violent and nonviolent ways. While studying to become a tour guide, Noor travelled to Israel and for the first time saw Israelis beyond the lens of “occupying soldiers” which put him on a path of intense rethinking about the reality of the conflict. In 2012, Noor was licensed by the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism.

In 2016, Noor was asked to bring an overseas group he was guiding to hear Rabbi Schlesinger speak at Roots. He was profoundly challenged by what he heard, and after a series of intense, mind-expanding meetings with the rabbi and later with Ali Abu Awwad, in which he heard things he had never heard before, Noor became a Roots activist.

Later Noor became the Palestinian English-language Roots spokesperson, in which capacity he has spoken to thousands of overseas visitors and given them an incisive, honest and introspective perspective on Palestinian identity and experience, on the conflict and on Roots’ role within it in the arduous journey towards a solution. Today Noor is a member of the leadership team of Roots.

Noor resides in Bethlehem, where – when he is not working with Roots – he guides English-speakers on geopolitical tours of the region.

Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger

Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger lives in Alon Shvut Israel and is one of the founders of Roots/Shorashim/Judur, The Palestinian Israeli Grassroots Initiative for Understanding, Nonviolence and Transformation. Currently he serves as its Director of International Relations. He also is the founder of the American Friends of Roots, a multi-faith organization dedicated to supporting the work of Roots/Shorashim/Judur. Rav Hanan frequently speaks in the USA together with one of his Palestinian partner about the amazing work of Roots/Shorashim/Judur.

Prior to the founding of Roots, Rav Hanan spent his whole career teaching Jewish studies in various seminaries, colleges and frameworks in the Jerusalem area, among them the Pardes Institute, Beit Midrash Elul, Nishmat and Yeshivat Bat Ayin. He also spent two years as part of the Judaic Fellows Program in Boca Raton Florida and over ten years in Dallas Texas, first as Rosh Kollel of the Community Kollel and later as founder and Executive Director and Community Rabbinic Scholar for the Jewish Studies Initiative of North Texas.

He and his Israeli–born wife Ayala have four grown children and eleven grandchildren.

Auburn Theological Seminary Presents the Dean’s Lecture Series

2024 Theme: Heal the World

Auburn Theological Seminary's mission is to identify and strengthen leaders—from the pulpit to the public square—to build communities, bridge divides, pursue justice, and heal the world. To amplify its mission, the annual Dean’s lecture series provides a platform for leading religious and faith leaders and scholars to offer wisdom and insights into the world’s most pressing problems. Auburn invites leaders to speak to Auburn’s mission-centered theme.

To address the ongoing violence and trauma from conflicts across the globe, Auburn created partnerships with leaders and organizations engaged in the long work of “healing the world.” In the aftermath of geo-political turmoil, genocide, and the work for civil and human rights, the 2024 lecture series will focus on religious leaders who are healing the world for future generations.

This inaugural event will be followed by three more lectures in 2024, including:

  • March 16: Healing in the Wake of Genocide: An Afternoon with Freddy Mutanguha of Aegis Trust
  • TBA: Healing after the trauma of Residential and Indian Boarding Schools
  • TBA: Healing in the Civil Rights Movement: Black Women as Organizers and Healers

Intended Audience

Presbyterian Minister and Children’s Television host Fred Rogers famously said, “Look for the helpers.” With a similar spirit, Auburn is looking for the healers. Who are those no longer satisfied with diagnosing social violence or participating in the ever-increasing ideological polarization, but are instead interested in healing the world? The dean’s lecture series invites the broader public to learn from and see themselves as healers of a world in need of repair. From students to faith and for-profit leaders who want to heal the world, the lectures are designed to invite us all to imagine a healed and more hope-filled world together. Each lecture will take place at the Janet Prindle Center for Prophetic Leadership, a 3,000 sq. ft. convening space at Auburn Theological Seminary. Programming will also be live-streamed online. In-person attendance will be restricted to 75 people.


Auburn has designed these lectures with four main objectives for audience members:

  1. To be inspired by how healing can happen in the aftermath of unimaginable trauma and violence.
  2. To return to communities and institutions empowered to heal in one’s context.
  3. To leave connected to other healers who are working across sectors.
  4. To experience religious, spiritual, and theological practices and frameworks for healing.
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