Questionnaire: Let's be realistic

Rosen has spent the last 8 years working for coexistence organization Search for Common Ground and now its director of the J'lem office in 2007.

Sharon Rosen 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Sharon Rosen 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sharon RosenAge: 57Profession/title: Co-director, Jerusalem office,Search for Common GroundPlace of birth: London, EnglandCurrent residence: Jerusalem
Born and raised in London, Sharon Rosen moved to Israel in 1970 and shortly after met and married her husband David, an Orthodox rabbi. The two spent several years serving Jewish communities in South Africa and Ireland, moving back to Israel in the late 1980s. Rosen has spent the last eight years working for the nonprofit coexistence organization Search for Common Ground and was appointed director of the Jerusalem office in 2007. Her commitment to understanding other cultures and religions has remained constant, even while she has maintained her own Jewish identity.
What gets you out of bed in the morning? Getting older and needing less sleep; an early morning walk on the breathtaking Talpiot promenade (my back garden) before heading off to the office; the beautiful Jerusalem light that beckons me outside; and my work, which I love.
What keeps you up at night? Communications with my Washington headquarters; writing in silence; reading a good book; internal processing of the day’s events; a busy social schedule; preparing for Shabbat and festivals. I won’t be worrying about things I can’t control.
What’s the most difficult professional moment you’ve faced so far? Miscommunications between people, and the judgments around them, always create the most difficult professional – and personal – moments. Fortunately they are few and far between.
How do you celebrate your achievements? Professional achievements are team ones, so they are celebrated with colleagues in the office – usually around food and drink. Personal achievements are celebrated with family, around our Shabbat table or on holiday together.
If you were prime minister, what’s the first thing you would do? I would read the Declaration of Independence – particularly that Israel “will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture”; and it extends its “hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness.” And I would remind myself that this is my true mandate – not coalition politics.
Which Israeli should have a movie made about him? Rabbi Shlomo Pappenheim, one of the elders of the ultra-Orthodox Eda Haredit, who is an open and modest gentleman and religiously seeks peace and pursues it both within and outside the Jewish community. He destroys the stereotypes people hold about the ultra-Orthodox community – but he would most probably be horrified by the thought of being the subject of a movie.
What would you change about Israelis if you could? I’d want them to listen more and talk less.
BlackBerry or pen and paper? If BlackBerry is a metaphor for technology, then the former. I don’t have a BlackBerry because I don’t want to be connected 24 hours a day, but I can’t live without my laptop.
If you had to write an advertisement to entice tourists to come to Israel, what would it say? Whatever I wrote couldn’t encapsulate the whole picture of this magnificent but flawed miracle that is Israel.
The most serious problem facing the country is: Our inability to differentiate between owning land and feeling a belonging to it. Exclusive ownership that does not allow space for others will only lead to conflict and more bloodshed.
How can it be solved? Wise leadership that invests a sincere effort and major resources in making peace so that we can finally get on with the crucial job of building a thriving democracy in the State of Israel.
In 20 years, the country will be: A flourishing, vital and secure place for all its citizens, or it will be isolated, losing the fight for its existence in a bleak and hostile environment. I pray to God it’s the former – but in truth, the choice is ours.