AT A GLANCE: MAX RAYNE HAND IN HAND JERUSALEM SCHOOL
NUMBER OF STUDENTS: 587
GRADES: pre-kindergarten through 12th
LOCATION: Jerusalem, Israel's capital
Hand in Hand's first school, opened in 1998, is located in the bustling capital of Israel, center of three major religions, mix of ancient and modern. It has grown from 20 students housed in one temporary, makeshift classroom into our largest school, with a high school that has graduated three classes of seniors.
In January 2008, the Max Rayne Hand in Hand Jerusalem School celebrated the opening of a permanent, new campus, situated in the southern part of the city between the Arab community of Beit Safafa and the Jewish neighborhood of Patt. The Jerusalem Foundation raised $11 million from European sources — including major donor Max Rayne, the namesake — for the impressive buildings and courtyards.
The school's 587 students form a microcosm of Jerusalem's urban diversity, hailing from Jewish and Arab neighborhoods all over the city. The student body is ethnically and religiously diverse — Arab Christian, Muslim, Armenian Christian, Jewish secular, Jewish traditional, and more. Arab students come from old Jerusalemite families, and from families whose parents migrated from the Galilee to attend university. Jewish students are the grandchildren of Palmach fighters and Holocaust survivors, of Russian immigrants and Sephardic Jews. Socioeconomic backgrounds range from doctors and accountants to taxi drivers and small-business owners.
While Jews and Arabs in this densely populated city live very near one another, and inevitably cross paths, few form real or close relationships. At the Hand in Hand school, Jewish and Arab students become close friends, carrying these connections back to their families and neighborhoods.
Special characteristics of the Jerusalem school include its vibrant art program, founded by Jewish immigrant and artist Luna Etkes. Visitors are dazzled by walls covered with ever-changing student exhibits of paintings, photography, sculpture and more. At the high school level, the curriculum offers an emphasis on leadership skills and media/communications.
The Jerusalem School enjoys a close relationship with the David Yellin College of Education, which contributes student teachers of both Arab and Jewish origin. Many of these college students go on to become faculty at our school.