Farewell to Sarah Perle Benazera

“I joined the facilitation team of the Arava Institute in the Fall of 2018. 11 years after leaving the Institute as a student. I came back a new person. In these 11 years I had learned so much about myself, about this land, about the people around me. At times, it felt like every cell of my being was being shaken. I had to unlearn as much as I had to listen. I came back with one wish: being the person I didn’t have when I was 23. Someone who would listen and challenge, someone who would support and explain. I don’t always succeed. But I try. Every week.” 

These are the words of Dialogue Forum co-facilitator Sarah Perle Benazera at the beginning of the Fall 2023 semester. One of our active alumni, Sarah is a social justice activist, storyteller, and dialogue facilitator. After studying at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in 2007 she realized that cross-cultural dialogue and peacebuilding were her callings. Since then, she has been working with youth and adults in the social justice and education field in Israel and Palestine.  

Her co-facilitator Lior Yom Tov shares: “From the very first day of working with Sarah, and all through our year and a half of working together, I knew I should take notes, for I am working with the best dialogue facilitation professional. I also participated in the communication and storytelling workshops she ran for students and staff, admiring the way Sarah not only delivers important and practical information, but also does a show for her audience. It was always a great pleasure working with her.” 

After five years in this important position working weekly, with the rest of our facilitation team, with the students and interns at the Arava Institute, we are now saying farewell. “Sarah’s contribution to our dialogue program over the last 6 and a half years is immeasurable,” writes Cathie Granit, Academic Program Director. “She has a natural ability to connect people. As a facilitator, Sarah was able to gain the trust and respect of the students. She helped them navigate their histories and narratives while encouraging the exploration and questioning of beliefs they held about others. During the dialogue, Sarah offered an approach that enabled the group to explore the many complexities and emotions that make us human. This is done in the most empathetic, authentic, and supportive way, making her a true mentor.” 

We wish Sarah the best of luck in her future endeavors and are certain she will continue to be a valuable partner to the Institute.  

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