Celebrating Len and Libby Traubman
Pioneers of grassroots peacebuilding and founders of the Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue
To fully understand and appreciate Len and Libby Traubman, our 2017 Visionaries of the Year, you have to see them in action. So to celebrate them at our recent gathering in California, it was decided that we would do it in typical Traubman fashion. They are the most humble of individuals, despite their far-reaching and impactful work in peacebuilding, and they much prefer to hear from others and listen to their stories than to talk about themselves. In an effort to compromise, we agreed that the celebration would include a short Q&A, in which the participants could learn more about the Traubmans, followed by a reflection of the day, facilitated by the two of them.
To watch this facilitation, the way in which they conduct themselves, is very inspiring. It leaves the participants with a deep impression of what effective dialogue looks like, dialogue that is characterized by heartfelt listening, genuine interest and compassion. It is selfless, focused on the one speaking, not on how one will respond to what’s said. They are listening to learn, rather than preparing to react.
At one point, a man stood up to share an experience. He is a doctor and was very disheartened by one of his patient’s stories he had heard earlier that day at work. As this doctor is sharing the story with us he has to periodically pause to collect himself. Len moves to stand next to the man and puts an arm around his shoulder, gently showing his support. The patient had just retired from 44 years as a migrant worker. Although he worked for the same company all those years, he received no retirement money and no benefits. The doctor went on to say that this was not what saddened his patient the most. It was the fact that on the last day before retiring his employers did not even thank him for his four plus decades of work.
The room was quiet. Everyone was listening intently, also saddened by this story. Then Libby did something that perhaps only someone who has extensive experience in dialogue would think to do. She suggested that we have a moment of silence to reflect on what was just shared. Wow! This was powerful. Rather than plowing ahead, we paused. We appreciated the speaker. We considered what was shared. And in a way, we also honored the migrant worker by silently reflecting on his experience.
The celebration of our visionaries was a humble experience, yet a powerful and meaningful one. It gave the participants a model for what effective dialogue looks like and what it means to listen deeply. Most importantly though the event was authentic to who Len and Libby are – two self-effacing individuals who are contributing significantly to the vision so many of us share…a world at peace!
To learn more about Len and Libby, please see the links below:
The Traubman’s website: http://traubman.igc.org/
Euphrates’ 2017 Visionary of the Year: https://euphrates.org/visionary-of-the-year/2017-2/
NDNU Commencement Address 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pd7GwN6zBuA