Two Truths in One Heart Two Peoples in One Land

An Israeli and Palestinian to visit URI Nov. 15 and share their grassroots model for coexistence

KINGSTON, R.I. – Oct. 28, 2021 — Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger and Shadi Abu Awwad, leaders of Roots/Shorashim, a grassroots movement of understanding, nonviolence, and transformation among Israelis and Palestinians, will speak about their personal interconnected stories and the groundbreaking work of Roots on Monday, Nov. 15 from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Hardge Forum in the Multicultural Student Services Center, 74 Lower College Road.

Attendees must register for the event on the URI Events Calendar,, under November 15 events.

Shadi Abu Awwad is the grandson, son and nephew of strong proud Palestinian leaders who were at the helm of the First Palestinian Intifada (Uprising).  He grew up imbued with a deep hatred for Israelis. When still a child, his family underwent a major transformation and were among the pioneers in reaching across the divide to their Jewish neighbors to work together to create a shared vision for the future. As the Palestinian architect and first coordinator of the Roots youth movement, Shadi has facilitated shared encounters and experiences among Palestinian and Israeli teenagers, building a new generation of leaders who can confront the real problems between their communities while acknowledging each other’s shared humanity.

An Orthodox rabbi and passionate Zionist settler, Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger has lived most of his life in the West Bank where Palestinians make up 90% of the population. Yet 33 years passed until he first had a real conversation with a Palestinian. Rabbi Schlesinger was profoundly transformed by his meeting and friendship with Shadi’s uncle, Ali Abu Awwad, and with other Palestinians at the beginning of 2014.  His understanding of the reality of the Middle East conflict and of Zionism was utterly complicated by the parallel universe that they introduced him to. Shaken and transformed, Rabbi Hanan – together with Ali and other local Israelis and Palestinians – formed Roots, the Israeli-Palestinian grassroots initiative for understanding, nonviolence and transformation to build bridges of reconciliation between the two sides.

Awwad and Schlesinger do not come with blueprinted peace plans in hand, but with the deep conviction that human understanding and trust are the prerequisites for lasting justice, freedom, and peace in that little sliver of land they both call home.

For more information about Roots/Shorashim visit For more information about the November 15 event, please contact Amy Olson, executive director of URI Hillel, at

The event is sponsored by URI Hillel, the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies, the Multicultural Student Services Center, the Harrington School of Communication and Media, the Division of Student Affairs, and the Office of Community Equity and Diversity.

PLANTING SEEDS OF PEACE: Shadi Abu Awwad , left, and Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger, leaders of Roots/Shorashim, a grassroots movement of understanding, nonviolence, and transformation among Israelis and Palestinians, will visit URI Nov. 15.