Peacemaker Profile: Ruth Alcabes of Connecticut

The six students in our 2018-19 class of International Peacemaking Program fellows will spend a year at Hartford Seminary studying mediation, interfaith dialogue and public speaking while earning a Graduate Certificate.

We asked each of them to answer the same set of questions.

Q. Briefly tell us about your educational background.

A. I have come to Hartford Seminary after having studied history as an undergraduate, then attending law school and working in the legal field in governmental and private settings. Subsequently I obtained a Master of Library Science degree and have worked as a librarian in educational institutions, which I continue to do on a part time basis.

Q. How did you learn about Hartford Seminary’s International Peacemaking Program?

A. I live in the Greater Hartford area and had met Dr. Yehezkel Landau when he had brought a group of students to a synagogue where I was attending services. About four years ago, I audited a course that was taught by him at Hartford Seminary, and this led me to want to audit several more. In those classes I met some students in the International Peacemaking Program, and have invited previous IPP students to my home and synagogue.

Q. Why are you interested in learning about peacemaking?

A. Over the past several years I have become involved in several interfaith groups in the Hartford area, and believe that strengthening skills in dialogue and conflict transformation would be of great value for interfaith work. I also have been involved in supporting the work of several groups in The Holy Land that work toward coexistence, for example Roots-Shorashim-Judur, whose representatives I first heard speak at Hartford Seminary, and Combatants for Peace. I think that it is possible that religious communities in the United States could play a constructive role in the supporting those working to resolve conflicts abroad.

Q. How do you hope to use your skills after a year of training as a peacemaker?

A. I believe that there is great value in helping to improve the level of trust and feeling of connection between followers of different religious traditions, as well as increasing knowledge and understanding about the religious traditions of other groups. After this year I would hope to continue to be involved with and take a greater leadership role in activities of this sort.

Q. Tell us a little about your home country and the interreligious conflict it faces.

A. I live in the United States, a nation made of followers of many different religious traditions. However, people often lack knowledge and hold preconceived ideas about religions other than their own, and at times members of one group show intolerance toward members of other groups. I believe that teaching people about different religious traditions and giving people an opportunity for positive interactions with people of different traditions has the potential to transform this dynamic.

Q. Give us a quick description of your home life and any interesting facts about yourself! 

A. I live in the Greater Harford area, am married and have three children (who are no longer children); now I also have a granddaughter! During this year I am continuing to work part time as a librarian, and participate in activities of my (and other) synagogues in the area.

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