Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover!

Dreaming of a world that doesn`t contain judgement…
Dreaming of a world with freedom of thought …
Dreaming of a world that contains Love; Unreasonable….

This reminds me of a story from when I was 10 and learning about the 2nd Temple’s destruction. I asked the question, “Why?” I got the answer, “Unreasonable Hate.” Over 20 years later, when I hear about a war, when I witness a fight, when I don’t see love between people, I still don’t understand the reason why, and I still ask the same question, “Why?” Sadly, I get the same answer: “Unreasonable Hate.”

We hate the unknown instead of questioning it and trying to learn more about it.
We hate the different instead of trying to meet and understand the other.

I still dream of a world full of freedom, fairness and love.
A world where people want to listen to each other, communicate and connect.
A world where people want to know each other, understand, respect and accept.
A world that exists only with Unreasonable Love instead of Unreasonable Hate.
Loving each other without question, trying to understand each other.
A world where each human can find a comfortable space for him or herself.

And then…. I wake up again, and reality hasn’t changed.

Years ago, when I was dreaming again, I met a concept, which was called the Living Library. It is now called the Human Library, and it supports the ideal of reducing prejudice through dialogue… I thought it could be one way to help my dreams come true.

Such an amazing idea…

What is the idea behind it?
The idea is to promote dialogue, reduce prejudices and encourage integration.

A prejudice is an opinion – usually an unfavorable one – that was formed before having any evidence andthat is not based on reason or experience. While a stereotype is a thought about a person or group of
people, a prejudice relates to feelings and attitudes about that person or group of people. Prejudices are often rooted in the idea that certain types of people are worth less or are less capable than others.
How does The Human Library work?
The Human Library works exactly like a normal library. Readers come and borrow a book for a limited period of time. After reading it, they return the book to the library, and if they want, they can they can borrow another book. There is only one difference: the books in the human library are human beings, and the books and the readers enter into a
personal dialogue. The books in the Human Library are representing groups frequently confronted with prejudices and stereotypes and who are often victims of discrimination or social exclusion. The reader of the library can be anybody who is ready to talk with his or her own prejudices and stereotype and wants to spend time on this experience. In the human library, books cannot only speak, but they are able to reply to the reader’s questions. The books even can ask questions and learn themselves.
It is time to challenge your beliefs or face your fears in the form of another human being.
Building bridges through dialogue is one way of creating safety in a community.
Living library should be represented in many more events to help break down people’s prejudices.

How did it start?
Once upon a time in Copenhagen, Denmark, there was a young and idealistic youth organization called “Stop The Violence.” This non-governmental youth movement was self-initiated by five young people (Dany Abergel, Asma Mouna, Christoffer Erichsen,
Thomas Bertelsen and Ronni Abergel) from Copenhagen after a mutual friend was stabbed in 1993. The brutal attack on their friend, who luckily survived, motivated the five friends to take action and combat the problem. To raise awareness and use peer group education to mobilize Danish youngsters against violence. In a few years, the organization grew so quickly that the concept started to spread all over the world at
several events.

I loved the concept and used it in different activities/events such as:

  1. Jewish Muslim Dialogue in Berlin ( 2008 ) , Passport Europe by ECJC, European Jews and Muslims Building a Brighter Future in Europe,
  2. Beit Jala – (2010) Peace Weekend
  3. Gesher by JDC in Bulgaria for different cultural background audience (2011),
  4. Arava Institute, Israel, different religion, nationality, culture group (2011),
  5. Soul Sisters Women Event – Book of Women (2017) Adapting the Concept for Women Stereotypes.

There is no a single person on the planet who can truly say they are free of prejudice.

Understanding is the key. We may not admire, agree or even respect it, but at least we can try to understand it.

The Human Library is about words, face to face.

Becoming a reader is a unique opportunity for you to challenge your beliefs or face your fears in the form of another human being. Building bridges through dialogue is one way of creating safety in a community. When people know each other, then that is when they really feel safe.

Most likely, a majority of readers will find that Living Books are people just like you and me but for different reasons, they are subjected to stereotyping and prejudices. They are open about who they are and prepared to share their experiences.

Here is a list of some of different book titles that have been presented over the years: Alcoholic, Blonde Woman, Blind Person, Buddhist, Bodybuilder, Bald, Bisexual, Bulimic,Bureaucrat, Cancer Patient, Catholic Priest, Coach, Communist, Deaf, Dentist, Diabetic,Diplomat, Disabled, Drag Queen, Dyslexic, Environmental Activist, Ex-gang Member, Feminist,Funeral Director, Gambler, Genius, Graffiti Artist, Hacker, Harley Davidson Owner, HateCrime Victim, Hindu, Hip Hopper, Hippie, HIV Positive, Homeless, Imam, Jew, Judge, Lawyer,Librarian, Male Nurse, Manager, Mathematician, Mayor, Mental Health Difficulties,Meteorologist, Night Club Bouncer, Parking Attendant, Peacemaker, Prostitute, Philosopher,Police Officer, Plastic Surgeon, Psychic, Rabbi, Redhead, Retired, Runaway Child, Security Guard, Stripper, Terminally ill, Transgender, Unemployed, Workaholic.

 I definitely recommend you join a Human Library stand whenever you meet at an event WW, but you don`t need to wait for this.

You can keep being your own Book, representing who you are without any fear, talk about yourself without boundaries, help people understand you, and help people shed their judgments of you.

Or you can be an ongoing Reader in life, be open with whatever exists, less judgmental and more understanding towards the other.

As Michael Jackson sang beautifully: “Heal the world, make it a better place, for you and for me and for the entire human race.”

I keep asking the same question over 20 years ` Why? ` and I want to start to hear only one answer ` Unreasonable Love instead of Unreasonable Hate`

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover! Love Each Other Unreasonably!

About the Author
Rina Barbut, made aliyah from Turkey in 2008. In Israel, she’s been working in business and technology related positions at global companies and completed an International MBA. For years she led Jewish educational and social activities in Turkey and Europe. Rina is currently developing JConnect Forum, a network for young Jewish professionals from Israel and Europe to nurture business cooperation.