David Fainsilber’s Challenge – He Did it!!

Fainsilber_begin_cutting_dredsOctober 28 update:  He did it!  Introducing David’s new look:

And as of the Dreads-cutting Day, David has raised $3,126 for interfaith education through the Mar Elias Educational Institutions in Ibillin.  Thank you, David!

October 24, 2012:  A blog post from David Fainsilber:

In just four days, gathering with my family in Montreal on Sunday, I will cut off my 13-year signature dreadlocks.  As you can imagine, this is going to be a big transition!

Thirteen years ago, at the age of 19, I was attending a youth group overnight, when three very cute young women sat me down and said, “We are gonna make your hair into dreadlocks!”  I agreed.  Who am I am to turn down such a request?

As the first years of growing these dreads passed, I learned perseverance.  It’s not easy growing dreads with thin, straight hair.  Most people thought I should just give up.  I took that as a challenge to keep on trying.  But as my dreads started to fully form, even my mom had to agree that she liked them (although they never quite caught on for my grandmother).

Not long after, I began wearing a kippah/yarmulka too.  The combination of dreads and kippah has been an intentional act of bringing awareness:

First, raising my own consciousness around complex identities, giving myself permission to be myself, even if that meant being a bit outside of the mold.

Second, bringing awareness to others of what it takes to cross boundaries, and finding contact with others where we may never have connected otherwise.

For years now, I have been getting ‘the nod’ from the dreadlocked black Caribbeans walking down the street, who say to me, “Nice dreads maaan.”  Or there was the heated debate with the 70-year-old black woman about why white people absolutely can’t have dreads.  After a grueling hour of learning about each other, we ended with a hug. Where does my community end and yours begin?

Or that moment a year ago in Haifa on the human rights walk where someone turned to me, patting me on the kippah, saying: “We need more of your kind [aka religious Jews] here at this march.  Good for you.”  Can we hold two competing/complementary identities, modern and traditional?

I am, 13 years later, that same old David.  But by way of countless stories like these, I have grown with these dreads – found  my voice, matured, re-thought assumptions, and crossed boundaries I did not know existed.

Just like with my triathlon two months ago, while I pursue my own personal transformations, I seek to make a larger impact. While I am proud of my own resiliency and consciousness-raising, these efforts are a small matter compared to what it will take to make peace between Israel and Palestine.

I am cutting my dreads, just as I competed in my triathlon, to raise money for two organizations working for peace in the Middle East. Like growing my dreads has helped me and others around me confront assumptions about identity, social groups and belonging, so too do these programs Pilgrims of Ibillin, and Peace it Together. In the words of one participant from Peace It Together’s program: “I definitely had to re-think some assumptions I walked into the program with, and they were assumptions I didn’t even realize I really had.”

I want our youth to know that they are supported when they cross boundaries towards peace and non-violence.

As I prepare to cut my dreads, I want to thank all of you for reading these emails and my blog, writing me letters of support. So far we have raised  $7000 for the cause!!!  (Note:  $2600+ so far for Pilgrims of Ibillin. Watch comments below for updates on this amount.)

Can we reach $10,000 before this is over?  “CUT” one of my dreads by supporting one of these amazing programs:

Pilgrims of Ibillin (recommended for Americans)

Peace it Together (recommended for Canadians)

Be prepared to see pictures next week of a new look for me!

L’Shalom, towards peace,


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